Miracles and Gratitude Day 8

Truth?

I’m a sappy mess when I leave my parents house. I’ve always been. I’ve cried nearly every time I’ve left their house for, well, most of my life. Wayyyyyy before my momma passed.

For years, they’d stand in the doorway or on the porch, waving and watching as I pulled away and I cried for miles.

This afternoon, my son and I will start making our way south and east. It’s 8 hours up here to my dad’s. We’re going to split the trip and stay overnight half way. Then, home tomorrow for bowling.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my home, too. I don’t mind going home, even. It’s just the leaving here that starts the waterworks.

If you’ve lost one parent, you may understand this need to want to see and be with the other one. It’s such a gift to be here. I thought I’d have my momma 20 more years. As they say, ‘time is not promised.’

For my miracles and gratitude today, I’m going to share my momma’s flowers. She LOVED flowers. All kinds- wildflowers, roses, irises, morning glories, and more.

Miracles and Gratitude Day 8:

flowers in my parent’s yard
my momma’s zinnias
our roses
mom’s yellow rose
our zinnias

I’m grateful for these past few days. There’s miracles all around.

Feel free to share your gratitude and miracles if you’d like. What I’m beginning to see is, the more days I do this, the more miracles show up.

Hope you have a great day.

Jessica

On Giving

Yesterday, while traveling to my parent’s house, we stopped in a town to do a little shopping.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I spotted a van with a couple of people standing by it. A closer glance revealed that it was a mom and dad and two kids.

My attention was immediately drawn to a sign the dad was holding. I couldn’t read it all, but past experiences seeing signs told me they may have been needing help of some sort.

After we came out of the store and got in our truck, I got a good look at their sign. They were traveling and needed some help with gas, food, and a motel. I found myself opening my wallet….

My momma was a giver. Her heart was bigger than the size of the word generosity itself.

She’d buy overly priced popcorn and baked goods that kid’s clubs were selling. She donated items, gave food to families, gave money where it was needed. She gave.

In her 75 years on this planet, she helped many. Not just people, but animals, too. I can’t even begin to tell you how many sweet, random dogs made their way to our house.

Not a bunch at once, but one here and there. She kept them and they’d become part of the family. One time, several kittens showed up on the back step during the winter.

She nursed them all back to health and kept them until they went on their merry way.

I think watching her give to and help others all my life, rubbed off. I’ve always been a giver, but recently, since losing her, I’ve really had the urge to give.

A couple of weeks ago, about sunset, I went to the grocery store in a town 25 miles from home. When I parked, I saw a KITTEN at the edge of the parking lot by the weeds.

It was alone, no other cats in sight. Strange, I thought. Kittens are usually together. It was black with white feet and about half the size of our kittens.

When I came out, I saw it again. My heart ached. I went to the Dairy Queen next door and ordered some rotisserie chicken. After it cooled, I tore it into tiny bites, and took it to where I saw the kitten.

The kitten wasn’t there, but I put it on the ground, called “here kitty kitty” and got back in my truck. A minute passed and it saw the chicken. Full belly that night.

I went to the same grocery store last week. I was praying that the kitten wouldn’t be there and that it had found a home. Heart crushed again, it was still in the same spot.

I came out of the store all ready to go back to Dairy Queen for more chicken, but I didn’t see the kitten anywhere. Maybe someone took it home? Where was it? I was torn about what to do.

I left.

While driving home, I began thinking about that kitten. What if it stepped down into the weeds and I just didn’t see it? What if it was hungry? Should I turn around?

I actually pulled over and thought about if I should go back. That may sound extreme for some kitten in a parking lot, but that’s what we do, you know?

Compassion just shows up where and when it’s needed. Kitten or human or anything else, hungry is hungry.

It was dark and I ultimately, I decided to wait. Logic started kicking in. The kitten had survived a week. I had also talked to a store employee at the checkout who said he had been trying to get the kitten to come to him.

I went on home.

