Reflections in December

Reflections in December.

Happy December Friends!

I spent a good part of yesterday putting up our Christmas tree.

I’m being a bit more “minimalist” about decorating this year.  I’ve decided not to put out all the santas or all the snowmen I’ve collected over the years.

Instead… I’m opting for a more white and silver and elegant kinda vibe.

But I did spend hours working on the tree.

I had forgotten I bought a brandie new 9 foot tall beauty last year until we brought it out of the attic, and I realized the box was completely sealed.  What a fun “surprise!”
What a lot of work “fluffing” the branches!

But, unlike past years, I didn’t care how long it took.  No rushing this year.  I put the movie White Christmas on, and I sang along with Bing and Danny and Rosemary and Vera.  And I fluffed and reflected.

I reflected on Decembers and Christmases and trees past.

I smiled remembering cutting down live trees and decorating them with handmade ornaments from my mother-in-law and vintage balls painted with my name and the year on from my childhood when we were so young we were still kids ourselves.   Money was tight but the joy was so joyous!

My eyes teared up remembering hubby lifting our little boys high up in the air so they could take their turn every other year reaching the tippy top of the tree to crown it with the star.

I laughed remembering the magic of Sammy our magical elf, who came every December 1st – long before anyone had ever heard of Elf on a Shelf (oh why didn’t I think to market it!!!).  He is the one “ornament” I put on the tree no matter the “theme” each year.  He’s been coming around for 30 years.

I felt melancholy remembering loved ones who we spent Christmases with who are no longer with us – those who have passed, but live in our hearts forever.

I remembered the emptiness of those first empty nester years.

I reminisced about the first Christmas being reunited with my Dad and the wonderful, loving extended family that came along with him.

I rejoiced in the renewed joy and magic that grandchildren have brought to Christmas.

And I celebrate life.  I am choosing to celebrate the woman I’ve become through the time and experiences I’ve been given.   I am making an effort every day to be the me I am meant to be – not comparing to others – those younger or thinner or smarter or wealthier or more talented or whatever we all compare each other about.  I am telling myself every day that I am enough.  As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  December is also my birthday month (even if it doesn’t come until the very last day of the month!).  And as a very wise friend, who faced and battled cancer years ago once told me when I said I don’t want to celebrate birthdays any more as I get older… “Celebrate!  Each day and year is a gift.    Not everyone gets this opportunity.”

May you find time to reflect on the memories, joys, sorrows, blessings and gifts of your life.  Have a beautiful December!

Cheers & Hugs,

The Woman in the Mirror

The Woman in the Mirror.

Who is she?

Sometimes she finds it hard to recognize the image
reflecting back at her.

She now has more age spots
than sun-kissed tan.

Her eyelids sag to make her look like she is squinting,
especially when she smiles big and laughs hard.

The “round” face she has always had is even fuller,
because she loves food and wine too much.

The lines around her mouth sag like the heavy parentheses
of a ventriloquist’s doll.

Her legs are truly not meant for public display,
and her boat-sized feet just don’t fit in those cute shoes anymore.

Her post-menopausal midsection
can no longer be “sucked” in.

She still tries though…

She puts on make-up
and dyes her hair.

She tries self-tanning lotions
and moisturizing hair products.

She tries to find clothes that suit her age
and full figure.

But there’s no hiding
behind the signs of 55.

She wishes she was as “fat” and “ugly”
as she thought she was when she was 15…

or 25 or 35
or even 45.

And even though that image in the mirror
is not who she feels like inside…

She actually likes herself more
than when she was 15 or 25 or 35 or 45.

She has stronger opinions,
and she is not ashamed to express her own thoughts.

She takes time for herself
and doesn’t feel bad about it.

She supports things
that are important to her.

She believes women who reveal
they have been assaulted,

because she has been
victim to that herself.

She loves her family with a fervor
she never knew possible.

And she loves herself
(something she has to work at every day).

She is a wife and mother
and grandmother.

She is a business woman
and an artist.

She is a woman living in these times,
and she is glad for that.

