"BLOGGING ALONG" with Joyce Knock

Walk with me on my journey!

What are your future dreams and goals?

My future dreams and goals are:

  • Secure funding to read and donate my book “I am NOT dumb and I am NOT a stinky butt!  to another 2000+ Des Moines area elementary students.
  • Finish writing/publishing a children’s book on grief/ loss.
  • Grant a minimum of 16 Levi Knock “pay it forward” Foundation scholarships in the Arts and Sciences to students at 5 elementary/middle school/juniors students.
  • Secure permission to create a poetry/journaling/short story group for the women at the Iowa Prison for Women at Mitchellville.
  • Read and donate books at Orchard Place in Des Moines.
  • Continue to be involved in groups and support issues that benefit children.

Please share a future dream/goal.  ###

Featured post

My ‘it’ Christmas gift in 1946!

Several years ago the Des Moines Register featured  an article about the ‘it’ Christmas gift throughout the ages.  The must haves ranged from a simple toy, the Yo-Yo, in 1929 to high-tech gadgets, the Apple iPad in 2010.

Not mentioned was the ‘it’ toy for 1946, the year of my sixth Christmas. After a bit of research, I discovered that it was either a Donald Duck camera or the Tonka toy truck.

I did not receive either of the ‘it’ gifts that year.  What I did receive was a handmade child’s table and four chairs, the product of a joint effort of my mom and dad.

In the early 1940s my parents were struggling to make a living on a rented Iowa farm.  Money was tight and little extra was available for store bought Christmas gifts.

Therefore, my father fashioned four chairs out of discarded orange crates and a table from scraps of lumer found around the farm.  My mother sewed  gathered skirts for the chairs from recycled feed sacks and created a slip-on back cover for each of the chairs.  The skirt was tacked to the chair seat and several rows of rick rack were added as a bit of a flare.

Much of the work probably was completed at night when I was asleep.  I can envision my father working in the cold barn sawing and hammering and my mother at her sewing machine designing and sewing the skirts for the chairs.

Upon completion she most likely was the one who applied the bright blue paint and placed them near the cook stove to dry overnight.

During my growing-up years many hours were spent at that that table either playing house or playing school.  In later years it was used as a service table in my parent’s cellar for when my mother did the washing or canning – a continuous reminder of Christmas past. 

Although my Christmas present of 1946 did not make the list that year it will always be my ‘it’ gift.     ###


Excerpts from ‘MY HEART IS BROKEN A journey of loss grief and hope’


Excerpts from my book.

Dear fellow sojourner,

Grief is personal.  I understand that I do not have the market on grief due to the loss of a loved one.  After futile attempts to cope with my sorry, I started putting my feelings on paper making my grief visible.  It allowed me to bear my pain, my broken heart and my empty soul.

If you are on have been on a similar journey I invite you to walk with me.  hopefully, was we mourn our loss and feel the pain, our brokeness will be mended.  Together we may feel less alone.

Respectfully Yours,

Joyce Knock

One Journey Ends As Another Begins   Levi reluctantly entered the world a bit battered with one eye swollen shut and a green branch break in his collar-bone.  The collar-bone break and swollen eye quickly healed and his newborn determination was a precursors for the strong, yet gentle boy he would become. I was excited to be present the day my grandson was born and privileged to cut his umbilical cord.  My daughter and her husband had not agreed on a name for their newborn son, so when I suggested the name Levi, they happily agreed it was a good fit. My husband and I had been empty nesters for several years and had settled into a more responsibility free way of life.  As coined  by John Lennon ‘Life happens while you are busy making other plans.’  Levi came to live with us when he was one year old.  My role as grandmother transitioned to grandmother aka grandmother.  Levi’s adoption was finalized when he was two. For the next fifteen years Levi was a vital part of our lives, I was a full-time parent again, a bit wiser and quite a bit older.  The days, months and years were filled with love and excitement created by a child who saw the world in  many unique ways.

Changed Forever  It was a beautiful fall day in September.  After Sunday lunch Levi was doing his homework at our kitchen table, I was struggling to resolve some computer issues and Dave was watching football in the family room, both of us only a few steps from the kitchen table.  When Levi had finished his homework, he asked if he could try once again to remove some rust spots from his target shooting gun. As he worked busily on the gun I passed through the kitchen and reached out  to ruffle his dark brown hair.  ‘How ya’ doing buddy?’ I asked.  Levi replied, ‘just fine.’  Those were the last words we ever said to each other. There were no hints that day that something would happen to change my life forever. 