Back to the store parking lot yesterday. I found $10 in my wallet, pulled up near the van and stuck my arm out the window. The mom came over offering all kinds of thank you’s.

I pulled away with tears in my eyes.

My momma was a giver. So am I. No wonder I miss her so much.

Thank you for reading.

Jessica

a card in a Mindful set
a pretty birdhouse
flowers at my parent’s house
a sweet birdhouse
Rose of Sharon

© COPYRIGHT 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

*** all writing and photos are mine

Miracles and Gratitude Day 2

Gratitude:

  1. I am absolutely, totally, and completely grateful for my dad!!!!!

He and mom were married 55 years when she passed in March 2022. I’m just SO thankful that I still have my dad. My boy and I are going to see him on Thursday. He lives 8 hours from us.

2. Washer and dryer

Can you imagine having to wash clothes in a creek every single day???

3. Leftovers

My husband made shrimp stir fry on the grill yesterday, so no cooking for me today!

Miracles:

Eyesight that sees color!

a glorious yellow
a sweet purple

I walked 22 more driveway laps this morning and went back out in the pasture. The yellows and purples are so pretty right now.

Please join in, if you’d like. I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for and what miracles are showing up for you.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Jessica

P.S. I’ve only gotten a few chigger bites so far! Woo hoo!

© COPYRIGHT 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

** all writing and photos are mine

Miracles and Gratitude Day One

Gratitude:

  1. my long driveway

My neighbor walks 30 miles on her driveway. I decided to start walking, too. I just walked 22 laps on mine.

2. 10 acres

Having 10 acres allows me the freedom to sing as loud as I want to Fleetwood Mac and 10,000 Maniacs songs while walking those 22 laps. Ha ha!

3. Taking a chigger risk.

We have a huge back pasture. There’s wildflowers everywhere. Last time I came out here was in June and I got chigger bites soooooo bad. Itch city. Today’s the first day I’ve been back out here.

I’m standing out here right now. It’s rumored that someone my husband knows is going to come brush hog (mow) this pasture in a few weeks.

At first, I freaked out! What about the deer? My husband assured me that there will still be plenty of places for them to eat and bed down.

When I just turned to walk the fence row, I saw a deer run the opposite way. I apologized to her for intruding in on her space on such a lovely day.

There’s a soul lifting breeze out here. Bugs are singing. Leaves are blowing. There goes a monarch butterfly.

Miracle photos:

  1. Millie
Millie

Millie is a true miracle. She was born on my front porch in August 2021. She was the last kitten born and she wasn’t breathing. I tried rubbing her, warming her up, etc to see if she’d get a breath. Nothing.

I ran inside to get the phone to search ‘kitten cpr” and when I got back to the porch, she had started breathing. Yay!!! Sweet thing.

2. Art Supplies

art I made this morning

Art supplies are pretty miraculous. With some glue and things, some really cool stuff can be made.

Thank you for being here! Feel free to comment with your first day gratitude and/ or miracles you’ve seen.

Jessica

© copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

*** all photographs are mine

Noticing Miracles and Gratitude Challenge

It’s my 7 year blog anniversary, so I’ve been looking through older posts. Man, I’ve got some cool stuff on this blog!

Lots and lots of beautiful nature photos and pictures of places we’ve gone to. We have been to some amazing places.

Two posts in particular caught my eye. One is on noticing miracles and the other is about a gratitude experiment I did once.

I used to do a lot of writing about miracles and lately I’ve had my blinders on a bit in the noticing them part. Grief clouds up many things, it seems.

If you’re in loss/grief, you’ll probably understand.

I decided I’m going to do a completely-made-up-by-me, 22 day Noticing Miracles and Gratitude Challenge based off of those 2 posts.

  1. https://unmeasuredjourneys.com/2019/06/16/a-grateful-brain/
  2. https://unmeasuredjourneys.com/2018/08/08/river/

Why 22 days? It’s my favorite number and it sounds more doable than 30 days. Ha ha.