Cheers & Hugs,

Seeing the Weeping in the Willow Tree


Weeping Willow Tree, Conneaut Lake, October 2016

When the physical things of this world
blur and fade through the lens of our eyes,

A different kind of vision
grows stronger and clearer…

The ability to see the weeping
in the leaves of the willow tree,

The arms that extend and embrace
in its branches,

The foundation that centers and steadies
in its strong, solid trunk.

The weeping willow
is crystal clear

in our heart
and soul
and mind.

Cheers & Hugs,

The Rusty Old Bridge

Rusty old bridge

The Rusty Old Bridge

Your shiny metal has weathered to shades of orange and brown
like skin that has worked and played and laughed in the sun.

Your concrete pillars are beginning to crack under pressure
like wrinkles of worry from the stress of supporting such a heavy load.

You connected two sides – one with the other
as if you had open and outstretched arms.

And now,
though your original purpose is abandoned,

you still serve,
but in subtler ways.

a shady spot for respite from the heat
or a lazy day of fishing.

It’s time to rest Rusty Old Bridge.
You’ve earned this time.

Enjoy it
while I admire you.

Cheers & Hugs,

34 Years Ago…


34 years ago
on April 3, 1982,
a 19 year-old girl
said “I do”
to a 23 year-old boy.

They didn’t know
how quickly time would fly
creating a life together
experiencing love together
raising a family together
growing old together.

Today, a 53 year-old girl smiles
at a 57 year-old boy
whose eyes still twinkle
when she gives him a winkle.

One of aging’s most precious gifts
is our eyes growing bleary
causing us to look with our hearts
at those we love
and see the beauty
that radiates from within.

We don’t see the wrinkles.
We just see the twinkles
that can only be viewed
from the experience
of a lifelong love.

Cheers & Hugs,


Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

old boat at three rivers rowing association youth boathouse pittsburgh pa

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay
watching the……

geese and birds and fishermen and rowers,
cars and bikers and joggers and walkers.
Soaking up the early Spring sunshine after a fun little field trip day with hubby on Saturday.

We stopped by the Three Rivers Rowing Association Youth Boathouse in Pittsburgh.

As I snapped photos, I was drawn to this beat up ole’ beauty that sat alone
amidst all the sleek and shiny new sweep and sculling boats.

It’s beauty caught my eye the most.

Kind of like people.

Youth is sleek and shiny and new and beautiful,
but the real beauty that more often catches my attention
is the kind that emanates from the wrinkles on the face of the older woman
who has spent decades loving and smiling and laughing
with her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

or the rough and calloused, knotty, sun-spotted hands of an old man
who worked hard all his life to support his family.
Hands with map-like veins protruding as if telling a story of the places he’d gone and the things he’d done.
Hands that hurt, yet gently stroke his wife’s cheek, guide his children’s path, and cradle his grandchildren.

Yep – sittin’ on the dock of the….. river….
wasting time?
Maybe not.

Cheers & Hugs,

Photo submission for the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge:  Half-Light:  Share a photo inspired by a poem, verse, song lyric or story.  Also in loving memory of “Poops” Pap McKinney, who we remember lovingly today on his birthday.

Clouds: from Both Sides Now

november clouds 2

November Clouds – McKinney Home, Mars, PA

After posting my November Clouds photo and post yesterday, a very dear friend sent me this YouTube video early in the morning saying it was a “cloud song to go with my pic.”

Well, I got busy working and didn’t have a chance to listen to it until Charlie and I went for our lunch time walk.

The air was a bit cooler than it has been the past few days, but 55 degrees F is still pretty lovely for late November here in Mars.

So with my iPhone in hand and Charlie leading the way down our usual path, I hit “play.”

I then hit “play” five more times while we walked a few miles.

I had forgotten how much I love this song.

Or did I just realize how much I love this song?

Joni Mitchell wrote “Both Sides Now” in 1967 (I was only 4-5 years old), and recorded it in 1969 on her second album entitled, “Clouds.”

Needless to say, I was a bit young to truly appreciate it at that time.  It is, however, #171 in Rolling Stone’s Top 500  greatest songs of all time.

So I listened to the words yesterday – – –  over and over – – – and I found such deep meaning, such contentment, such freedom and liberation …

Next month, I will turn 53.  Still hard to believe, but I also realize I am on the “other side” of life.

