In-heart-itance  

Has anyone ever left you something that you love SO MUCH, just thinking about it gives you an overflowing abundance  of gratitude? 

Last Sunday we went to see some friends and it was our first time to their house. While there, I noticed an amazing grandfather clock sort of tucked away in the corner of the dining room. 

As far as clocks go, it was rather impressive. It was a Regulator with an ornately carved top. When I asked them about the clock, her eyes lit up and he got up from his chair in front of the playoff football game!

Here’s the thing, a football fan left the game to talk about a clock, a hutch, crock jars, and quilts? That told me right then that those things meant something to him. 

They certainly did. Turns out those items had been his grandparents. When they passed away, he chose the things he connected with. He told me stories of the clock and even shared a boyhood memory of one of the quilts. Love that! 

It also got me thinking about a conversation a different friend and I had recently. We were talking about our grandparents, their lives, their homes, and what they left us. Essentially we discussed our inheritances. 

This is just a guess, but I’d say that most of the time when the word inheritance is mentioned, minds tend to jump to “how much?” That’s fair enough, I suppose. But to me, an inheritance is more about things learned and memories made. 

Financially, neither set of my grandparents were wealthy. Yet, because of them, I am beyond rich.

Rich in history. Rich in character. Rich in keepsakes. Rich in family. Rich in talent. Rich in memories. Rich in grateful. Rich in heart. 

It is because of them that I received my in-heart-itance. 

While I was trying to think of a word to describe what my grandparents left to me, the word in-heart-itance sort of just fell onto the paper. I completely made it up and honestly, it sums everything up quite well. 

  • They taught me that true friends show up.
  • They stepped into compassion’s shoes every morning, and I learned about helping others and kindness. 
  • They shared their love of gardening, flowers, and farming with me. 
  • They not only showed me their hobbies, but taught me to do them as well. Grandma Wilma taught me embroidering. Grandma Irene taught me how to make meringue. Grandpa Abbe showed me how to fish. 
  • Family was of utmost importance to them, and they showed me how to appreciate who we are given. 

They left behind pieces of their lives that fill the spaces of my home. An oil lamp from Grandma Wilma. Crotcheted items they made me when I was little. Letters they wrote me and birthday cards they sent year after year. My embroidery hoops from childhood. A curler that was Grandma Irene’s. She LOVED getting her hair done at the beauty shop and went every week. A cookie jar that I once gave to Grandma Wilma that she gave back to me. 

Another thing I got, nearly bring tears to my eyes. When my grandpa Abbe passed away, there was a bag of coins in his safe deposit box. Now, to coin collectors those coins don’t mean much, but to me, they mean the world.

You see, when he and grandma had their 50th wedding anniversary, there was a big party at the church. Friends and family gave them 50 cent pieces and coins as tokens of celebration.

Six months later, grandma went in for open heart surgery and never came out. He survived her by nearly 20 years. Just like my friend’s clock, those coins meant something to him. 

The symbolism in those coins nearly takes my breath because they represent 70 years of love and living. How cool is that? 

To me, that is when some letters tend to squeeze their way into the word “inheritance” and ultimately put the word heart right where it belongs.  

 

The Last SO KIND Wednesday 

Did anyone happen to grab January as it was zooming by? Where did this month even go? 

On the other hand, I am rejoicing!! That means I’ve almost made it through a month for a New Year’s resolution! Woo hoo! 

For the last SO KIND Wednesday, I decided to go back to the root of things. The idea behind this came from a story I wrote called “Four Words”. In December I had an appointment with a specialist I’d never met. The appointment was made a month in advance and I was nervous pretty much that entire month. 

The day I went to see him will be forever etched in my mind. It was one of those days that had the possibility of being life changing. And, it was. But, not necessarily in the way I was expecting. 

Kindness changes things. :) Today lets think of how kindness has changed our lives. Feel free to use as many words as you like. Here are some ideas:

  • Has anyone ever said anything so kind to you it just stuck with you?
  • Have you ever said something kind to someone and they seemed to have a real connection to it?
  • If you could offer any advice on kindness, what would it be? 

Thanks for joining in. I can’t wait to hear your kindness stories! 

Jessica  

 

Stumbled

Figuratively or literally, have you ever smacked into something when you weren’t looking? 

Funny how that happens sometimes. 

A friend and I have a word we jokingly use to describe our friendship: stumble. She stumbled into my life and I stumbled into hers.

According to definition #4a on Merriam-Webster online dictionary, stumble means “to come unexpectedly or by chance.”

Now, do I truly believe my path crossed with hers at that particular moment by chance? Not really. We had been acquaintances for nearly a year. 

To me, “stumbling” is simply Fate walking into the room and setting a suitcase down. 

