Happy New(s)

Posh releases new summer products this week and I’m all agog in anticipation.  Then That’s when it it hit me!  An epiphany!  I suddenly realized why I find myself disenchanted with every news channel and broadcast on the .  They all need to take a page from the Posh playbook.

You see, every broadcast and news channel is just same-o, same-o stuff.  Russian hijinks, North Korean temper tantrums, Donaldisms, Mideast rumblings.  Nothing ever really changes.  Retitle it The Days of Our Lives and it makes more sense.  Current news, aka soap operas, bore me.  They bore me silly.

People!  The news is supposed to be new!!  As a public service, I offer you some real news instead:

Posh Announces Release of New Products June 1st

  • A new skin cleansing and super hydrating chunk
  • A new and much-loved scent in a Big Fat Yummy Hand Creme
  • A much-loved return of a body butter
  • A calming scrub
  • A specialty product for your face
  • A second specialty product for your faceoption 2

The release airs June first.  Pictures to follow.  Get ready for some real news that brings smiles to the faces of those you love.  Who doesn’t love great skincare with luscious scents at affordable prices?  Really?  You can find them by visiting my site,and let me assure you, I love pampering my customers!  There’s some news for ya’!

Memorialize Stories–Not Just Graves

I always decorate graves this time of year.  Getting my sons to join me in that endeavor ranks with “Gotta’ mow the lawn, Mom!” and “Time to change the oil, Mom!”  In other words, decorating grave sites may actually be at the bottom, the absolute bottom of the list of things they want to do.

We’re preparing for Alma’s graveside service.  Knowing all 15 of us, kiddos and their parents will be there, a flood of memories I want to share flood my mind.  Buried near Alma are my mom, my grandmother and grandfather, aunts and uncles, a host of family members who slapped Alma on the back or bear-hugged him in his transition.  I plan on taking the whole kit and caboodle on a little walk down memory lane.  I want to share a short anecdote about the people who shaped their lives, who pray for them, whose DNA prescribed their noses and chins and hair lines.  They even touch our adopted kiddos one way or another.

memorialsStories transcend time.  They take us to a time and place the imagination makes vivid with description.  We may live in a visually over-dosed society, but never underestimate  the osmosis of  values, love, or joy from words bridging generations.  Decorating graves is something I do, but yes, I’m telling stories this year.  True ones.

 

Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

I’m paring down to about three posts a week on my blog.  I expect sooner or later you’llmeatballs grow tired of my company, so cutting back for the summer just made sense.  It also made me wonder.  Absence and fondness became cliched so long ago, I doubt anyone remembers who first coined the phrase.  If you know, tell me!

I gave the whole concept some thought.  If you love someone and see your loved one less, I think you may feel tantalized with the thought of being together soon, but your love grows for other reasons.  Shared hopes in letters, calls, exchange of pictures…it all deepens fondness.  But not absence.

Mostly I think it’s true when we talk about things like meatballs.  Every so often we visit a new Italian restaurant where I don’t have a “usual” item I love on the menu.  The scent of meatballs wafts through the door as I enter, and shazaaaam!!!  I have to order meatballs!  It’s only when the plate sits before me with fork in hand that I remember.  I don’t really like meatballs.  Nope.  Not at all.  So did absence make my heart grow fonder?  No, it created an illusion of fondness totally devoid of reality.

When I disappear from sight three days a week this summer, I hope you still love me.  I don’t expect you to go all ga-ga when I write, but I do love your comments.  Everyone loves to be heard, even when those we most want to hear us abide across the great chasm no man bridges.  Absent but not forgotten, loving nonetheless.

The New Normal Can Be Fun

Winter eclipsed into summer leaving scorching temperatures in its wake.  In despair we gave up on spring.  We mourned the loss of spring.  Then out of the blue, cooler spring-like weather blew in.  I should be overjoyed.  Yet now I sit on the deck shivering, while indomitable little people insist it’s not too cold to swim, and they must be watched, ergo I shiver.  Mother Nature’s vagaries play havoc with my life, and in the midst of it all, I love watching little people savor every last drop of joy in the process.

Changes large and small now define us.  It used to just be the fluctuating stock market or roiling issues in the Mideast that epitomized our lives in flux.  Not so anymore.  Change itself has become the norm.  Ann Dalton, our Posh guru, recently told us regarding challenges and change in the marketplace, “This is the new normal.  Get used to it.”

When you look at your finances, your place of employment, your bank balance, your portfolio, do you feel secure?  Any individual, be it a CEO or a janitor, exercises a mere dab of control over his or her own income/destiny these days.  A side hustle is one small thing you can control.  Choose something you like, something you’ll enjoy.  Dive in.  Allocate resources of time, energy, a small startup monetary investment…you choose.  Your dime, your future.  You be the change and define yourself.  For example, everyone sells skincare these days, but I market the magic in making it fun.  I chose a logo that looked like fun.  Yeah, I sell fun.  Having fun as I grow old is my new norm.  What’s yours?

option 2

What is the Second Great Mystery?