I am obviously past “middle age” as I surely don’t expect to see 106!

And it has taken me a while to believe and “accept” this “stage” of life – this “over 50” stage…  But somehow, somewhere, at some point, it all became clear.  It all became fine.  It all became great!

It all became real and wonderful and the best time of life.

I’ve had my teens and twenties and thirties and every wonderful and  not-so-wonderful thing that comes with each of those stages.  When 50 came, I mourned it a bit.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when or why or how it happened, but I became content – even happy – maybe happier than ever – with this phase of life.

I’ve seen life and love and even clouds – from both sides now.

And life is clearer.

Life has more meaning.

Life is sweeter.

Clouds are “bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air.”

They have also “blocked the sun and rained and snowed on everyone.”

But – “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow it’s cloud illusions I recall.  I really don’t know clouds at all.”

And I LOVE that!

I’ve also seen love and life from “both sides now.”

From “give and take”

From “win and lose”

And maybe I don’t have all of the answers….

But I realize that even though “something’s lost…”

there is still….

“something gained in living every day.”

And I am cherishing every single one…

from this side now.

Cheers & Hugs,

“I have always thought of myself as a painter derailed by circumstance” – Joni Mitchell (June, 2000)


PS Thank you, Dick! ❤

Winter Months of Life

winter bird serenity monochrome

In the winter months of life,
there comes a balance between hanging on and letting go.
Should we stay or should we go?
Do we get to choose?
What do we have to lose?

 My Marty’s 92-year old Aunt lost the second love of her life this week.  Her near 93-year old fiance.

Rest in Peace dear Tilford.  Thanks for loving Aunt Francie.  Thanks for bringing her such joy in the winter years of her life.   You will be missed.  You were a good man.

Christmas 2007


The truth revealed – my imperfect life


So I know I post a lot about what a great life I have…    I try to share the “good stuff” and the “happy stuff.”

But we ALL KNOW life is FAR from perfect – Right?

Mine included!

I’ve had a few people say things recently that have made me feel a bit uncomfortable – like “I’m living vicariously through you,”  “Your life is perfect,” “Do you ever sleep?”

Really and truly – that is not my intention.  Please know my life is not perfect – not even close!  I get plenty of sleep – 6-7 hours every night (though dangit – I have tried to make due on less as I feel sleeping is SUCH a waste of time)!  And there are many other people worthy of living vicariously through than me!

I just happen to share the good times, the things that make me happy, the things I enjoy at “life in between” here with all of you.

When I originally started my blog, finding the right name was important, and was born out of my desire to share the fun stuff, the good times, the crafts and hobbies and joys that occur in those moments “in between” doing all the things that are drudgery, the things we all have to do, the crap we all deal with.  My intention is to encourage readers to seek out these special moments that are within all of our reach if we just look for and allow them.

Behind the scenes – – – you don’t see the many burnt, under-baked, or misshaped cookie…

more flopped “gourmet” dinners than ones worthy of sharing (like a recent pork roast that had all of our mouths on fire from a teensy bit too much cayenne pepper)…

crookedly stamped or finger smudged cards tossed in the trash….

or how I have been trying for days to arm knit an infinity scarf!  (I am going to master this yet though!) 🙂

I don’t like to share photos of myself.  I have cellulite, humongous feet, chubby cheeks, a short neck, squinty eyes with droopier and droopier eye lids, crooked ears, and new wrinkles and crinkles appearing every day.  I am at that ridiculous point in life where I need reading glasses to see things up close, but then when I look across the table or room, everything is blurry, so off with the glasses, or down onto the tip of my nose like a granny, or up on top of my head completely ruining any type of hairstyle I am trying to maintain.  Then there are the hot flashes that cause my face to just glisten and glow for no good reason, and typically at the most inopportune times and ALWAYS between 7:30 – 8:00 pm EVER SINGLE evening!

Shall I go on?  There is plenty more self-deprecation I can share…

My mom is alive, but we sadly don’t have a relationship, along with some others from my family who I love, but can’t have a relationship with for my own mental health and well-being.