When I heard a loud noise, I wondered was that a gunshot?

I rushed to the kitchen to find Dave on his knees, bent over Levi’s body.  Dave turned to me and said, ‘Joyce, call 911.’  I looked at the phone in my hand.  “Dave, I can’t.  I don’t know how.’  I was frozen in space and time, unable to move.  Dave stood, took his phone from his pocket and dialed 911.  In between sobs he pleaded with them to please come at once.  Fleetingly, I thought everything would be okay when they arrived.  But I soon realized that Levi’s spirit had left his body.

Levi was gone.

The Day the Music Stopped  The last Sunday of Levi’s life he had a scheduled piano lesson at 5 pm.  At 2:30 pm that day the music stopped.  Levi was gone!  It was lonely!  The silence was deafening!  It was unimaginable!

How Ya’ Doing’?  How ya’ doin’? I was asked the other day.  A common greeting in every ordinary way.  I paused a bit shaken.  Not knowing what to say.  Thinking don’t they know my story?  There was a death in my family and maybe they didn’t know.  Although it happened just a short while ago.  Or they did know and didn’t know what to say.  For most people it’s over and life does on each in their own way.  My heart is just shattered.  Too many pieces to count.  Somehow it keeps beating.  You’re still alive it seems to shout.

Who Was Your Loved One?  I invite you to jot down some favorite memories of your loved one.  I hope this brings you some comfort.

This what I miss __________________________________________________________________________.

I would like to ____________________________________________________________________________.

If only ____________________________________________________________________________________.

I wanted to tell you _______________________________________________________________________.

Doesn’t Anyone Care Anymore?  In the days and weeks following Levi’s death our mailbox was filled with cards of sympathy and consolation.  The donations in Levi’s memory were overwhelming.    The onslaught of well-wishers and busyness buffered our grief and temporarily cushioned us from our new reality.  Gradually, I realized something all along.  All these ‘others’ had their lives to live and their journey to take.  Life was going on and it was necessary for me to decide what that meant and how it would unfold for me.      ###













Does everyone deserve to be treated with dignity?

human dignityI have some new people in my life
and I met them in a rather unusual way
because a couple of Sundays a month I drive
25 miles to volunteer at a library where they live
the women all live together
and for now that is where they will stay
we always meet where they live 
it is not possible for them to visit me where I call home
they work in the library which I supervise
which is housed on the grounds where they live
hard workers they are proud to check out
and shelve books as a part of their job
earning about 49 cents per hour
time with them is spent chatting and sometimes being a bit silly
always polite and respectful they call me Miss Joyce
 often they  are complimentary about the clothes I wear
 expressing their likes about colorful pair of tennis shoes
with multi colored laces
maybe because their attire every day  is
 either blue or gray sweats, sweat shirts,  tees or knee length shorts
I believe that each of them has a special story about why they
are living here
however they are closed mouthed about who they are and the
  their life details
what I do know is that they are a human being
just like me and worthy of being treated with dignity
  in truth I know they have all made a mistake are now paying the price
for a choice or choices they have made
we all have make mistakes and in some cases lucky
that we have escaped the legal consequences
 I am hoping the wrong choices they have made
and now the price 
they now pay 
and that the stigma of that error will not
forever be who they are
 maybe someday I will see them after there stay here is over
somewhere else wearing colors bright
with their freedom a present sight      ###

Joyce Knock - volunteer - women's prison

#prison #mistakes #women #inmate #life 

Staycation? Why not?




Vacation at home?  I decided it just might be great idea. Why not?   I find it difficult not to be busy doing something  when I am at home.  An inner voice is ALWAYS speaking to me telling me I MUST be doing something…..organizing and cleaning a closet, tending my numerous flowers that ALWAYS need some attention,  marketing my published books etc. etc.      Watching t.v. is not my thing….oh my gosh I would have to still in one place for who knows for how long.  I can probably get in my wanted 10,000 steps a day by just scurrying around the house or in the yard.  I am determined to tell tell myself please slow down and RELAX… are ‘on vacation.!

Last Friday I was reviewing   my weekly calendar  and  decided to make a  plan.    I did NOT have anything on my schedule for the next 5 days…no working with my mentee at the Drake Adult Literaccy program, no scheduled visit to  volunteer in the prison, no book that NEEDS to be edited, no meeting with the Iowans That Support Women Prisioners, no scheduled bridge at the Bridge House, no book signings, no TRIBE poetry meeting, no Grandview football game to see our nephew play and no scheduled library or school  visits to read one of my children’s books.