I often read about serious things.  I do.  I know that theologians refer to the inexplicable nature of God as being The Great Mystery, but the issue of disappearing internet bandwidth ranks right up there in my book!  On the 15th we got a text telling us we had used up our allotment of bandwidth.  Really?  With half a month to go?  Had it vaporized into thin air?  Our habits are deeply ingrained; we hadn’t changed one iota.  Yet suddenly our lives were drastically altered.  We contemplated a Stonehendge existence, and I realized three stark options before me:

  1. We could purchase expensive tokens as a temporary solution.  The helpful lady at customer service gifted us two, which disappeared in less than 24 hours.  Somehow, that didn’t look like a satisfactory option.  How does that even happen?
  2. We could upgrade our plan and restart another 24-month cycle of enslavement to HughesNet.  Ick.
  3. We could camp out at Panera’s when we wanted to use a laptop.  Tasty!

Right now, pencil in hand, I realize how deeply dependent I am.  I run my business on the internet.  We communicate via email on the internet.  I keep recipes on my Pinterest board, which, of course, lives on the internet.

Byte by byte the encroaching and never ending reach of technology poses as a blessing, but its ramifications quickly become a curse when your access disappears or your identity gets hacked.  Our information, minute details of our lives get encrypted into invisible strands that stream away, landing who knows where and handled by nefarious rogues, I’m sure.  Upon reflection, I realize the periphery of my life revolves around internet availability, but the essence of my heart and mind dwell in another dimension.  A solid dimension of hugs and meals and people. The problem is that I spend as many waking hours wrestling with the periphery as I do with what matters most, and see no way of changing that.

I bet you’re wondering how we solved this weighty dilemma.  We immediately ruled out #2.  In six months we will be free to look at another company lined with fine print, but a different cage may feel more attractive to us.  We opted not to change our plan.  At roughly $10 a meal at Panera’s, I figured that three days of internet usage equaled the cost of 10 extra tokens.  I stopped right there and discarded door #3.  Yes, we made someone’s day and bought tokens.  Label me #ensaredbytheunseen.   This second great mystery plagues me.

words

For now I sleep comforted, knowing I own 10 tokens of an unknown quantity of internet bandwidth, which means diddly squat in terms I understand.  Actually, I didn’t sleep all that well last night.  The second great mystery eludes me.

The Ivy and the Stripper

Many good things come in three’s.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Faith, hope and charity.  Bacon, eggs and salsa.  OK, I may have lost you on that one.  But do you want to know what doesn’t get better in three’s?  Leaves.

Yup.  Poison ivy season peeps out in corners of my yard, and threatens to take over the world.  I know people who claim they start sprouting blisters just seeing it, breathing it, being near it.  Few people are immune to the ivy warrior marching forward into battle, threatening everyone who crosses its path.  With eight grandchildren playing outside, I can either purchase stock in Calydryl, feed them Benadryl like candy, or treat it with a Posh wonder…the Stripper.  The boys like it because it feels like wearing camo.  The girls like it because I put it on them and talk about frosting cakes.

This charcoal body mud has become the Rhoads’ first line of defense against the green marauder.  Let me say this for you new readers, a fact I love to offer:  Remember, charcoal can pull up to 2000 times its weight of impurities out of your skin.  Just visualize that ooey-gooey nasty ivy toxicity being sucked into oblivion, contained from spreading.  Win the Ivy Wars!  If you can’t decimate its presence in your yard, use the Stripper to control its advance across a loved one’s precious little arms and legs.  You can find it on my site:  http://www.madaboutposh.com  Click on COLLECTIONS, click on BODY MUD.

stripper

Sawdust and Wood Shavings

caveat:  this is not a happy post.  Don’t feel obligated to read it, despite the fact that I felt obligated to write it.

It’s been 9 weeks since my son’s death.  I hoped, despite all warning to the contrary, it would be a matter of bouncing back.  No.  I still have a hole in my heart.

During the day when I find myself busy with friends, working my business, dealing with kiddos…I’m good.  It feels like he’s at work.  These activities never included him, so I carry on as if nothing changed.  Yet every evening I listen for his truck.  My head knows things my heart finds irreconcilable.  That rumble never shoots past our house and down the drive to his.  And never will.

Walking down to their house and entering his shop, the wood shavings from his projects no longer litter the floor.  Friends carefully stowed his tools away.  Very few of his things remain in view, yet the house he built bears his fingerprints from the shop to the third floor attic.  And I see him in his wife and children, reciting his favorite sayings and hanging onto his memory for all they’re worth.  These shavings just aren’t the same thing as being able to see him, talk to him, hug him one last time.

Somehow, being a believer makes it harder.  I believe in a loving God.  I know He is a God of purpose and all is meant for good.  Yet in the midst of unbearable sorrow that knowledge brings me no comfort.  Sundays are the hardest.  I unlock the door of my heart in worship and I am undone.