So don’t envy or want to emulate, but do join me in seeking out the good, the happy, the joyful, the simple pleasures, the cherished moments that make our life (in between and otherwise) good.  Because it is there – within our reach – for all of us.  And it doesn’t take much.  Like maybe a box of M&Ms with a note on to our postal carrier to thank him or her for the “Miles and Miles” they travel every day to bring us our mail (granted most is junk or bills – but remember – we are keeping positive here!) LOL!  🙂

payitforward2014 mail carrier miles and miles mandms

Check out that mailbox we have!  Not so perfect – eh?  Quite embarrassing actually!  But I’m hoping I brought a smile to my mail carrier’s tired face today, because our mail still wasn’t in it at 4:30 pm, which means he is having a very long day!

payitforward2014 homefront hugs hero christmas wishes ornamental pine

Or send a card to someone serving our country over the holidays (feel free to send one to Christian – our Homefront Hugs Hero for the “payitforward2014” Jingle RACK Challenge).  I crafted this card on the blank card Jill sent, and Marty is writing the note.  Plenty of bloopers on this card, but you know what we say in the stamping/cardmaking world???  A mistake is an “Opportunity for Embellishment!”

It’s all about looking on the bright side – knowing we all have dark moments, tears, loneliness, grief, heartache, imperfect families, imperfect bodies, burnt cookies, and flopped dinners.

But there are plenty of awesome things to celebrate, and I hope you will join me in seeking them and embracing them, doing your best…

at life in between…

Cheers & Imperfect (but very tight) Hugs,


jodi mckinney lifeinbetween

Sharing & Owning Up to all the Wrinkles, Crinkles, Sags, Droops, Chubs, & Squints – Up Close & Personal

When things get blurry, stay focused!

geek is chic spectacular MFT

I’ve gone my whole life up until a few years ago without needing glasses.
I was always kind of proud to say I had 20/10 vision.  (not that I can take any credit for it)
Not 20/20 – – – but better!

And then it happened………
It seemed like overnight…
things got blurry…
I started moving things further out to focus in on…
I couldn’t read the “small print”…

I had laughed at Marty for years asking if I could hold the menu for him 10 feet away so he could read it when he stretched his arm out as far as he could to see it more clearly.

Payback is a bitch!

But it couldn’t be just that, I thought to myself.

So I went to the eye doctor telling him something was really wrong with my eyes, and that I suddenly seemed to need glasses.
We went through the whole rig-a-ma-roar of testing – and alas – he smiled and chuckled.
I still have 20/10 vision, he assured me…
For distance that is.

“But you see my dear,” he gently chuckled, “when people get around your age, they often need reading glasses.”

How did that happen?

Uh – Look in the mirror, Jodi! You are 51 years old!


So – yep – I’m part of that club that has a pair of glasses on top of my head or the tip of my nose as I walk around, and then I have to pull them down or push them up to read my iPhone or computer, or a book, or a recipe, or basically anything that is not FAR AWAY!

I’m in that club that has a pair of reading glasses in every room of the house, 2-3 pairs in my purse, a pair in the car, in my briefcase…

I’m in that club that can never find a pair of glasses when I need them.

I am in that club where husbands and wives borrow each other’s glasses in a restaurant to read the menu because one of us forgot ours.

And wouldn’t it be nice if we could just leave them on…… but NOOO – then you can’t see the object or person 10 feet away, because now distance is blurry through the reading glasses!

So……. it’s up and down…….   off and on……..   in and out…….   round and round!

Oh well – I keep reminding myself that I was 20 once, and 30 once, and 40……

As my friend, Pam (aka Bub) would say, “Be glad to celebrate growing old.” As a cancer survivor, she helps me remember the blessings of the opportunity to grow “older.”

And so I embrace it, and I chuckle at it, and I loved this stamp set and had so much fun making this card to celebrate the “gift” glasses are to me at this stage of “the game.” 🙂

Life is SPECTACULAR, and I’m looking forward to sharing this card with one of my “club members.”

Because life does get blurry sometimes — right?

Literally and in oh so many other ways!!

stay focused MFT geek is chic