Let’s be Better Fixers

The Old Farmall Tractor, Mars, PA - September, 2017

The Old Farmall Tractor, Mars, PA – September, 2017

Let’s be Better Fixers.

Grandma was a fixer….
From very early on, when she was only 9 or 10 years old,
she was the cook, laundress, housekeeper, and “mother” to her younger siblings after her young mother died.

She learned to splice electric wires and plumb a bathroom,
she could make a hearty feast from a bone,
she mended and hemmed and soaked and bleached and waxed and scrubbed.

She did this throughout her entire life.
She washed out bread bags and hung them on the line to dry to re-use.
She repaired lawn mowers and glued broken concrete bird baths back together.

When I was young, I thought it silly.
Sometimes I was even embarrassed of her patched clothes
or meager belongings and “fixed” things.

But Grandma is gone.
And the longer she is gone, the more I admire the way she lived.
She didn’t throw things away – she fixed them.

Do we too quickly throw things away these days?
Marriages?  Friendships?  Aging parents and grandparents?
Kids with bad behavior or bad grades?

We need to cherish what and who we have while we have them.
Because some things we love won’t last or be with us forever.
We should love, care for, fix when broken, and heal when sick our “broken” things.

We keep them because they are worth it.
Because we are worth it.
Let’s try to throw less away, and let’s be better “fixers!”

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad’s birthday.

I am so glad to have him in my life to celebrate.

This is one of the very few pictures I have from my early childhood.

As a child of divorce, many photos of my early life were destroyed along with the marriage that ended.  I suppose in an effort to erase the “mistake.”

But I am so grateful for this photo shared with me by my sweet aunt of a birthday celebration that was shared by my brother and cousin.

Sadly, half of the people in the photo are no longer with us…
Cancer, aging, murder, suicide… Many of us can relate to similar losses.

But I have my Dad in my life, and today is his birthday.
And I am choosing to cherish these moments!

By the way – can you tell which two we are?
I think we look so much alike!

Happy Birthday Dad!
From your only daughter.
Your first-born child.

You were my first great love.
You are the man I am still discovering.
The Daddy I am still allowing myself to remember.

Thank you for being back in my life.
Thank you for healing the wounds.

Thank you for ending the nightmares.
Thank you for fulfilling the dreams.

I love you.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi


 



 

Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes.

They really are among us.

And I have to brag on one of them (maybe two).

For those of you that have been hanging around here at TheCreativeLifeinBetween for any length of time know about our amazing McHendy family.

Well – our youngest Jake (who we affectionately refer to as Baby Jake, but who is far from a baby these days!)  is now a distinguished Naval officer on a ship that was being commissioned this past weekend.  An Everyday Hero he is!

But behind the story of this great hero is another hero.  This everyday hero shuns the spotlight, but she does magical, amazing, generous acts of kindness behind the scenes.

She also just so happens to be my BFF.  Her name is Jill, and she is astonishingly extraordinary.  (Remember the Pay it Forward Christmas Gift Challenge?)

Well – much like any Mom of a military service person would do – Jill sends “care packages.”

But Jill doesn’t send care packages just to her son (our Jake), she sends them to the ENTIRE crew of the ship he is on – EVERY month!

She does it behind the scenes, all on her own, while also working full time and then some in an executive position, being a mom to four grown children and grandma to one (and a half!), and being an amazing friend and philanthropist.

When we recently celebrated Jill’s birthday, Jill insisted on paying the bill for lunch.  When paying, she told our server to “keep the change.”  The server questioned her to assure she meant what she said, because, you see, Jill tipped our server over double the amount of the cost of our lunch.  It was her “gift” to the server – on HER birthday!

That’s the kind of person she is…  Someone I can only aspire to be like!

When she was recently called up among dignitaries and military personnel and political celebrities to be honored at the commissioning of the naval ship our Jake is an officer on, she humbly accepted, but raised her arm in respect to doing it “all for the crew!”

I am so stinking proud of her, I had to share!  She will likely not be pleased, but hopefully she will forgive me, because she knows I am doing it out of love and respect for the amazing person she is.

Everyday heroes are among us!  And I am so honored to call one of them my BFF!

Love you Jill!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

 

You may house their bodies, but not their souls…

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow…

-Kahlil Gibran

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day.
Last Saturday my youngest “child” got married.
My greatest honor in life has been being a mother.
But as this wise verse from Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet reminds me,
I may have housed their bodies, but I cannot house their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow.