I know anger is a part of the process, yet I feel no anger, so have I not begun to heal?  Such a worrisome thought.  I had more time with my son than many a mother who gets to enjoy a full lifespan…what a blessing!  Yet I never got to say goodbye.  I wasn’t done mothering.  The hole in my heart feels like a gaping wound and perhaps it always will.

It’s Sunday night.  Time to lock things up for the week.  Time to carry on.  Sawdust litters the floor of my heart, Alma John, and I miss you!  I look up at the chair where you plopped down to chat with me several times a week, and you’re not there.  How I wish you were.  Just too much sawdust.

 

Your Tombstone

I am known far and wide (in my own family) for my potato salad.  True.  Megan said she didn’t like anyone else’s, but she tried one bite of mine and loves it.  Lori agreed.  What a recommendation!  I argued long with my oldest son to be able to serve it on Mother’ Day, and he only conceded when I promised I’d share my recipe.  In full disclosure, I admit everyone over 13 loves it.  Don’t ask the littles.

If you carved your own headstone, what would you etch for eternity to see? I think taking inventory on a regular basis constitutes good mental hygiene.  Here’s what I hope I am known for:

  • smiling with grandchildren
  • super good waffles with sleepovers
  • friendship with peers
  • service for God
  • being a camper at heart
  • ever a mama bear
  • best potato salad known to modern man

Printing this list and taping it to a mirror offers me a daily reminder of what’s important to me.  A Calvinist might consider my barometer shallow, but I freely admit that being a human being isn’t easy.  Some days I aspire to just this much.  No more.  I leave perfection to those better than I.

And my potato salad?  Perhaps it’s time to spill the proverbial beans, or potatoes, in this case.  You can find my secret recipe under any Hellman’s label, but I offer it here for my oldest son, who I am sure never reads my blog.  Megan, don’t you dare write it down and give it to him!

  • 5 pounds red potatoes, boiled and chopped with skins intact
  • one onion, chopped
  • six hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery (which Levi won’t eat so I don’t add)
  • 1 cup Hellman’s
  • 1 teaspoon sugarAutosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

I encourage you, dear reader.  Take stock.  Etch your tombstone onto your mirror (use pen and paper.  It’s easier.)  Be known for what matters most to you.  If you aspire to perfection, go for it.  If you, like myself, just celebrate surviving some days, don’t beat yourself up.  I think every tombstone ought to tell a story.  What’s yours?

What is Truth?

Charcoal.  The proverbial chunk of coal pressed into a diamond leaves centuries of untold drama in its wake.  Now I don’t care if that’s urban legend or gospel.  I like it, so I accept it.  These days truth depends on what newspaper you read or which commentator you listen to on television, so I feel free to believe anything I want.  I believe coal becomes diamonds, and I have no facts to dispute it.  I barely survived chemistry.  Four times.  You have no idea how sad I am to admit that, but it leaves me free to believe the very best about the lowly lump of coal.

What I do know about charcoal, however, excites me.  Did you know that charcoal can, all by itself, pull at least a thousand times its weight of impurities from your skin?  Charcoal serves as a natural filter, lifting toxins from the aggregate form.  In a mask like Cackle Spackle, it lifts oil, dead cells, and debris to clean your pores and make your face squeaky clean.  That just plain makes me smile.

You see, take away the jewel-toned packaging.  Take away the cute name.  Take away the competitive pricing.  What remains cleanses, purifies, detoxifies.  It is a high quality product.  I tried Cackle Spackle, and let me just tell you this: If you are 68 going on 69, you do not need this mask.  It lifted dirt, cleansed pores and residual oils.  Probably all the residual oils I’d been storing up for a rainy day.  Afterwards my skin was D-R-Y.  I need a gentler mask.  Envy This, a caffeinated mask, hits the spot for me.  But masking?  The truth is, everyone ought to mask.  Yes, that means you!

 

What is a Blog?

Blogging.  I am conflicted about the whole concept of blogging.  On the one hand, it seems like the ultimate self-adulation in a world drunk with selfies.  What possible insight does one lonely blogger offer a society stuffed with too much useless information?  Google any topic and you’ll find a plethora of quotes and articles, and probably spend hours sifting through it all.  Adding to the reams of cacophony seems pointless.  On the other hand, the impulse to write burns within me.

I write for myself.  I write for my business, because I love what I do.  I write because words carry innate power within themselves.  Words sear.  Convict.  Touch.  Hurt.  Heal.  They pose as insignificant chicken scratches, but don’t be fooled.

Oh no, my friend.  Words aren’t just mightier than the sword.  They infuse life and motive into the swing of the sword.  Sentient within the universe lies a Being I call God.  He created words and imparted Himself, His essence into words, leaving them open to the heart and mind of the person who uses them, be it a good heart or an evil heart.

I take these words I pen very seriously.  And so should you.  Because once you read them, the voice in your mind forever retains them, truth and untruth.  My friends, I am honored you read my words.  I promise to write strong words, edifying words, words worthy of your time.

 

Wonder Woman