Cherish the Moments

Cherish the Moments.

When the day is done,
take some time to reflect on the things
that made it special.

Remember the moments
that brought you joy
or made you smile or laugh.

Close your eyes
and savor those thoughts,
knowing tomorrow will surely bring challenges,

but also realizing there will be
new moments to cherish –
even if you have to search really hard.

And tomorrow will bring another sunset
and more opportunity to reflect,
and the hope of getting to do it all again.

Cherish the moments…
for the moments
are what make up a life.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine.

Do you feel it?
Are you excited about all the possibilities the day may hold?

All the opportunites to make it special?
All the reasons to wake up?

Rise and shine
and cherish the moments!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Every time I hear or read or say the words, “Rise and Shine,” I think of Grandma

As a teenager, I loved to sleep in late – much like most teenagers – right?  I vividly remember hiding under the covers to keep from seeing the sun streaming in the bedroom and hearing Grandma  cheerfully holler from the bottom of the stairs on a weekend or summer morning, “Rise and Shine!”  She was always so excited and ready to start a new day.  I smile remembering that hope and excitement in her voice.  She didn’t work.  She didn’t even have a license to drive.  Her days were mostly spent at home working hard – inside and out – making it a haven for anyone who visited or lived there.  And yet she woke up so cheerfully each morning excited for what the day might hold. 

I have to admit – I love the early mornings these days – especially on  weekends and days I get to stay home.  I love thinking about having the whole day ahead of me. 

I baked Grandma’s Apricot Nut Bread yesterday.  It is a recipe I have shared here before.  And it truly really begins to feel like Christmas when I smell this bread come out of the oven.  The memories just come flooding back of Christmases past at Grandma’s house and the joy that radiated from her in everything she did.  

So rise and shine and cherish the possibilities this day will hold!

Stella Star – Remembering Grandma

This week of Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  I couldn’t share favorites without including one of my all-time favorite people …. Grandma…. my Stella Star…. in this post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago. 
This day is also a day of sad remembrance of a sweet little boy (shown below with Grandma and Grandpap and me in 1968) – my brother, Johnny, before life and alcoholism stole his life as an adult when he decided one year ago today to step in front of train and let us know there would be no “Clarence” for him….

It was also the birthday of my beautiful, sweet, loving sister-in-law, whose life was cut way too short at 50 years old several years ago to cancer.

Life brings many memories – happy and sad, good and bad.  If we didn’t love, loss wouldn’t hurt so much…..  But it’s still worth it….  And it’s ok to have sad memories as well as happy ones.  It means we loved…. and that’s what life is about.

Stella Star – remembering grandma

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi - 1968

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi – 1968

Grandma was my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E person in the whole wide world growing up.

I have so many happy memories about Grandma I could probably write an entire book.

I took a walk on my lunch break yesterday afternoon in between raindrops and thunderstorms, and for some reason, I thought about Grandma an extra lot on that walk.

I think everything about early summer – the sights, the sounds, the smells – remind me of Grandma.

Maybe it is because I spent almost EVERY SINGLE DAY of EVERY SINGLE SUMMER growing up at Grandma’s house.

Oh – it was the BEST camp ever!

I learned so much from a lady that had to quit school in 4th grade to stay home and take care of her three younger brothers after their young mother passed away. At the ripe ole’ age of about 9 or 10, Grandma became mother, housewife, laundress, seamstress, cook, repair person, gardener and lawn tenderer. Can you even imagine? And this is long before automatic washing machines and dryers and sewing machines, disposable diapers, microwaves, cell phones, Google and Youtube, even indoor bathrooms! This was hard work – all day long – every day.

So though grandma was not formally educated, she was one of the smartest people I knew, and I learned so much from her – more than I realized at the time and even more the older I get looking back. She taught me important STUFF about real life – about cooking – about nature – about relationships – about acceptance and being the best of yourself. It was often disguised in humor or tough love or late night talks or swings on the porch or while picking blackberries. She wasn’t really trying to teach me by telling me how to be or what to say or how to act (or was she?). She lived her life in a way that demonstrated it and allowed me to experience it.

Oh she did some pretty UN-smart things too……. Like cutting off half of her middle finger on the lawn mower blade while trying to remove stuck grass without shutting off the mower…. Or cleaning some tough grime off the kitchen floor with gasoline and getting too close to the oven and catching the house on fire….

She never got her driver’s license after driving THROUGH the garage door, but she somehow managed to get around.

G3

Grandma, Jodi & Jake 1987

She couldn’t balance a checkbook, but she was the best penny pincher and gift giver ever.