I am so proud of the men my boys have become.
As I watched the youngest celebrate marriage, and the oldest toast his brother last weekend,
my heart swelled.
Somehow we managed to do a good job.
And I couldn’t have done it without my husband – their father – by my side.

As I look at this photo I took at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago of a Momma Duck (made of flowers by the way) and her little ducklings, I was once again reminded of the privilege I was bestowed in life to be a mother.  I am now also blessed with two beautiful “daughters”-in-law and the great privilege of being a “grand”mother.

I am so grateful.

Here’s to all the moms out there!
Cherish the moments.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

A “New” Easel for My Art Studio

A “New” Easel for My Art Studio.

Yesterday, I was gifted with something very special for my new art studio.

As many of you may recall, my brother passed away two days after Christmas – just a few months ago.  He sadly took his own life.  He was a troubled man who struggled with alcoholism, but was once a bright, highly intelligent boy and handsome young man who lost his way due to the disease that took over his life.

I came to find out he went through a period where he had a passion for art and tried his hand at painting.  Though I have not seen any of the work he did, his friend generously offered his art easel to me as a small remembrance of him.

And so I placed it next to my current one hubby bought me when I decided I wanted to try my hand at painting almost two years ago.  He has been so supportive and encouraging, and even made me a room (though he will tell it much less romantically stating he was tired of my art stuff all over the house!).

How couldn’t one enjoy and feel loved spending time in a room made for me by my hubby and with so many beautiful things from so many wonderful friends and family members.

And now this special remembrance.

Finding joy in the ordinary

Cherishing the moments

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

To see some of my artwork (as well as my daughter-in-laws beautiful rustic hand-painted signs) for sale, feel free to visit us at McKinneyX2Designs on Etsy.

The Secret of Life

The Secret of Life.

Do you ever think….
“What’s it all about?”
Life – that is…
Why are we here?
What is our purpose?

My BFF, Jill, and I have asked each other this so many times throughout the almost 30  years of our friendship, I couldn’t even count the number.

It’s become a bit of a joke, but also a bit of a reminder too.

When we first met, we were young “stay at home moms.”  And (sadly), those ones who judged working moms as lesser than we who cared for our children and homes and served on the PTA and were the best-ever “homeroom moms” who created the field day obstacle course that all other homeroom moms envied.

Sigh….

We now mock, but also guiltily regret, our young naive selves, as we have become those crazy workaholic successful business women we once despised.  And we both have the absolutely most amazing daughters (mine is a daughter-in-law, but I love her like a daughter) who are beautiful, successful working women and amazing, loving mothers.

And you know what?  No judging…  No mocking…

Life is too short for all of that!

We all do what is right for each of us.
And our children.
And our families.
Period.

And what have I learned along the way?

The secret of life is finding the JOY in the ordinary!

There are so many moments in the ordinary days of living that bring us joy…
that bring us contentment…
that make the ordinary – well – EXTRAordinary.

Like marriage.

Hubby and I have been married for 35 years!  And you know what?  I am proud of that!

I was 19 years old and he was 23 when we married.  I had no idea what life was all about.

But that same cute Hubby was on a business trip this past week and away for three nights.

He rarely travels.

In fact, I have been the one to travel many, many more times for work than him as the years have passed.

And though I was not “afraid of the dark” and the “bogey man” like I was when I was young and he went away (and that same wonderful best friend and her hubby and family actually stayed at my house with me when same hubby went away), it just wasn’t “right” without him here.

Sometimes an evening goes by with barely 50 words spoken between us.  But we are together.  He is here, and I am here, and we are together.

And sometimes that is enough.

I now wonder why we all cannot see, and wish I could share with so many who strive for and desire so much more and cannot find it, that it is okay.  In fact… it is more than okay.  It is the secret of life….

The secret of a joy-filled life….

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the “ordinary.”  The ordinary is a blessing.

The secret of life?
Finding joy in the ordinary!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  My same sweet, wonderful daughter-in-law painted the gorgeous sign pictured here  that is available in our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy Shop.  She gets it!  And I am so proud of her I could burst!  

And when Hubby came home from his business trip Friday afternoon, what did he find?

… a perfectly content wife/mom/grandma/business woman (with a nasty Spring head cold and not looking her best – to say the least) sound asleep with the most beautiful  granddaughter on her chest and a half-read book.  That is joy.  That is ordinary.  That is joy in the ordinary.

 

A Special Happy Birthday

Watercolor Birthday Card in Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna

A Special Happy Birthday.

Every year on this day
is a very special day to me.

27 years ago
on a Saturday at 1:57 a.m.

a perfect and chubby 10 pound
baby boy blessed my life.