I have a theory that the Universe gives us what or who we need when we need it/them, even if we don’t know we need them. Gifts.  

Not all the time, of course. Even though that sounds tempting, getting what we think we need all the time probably wouldn’t be all that great. I’d imagine that’d make our journeys way too easy and probably a bit boring. 

Sometimes Fate’s suitcase shows up when sorrow has been relentlessly pounding at the door. The gift tucked under the socks and pajamas may be a card in the mailbox among a pile of bills or the doorbell ringing and a friend who had no idea what to do, shows up with a meal and a listening ear. 

Other times, Fate’s suitcase appears when life is absolutely normal. Gifts in those moments may actually be missed because they look like common occasions. Packed beneath the toothbrush could be those instances like thinking we are all out of our favorite food, then finding an extra bag of it in the bottom of the freezer, or instead of gas prices dropping the day after we get gas, it drops when we pull into the station.

Once in a while, Fate’s suitcase sneaks in when things are a little off, but nothing is terribly wrong. Between the jeans and t-shirts may lie the gifts of opening a birthday card and seeing $20 fall out, getting a phone call from someone who rarely calls and it’s NOT bad news, or calling a company when money is a little short and finding out they’ll extend your bill. 

I’m pretty thankful that the Universe sort of throws things into our paths.

Seems like the most amazing things happen when we’re looking one way and turn our head back around and looky there! Something we weren’t expecting to see. 

The beauty in that, is the grace of receiving, simply because we stumbled. 

 

SO KIND Wednesday #3

Do you have or have you ever had a special pet in your life? Do you talk to your pets? 

We do. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us share our words with our animals, not only as a way of communicating, but also as a way of showing kindness and appreciation towards them.  

I thought I’d lighten things up this week and ask for four word kindness phrases for our pets. Pets can be a broad range here, including cats, dogs, hamsters, cows, horses, whatever animal you have loved in your past or take care of now. 

As a twist of fun, let’s add the element of humor. Feel free to include what you imagine your pet wants you to say. :) Like “Here’s your favorite food”. “Lay on my pillow”. “Sit on my paper”. Just for fun! 

Next week will be the last SO KIND Wednesday and the contest will be on February 3.

Thanks for joining in! 

Jessica  

 

Irene’s Heart

Do you have someone in your life that has a heart you absolutely admire? 

My someone that comes to mind, is my grandma Irene. You may remember me writing about her before. I’ve mentioned her ingenuity for making the best of hard times and her strong work ethic, among other things. What I haven’t told you about is her heart. 

Part of me wants to say that she had a heart of gold, but that isn’t really accurate. Her heart was actually filled with an abundance of many vibrant colors. When I think of her heart, I picture a mid-summer wildflower bouquet outlined by the shape of a heart. 

The Multiflora Rose’s pink represents her overflowing compassion. The Cornflower’s blue stands for that twinkle in her eye when she saw us coming down the sidewalk. The Ox-Eye Daisy’s white showcases her beautiful light that radiated around her like someone flipped a switch. The Goldenrod’s yellow highlights her love for not only her own family, but for everyone she met. 

Grandma was one of those grandmas you just want to keep forever. She was present in my life from the moment I was born. She did all the sweet stuff that grandma’s do like: crotcheted me my first sweater for kindergarten, gave me those old fashioned Valetines, sent me cards, came to my activities, and spoiled me on the holidays. 

Even after I grew up and went out on my own, grandma was there for me. She was my pen pal for many years and I have letters she wrote me at every address I ever lived. She was definitely  a keeper. 

I hear that grandma’s mom was the same kind of person grandma was. Never met a stranger, adored her family, and knew how to work hard. Great grandma actually came over on the boat from Germany with her family and settled in Iowa. How I wish I could’ve met her. I bet she would have had some stories to tell. 

She passed away before I was born. Turns out her and grandma had more in common than just being great people. They both had sick hearts. We lost them both quite young. Great grandma was age 59 and grandma was 71. 

I found out recently that I have some heart issues. I called my great aunt to tell her. She and grandma were friends/ sister in laws for over 50 years. When I told her, her response was probably the most bittersweet thing I’ve ever heard. “Oh Jessi, you got Irene’s heart?”

Since that phone call, some time has passed. I’ve had a chance to work through some things in my mind and I’m actually settling into things a bit. I’ve been thinking a lot about grandma’s life and the way she lived it in her short time here. She gave her life everything she had, sick heart and all. 

There is such a huge lesson in that. 

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll call my great aunt back and tell her I realized what a privilege it would be if I were to even have a smidgen of the love, compassion, twinkle, and light grandma had, and that, genetics aside, I am beyond proud to have inherited Irene’s Heart. 