She did, however, make the absolute best blackberry piecoffee soup (half coffee/half milk and lots of crumbled up saltines or chunks of toast), homemade sauerkraut and pierogies and halupkis and liver ball soup and apricot bread and nut rolls and salmon patties and dandelion salad and dumplings – oh my!

She also taught me things like how to make beautiful, colorful bouquets of Queen Ann’s Lace(many consider a weed) by putting food coloring in a mason jar vase of water so that when the flowers “drank the water,” their white petals turned pink or green or blue.

She taught me how to build a tent and a fort and how to camp out in the woods (about 500 feet from the house – but oh so far and vast when I was young). Thought I must admit I’m still not very good at that woodsy stuff…. Trying!

She could also splice electrical wires and do plumbing repairs.

She even allowed me to learn through crazy experiments like the time my friend, Janet and I decided we were going to boil worms (in her kitchen) for a science fair experiment! Or clean myself up in her bathroom with her yellow towels after experimenting with a mud mask facial – with REAL mud from the gravel road! (Oh the breakout after that escapade…)

What a sport she was – what a mentor – what a hero!

When grandma got older and became sick, it was my time to repay her. I hope I made her feel as loved as she did me.

G4

Grandma, Jodi, & Nick 1990

I’ll never forget the time when she was recovering from a surgery and stayed with Marty and me in our small home in the spare room so we could look after her closely. I was pregnant with my first son, Jake at the time, and still working full time. Grandma was having trouble sleeping at night and would get chilled and shake and couldn’t get warm. She called out in the middle of the night and Marty got her an electric blanket, but nothing worked. She kept trembling and shaking until I climbed on top of her – pregnant belly and all – wrapped my arms around her and calmed her until the shivering stopped – warmed from my body heat – and love. And we slept through the rest of the night. I know she would have done the same for me. That is the kind of love she taught me.

Her name was Stella, and I thought that was the silliest name when I was young. She loved her name, however. She would proudly tell me that Stella meant “star,” and as I look back, I realized she was – and still is – my shining star.

Do you have a Stella Star in your life?

G1

Stella Star & Her #1 Fan – 1985

I sure hope so. There’s nothing better.

Love you Grandma – then, now, and at all the stages of Life In Between…

Cheers and Hugs,
Jodi

The Journey Back to Daddy’s Girl

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  This post is a special one.  It celebrates a very special event in my life.   A Journey back to Daddy’s Girl…

The Journey Back to Daddy’s Girl – Happy 4th Anniversary Dad!

Today is a very special Anniversary…  A day that brings back floods of memories…  floods of emotions….  reflections on time missed…  but celebration of time and love shared…  from here on…

You see – Today is a Father-Daughter Anniversary.  Today is the 4 year anniversary of my reunion with my Dad (my “birth father”).

And I  thought it deserved a special anniversary card to send to Dad to help us cherish the day.

word traveler train cherish dad anniversary 4 card

So you might think that sounds a bit odd…. Father and Daughter Anniversary???

Well – I’m going to share a kinda big chunk and pretty personal part of my heart today.  So – if you’re not into that or not interested, you may just want to skip this blog.

So here goes…

On July 17, 2010, I was reunited with my Dad (my “birth father” Dad so as not to be confused with another great man in my life that I also call Dad – I know – a bit confusing – and on top of that both of their names are John!).

It was a day neither of us will ever forget.

The reason(s) for our separation for 39 years is really not the point or purpose of this story, nor do I feel appropriate to share, but the joy in our reunion is the focus here….  And oh what JOY we have shared.

For our second Christmas together again in 2012, I presented Dad with a book I wrote for him.

dadbook

I called it, “The Journey Back to Daddy’s Girl.”  The book is a celebration of our initial exchange of emails leading up to our reunion that covers the course of only a few short weeks, but close to 70 pages of exchanges.  It chronicles how we discovered each other again – an adult daughter close to 50 years old – and an even more adult father – close to 70 years old who last saw each other when the little girl was 9 years old and the Daddy was just barely past 30.

We (well mostly I) asked each other questions (sometimes difficult ones) and our exchanges evolved from closings with “John (BF)” to “Love you, Dad”s.

Let me share the “Introduction” with you here.

———-

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  Jodi had a Mom and a Dad and a little brother.

Life was good, until one day when Daddy left.  Then Jodi just got to visit with Daddy on the weekends, until a day came when Mom introduced Jodi and her brother to a new Dad, and told her she would not be seeing her other Daddy any more.

Jodi lived a good life.  Her new Dad and Mom took good care of her and her brother and her new baby sister, but Jodi always felt something was missing.

