Almost my Birthday

 I have known  for some time that I am not superwoman. I knew this of course. There’s no way you can think you are superwoman while your bathroom looks like mine does, and superwoman never eats crackers for a whole day because she screwed up the grocery store thing, but it doesn’t somehow stop me from trying to be. (There’s a whole other blog post in there about the unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves and how we feel when we don’t perform the miracles we’re hoping for, but well. I’m living that now, and can’t quite bring myself to write about it.) 

A few weeks ago I alluded to someone I know coming to the end of their life. It’s a family member, it’s someone dear to us, and things have taken a turn. I’d say "a turn for the worse" but it’s only worse for those of us who will be left behind. For this beloved, it’s maybe a turn for the better, as a swift passing is what we all wish for in the end.  I know this is vague, and I’m sorry. I really am, but I’m just not ready to put words to this, or name the person, or even slightly ready to take it out in public. You’ll know when it happens, but it’s too intimate and bare now.

The thing is, that when I started finding a way through this, I decided to be amazing.  I thought I was the woman who could manage all of this. Training for the rally, finishing a book (oh yes- there’s that happening too) and cook dinner and go to meetings and knit little angora sweaters and take out the garbage and keep being what everyone needs me to be, setting aside grief and being strong for others. It is important, I tell myself, to be effective and calm and to not count my own needs, at least not right now. Now I need to think of others, and not myself, and to spend my time doing what needs to be done, and to keep saying things like "it is what it is" and "when the time comes I will know what to do" and I have spent a great deal of time respecting the boundaries that others have set up, and being painstakingly, excruciatingly careful not to encroach on them in any way.  This, I have told myself a thousand times, is not about me.  This is, I assure you, who I want to be. Someone entirely in the service of others. 

There’s a problem though.  Increasingly I find a little voice gathering strength in my belly.  The voice says tiny things.  It is shy, and it doesn’t know how to say what it wants. The voice is saying to me that it is sort of unhappy. The voice has noticed that other people manage to be respectful, and kind, and somehow not have that mean that they practically lie down in the driveway screaming "RUN OVER ME, I LIKE IT IF THAT’S WHAT YOU NEED."  The voice has noticed that other people are okay with saying that they have needs occasionally, and the voice, just as an aside,  has noticed that some of these people are doing a lot less laundry.  The voice wondered, late last night, if I am not about to make mistakes I will regret my entire life because I am worried about being the nicest person ever. Don’t get me wrong, the voice wants to be nice, it’s just thinking about all those other nice people who don’t wait to be asked, and those other nice people who don’t say "It’s okay. Whatever you want.  I’ll wait."  The voice is torn.  The voice lacks experience. The voice possibly has been a mother too long.

This is, of course, way too intimate. This has nothing to do with knitting and I’m sorry. I know a lot of you only come here for the knitting, and I promise I am knitting (you can tell, because I am not in prison.)  I’m just struggling with the line between what my family needs, what I desperately want to give them and some amazing tiny, sneaking feeling that there might be a better way to be me.  I don’t mind telling you that so far, 2013 has been a hot stinking pile of slag.  Good things have happened, of course, but on a personal and familial level, Joe and I have gone to bed many nights thus far, holding on to each other a little, and whispered things like "we are being tested".  "Be awesome" we remind each other. Be so high on the high road that your nose bleeds.  Reach for compassion, especially for those who can’t seem to. They need it the most.  We have been (with great difficulty) very, very noble.

The thing is that as the pressure mounts, the voice has suggested that we (or maybe just me, since Joe, as usual, has more moments of clarity)  are making a mistake.  "Compassion?" The voice is confused about granting compassion, or rather, the voice isn’t confused about compassion at all, it just wants to know why (and this question was shocking to me ) It just wants to know why we aren’t putting ourselves on the list of people we are supposed to extend it to. 

Tomorrow I turn 45. My mother turned 70 today, or she would have if she hadn’t decided to cancel her birthday in the face of our family crisis. (It’s not all bad, she points out – she gets to be in her 60’s a little longer.) I’m going to cancel mine too, more or less. I just can’t find it in me to celebrate another year of life when someone I know is getting robbed.  I am hoping that when I wake up in the morning, a year older, and technically, well into middle age, that I will know what to say to the voice.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to reconcile a love of self with a love of others, that I’ll know the difference between what I want and is wanted of me, and I hope that suddenly, miraculously, fantastically, as I arise on the day of my birthday, I will know something profound, amazing and wonderful that will guide me through the maze and darkness of the days to come.