That sweet little boy
grew into an even sweeter man.

Thank you for the joy and happiness and love
you bring to my life.

May this year be the best…
until the next.

When I wish that it is the best,
like I feel being your mom.

Every year was the best – until the next,
and they still continue to be.

Happy Birthday NIck!

With so much love,
Mom

My Favorite Watercolor Subject

clara-3-months-old-watercolor-painting-8x10-140lb-saunders

Baby C Watercolor 030117 8×10 140 lb Saunders

I had fun a couple evenings this week playing in my new Art Studio painting one of my favorite subjects.

Wonder what she will think of these one day?  Laugh?  Cry?

Hopefully there will be more, and they will be sweet memories to her of a grandma that adored her – right from the start.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Being a Best Friend: A Charlie Dog Guest Post

charlie-and-jaeger

Charlie and his best friend Jaeger, February, 2017 – Mars, PA

Being a Best Friend:  A Charlie Dog Guest Post.

Here are some things I have learned about being a best friend.  I hope you find these helpful:

  • Always act like it has been a hundred trillion years since you’ve last seen each other (even if it’s only been a day)!  Run around like maniacs and chase each other and jump all over each other.  It shows how much you’ve missed them and love them.
  • Share your “stuff” (including your donuts and bones and balls) – even if it is difficult – and its even okay to play tug with them for a while, but always take turns giving in.
  • Share your food and drink – more will always be provided.
  • Invite them into your home – and visit their home too (even if you have to sneak!)
  • Love each other’s families – they are the ones who helped make them the way they are.
  • Tell each other secrets (use secret signals and languages if necessary), and make sure you keep them secrets.
  • Take walks together – its good exercise and company.

These are just a few things I have learned along the way since I met my new best friend about a year ago when he moved into my neighborhood.  Jaeger (that’s my best friend’s name) is a year younger than me even though he is bigger.  Isn’t he handsome?  I love Jaeger, and he loves me.  We are best friends.

Mom tells me that to have a best friend you have to be one, so I try really hard.

Everyone needs at least one best friend.  I’m glad I have Jaeger.

Woofs & Wags,
Charlie

Charlie is an adopted dog with brown eyes and a white-tipped tail who brings joy and laughter to his family and friends.  Charlie is a gifted writer, raving food critic, cat, chipmunk, and donut lover, and exceptionally photogenic model.  Some of his best friends are Mike the UPS Man, Cliff the Mailman, Jaeger the neighbor dog, and ANYONE who delivers pizza to the house.   If you would like to read more guest posts by Charlie, simply type “Charlie” into the Search box at the top right hand corner of this link: thecreativelifeinbetween.com.   If you would enjoy a companion like Charlie, please consider pet adoption.

Why?

sunny-sky-february-19-2017-mars-pa

Why do I feel the most sad
when it is the brightest most beautiful day?
Some time has passed and life goes on,
but why does my heart not feel better?

Why does the sound that I used to love
of the trains blowing their horns in the distance and echoing through the hills
haunt me so much
that I sometimes want to scream “Shut Up!”

Why do the melodious wind chimes
that sing in the breeze
make me so sad and sometimes mad
that I had to put them away for a while.

Why did you have to take your life
on the day we used to celebrate
the life of another so dear to us
whose life was also ended too soon?

Why – on a most beautiful day in February – the month of your birth,
when it should be cold and snowy and blustery,
did I sit in the sunshine… in bare feet… and short sleeves…
and mourn this beautiful gift you were missing that I know you would have loved?

Why did we often let long periods of time pass
when we didn’t see each other or talk
when I knew you were there and that you loved me,
and I know you knew I loved you too?

But now you are gone,
and now I think of you every day,
and I miss you every day…
and I wish things could be different.

With love always from your sister,
Jodi

Friends – I usually try to keep my blog upbeat and encouraging, but I really felt the need to share that even in the best of days and times and all the blessings in life, there are still times of grief and sadness.  We can’t ignore it.  Grief is something we all must face when we love.  When we love someone and lose them, it hurts deeply.  But it is still worth it to love and bear the hurt, for what would life be like without the love?  To grieve means you have loved.  And to love and lose is far greater than to have never loved at all.

I also want to thank a dear friend, who somehow always seems to know the right time and right thing to say.   This dear friend – out of the blue and from far away – sent me a text telling me he was thinking of me and my brother when he heard a song, and he thought I should listen to it as it could be my brother’s parting song.  If you care to listen, this is the song he recommended to me: “Go Rest High On That Mountain