The premise of The Grateful Brain was something I’d read about how noticing 3 things that we’re grateful for a day for 21 days can help the brain.

Daily, I hope to:

  • list 3 things I’m grateful for
  • post 2 ‘noticing miracle’ pictures per day

My momma LOVED my photos. At the hospital even, she introduced me to the nurse, by saying I am a photographer.

I loved that so much. Sometimes I forget that taking pictures is one of the things that I was born to do.

Feel free to join me in this challenge. A notebook for ‘gratefuls’ and a phone camera will work just fine.

The miracle photos are whatever you feel is a miracle. Maybe it’s your dog, or something you see on a walk, or the clouds, or leaves changing, or a craft you made.

Whatever feels like a miracle to you.

I’m starting today.

Thanks for reading.

Jessica

my momma commented on
my miracle post in 2018

© Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

** all writing and photos are mine

Rookie Bowler

I rarely write two posts in one day, but this is itching to come out.

Last night at bowling, it went great. My stance was solid. My gutter balls improved. My scored increased. And not once, did I feel like crying.

It just felt better all the way around. Am I pro? Heck no. Does that matter? Absolutely not.

I wrote a post this morning about finding my way. What I realized all the sudden, is that we all are, finding our way.

For a week, I’ve been practicing my bowling stance and steps in hopes that I would somehow skip ‘beginning bowler’ and just be a ‘great bowler.’

That’s fine. But, I see now that there’s a place for the beginner and in the middle-r, too. Same with grief. Some may be in the beginning, some, like me, may be in the middle.

The cool thing about that? There’s room for everyone, wherever we are.

I realized something else. If I was somehow an instantly awesome bowler in one week’s time, I would really miss out on some really amazing stuff.

We are bowling at a new to us bowling alley and don’t know anyone. Everyone there is really good at bowling. I am essentially the rookie. I get last place every week.

But, you know what? Almost everyone in that place has offered me kind words and bowling advice. Heck, last night, someone even brought some bowling shoes from home and gave them to me.

I’m learning. They’re teaching. And that rookie thing? It’s just an ice breaker. If I walked into a new place and was an excellent bowler, there’d probably still be stuff to talk about, but people like to help people, you know?

Same here, on this blog. I write about loss, you extend your hands.

Pretty cool.

Thank you.

Jessica

a flower in my field

© COPYRIGHT 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

** all writing and photo is mine

Half a Year Ago Today

Six months ago today my momma made her heavenly trek. Six months? Where the heck did half a year go?

Sometimes it feels like half a second and sometimes it seems like an eternity since I’ve seen her. My eyes get all gushy with tears when I think of that.

I have learned a lot about myself and the capacity of others, in the days since.

Others have stepped up and shown up. In the beginning, there were cards, flowers, food, visits, hugs, gifts, and prayers.

As time went on, there were check in’s, texts, “how are you doing’s”, comments on blog posts, and hand holding.

Still, there is hand holding and support.

I don’t have many friends who have lost their moms, so in a way, I’ve had to go first. In the beginning, I leaned hard on the ones who’ve traveled this road before I did.

One friend in particular held me up, before my momma even passed, through the services, and afterwards. She’d been there. She’d lost her momma, too. Miles apart, she gave me the strength to keep on walking.

So, here it is, the anniversary day. I find myself reflecting on some of the hardest days I’ve ever had to go through.

Did I want to or was I prepared to lose my momma? Heck no.

Beginning to end, it was 10 days.

Am I over it? Heck no.

Will I ever be? No clue.

But, here I am, doing it.

