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

Finding My Way

For weeks, I’ve been standing in an imaginary knee deep scenario, stuck. My knees aren’t really stuck, but my writing is.

My post about the fair was preceded the exact same morning with three hours of writing. The post I was working on contained the subjects of “I don’t know how to this!!! I don’t know how to write about loss one day and normal stuff the next.”

Those words did not flow out easily. I yanked and pulled and made them come out. They were about:

  • what it’s like to talk about loss and crying and missing someone, then not knowing how to change the subject
  • what it feels like to be stuck in not knowing how to be a carefree type of writer that now feels strapped to loss one minute then wanting to share about travel the next
  • about being a good writer like my great grandma, while at the same time, not knowing how to carry forward in this blog and feeling a bit vulnerable because I’ve shared a lot and don’t know how to continue writing

I did not hit ‘publish’ on that post. Instead, I hit the backspace button and erased every single word. Immediately afterwards, I wrote the post about the fair and sent it off into the world.

Why did I back the other post out?

It just didn’t feel right.

I couldn’t get the words to match what I wanted to say.

Bottom line: I’m trying to find my way in my writing. I am finding my way through loss. I just need to find my way somehow in both.

Thank you for reading. You’ve been so great in offering support during all this. I appreciate it so very, very much.

❤️ Jessica

zinnia planted in remembrance
Squealer-I couldn’t find her last night,
but she found her way home

Balancing Grief

Last week, I was gliding along pretty well, then, bam. Crying. Not crying, actually, but bawling was more like it. It was Tuesday and I was getting ready to fold laundry. I thought a song playing would be nice. So, I tried to think of one.

A song that my momma loved popped into my head. A minute passed and the tears gushed. They didn’t stop for 45 minutes.

On a Tuesday. In the laundry room.

That night, we had our 2nd bowling league night. My game was off. I couldn’t get my balance. My steps wobbled. My ball hugged the gutters. My score stayed low. My eyes fought tears.

In a bowling alley. With 40 other bowlers.

Grief does that. It interrupts steps. It unbalances the balanced. It shows up in a thought or dream. It cascades down on a quiet afternoon, in the middle of chores. It unleashes emotions that were once settled, into tears that are real and raw.

In August, I wrote a post called ‘A Half a Year Today.’ It was about my momma being gone a half a year already. A couple of days ago, when I re-added up on my fingers, I realized I was a month off! August wasn’t half a year ago, September is…

Time in parent loss is a bit like my wobbly bowling steps: all over the place. No wonder I couldn’t believe it had been 6 months, it had only been 5.

So far, it’s only Tuesday, this week is more light hearted. It’s smoother. Last week there were lotsssss of tears and missing her.

This week there’s still lots of missing her, but way less tears. That alone, feels like a more even distribution on the ‘getting through grief’ invisible scale.

What I’m learning is, bowling is all about balance and grief, for me anyway, has a sense of balance, too.

Missing someone starts to blend right into the every days. Missing someone, plus crocodile tears? That interferes with the rhythm.

Tonight, we bowl. My feet feel more solid already, whew!

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Jessica

my bowling locker is my favorite number 22
my bowling balls my dad gave me

On Showing Up

There is this song that I love by Bon Jovi and I listened to it a bunch last week. It’s called “The Last Night.”

It talks about stepping up for somebody. Showing up. Being there, when things are tough. I love that on so many levels.

My parents were “show up” people. When I was suddenly in an ambulance and at the hospital in 2015, my dad left a meeting in Iowa at six o’clock the next morning, picked up my momma, and drove 5 hours straight to come to the hospital.

They modeled how to show up my whole life. When we had track meets, football games, basketball tournaments, band competitions, etc. all through school, they were in the stands at every one.

One time, a family friend was getting married and I didn’t want to go to the wedding alone. My parents drove 4 hours to meet me there.

They showed up. They were show up sort of people.

We had five years of infertility and baby loss. Guess who held my hands the entire time? That’s right, my parents.

When I finally got pregnant and stayed pregnant, I was put on bedrest. My momma came and stayed with me so my husband could work. I’m sure my dad missed her, but they showed up for me in that way.

March 16 this year, my momma wasn’t feeling quite right. They took her to her local hospital. We got a lot of big, devastating news when test results started trickling in.

Two days later, after being told to stay put until they had more information, I sat in my house, thinking about how my parents always showed up. So, what did we do?

We showed up for them.

My husband rearranged his work schedule. We packed bags quickly. We drove nine hours. We showed up at her Nebraska hospital room and we stayed for three days.

I have often heard that kids model what they see their parents do. I’m so happy my parents were show-er upp-ers. They were a team. They just came.

I’ve carried that with me through my life. Friend having a hard time? I show up with food. Someone sick? I try to support them in some way. Friend have a baby? I send gifts.