I decided to give myself permission to take the next six days off and have a mini vacation at home.  WOW!

Other than that I AM ON VACATION.  So far so good….for example today it is my 2nd day and I am still in my jammies…I have had breakfast…which I picked up at Mickey D’s   with  a mocha frappe, a current addiction, my bed is NOT made as it is waiting for me to return and relax and maybe nap.  I do not plan on going  anywhere today…..oh, excuse me  maybe to the nearby Dairy Queen for a blizzard as they are on sale this week.   I will be  enjoying the peace and content  of NO scheduled events and the liberty to stay home and or stay in bed as long as I want… isn’t that what I would be doing if I went on a vacation….that is no doubt what I would give myself permission to do …. so why not at home?

Technically I am ‘out to lunch’, off duty, relaxing, hanging out!  Now I am wondering just how long that is going to last…but I will give it  my best shot.   ###




How is our journey going?

img_2007Most would say I am nearing the end of my journey and technically they are correct.  However as I am approaching my eighth decade of life I prefer to focus on where I am going and not on where I have been.  I use my ‘where I have been’ to steady and keep me measured.  I have known love, loss, sadness, hope, excitement, disappointment, friendship, adventurous experiences, and most of all happiness.  My happiness stems from individual moments that have touched my heart and filled my soul. I have so much  I can still share and give to others and these moments fill my heart with joy.

By the way how is your journey going?     ###        

Grieving alone.

Excerpt from my book

My Heart Is Broken

A journey of loss grief and hope


Doesn’t Anyone Care Anymore

In the days and weeks following Levi’s death our mailbox was filled with cards of sympathy and consolation.  The donations in Levi’s memory were overwhelming.  Our home was filled with caring people drifting in and out offering support and encouraging us to stay engaged with others.

The onslaught of well-wishers and busyness buffered our grief and temporarily cushioned us from our new reality.

As I struggled through lonely days I became painfully aware that others appeared to be going about their lives just as they had prior to Levi’s death.  Why weren’t they as sad as I was?

Why?  Why?  Why?

Gradually, I realized something I knew all along.  All these ‘others’ had their lives to live and their journeys to take.                      ###



Time is valuable..why give it away?


For the past 2-1/2 years I have been    volunteering at the Women’s Prison at Mitchellville in the General Population Library. I describe my position as an ‘overseer of the women’ who need no direction from me to  operate the library.    My presence  however does make it possible for the library to be open on Sunday afternoon as no prison  employees supervise or work in the library ever ……it is run completely by the women currently living there.  Working in the library is a coveted position in the prison and currently pays about 50 cents/hour.  As a volunteer I am the only person who can answer the phone, make calls to reception to share library hours, call security for opening and closure,  and make  calls to summon women who have books to pick up.  The women who work in the library are skilled librarians…capable to answer questions about books, authors, and subjects.

I have worked with some of the women for almost 2-1/2 years now and we have developed a unique respectful relationship.  There is much we can not share but there is much we can talk about  and discuss that has made our relationships unique and special.  One thing I do know is that I look forward to spending time with them  twice monthly for 2 hours and engaging in conversation with them about a variety of topics.  Being an inmate  has not diminished or robbed them of their ability to think, have opinions are ability to discuss a variety of issues.

One of the greatest benefits I receive each Sunday is an opportunity to ‘get out of myself’ and give some time to someone else which forces  me to not dwell on thoughts or concerns that might currently be troubling me.  It is amazing what these two hours of volunteering and one hour of driving time can do for my heart and soul…it is great therapy and for that I am thankful.

Until two weeks from now when I drive to the prison, enter the prison, pass through security, walk up the long hill to the library and I am greeted by these library women workers who no doubt will say, ‘How are you Miss Joyce?’  It doesn’t get any better!    ###




Compelling story of loss.



imageBy Carol Long on June 29, 2017
Format: Paperback

Verified Purchase
Joyce has written her compelling story with so much heart that it hurts the heart to read it. Her grandson’s sudden and tragic death stunned her and it stuns the reader. She takes us on her journey through loss, grief and hope by using story-telling and poetry. Her determination to create something lasting from her loss comes from a deep well of honest, Iowa farm girl strength and grit. Read, weep and heal with Joyce.

AMAZON review of Joyce Knock’s latest book.



What to do with grief?

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