I thought I’d share some of my personal insights, in case you’re in parent loss or are supporting someone who is:

  • parent loss feels like it’s own kind of grief
  • when loss is sudden, it can feel very hard to understand
  • for me, understanding all of the medical stuff didn’t happen until a few months later
  • the shock can be huge
  • grief shows up when it wants to
  • sometimes tears will fall in public places
  • the missing can feel like an ache
  • music can kick up memories
  • laughing and stories about them can help fill up the heart space
  • being with family was critical for me in the beginning because they “got it”
  • it’s a hard reality that there will be no more texts, calls, visits
  • suddenly the last gift received becomes sacred, there won’t be anymore
  • hearing about other people’s moms, in the beginning, was sooooooo hard when I suddenly didn’t have one
  • the ‘firsts’ of the first year can be heart-crushing: birthdays, holidays, special day, even anniversaries
  • getting used to not having them here is tough

This grief journey has certainly been a process. Here are some things I’ve learned about myself so far:

  1. I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.
  2. This grief has never been just about me and my loss. I have been able to support loved ones through this, too.
  3. I understand now, how to help friends through similar things. I mean, I tried to before, but now I truly get it.
  4. Writing about it is ok. Talking about it is ok. Reaching out to friends about it is ok. Sitting in it is ok. Working through it is ok. It is ok.
  5. I will be ok. That sounds tiny, but in parent loss, it’s enormously huge.

Some of you that have lost your moms have reached out and told me you think of them every day. Same here. I think of my momma daily.

Here on the ‘reminder day’ that she passed, it’s no different. In fact, the blessing in that is, today I’ll probably think of her more. There’s a grace in that, you know?

Thank you for being here and for reading.

Sincerely,

Jessica

sunflowers we planted for my momma
she loved flowers
she loved my nature photos
a special sunflower

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Such a Beautiful Day

A trip around the yard this morning, shows it’s such a beautiful day.

the sun is shining
the sunflowers are blooming
the crepe myrtles are
wearing their Monday best

The kittens are awake and showing off all of their cuteness.

Millie on the left, Ruby on the right
Squealer in front, Blackjack in back
Millie and Squealer

Tonight some friends are coming over for a Mom’s Night Out- Swim and Chat. I fancied the name all up for social media, ha ha. Basically, friends are coming over and we’re going to talk, eat, and swim.

sunlight and circles on the pool this morning

I’m excited to see them. Some I haven’t seen in a couple months and one I haven’t seen in a couple years.

Life gets busy. Seems like everyone is doing their own things. Putting an evening on pause once in a while is good for the soul.

We’re having a potluck. I got stuff for yummy sandwiches, fruits and dip, a veggie tray, and my son and I are making a dessert made with graham crackers, pudding and whipped cream.

I already decided that I’m not going to do a lot of cleaning today or get in a huge frenzy about the house. Call it the grace of relaxing into life. Plus, I read an Erma Bombeck article recently, where she mentioned letting people come over even if the carpet was stained.

We don’t have carpet, but I get the point. Just invite them over, is what my heart says to do. No need to get stuck in the details of things being spotless and perfect.

Chances are, they’ll see all the beauty in this day like I see it, and won’t even notice the un-mopped floor. Ha ha!!

Thanks for being here. Hope your day is beautiful, too!

Jessica

©️ Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Lake and Bowling Time

Something pretty cool happened to me recently.

Really?

Seems like all I’ve been doing is writing about loss and grief.

Here’s the thing I’m learning though. I can go through a loss AND live my life, too. Just because I had a loss, it doesn’t mean I’m *required* to be sad all the time.

In fact, I’m not sad all the time. Sometimes? Yes. All the time? No. Remember my post, Switchbacks and Waves? Sadness and grief come in spurts.

So, back to the pretty cool thing.

My husband bowls. In fact, he’s a really good bowler. Have you ever seen those bowlers who can throw a ball, it almost hugs the gutter, then it suddenly curves over and knocks down all the pins?

He can do that.

He has been bowling in leagues for about nine years. One or two nights a week, he bowls.

Me?

I only bowl maybe once a month, when we go as a family. My balls are usually in the gutter, ha ha, and when I do bowl, it’s straight down the middle, I hope.

Several weeks ago my husband super gigantically surprised me when he asked me if I would consider being in a league.

Like, a bowling league. I about fell over! I was so honored that he asked.