She thought of her first Dad throughout her life.

She dreamed of bumping into him on the street… their eyes would lock, and they would immediately recognize each other.  Dad would tell her he loved her and missed her and was so proud of the woman she had become…..

Sometimes dreams do come true…”

———-

Marty (for those new here – the hubster), was instrumental in helping me find my Dad.

It is so much more incredibly easier than imaginable with the internet and people search software these days.

Marty has known for years – probably before I even realized – that there was a part of me missing – that there were unanswered questions – that there was a dad out there that I needed – and who needed me.  He has asked me over the years about it – ever since we started dating when I was a mere 16 year old high school girl and he was a “mature” 20-year old “man.”  (That story is a whole blog post for another day).  When Marty realized my yearning had grown so strong, and my need was so great, he was the one that took the step to reach out for me, and the resulting reply is etched in my mind and on my heart forever:

“Hi Jodi – Yes. I am your “Birth Father.”  It was an answer to prayer hearing from you.  I hope that you and John are both fine.  To this day, I regret the worst decision I have ever made.  I was talked into doing something, but I had my own mind.  At the time, I thought I was doing the best thing for your two.  Can you ever forgive me?”

And so began my Journey back to Daddy’s Girl.

And now we celebrate four wonderful years of being a reunited father and daughter, which began on July 17, 2010 when my Dad showed up to my house with a huge bouquet of flowers, a face that looked exactly like mine (and resembles Tom Jones I think only to me 🙂 ), immediately telling me he loved me, and he missed me, that I was beautiful (only to him I’m sure 🙂 ),and he was so proud of me.  You see – he wanted to fulfill my dream…  He wanted our reunion to be the wonderful event I had dreamed about over the years…

We both cried – happy and sad tears.  And we have talked almost every day since then.  We’ve spent  birthdays and holidays and Father’s days together.  He was with me at our son Jake’s wedding.  He loves my family as his own.  His family has embraced me as their own.  They have always known about me, and they welcomed me with open arms.

I will never forget the first time I met my Dad’s wife, Carole (aka Mom 2).  The first thing she said to me was, “Your Dad always promised me a daughter, and now I have one.  We’ve been praying for you for a long time.”

The epilogue of my book closes with:

———-

And so it began …….

With a simple email …

A journey back to Daddy’s girl.

And now, two and a half years later …

… we write each other almost every day

… and talk every weekday morning at 7:05

We’ve spent Father’s days together and holidays and birthdays and are part of each other’s lives again.

Our families love each other and we love each other.

‘What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life’

Dreams do come true!

this is not THE END.”

———-

071710

Father & Daughter Reunion Day – July 17, 2010

I hope this message will encourage those adult children who were separated from birth parents – at whatever age (birth, childhood, teenager, young adult) – for whatever reason – to reach out and try if it is something that has yanked on and ached in your heart for years.

Maybe your ending will not turn out as good as mine did  (and of course there is much more to our story than I’ve shared here so far) , but can anything hurt more than the emptiness and not-knowing that you feel every day?  Could the potential rejection be any worse than what you have imagined or decided or dealt with for years in your heart?

Love is worth the risk.  It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.  Closure or resolution or answers to decades of unanswered questions can let you sleep at night…  can bring you peace… can make you right with yourself!  I’m certainly not an educated or trained professional in this area, but I can only speak of my own personal experience.

I wish you joy.  I wish you peace.  I wish you resolution.  I wish you wholeness of heart – no matter the ending.  YOU are worth it.  YOU are here for a reason.  YOU are loved.

Happy 4 year “Anniversary” Dad!  I love you, and I cherish you!   (And I’ve been listening to “our song” again this week.  I’m betting you will too.)  ❤  “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life!”

Cheers and Hugs,

Jodi

The Family Bookshelf – My Memory Box

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  I hope you enjoy this visit to my family bookshelf – my memory box – as much as I do revisiting it and looking at it every day.

The Family Bookshelf – My Memory Box

the family bookshelf

Do you have a favorite place or space in your home?

One of my favorite spaces in our home is the family bookshelf.

It’s kind of center stage in the great room commanding half of one wall measuring about 8 feet wide by 9 feet tall.

Hubby custom built this a few years after we built our house.

My “usual” seat on the couch directly faces this “memory box,” and sometimes I just stare at all the memories while hubby is staring at the television or the latest book he is reading in the evening.

It’s filled with so many favorite things…

There are a lot of family photos – some from a long time ago and some more recent…

Like our oldest son at 4 years old playing a toy saxophone and then a framed newspaper clipping of him playing a saxophone solo in the high school band.  There’s one of him and his beautiful wife – our beloved daughter-in-law.  There’s one of him and his Dad with a cake they made for a Cub Scouts competition and one in his “cap and gown” at his preschool graduation.