When my great aunt Esther turned 100 and 102, my boy and I drove eleven hours to be at her parties. Guess who else was at those parties! My parents!

Last week at my dad’s, I told him about how much it’s always meant that they showed up for us and for things, just because that’s what they did and that’s who they are.

The next day,, while there, I found a letter that my grandpa had written them in 2007. It was about how happy he was that my parents showed up for him and took care of him when he was sick.

When he had a sale before he moved, he talked about how my parents helped him. He goes on about how he noticed that when he needed them, they came. He wrote, “it was Diane-Lyle all the way.”

I can’t even tell you how much that makes me smile and how much I love that.

What a legacy to carry forward. They showed up for me. I show up for my son and someday he’ll show up for his kids. How cool is that?

Thank YOU for being here, too. You’ve shown up for me through my rambling posts about travel, sprinkled with crying posts about my momma. You comment on my carefree posts and on the tear-jerkers.

You don’t waver. You show kindness and compassion. It’s noticed and it’s not forgotten. Like I appreciate my parents, I appreciate my readers. With all my heart, thank you.

Jessica

part of grandpa’s letter:
“Diane-Lyle all the way”

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

The Counting of Blessings

Every morning I take a picture of my son while he sleeps. Sometimes it’s a foot sticking out of the quilt. Sometimes it’s his hand, fingers intertwined, and sometimes it’s his sweet closed eyes and dreaming face.

Why?

Because moments are fleeting.

Sure, we know. We’ve heard that before. But in this season of losing my momma, the rate at which time passes has come front and center.

Years go by in a blink. Pregnancy, toddler, ten year old, teen. I try to embrace these moments of motherhood. I can’t make time stand still, but a photo can. So, each morning, I take a picture so I can remember daily moments years from now.

This grief journey brings light to a lot of things. People have stepped up and into this mess of blurred-between-the-lines-moments that accompany loss.

On one of my posts, Jenna, who blogs at The Painted Apron, commented something that has stuck with me since.

She said, “I handle my grief every day by counting the blessings I do have.”

The part that climbed into my pocket?

every day

Not some days. Not just on Tuesdays. Not just on sunny days. Not just on anniversary days. Not just on holidays. Not just on ‘we miss the person so much’ days.

every day

“handle my grief every day”

For me, this is quite profound. There are a lot of books out there and tons of advice floating around about grief. I’ve been through loss before. I’ve always thought that it was just this thing that takes about a year to get over.

But everybody I know, that’s endured huge loss has said: you don’t, get over it.

Recently, I was so very homesick. I hadn’t seen my dad since my momma’s life celebration, so my son and I went to see him.

One evening, we went to a yard sale. I spotted some books and stepped over to take a look. Several caught my eye, including this one:

book I got while visiting my dad

Immediately, Jenna’s words came to mind: “counting the blessings I do have.”

There were two identical books. I bought them both. Inside, there are daily spaces to fill in and also, longer writing prompts.

the inside of a gratitude book I bought
writing prompt in the book I bought
another writing prompt in the book I got

I’ve been a ‘counter of blessings’ person for many years, the concept of this isn’t new. I’ve also written ‘thankful lists’ randomly here and there. They, like the pictures of my son, seem to capture a moment in time.

Time in loss is a bit tricky. The more time goes by, they say, the more healing. But the more time that goes by, the longer it’s been since I’ve seen my momma.

Also, in the months just past loss, the days whiz by. If I’m not noticing the miracles that lie in them, how will I remember them?

I think I will fill these books up. Maybe it’ll be with my family’s laughs and smiles, my dad’s hugs, or my momma’s memories.

Thank you, Jenna, for the reminder that being grateful in all of this is still ok.

Thank you 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

From Crying to Laughing

Notice anything strange about this picture?

odd place for a cushion

Remember that weird tornado-thingy that hit our back yard and only our backyard on Sunday?

Well, for two days I have been wondering where one chair cushion was. It was not back by the pool with the other ones. It wasn’t in the backyard anywhere.

Yesterday when I went to the mailbox (in our front yard by the road) I looked over at that tree and saw something red in it.

Sure enough, about twelve feet up in our pear tree was that cushion!!! Remember how all of our pool floats were across the road? I guess the cushion hit the branches instead.

We still don’t know what happened. I can tell you that when I saw the backyard on Sunday, I burst out crying. However, when I saw the cushion parked in the tree, I laughed out loud.

hmmm…..

Our Cat is Rather Pleased

That crazy, twirling windstorm thing wrecked our glass top tables, but our cat, Blackjack is rather pleased!

No more scrunching up, under glass. Ha ha!

happy cat in his new glass-less sitting spot
hanging out by the pool
new cat bed, ha ha

Switchbacks and Waves

This blog was started in 2015. Mostly its been filled with some nature photographs, some lessons on acquired wisdom, and things about family.

Lately, my writing feels somewhat scattered. A post on this, a post on that, then bam, a post about my momma.

What I am figuring out is, grief is not linear.

It doesn’t start on such and such day then make a straight line to an end date. Mine, anyway, feels like more of a zig zag or perhaps like some winding mountain road. Calm on the straight aways, yet intense on the curves.

Another thing I’m learning is, the path of losing someone isn’t all encompassing. Sure, in the beginning it can feel like that. It did for me. At that time, every passing moment was a reminder that my momma wasn’t here.

Now though, instead of grief being a constant aching, it comes more sporadically. One moment fine, the next moment tears. Two days fine, the next one tears. Like waves.

Oh my gosh, waves. For weeks I’ve been trying to remember a song my momma loved. It just now came to me: ”Wave on Wave” by Pat Green.

Now that I think about it, mountain roads and waves have something in common: they go back and forth. They have this beauty and calmness that seem to balance out even after rockslides and storms.

Maybe life is similar. Maybe writing is, too. Maybe instead of me thinking my words have to be all organized into a certain category, I could just let them show up, whenever and however they do.

My back field is full of thorns, stickers, and stumps. Some spots are a mess to walk through. Sometimes my skirt gets snagged and my ankles get scratched. Hmm… that sounds a bit like grief.

But, you know what? My back field is also full of wildflowers and there’s a doe and her baby living back there, even in all those stickers and even in all those weeds.

Perhaps me writing all this on a random Sunday morning is a reminder that the beauty in my writing will prevail, even if the subject matter is out of order and things feel messy.

And, maybe it’s even a reminder, that there can be a beautiful-ness in grief, too. Not on the wind raging, hail filled days, of course, but maybe in the quiet, “a memory brings a smile days.”

What I’m going to do is just trust my writing. Scattered posts or not. I see now that the switchbacks can allow for some amazing scenery and the waves can bring solace.

Thank you for being here.

Jessica

some curvy Forest Service road
a blurry wildflower from my land
and CoCo the kitten
Queen Anne’s Lace standing out
among the stickers and thorns

©️Copyright 2022 Unmeasured Journeys

Family Day Out

Saturday is our family day out. Today we decided to try a bowling alley we hadn’t been to in a nearby town.

I’m not what you’d call a very good bowler, ha ha. But, tonight I broke 100!!!! I got a 119! I think that’s my all time high. I was so excited, I took a picture.

I’m the M

Before the bowling alley, we went to a Missouri Department of Conservation area called Otter Slough. I love that place. In the winter, it’s filled with snow geese. In the summer people fish the ponds.

a pond at Otter Slough
Otter Slough
even these guys were hanging out there

We’ve had a really great day. Love Saturdays. Love summer. Love my family.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Summertime Swim Party

Well, I pulled off a surprise party! For over a month, I’ve had a surprise swim party planned for my husband’s 50th birthday!

A month ago, my invitations went out to some of his work friends, his bowling friends, neighbors, and some local friends.

We were all able to keep it quiet! Even me, which was a bit tricky, ha ha. I almost slipped up a few times.

Because we live near the river and lots of families go there for the weekends, and kids have baseball games, etc, I made it a come and go open house.

Yesterday morning, my husband still had no idea!! About noon, my son and I gave him a gift to open. In it was party blowers and an invitation to his own party! He was very surprised!

We had a great crowd. Everyone brought a potluck dish and we had a ton of food. The temperature was 102 degrees, so the swimming pool was full.

We all had a wonderful time.

Here’s to friends, life’s big celebrations, summer, swimming, and surprises.

Hope you have a glorious day!

Jessica

our pool this morning

Farm Fresh

This morning my friend and I went to our local farmer’s market. For a small town, there was quite a selection. The different booths had:

  • canned pickles and canned vegetables
  • embroidery towels
  • earrings
  • plants
  • wood art
  • t shirts
  • crotched items
  • vegetables
  • fruits

I went in search of cucumbers. I saw on a recipe on a blog this week for refrigerator pickles made with rice vinegar that I wanted to try.

There was a really nice seller from Arkansas who had cucumbers and potatoes. Another gal had organic home grown tomatoes! Yum!

I also got two bags of fresh lettuce and some Campbell, Missouri peaches. Around here, Campbell peaches are a big thing.

Here’s what I got and I had a little of each for lunch:

farm fresh

I also met a gentleman who makes wind chimes and can tune them to different songs! How cool is that? He said he’s done the Westminster Chimes, Pink Floyd, and Deep Purple songs. I asked him if he could do Fleetwood Mac. My momma LOVED Fleetwood Mac. I was raised on Fleetwood Mac.

Oh how I would love to hear Fleetwood Mac from my porch! I’m going to see about getting some.

What a wonderful morning out with my friend. We got to support some small businesses, meet some local artists, and get some farm fresh food.

Hope you have a great Saturday!

Jessica