Then, approximately two seconds later, the questions started kicking in:

  • Wait, I’m not very good! Who would want to be on MY team?
  • Is there pressure? Because I don’t want any pressure if I’m not doing well.
  • How long is it? What if we sign up and it’s too long?
  • Me? Are you sure? (Is what I was thinking)

Turns out he does want me on his team, there is no pressure because it’s just for fun, and it is long, thirty six weeks, but it’s one night a week.

Heck yeah, sign me up.

We live in a tiny town and to get to the bowling alley we like, it’s fifty miles one way. So, about a hundred miles one night a week. Sounds like a lot, but it’s totally worth it.

It’ll be family time, a chance to make new friends, and it’s something we can do together.

Bonus?

It’s by a lake!!!

Last night we went up there and bowled. I did pretty decent and my husband and son did great. We even got to meet some of the league bowlers we’ll be bowling with in a couple weeks. It was really fun.

About sunset, we went over to the lake. My goodness, it was so beautiful. Sooooooo beautiful. And, so quiet. We just sat there and watched the fish jump and the sky change.

Afterwards, we found a really nice Mexican restaurant and had a wonderful meal.

Tuesday, the first week of September, OUR league starts. Our! How cool is that?

Me, is included in that our!

Even with gutter balls and very up and down scores, I get to be on a team!

I am so excited!

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

the lake near the bowling alley
Clearwater Lake
unofficial angel wings at sunset
our lake view last night

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

However Long

A few weeks ago, I shared one of my posts about my momma on my social media timeline and wrote at the top, “I know loss gets old…”

My point was that:

  1. I understand that my momma passed months ago.
  2. I understand that I’ve already talked about it.
  3. I understand people have already read about how this feels.
  4. I understand that in a world full of ‘lots of sad’ no one wants to be reminded of sadness, grief, and loss. I get that. Who wants to be reminded again?

I wrote that at the top for a couple of reasons. It was a heads up for what followed or an ‘I know you probably don’t want a reminder of my momma’s loss.’

It was also a buffer for me, in case not one single person wanted to read it. If I warned them about what it was, they wouldn’t have to start and stop reading, like it’s old news.

As a writer, who is knee deep in trying to keep my sails straight in this momma loss thing, there seems to be this fine line: write about it, but don’t write about it ‘too much.’

So, what constitutes ‘too much?’ Honestly, I have no idea. And, who’s fine line is that anyway? I have a feeling it’s mine…

A friend commented on that social media post. Her response was simple, but huge:

“Loss never gets old.”

Wait, what?

Loss never gets old? As in never? What about next Thursday? Will it be old then? How about 5 weeks from now? Will it be old then? Two years from now? Will it be old then?

Not with her! Is that testament of true friendship or what?

And, we do that, don’t we? We drop the anchor when our friends and loved ones are going through stuff. We stick around for them for however long.

And, I tell you what, for the person on the other end of ‘however long’, that is pretty monumental, you know?

‘However long’ allows some wiggle room. Not healed yet? Take your time. It is open ended. Expectations are dropped in however long. And, there’s no cap on the amount of support or the time of support.

However long, may be exactly what someone needs.

This summer, we’ve been in a drought, aka, loss of rain. Our yard was brown and crispy. There was no need to mow and no weed eating was needed. Did the trees and grass give up? No, they stuck it out for however long.

The trees didn’t uproot themselves and say, “forget it, I’m going somewhere where there’s less crispy and more rain.” They stuck it out, however long.

The healing of the drought rains came. Lots and lots of rain. And, with them, our trees bloomed.

Thank you, Melanie, for “loss never gets old.” I will remember that always and carry it forward for someone else.

Thank you for reading.

Jessica

blooms after a drought

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Iowa and Esther

We are back home in Missouri and absolutely loved our trip. It’s interesting how visiting family can lead to different places on the road.

Four years ago, my husband’s job moved us from southwest Missouri to the opposite corner of our state. The significance? It added three extra travel hours to my parent’s house in northwest Missouri, which changed it from five hours to eight.