There are photos of our youngest son dressed in his favorite Halloween costume that he wore two years in a row when he was Peter Pan at 4 and 5 years old, in his football uniform for midget football, sticking his tongue out with his Dad and brother on a summer trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park, grinning at me at his preschool graduation, with me at a Kindergarten party where I was his homeroom mom, and with his sweet girlfriend now.

There is a photo of my hubby with his sister when they were young children…  a sister and aunt who we loved dearly and lost way too early from cancer.

And there is a photo of my father-in-law taken on his last day on this earth when he was blessed with a surprise visit from a favorite niece from far away who he hadn’t seen in years.  It is such a sweet memory to see him so happy just hours before he left us.  We will never be able to express enough gratitude to this sweet lady for the joy she brought him that special day.

There are photos of friends and fun times, like a trip to Hawaii with our besties and holiday celebrations with all of our kids.

There are a few books, some significant, some not…  There are high school yearbooks, photo memory books, bibles, favorite children’s books – like our very favorite bedtime read-aloud story book – “Bob and Jack – A Boy and his Yak.”  There are baby books for each of the boys and a special memory book made by my cousin Joyce and given to me at Christmas featuring my first year blogging at LifeinBetween.me.  There are books read at book club and business books and bird books and favorite fiction authors.  There is a copy of the book I wrote and had bound as a gift to my Dad for our second Christmas together after reuniting.  Our wedding photo albums sit on one of the shelves.

Then there are other sweet memorabilia, like our youngest son’s stuffed animal “Curious George” who he loved so dearly as a child and slept with every night.

There is the birthday bear my Dad sent me on my first birthday after we reunited after too many years apart with a sweet note saying, “Happy Birthday Jodi, My Little Girl.  Love you, Dad.”

It was my 48th birthday.

And there is the little trinket box he gave me that says, “Daughter – With all the Beauty on the Earth, there is nothing more Beautiful than you.”

There’s a statue of a yellow lab that was my father-in-law’s sweet memory of his beloved “Brandy.”

There’s a cruise ship trophy our oldest son won singing Karaoke on a cruise with his now wife on a family vacation he went on with her family.

There are “Friends” blocks given to me from my BFF.

There is a photo album of our Cleveland friends wearing Pittsburgh Steelers shirts and poses too explicit to share here after they lost a family bet during a rival football playoff season.

There is a gorgeous painting from a faraway friend who suffered from a life-altering traumatic brain injury that completely changed her life and turned a corporate CEO into an artistic genius and a genuinely beautiful creative inspiration.  I bought her very first piece of artwork, and I treasure it so dearly.

My heart is smiling as I type and recall these memories.

You see – a home is not brick and mortar.  It is not plaster and paint.

It is the memories.

It is the family and friends and people you share it with.

My favorite little plaque hanging on another wall in our home says it all….

“The thing I love most about my home is who I share it with.”

So that is my special home “space.”

What is yours?

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

First Snow

First Snow - 11/19/17 - Mars, PA

First Snow – 11/19/17 – Mars, PA

First Snow.

There’s just something
about the first snow of the season…

That first snow that sticks to the ground and trees –
even if just a briefly passing dusting.

Especially when it happens on
a late Sunday afternoon.

And when it appears suddenly –
as if it wanted to be a special surprise.

And when you are settling in by a warm, crackling fire
in comfy home sweet home.

Cherish the Moments.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

In Case You Forgot


In case you forgot to remind yourself this morning…

It’s a new day ready for fresh beginnings.

Your smile can light up a room.

Your beauty is way more than just your appearance.

You alone are more than enough.

You are doing a pretty awesome job at this thing called life.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS – I also need to remind myself of this, and these maple tree seedpods I fondly remember as “helicopters” from my childhood spring days at Grandma’s remind me of the hope each day brings and the beauty and potential we all have within just waiting to be shared.  

Cherish the Moments!

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

 

This’ll be the Day

sunrise-thistle-feb-2017

This’ll be the Day.

This’ll be the day
I will seek and find
beautiful things
in humble places….

Things that have been there
all along,
but I didn’t take the time
to notice.

This’ll be the day
I will look in the mirror when I rise
and say, “Hello Beautiful”
instead of “Ugggghhhh!”

I will focus
on the things
I like about myself
instead of the things I don’t.

This’ll be the day
I consciously decide
to seek
simple moments to cherish.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

The Road Taken