Snow, Snow, Snow

Is it snowing where you are? 

It is SNOWING here! Little Bit and I are so excited! What an excellent Sunday morning surprise. 

Several months ago, there were all the signs of a long, snowy winter. The catepillers were big and fuzzy, the old timers that never buy propane for winter heat were buying propane, and the wive’s tales were pointing towards cold, snow-filled months. 

Being the sled kings and the snow angel makers that we are, we have been beyond excited for their predictions to come true. Hmmm. Well, maybe all that snow is coming in the second half of winter. We’ve had three short occasions of snow, and they were only dustings that melted quite fast. 

You can probably imagine our faces when we woke this morning and looked out the window! Grab your coat! Get your hat! 

What a unexpected and wonderful gift! There  we were, standing in our backyard, arms outstretched, screaming “king of the world” while giant snowflakes landed on our cheeks. Then, we lit out in a chorus of “Let It Snow”. The funny thing is, the wind was just right and there was a tremendous echo, so our song traveled across the hills.

After that, I noticed how absolutely quiet it was. The only sounds were some car far off in the distance and the wind chimes singing their lovely song. 

Our bird friends even joined us. The chickadees, cardinals, juncos, and woodpeckers didn’t seem to mind our silliness, because when I looked at the bird feeders on the back porch, there was like a total bird party there! I counted 17 bird “party-goers!” How fun is that? 

We’re back inside now. Layers of coats peeled off and piled up. Our cheeks seem to be thawing out. And, here I am with a huge smile plastered across my face. What a beautiful day for snow, snow, snow.  

    
   

Something Totally New

Have you ever tried something new, just for the sake of trying it? Even if there was a chance it may not work out?

Yeah, me too. It’s kind of funny how daily life seems to present many opportunities for this. Just sitting here, I came up with a list, including:

*Being at a favorite restaurant and ordering something new and random off the menu, even if we always order something we know we love.

*Reading a new book fiction book, even if we only read nonfiction.

*Listening to rap music, even if we prefer country.

*Starting a blog, even if we told someone we never would. (Oh, wait. That was me! Ha!)

*Learning a new language, even if we will never go to that country.

*Buying a new brand of something we love, say coffee, even if the one we have is great.

*Trying a new recipe after seeing a picture of a delicious looking dish, even if there are steps in it we’ve never done before.

*Applying for a dream job, even if we’re not quite qualified.

*Doing a crossword puzzle, even if we are masters of word search.

*Taking a drive WITHOUT the GPS just to see some new sights, even if getting a little lost is a possibility.

While those things may not be associated with major risk taking, the way I see it, anytime there is a chance for growth, learning, or simply an enlightenment in a possible “a-ha’ moment, even the smallest risk may be worth the chance.

I’m smack dab in the middle of one of those lessons. Most of you know that I am relatively knew at blogging. Because I’m still learning, I try to pay attention to blogging advice. In December, I was reading the chapter on blogging called, “Blogging Basics” in the book “2015 Writer’s Market”. What caught my eye was point #15 that said, “EXPERIMENT. Start small, but don’t get complacent. Every so often, try something new.”  (It continues on about ideas the author tried.)

I thought about that. Did I really NEED to do something different with my blog? Maybe not. I have pretty much been in awe with the amount of people reading my stories and the kind, heartwarming comments that I’ve received. But, on the other hand, maybe my readers would enjoy something new. So, I started researching.

I did my homework. I researched how to have a contest, what kind of prizes are ideal, how to increase interaction with readers, how to increase comments, how to come up with something different, how to come up with a catchy title. I did a bunch of brainstorming and came up with a new idea.

And, that is how the ReSOlution of KINDness and the SO KIND Wednesdays were born. I can’t tell you how proud of myself I am for stepping out of my blogging comfort zone. I learned so much that I may not have ever known if I would have stayed the same. Funny how that seems to happen. 

Was doing something totally new worth the risk? Definitely. It’s like I always tell Little Bit, we’ll try anything once. Is it working? Uhhhh… not really. Originally, I had pictured tons of interest, tons of comments, and tons of interaction.

But, wait a minute. It is ok! Truly it is. As I sit here typing, I have a huge smile on my face, because as I said above, I am in the middle of the lesson. I am absolutely filled with gratitude to the few amazingly kind and generous souls who have commented on SO KIND Wednesdays. Honestly, I was going to be extremely embarrassed if I won my own prizes, because I didn’t have any participants. Whew! I am saved from that! Ha! 

One lesson I’m learning is there are all kinds of blogs and all sorts of reasons for blogs. That’s what makes the art of blogging so diverse and interesting.  

I had an “a-ha” moment today when I realized that maybe the purpose of my blog is to simply share stories. These same stories that come flowing out of my heart when I barely have time to grab a pen. It’s easy to get tied up in the numbers and the “shoulds” of what we’re doing, whether it’s blogging or something else. 

What I figured out is that even if something doesn’t quite go as planned, it doesn’t mean it didn’t have a purpose. It may just have been a different one than we were thinking of. 

Sometimes the “trying” is truly a gift. And, maybe sometimes, the small act of stepping outside of that little safety net we let ourselves sort of sit in, is what’s so freeing. 

Who knows, maybe that next brand of coffee or maybe that new book will lead to something completely unexpected and we’ll learn some really cool lessons, simply because we tried something totally new.

 

 

 

 

 

SO KIND Wednesday #2

How are you doing today? Are you having a good week? 

Today is the 2nd Wednesday in the ReSOlution of KINDness. Today I thought we could talk about supporting friends/ family. 

I’ve been thinking about my friends and family a lot lately. With my health scare a few months ago, they stepped up and have been so supportive. I am just in awe. 

One friend loaded all her little kiddos up, bought me some flowers, and drove 40 miles ONE WAY to deliver them, and I wasn’t even home! What a surprise when I got home and found those flowers and sweet card. 

Another friend got a list of my dietary restrictions, contacted a friend of hers with similar restrictions who gave her recipes I could eat, and had her sister make me holiday treats. 

Other friends have helped out when I had appointments to get to. 

My parents drove 5 hours to see me when they heard I was in the hospital in September. 

Other friends and family members have been supportive with listening ears and kind words. 

The common thread here is support. So, I thought friends and family would be a great theme for today. Are there any four word kindness phrases your friends or family have said to you? Or can you think of any that we could say to our friends/ family? 

Seems like people face challenges and triumphs every day. A four word kindness phrase could really be a small gift to someone, in let’s say, a text or a phone call if circumstances permit us from seeing them at that moment. 

Here’s some I came up with:

  • I’ve got your back.
  • You can do this. 
  • You’re a rock star. 
  • You make me smile. 
  • I’m glad we’re friends. 
  • Let’s eat, I’ll treat. 
  • Got you a gift! :) 
  • We’ll get through this.
  • I have total faith.
  • Let’s talk over tea.
  • Call anytime you want.
  • I think you’re great!

I’m excited to hear yours!

Jessica 

It’s a Girl Thing

Do you have pets? Are you lucky like us, and have two females? Like at the same time? 

That definitely makes things interesting at our house. We have two female cats, sisters even. They don’t get along. At all. Which is fine, we keep them separated. 

However, I don’t know why we ever thought two females was some splendid idea! My poor husband not only has me, but also two cats that think they own this place. 

The little lovely in the picture is Miss Lulu Jones. According to her, she is queen of the universe. Fair enough. Her and her sister were the only survivors out of their litter and our sweet Lulu is a special needs kitty. As far as we’re concerned, she can be the queen of any universe she wants. 

Miss Lulu has been having a bit of a hard time this week. She clearly didn’t feel well and was scratching and licking like crazy. So, I did what I always do in any medical situation, I started googling. 

Whoa and yikes. Turns out there are some really alarming things for cats under those search words! Things like parasites, mites, and mange to name a few. I pretty much scared myself silly and by the time we got to the vet, I was prepared for the worst. 

The kind veterinarian looked her over, smiled, and said, “we can do this.” I braced myself and nearly wet my pants when he gave his diagnosis:

Hormones. 

Oh man, poor cat. 

P.S. Now I understand why we got two females. It’s a girl thing! 

 

SO KIND Wednesday #1

Are you ready to come up with some four word kindness phrases?

I’m so excited because today is the first Wednesday of the ReSOlution of KINDness. Each Wednesday in January will be a SO KIND Wednesday. I thought we could brainstorm four word kindness phrases each week and then end with a contest on February 3, 2016.

You may be wondering why I chose kindness as a New Year’s resolution. Here’s why: 

  • Being kind is pretty easy. 
  • It’s cheap, you can be kind without spending anything. 
  • There’s a chance to possibly change someone’s life. 

Recently, a doctor changed mine, when he uttered four kind words. That experience prompted a story I wrote called “Four Words” and gave me the idea for this. Funny how things sort of fall together sometimes. 

Today’s four word kindness phrase theme is: children. 

  1. Let’s think about all the children in our lives: our kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, neighbor kids, friend’s kids.
  2. Now, let’s think of some four word kindness phrases that we could say.
  3. Feel free to comment the ones you come up with. We’ll use everyone’s comments as a basis for the contest on February 3. 

A friend already stunned me with one that she thought of and I thought it’d be a great one to start with:

I believe in you. :) 

Thanks for joining in!

Jessica