We just spent eleven days on roads and land I’ve been going to all my life. We passed through a couple of big cities, but my heart belongs to the rural backroads of tiny places that are nearly a blip on a map.

Being at my parent’s house, brought me a sweet peace I can hardly explain. It didn’t make the missing of my momma any less, but it certainly did bring me lots of comfort seeing her things and being in a space she loved dearly.

On my other blog, Jeweled Again by Jessica, I have been sharing posts about my aunt Karen and my great aunt Esther. Esther is the reason we left dad’s and headed for Iowa.

Esther is my momma’s aunt and she is 103 years old. Esther has been an important part of my life for many years. When she turned 100, my boy and I made an eleven hour trip to go to her birthday party.

The pandemic canceled her 101st birthday party, but we were at her 102nd. This year we were late to her 103rd. It was in May, we arrived in August, but you know what? She didn’t care about that. She welcomed us with a huge smile and kind words.

Esther lives in Spirit Lake, Iowa and moved there in 1952. She and her husband rented out lake cottages back then and had their cottages open for 26 years.

If you’ve ever been to northwest Iowa in the winter, you’ll understand how cold and snowy their winters are. Her and her husband started going to Texas in the 1960’s winters. While there, she started doing ceramics.

You know how much I love and miss my momma, well, Esther is the same. I think my momma’s loss touched her in ways I may not quite comprehend. She was 27 when my momma was born in a rural Iowa farmhouse. Of all the people still on this planet, she knew my momma the longest.

I think us being together, soothed both of our hearts. And, family does that sometimes, you know? When the missing of someone is so huge, it seems like just seeing someone else who knew them too, can help.

Esther’s husband passed away over 40 years ago and a year ago March, she lost Patty, her only daughter. She and Patty lived together in a story book type house since 1979. After Patty passed, Esther decided to sell their house and moved into a very nice assisted living place. That’s where we visited her.

Esther loves frogs, this is outside her door
a shelf of Esther’s things, outside her door
cookies my son and I got from a bakery for Esther’s assisted living nurses and staff
where Esther and Patty lived
from 1979 to 2021
pictures on the top shelf are of her 103 birthday, the third shelf down middle one is her wedding picture
the pillow we sent Esther for her birthday

What a heart-filling trip we had. Spending time with my dad, yard sailing with my sister, seeing Kate, Diann, and Karen on the way to Spirit Lake, being with Esther, AND making special traveling memories with my son was exactly what I needed.

Here’s a link if you’d like to read about Esther’s art and see some more pictures. https://jeweledagainbyjessica.com/2022/08/07/esther-and-her-art/.

Thanks so much for reading.

Jessica

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Different But the Same

Being at my parent’s house feels wonderful to my heart. As soon as we pulled in the driveway, the ache of being homesick subsided. It came to a screeching halt. There, H O M E.

Familiar, especially after loss, feels like a peace I can barely describe. It’s almost as if bouncing around in the tides of grief for the past four months has calmed a bit.

The house is the same. The yard is the same. The closets, the kitchen, and the flowers outside are the same. The sun rises in the same place. The stars grace the same sky.

But, you know what’s different? The calendar. It’s nearly August now, so it’s not any of or all of the months before March. My momma passed in March…

Home is different, but the same.

It’s comforting. It’s meals. It’s cookies baking in the oven. It’s birds on the feeder and grapes on the vine. It’s trees full of apples and peaches. It’s magazines and puzzles my momma loved. It’s sunsets on the back porch. It’s corn rows by the yard. It’s my dad’s old tractor.

It’s this and that all mixed together in times of past and present. People always say to me that they can’t imagine my loss. Amen to that, I can’t imagine I’m walking this path either, but here I am. And, this week, I’m grateful to be home.

Thank you for reading.

Jessica

dad’s old tractor
corn field by the yard
old flower pots in the shed
a frog on the trash can
an old trailer of my dad’s
‘mornin’ glory

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys