Photo Essay Series
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This is the fourth of my photo essay series featuring images from YourCreativeChord’s newly designed 2020 nature photo calendars. The calendars include monthly self-care themes highlighting strategies for nurturing your creativity and inspiration. See more of my nature-inspired
I got my Trek road bike the year my brother tragically died in a car accident. Our final conversation was about bicycling. John was an outdoorsman who loved hiking, camping, and cycling.
He was 12 years younger than me, so there was a large gap of time after I’d moved from Kentucky to Florida, when our interactions were limited to my visits home for holidays, or when he and his now ex-wife visited me in Florida.
I’d just moved back to Kentucky from Japan when he drove down from his Indianapolis home to spend time with me. Basically, we didn’t know each other as adults, so he made an attempt to connect.
We sat in my parents’ office while he yammered on about the fun of camping and cycling, urging me to make plans to do both with him as soon as possible. His enthusiasm was always at the forefront of his personality. He also knew a lot about bicycles, so I took notes on bike companies and local stores to shop.
He died a few months after that chat, a few days short of turning 29 years old.
As part of my grief therapy, I determined to buy a bicycle to honor his memory and his love of nature. I went to the store he recommended and bought this bike.
Whenever I ride my bike, I feel John with me, like the kid he always was to me; eager for me to pedal faster, go higher, fly over hills and explore the back roads to see new adventures through his eyes. I don’t go as fast or as far as I did when younger, but I still enjoy everything about cycling that John talked about in our last conversation.
This picture is my bike on a short break as I snapped the sunrise over Kentucky Horse Park, just off Iron Works Pike, where I’d cycled from Legacy Trail, Lexington.
This scene feels like my life swelling up with healing energy from breathing the cool morning air. Lexington’s signature rolling bluegrass hills and quietly grazing horses permeate my soul with familiarity and an unparalleled aesthetic.
This photo reveals the profundity of the universal force within life, surpassing time and physical boundaries, connecting me with my brother’s heart, which feels to me the same as my own.
I’m alive in this setting, with eternity enveloping my life. My mixed emotions are always worth enduring for the spiritual cleansing effect that cycling through nature yields.
I can’t help but think my brother knew the impact cycling would have on me. The spiritual, compassionate connection I feel through immersion in nature while cycling is our unbroken link.
My bike rides enable me to absorb value from both the suffering and joy of life. Although painful experiences happen to us all, this snapshot represents the rewarding depth of richness and inner strength gained from the dramatic cycle of life and death.
There is beauty even within our suffering and loss, if we are willing to open our hearts to find it there.
May your wheels always roll forward as you feel life’s gentle breeze on your back.
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I’m posting my poem (below) to honor Mother’s Day, and as a tribute to my amazing Mom. I wrote it a few years ago, while sitting in my Florida home, as a recollection of fond memories from my teen years.
We lived in a 3-story white stone house, with a chain-fenced backyard, in Lexington, Kentucky. Mom tended a vegetable garden at the end of our backyard.
I hope this post brings a smile to your face and fills you with a sense of gratitude for mothers everywhere. Whether they are biological or adopted, every mother figure in our lives is a treasure.
Speaking of treasures, if you want to get a little something wonderful for Mom, check out my Self Care Resources page. There are some lovely goodies there to pamper Mom!
I hope you spend a little time enjoying and appreciating your mother. For those whose relationships are less than positive, I hope you can have a prayerful moment to appreciate that at the least, you are here because of her.
My relationship with my mother has its complexities and it took years for me to appreciate her the way I do now. Ultimately, though, the gift of life she gave me is the most precious of all. It is for this, and everything else she has done for my life, that I owe her my eternal gratitude. Happy Mother’s Day.
Jenny Leigh Hodgins with her mother, Minva G. Hodgins, enjoying the Lexington Arboretum Gardens.
Remember to get a little something wonderful FOR MOM: Check out my Recommended Self Care Resources!
From My Mother’s Garden To My Heart
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Day after summer day, hours upon hours, her body doubled over, almost upside down, with thick gloves, digging through weeds to pull up yellow squash, or heads of lettuce and cabbage, or cucumbers and tomatoes…
Particularly amused, she’d hold one of the large ones up in the air, flashing it at us as if she’d proudly caught a rotund fish, and shout with glee, ‘Would ya LOOK at this thing?!’
From our swing-set seats or upon briefly halting our mad dashes through the water sprinkler, or our wrestling match with the dog, we’d give it a once over. A quick glance at that bumpy, odd-shaped giant, yellow catch-of-the-day. And roll our eyes in mutual amazement.
With her large-rimmed straw hat, she protected that fair, freckled, beautiful Southern-belle face from the bold sun beating down at her. I was always quietly amused at how she’d brazenly wear those strapless halter tops and short shorts, bearing all kinds of skin, sweating bullets through her pores— completely immersed in the greenery and rainbow of vegetables she tended patiently and cheerfully.
Ever so often, snatching up a hoe, she’d thrust it into the ground, as if spearing a swimming crab, let out an unexpected loud yelp, then flip her arms forcefully, to toss the remains of a garter snake against the fence.
How I used to moan and groan when she’d order me out there with her to pull weeds or pluck green beans, dishing out grief like a true adolescent whenever I had to sit out in that heat with her and my Aunt Nonnie, to pull strings off those green things.
One by one, throwing them in a silent pile inside my grandmother’s big, antique porcelain bowl. Those moments were like sitting on time, as if nothing else in the world would happen next. As if all there was to do was sit in the heat plucking out strings, building my mountain of fresh, snapped pieces in that old bowl.
After all my fussing, there’s still nothing that compares to the aroma and those scrumptious feasts she’d lay out before us, day after day, night after night, with the colors of her garden always arranged as beautifully on our table as any painter’s glorious canvas scene.
Never will forget the warmth of her kitchen, the artistry of her table, set by me with careful instructions from her, my director at the helm. Every meal a special occasion of a mother’s love, each plate carefully decorated with her flair; Vegetables draped elegantly over those flowery designs on the edges of our china. Main course meats and pork sliced ever so symmetrically, dotted with sauces or gravies for just a splash of color or a special, flavorful sensation.
Even now, in my own inferior kitchen rumblings, those delectable moments in my memories of my mother pull me through, guide my tastebuds, hold me up, as I put together my own dinners.
I sit, in silence, chewing my food while far away in time and thought, re-living my mother’s way of filling her children with love and nourishment.
I am grateful, and oh so satisfied, to have experienced my mother’s wonderful, Southern hospitality.
Get your FREE download of YCC's Top 10 Things To Help You Reach Your Goals! Plus get more more strategies for Creativity & inspiration!
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In my CREATIVITY blogs, you’ll find tips for exploring creative flow, and inspiring content related to the inherent challenges and tremendous joy within the creative process.