How do you say “Thank You?”

Crooked Creek, Ford City, PA - June, 2017

Crooked Creek, Ford City, PA – June, 2017

How do you say “Thank You”
for sunshine or health…
for clear days or gentle rains…
for happiness, joy or love?

You say it by sharing
what you have.
You say it by making
the world a better place in which to live.

-Thomas D. Willhite

How do YOU say “Thank You?”

I say it by trying to share something small every day
in this tiny little platform that is mine
to give to the world
a little bit of happiness…
a little bit of joy…
a little bit of love.

My “Thank You” might be
a photograph,
or a painting,
or a craft or DIY idea.

It might be a favorite cherished
or newly discovered recipe.
It might be a verse
or a quote or a story.

But it is my “Thank You”
for sunshine and health…
for clear days and gentle rains…
for happiness, joy, and love.

It is my gift.
It is my little life.
It is my creative journey…
at life in between.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Focus

Caught in the Net

Caught in the Net - Fishing Net in Black & White - Lake Arthur - May 2017

Caught in the Net – Fishing Net in Black & White – Lake Arthur – May 2017

Caught in the Net.

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?

― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

 

A good question to ask ourselves at the end of each day … “Have I done well?”

And if not…  tomorrow is  another day.

Keep on trying.

Be caught in the net of good.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

I Failed!

I failed…

I let people down.
I let myself get upset.
I got in over my head.
I took on more than I could handle – bit off more than I could chew.

And now…
I have to eat crow,
because I told everyone about it before I really carefully considered it,
before I really tried it,
before I realized the time and commitment involved.

You may recall I got all excited about some paintings I did for a sweet blogging friend, Carolyn, who is co-authoring a book with Colin.  Carolyn had challenged me to paint some characters in the book they are writing.  I did, with the full intention of gifting them to her, but when she fell in love with them (and Colin liked them too), they asked if I would be interested in illustrating their book.

In my enthusiasm, I eagerly accepted.

Then they sent me the first chapter to illustrate…

After three evenings’ attempts, my “illustration” didn’t even look good enough to turn in for a First Grade art project!

I grew frustrated and began to get nervous at how much time would be involved in creating 30 illustrations – likely through multiple iterations – and the time I had to do it in -considering I work full time (and then some), the time I love spending with my family, the time I enjoy on this blog, and the real creativity I enjoy.

What was I thinking??  I have no education or professional experience in this.  I am NOT an illustrator.  I love loose, expressive watercolor painting – painting flowers and birds and any ole’ thing that strikes my fancy.  I love turning them into cards and prints and sharing and selling them on my Daughter-in-Law’s and my little Etsy Shop.

But drawing and painting pictures and scenes….   Well – not only do I not (currently) have the talent  (I say that because I believe anyone can learn to do almost anything they want to do with enough time, practice, effort, and passion for it), but I honestly don’t have the time or the passion for it.

So I quickly told Carolyn and Colin this just wasn’t going to work for me.

It was HARD!

I do not like to fail…
I do not like to give up…
I do not like to break commitments…
I do not like to let people down.

But they were so understanding, and my four paintings were carefully packaged and mailed to Carolyn for her to always have as a small gift and remembrance from me.

And I have to admit a weight has been lifted from my shoulders,
and my heart is light and carefree again.
I failed, but I failed fast and am not beating myself up about.
I uncommitted quickly and decisively and before I got in too deep.

I painted this big red letter F.
I loosely painted a big red circle around it.

and I feel Free,
and I am Forgiving myself.
I am Focusing on what I love to do,
and I am having Fun…

at Life In Between.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Thank you Carolyn and Colin for your faith in me, for giving me this experience, for helping me realize where my heart is, and for forgiving me for letting you down.  I wish you the greatest success on your Moonbeam Farm books!  I know I’ll be purchasing and reading them – and admiring someone else’s illustrations! 🙂

 

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.

 

My First Post Revisited

My First Post Revisited…
A sweet blogging friend, Carolina Russo at YesterdayAfter, tagged me and threw out a challenge to revisit and repost our very first blog post.   I thought it would be fun to reread and repost.
I can’t believe I have been doing this for almost three years!  My first post was on May 18, 2014.It’s fun to read how some things have changed and how some things never change!
My sweet Mikey is gone.   And now we have Charlie.
Papercrafting is still something I enjoy, but I’ve gravitated to watercolor painting.  Hadn’t even touched a paintbrush back then when I started.
You can see I was wishing and hinting about being a grandma…. and now that dream has come true!
Still in our same home.
The daffodils are blooming again – unseasonably early.
Life is a joyful journey, and it is fun to look back and cherish the moments.
Hope you enjoy.

the first post – so how do I begin?

May 18, 2014

So I have a good idea what I want to write about… for the most part. My BFF’s oldest daughter told me I should start a “lifestyle” blog.  I guess she thinks my life is interesting….  or at least enough that one or two people might want to read about things I do….  (Hopefully I’ll have at least one subscriber – Jacyln Rae – hint hint!)

Or maybe she just thinks I would enjoy doing it, and that is enough.

Hmmm…. I think I like that…

You know…. that’s one of the perks of growing – err – older and wiser – you get to the point where you realize you can do things just because you want to. Yes – there are those things most of us HAVE to do – like paying bills, doing laundry, working – you get the gist – but what do you like to do in between all that?

That’s the real “living” part.

“Life in between” can mean so many things…

The main reason I titled this blog with it is because I want to share the things I choose to do in between the things I “have” to do.

It can also be a stage of life that is in between stages – and aren’t they all?!

Right now – I’m kind of in between the mom stage and the empty nester and grandma stage. And Oh I Can’t Wait to be a Grandma!  (No hint hint Jake and Colleen – whenever you are ready…  well – maybe a little hint hint)

I think I was born to “mother.”  And oh poor everyone around me that I “mother” – sorry! It’s just in my DNA – I want to nurture, I want to comfort, I want to make happy. Could be worst things -right?!  (clear throat)  But don’t ask my boys…

So anyway – the things I love to do “in between” the things I have to do – that’s what I want to share with you here.

French Macarons

I love to bake.  I love how it makes the house smell.  I love how it makes people feel when they bite into a buttery, chocolately, caramely yummy thing.  I love surprising someone with a special treat of something they love.  Here is a picture of my first attempt at French Macarons.  I was so excited these testy little buggers turned out.  Not sure I’ll ever make them again – so much work – so temperamental – and what if they don’t turn out the next time?  Was it beginner’s luck?  I’ll just believe I’ve MASTERED them….  and leave it at that….

I also love to decorate – my home that is.  And it’s not all about it being House and Garden perfect for those of you that know me and are thinking  “Jodi – you are NOT an interior decorator!”

My ultimate goal (in deocrating) is to create a place that is warm and welcoming.  A place where someone can just drop by (no formal invitations needed around here) and feel comfortable and welcomed and loved.  No shoes off in my house.  So what if the carpet has stains…  Those stains represent someone who I shared my home with or that spilled a drink or our dog who came in after a rainy spring day – so what…  I grew up in a house that was House and Garden perfect… that meant NO SHOES inside…  it meant that you could see sweeper marks in the carpet from the daily vacuum…. it meant that you could literally eat off the garage floor if you were so inclined because it was so clean….  and that’s all good…  Mom was an awesome “cleaner”…  but it’s not me.  I want comfort, warmth, welcoming.  I want my house to feel like your favorite worn slippers or most comfortable fleece hoodie or your “go to” black yoga pants.  That’s what trips my trigger.

Here’s a little peek at our home – and that’s my little buddy “Mikey” who is never far from my side.  After this LONG COLD winter, it was so nice to see the daffodils and grass recently.

signs of spring

And I also love to craft.  It’s been various things through the years…  I’ve tried knitting and crocheting and cross-stitching, tole painting, slate painting, wood crafts, and ceramics.  My most recent crafting obsession is papercrafting – stamping, coloring, cutting, punching, pasting, tying – anything with paper and ink.  I guess it feels comforting being that I (and so many of us) spend so much time on the computer.  It feels extra special to create and send a special handmade something to someone and hope they realize the time and love you put into it – just for them. Here’s a card I made for a very special cousin and friend – Oh Rob! (I’m sure you’ll hear more about him in coming posts). Oh how I love that guy – and his amazingly talented and loving wife and superhero to me, Joyce.  Rob’s “One Little Word” this year is “reflection,” so I wanted to create a birthday card acknowledging and celebrating “reflection.”

rob reflection birthday card 2014

And then – I love to photograph it all.  Dear hubby got me my first good camera for Christmas this year – and I think he might regret it….  I know my boys do…. but I just love taking photographs of crazy, silly, normal, everyday things.   Not a trained professional by any means – not even a class – haven’t even read the whole manual (sorry Patty – I will get there!) – just have fun with it and love seeing what it captures.  My BFF, Jill, honored me with the privilege of capturing  her daughter, Jackie’s bridal shower recently – oh what fun that was – and even allowed me to do a “photo shoot” with her in-laws (I think George and Alice are going to be more famous than all of us) for a work campaign.

Recently, while Marty (that’s the dear hubby’s name) was cutting grass, I was doing very important things like taking pictures of dandelions and bees on them….  and HE snapped this little gem with his phone while on the tractor…. Not flattering – but yep – that about sums it up.  The silly things I do in my life in between…..

Untitled

So we’ll see how this goes….  I now have my first post under my belt.

Cheers and hugs,

Jodi

#MyFirstPostRevisited

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

Love & Valentine’s Day

mckinney-wedding-day

Love & Valentine’s Day

When I was a young girl
and dreamed about love,
it was dreamy and romantic
and dizzying and sweep-away, fairy tale-like.

Now that I’m not such a young girl,
but a woman who has loved
and who has also been loved
for many more years than not…

I know that love
is not just a feeling.
It is an action…  It is a verb.
It is a choice, and it is a decision.

It is giving just as much as receiving.
It is safe, and it is secure.
It is not always dreamy and romantic and dizzying,
but it is so much more.

So from the once 16-year old girl
who fell for that 20-year old boy,
I’m so thankful for your love,
and I love you more now than then.

Happy 38th Valentine’s Day!
May we have that many more.

Love,
Me

Warmth

warmth-of-fireplace

Warmth…

A crackling fire glowing in the fireplace,
A steaming bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.

The eyes of your child when they know you are sad,
The hand of a friend whose always by your side.

The fur of your four-legged best friend whose always by your side,
A soft, chenille blanket from a special lady who goes by the name of Mom (II),

An unexpected text with a photo of your grandchild,
A handwritten letter in the mail from a favorite aunt.

The first sip of coffee on a cold winter morning,
A glass of red wine after a long day at work.

Favorite fuzzy slippers you accidentally wear out of the house,
A well-worn hoodie with threadbare elbows.

Memories from a special song,
A tight hug that lasts longer than a pat on the back.

The ringing of the phone at the same time every morning,
and the sound of a Dad whistling while he patiently waits.

An air kiss blown while rolling over in the middle of the night,
An “I love you” on the way out the door,

A smile that greets you when you enter the office,
The privilege of introducing your future daughter-in-law.

The distinct squeak of the door opening at the end of the day,
The comforting sound of a snore you’ve loved for 35 years.

Cheers & Warm Hugs,
Jodi