Wool help me, I hope tomorrow I wake up fully adult, and that when I do, I know what to say to the voice.

(PS. I did say I was mostly cancelling my birthday. If however, you cannot help yourself, I would like nothing more than the gift of helping others. I am going to do a hard thing to help other people doing a hard thing and to help me, I hope you do a good thing.  It makes hard things easier. If you are unable to drop a a bottle of wine by my house, a donation to the rally would be the next best thing. I’m going to go for a training ride in the morning, try and watch the sun come over the lake, and hear the voice of my 45 year old self.  I hope she knows what she’s doing. She’s in deep water.)

538 thoughts on “Almost my Birthday

  1. Showing yourself compassion in this dark time is not a horrible thing. Wishing you and your family peace and grace and strength – all that you need to move forward, xoxo

  2. I’m sure there are very many of us who don’t just come here for the knitting. Thinking of you and your family, Happy Birthday.

  3. Have compassion for yourself.
    45 is not an adult. Just the old side of young.
    Be gentle with yourself.

  4. Sending love and light to you and your family and your loved one who is struggling to stay/leave this life. I wish you peace.

  5. Much love to you and yours. Know that there are many, many of us out here in your fandom holding you in the light. And take care of yourself, lady. Give yourself permission to not necessarily be everybody’s rock every single time. Sometimes you need a rock too. And that’s okay, really.

  6. I have been reading your blog for a long time Steph & have always loved your willingness to share your “human-ness”. I love that you don’t pretend to be perfect, and that you allow us readers a peek into your living room. I am so sorry for what you are dealing with. I am sorry too for your family member, but absolutely YOU are allowed to be NOT ok.
    Have you seen the Support In Dump Out circle thing that was going around? Idea being a erson going through a crappy situation needs support. They get to vent, complain & dump out to whoever. but their friends and family are ALSO dealing with the situation. So THOSE people suppport the person in the middle, but they get to dump out to THEIR friends and family who in turn support THEM. So think of ths voice inside you saying it needs to do some dumping OUT so you can continue to suport those around you on your “circle” as wel as the person in the middle. I’m not at ALL saying you need to share here. BUT. Find a safe place you CAN vent and share because you need and deserve support too.
    Loads of gentle thoughts.

  7. Some days it is time to let go of our desires to be everything to everybody who needs us, and just say “no, I cannot stretch myself any thinner to do this one thing. Someone else will have to do it this time.” It does not always have to be us. Have a very calm birthday, Stephanie, and may you wake up with clarity and the ability to see where you need to draw the line in your life.

  8. Happy Birthday.
    And…I emailed you offering up some hand dyed spinning fiber for your efforts.
    Respond and I’ll ship. Easy peasy.
    On a more personal note…I know that struggle of which you speak. The person you are losing doesn’t want you lying down under car tires (speaking metaphorically, of course…and, obviously, literally). You can only find strength for that person and others if you take care of yourself enough to maintain your strength.

  9. One of the most powerful things I learned in my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class is the meditation of loving-kindness.
    I’m sending loving-kindness to you, your suffering ones, and hope you and Joe can find a way to send it to yourselves.

  10. Here’s a big giant box of hugs. You can use them however you like.
    Maybe just take them out one at a time when you feel like you need one. Or maybe put them all on, all at once so you’re covered in them. So there’s just a big pile of them draped all over.
    You can even use them to stead that wobble table leg. They’re your hugs to do with what you please. And don’t worry, I can totally make more if you run out!

  11. I’m very sorry that you and yours are in the woods right now – I will keep many a good thought for all of you. As someone who can tend to be a bit binary, might I just suggest that having compassion for others does not preclude having compassion for yourself? Best of luck.

  12. Stephanie, I usually read and don’t comment only because I don’t have time….
    Today I feel moved to say that when I get on an airplane, I am told – in the event of an emergency- to make sure I put the handy dandy oxygen mask dropping from the ceiling over my own face before turning to help a little one or a more vulnerable seat mate.
    I have learned that our bodies know exactly how to balance being compassionate to self with being compassionate in full measure to others. Just like a laboring mom knows that sometimes it is okay to sleep between contractions or when exactly to push and when to breathe gently and wait for the next big one.
    I have learned to follow my breath, follow a moment of quiet outside, and given my age and station (54 and a mom of six) trust my instincts for moments of respite and moments of giving. You’ll shine on this one, and it can be a bridge to hold you steady as you make the crossing with a loved one.

  13. In the first place, let me clear something right up. We may have COME for the knitting, but we STAYED for the whole package. This blog is about So Much More than just knitting. It’s also about having the guts to be honest about a lot of things. Like fear. And discouragement. And hair challenges. (it’s about really funny, really good, really joyous stuff that is only tangentially related to knitting, too)
    The voice is right. You *do* need to put yourself/selves on the list of people who should expect compassion, and kindness (because you didn’t mention it, but kindness is a big part of compassion IMO).
    If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the young women in your lives.
    You have thus far managed to raise some terrific young women, but sometimes I think that the thing that some of us model the *least* is how to be a modern, feminist, loving adult woman *without being a doormat*.
    In the past, being a doormat was “supposed” to be part of the job description of being a woman and a wife and a mom. We mostly know better than that now, but we need to be honest that sometimes it’s really hard to have the courage to speak up for what you need, while *at the same time* doing it in a loving way that in no way steamrolls or bullies others, or assumes their needs are “less than.”
    It also used to be the case that some people felt that the only way to keep from being a doormat was to be a bully, or be totally self-centered. It’s a great kindness to younger women (and men too, really, but it’s the girls that society shouts at the loudest about this) to model behavior that is both kind and considerate *to others* and kind and considerate *to yourself*.
    So, just in case you needed an extra reason to see to your needs, and allow other people to take care of you and help you (which for a lot of us is the hardest thing EVER), then do it as an example to the young women in your life.

  14. Dear, dear Stephanie, we all struggle with taking better care of others than we take of ourselves. What helps me to justify that care of myself is this – if I don’t take care of me, I soon won’t be able to take care of anyone else. Do be kind to yourself for everyone’s sake. You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers. My donation has already been made. Now I ask that you be granted grace and peace. Do what you need to do. Happy birthday whenever you get to celebrate.

  15. Happy birthday. Every birthday can be a day when we review our lives, just like you are doing. You know this current “not-looking after-yourself” needs to change and you can do that. Only you.

  16. Boy, I can surely relate to the bathroom and cracker thing…and we also share a birthday! Although I have quite a few years on you. Try to take a little time just for yourself…it’s the best way to be the best you for others. So, even though you may not have a “happy” birthday, I hope you will mark the day in some way!

  17. It’s a hard row to hoe, but you have to take care of yourself first to be able to take care of others. You are a strong, incredible, compassionate and giving person. Please take care of yourself so that your bright shining light continues to burn.

  18. An extraordinarily wise friend once told me, “You can’t keep giving out of your inner well if you don’t put some back in sometimes.” You can’t take care of others indefinitely if you don’t also take care of yourself. Hold on, breathe deeply, let a friend take care of you as you take care of everyone else. Hug yourself, and imagine many, many of us hugging you, too.

  19. A good friend of mine wisely counseled me in that if I do not put myself on the list and acknowledge my own needs I cannot take care of others as I am not in top form and therefore free from worry. I think as mothers it is harder for us to think this way as with children you always want to do for them regardless of what you will sacrifice.

  20. I’m so sorry. I’m dealing with the failing health of a close family member.
    The best advice I’ve read is to draw concentric circles. At the center, put the person who is experiencing the illness or other crisis. The innermost circle goes to the spouse, children at home, and other most intimate family members. Each circle out is a slightly less intimate level of friend or family.
    Figure out which circle you are. You should provide support to the people who belong to circles inside of yours. You are allowed to demand support from, and wail and complain to, people who are part of circles outside of yours.
    This sounds weird, but it can clarify boundaries and help you prioritize needs.

  21. Happy unbirthday. Blessings to you and your family as you walk through this difficult time.
    That little voice is a pretty smart cookie.

  22. My aunty reminded me the other day that when my sister was dying and she didn’t think she could face celebrating her birthday I (in a rare moment of wisdom) told her that getting together and eating is what we do. We do it when things are good, we do it when things are more terrible than ever, we do it because we need to share those moments and care for each other. Her birthday did actually turn out to be an enjoyable night. It sustained us in the rough months ahead. While I understand not being in the mood for dancing on the ceiling, I do recommend getting out of the house, having a glass of something nice and a sustaining meal cooked by someone else and the company of family and old friends.
    Keep in mind too that the people around you want to help, but they might not know what to do, so ask one of them to organise a roster of all those other helpers. You need people to bring you meals. Not just to save you time on cooking, but to save you thinking when all your brain power is going elsewhere. If they can’t cook they can take a load of laundry and be a magic elf. It’s hard to let people help, but it’s what you’d do for them, right? It’s there turn to be superheroes. You just have to let them.

  23. 1. 45 is nothing in the big picture (70 is something) but the day should be noted and celebrated.
    2. Another blogger whose philosophy I admire, even while he irritates me, speaks of giving your children the opportunity to earn their own college education. I’m not sure about that, and I didn’t do that for my kids, but I know that it is true that people sometimes do things for others so that the doer can fee better about themselves. Sometimes that deprives the other of feeling good for themselves – there is no one in you house who can’t do their own laundry, cooking, and cleaning. While you have a little knit, or a cry.

  24. Pretty much everyone above me has already said it: your voice is telling you what you need, or rather that you are worth the same care and compassion your extending to everyone else. Listen and continue to hold and love each other and whatever you end up doing, you’ve done out of love so it won’t be wrong or a mistake.

  25. Others have said what I was going to.
    Circles of caring; support in, dump out.
    We don’t just come for the knitting.
    Don’t try to be all things to all men.
    I would only add, it might help the people you are being strong for to know that you are also struggling. Knowing that the ‘supermom’ is not finding it easy either can be very freeing for the lesser mortals who need permission to grieve.
    Not advocating dumping on those who are needing support, just saying they are allowed to know you aren’t all-powerful.

  26. It needs to be said that when tending and caring for the dying, no matter how wonderful you are and even if you do everything perfectly, it is NEVER enough. Tinkerbell and her pixie dust couldn’t pull it off,
    Second as they are dying, people seem to lose the ability to see the stress and load they put on those around them. They have tunnel vision and it seems to me as if it takes the same focus to die as it takes to pass through the birth canal. If you consider yourself continuing in your role as a doula, you wouldn’t be far off.
    I realize nothing I have said is very comforting, however, you just have to know that when you are doing the very best that you can, that is all there is and nobody especially you can expect anymore than that. Try to be ok with it and know that you are loved.

  27. Stephanie,
    You *are* grown up. We all feel odd and out of place sometimes. We all have the tiny voice that screams or whispers defiance, that reminds us of our own need and that sometimes is absolutely right. Please remember to take care of you while you are being awesome for everyone else.
    I will think of you and your loved ones tomorrow especially. And I will try and do one good thing for someone else with you in mind.
    Blessed be,

  28. How can you be good for others if you are not first good to yourself? That question has plagued civilized people in your current situation for centuries.
    God Speed to your loved one,

  29. Call hospice in, Steph. Not sure how it works there but they will help your loved one,you and your family. Your thoughts and questions are healthy and make perfect sense. And so many of us are here, not just for the knitting – we’re here for you.

  30. I had the most crap of a day today. Getting home there was the mother of a rainbow right over my house with beautiful red air all around me. I took it as a gift, it soothed my spirits. I’d love to share it with you.
    Maybe you could go tell your voice one very important thing: You’re best with everybody (including yourself) when you are well and strong. And this can only be achieved if you treat yourself as you would like to treat all the others you try to be there for.
    By the way, 45 is not much different than 44. Just feels that way. I’m 51, so I know, that even that age doesn’t feel much different from 44.
    Wish you some wonderful time tomorrow. Won’t be all day, but maybe there is a gift from yourself to yourself. Nanika (who doesn’t come here just to read knitting)

  31. Happy birthday! Celebrate by introducing you children to the washer, dryer and iron (if necessary). Suggest others show their own “adult-ness” by helping out their own living environment. Quit trying to be Superwoman. She’s only in the funny papers. Good mums raise children who can fend for themselves. Knit more, regret less.

  32. Stephanie, my mom has always said that the caretaker needs care too. So I am grateful to the commenters who have reminded *me* about this as we deal with a sudden loss in our community as well- I am a couple rings out and there are folks who need some support right now. All the best to you, maybe your backup person will find you a telephone booth that will allow you to become your civilian alter-ego for a few hours, to gather your strength.

  33. Being present, even something as small as breathing is so much harder when a loved one is sick. Even more so when they are in the process of leaving, whether this process is quick or slow or predicted or not. You are not a martyr or perfect and you don’t NEED to be either of those things. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to have needs, too.
    I found this spoke to me almost directly:
    Note that caring and support goes into all the people who love that person in the center. You are one of those people. (((Stephanie)))

  34. Wishing that you find peace and serenity during this difficult time. Listen to your innervoice – it’s usually always right. It may take time, but you’ll find the balance that is right for you. Needing time to comfort yourself and soothe your own soul doesn’t mean you love and care for others any less, it means you have the same needs as they do.
    hugs & happy birthday.

  35. One of the best things about coming here to visit with you is that it’s not just about knitting. You let us into your life like old friends and we’re blessed to be welcomed.
    As a mom, it’s our job to be strong for our loved ones and it’s hard to relinquish this job, but there are times when we MUST. We have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. Take care of yourself by allowing yourself time to not be okay, be gentle with yourself and realize that you’re not going to get everything done all the time – and that’s OK. Try not to be so hard on yourself.
    I hope that your loved one’s struggles are short and that they’re able to find peace. Many hugs to you, my dear.

  36. I recently lost my son(April 21)& what I needed more than anything from anyone was hugs & a feeling of support. They did not have to say or do anything more than to be there for more than the first few days. In fact-to be there after the first few days-when all others had returned to their normal life. Even to sit & knit & hand me a tissue as they listened to what must have been a oft repeated story-to laugh & cry at the appropriate time.
    I wish you well-you will be fine with the love you obviously feel for this person.

  37. It’s all been said, but the little voice is right on target. You need to take care of yourself, too. Sending the best light I have, at 55. If I just came for the knitting, I wouldn’t have kept coming back so long.

  38. I’m so sorry.
    There are times in everyone’s life that are just awful, and the only thing you can do is hang on tight and survive. But do let your family and friends help you – I absolutely know how hard that can be, but you know yourself how good it makes you feel to be able to do something for others. Let them do it for you!
    Please take care of yourself; I don’t think it is too strong to say that many of us who read you, love you. We will hold you in the light.

  39. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’ve been seeing one for years, if that can give me any authority here.
    I think what you are experiencing right now is an overreaction to the “me” generation – the ones who believe everything is always about them. I think this proving you are NOT a “me” person is wearing you out.
    Please allow yourself some time to be a “me” person, also. Allow yourself some down time from taking care of others to take care of yourself.
    If you were a real-life friend, instead of on-line, I’d bring you a casserole or some cookies to help lighten your load. Or, maybe, just some chocolate to soothe your soul.

  40. Don’t cancel your birthday. Postpone it.
    When you come out of the other side of this bad time, pause, and take the time to celebrate your own life and do something that makes *you* happy.

  41. I struggle with doormat syndrome and self worth a lot of the time. What I realized that helped me was that I often respect those people who draw the lines, the boundaries that they will not cross in giving to others. I don’t find myself disliking or judging them for being stingy, but wondering how they go about doing it. I think it’s important to acknowledge that voice and find a way forward that compromises with it. To ignore it and suffocate it only breeds resentment. You don’t have to barricade yourself within the walls you put up by saying no, you just have to realize when you’re back is up against them and push back a little at the right moments.
    I find posts like this comforting (not at all implying that your pain comforts me). Just knowing that others struggle with similar issues is incredibly powerful and comforting. It takes the sting off something that feels very isolating and that you mentally fuss over until you are exhausted.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  42. Happy (non)birthday 🙂 I canceled my 40th late last year for the same reason, partly because I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate but perhaps also because I felt 40 was all grown up and I didn’t feel grown up, didn’t feel like I knew how to handle the terribly sad things my family is faced with… I really struggle with the fact that every day is different and that all of our needs change all the time. Ive been taken to places I never anticipated visiting and had to let go of a whole lot of things I thought were working for me and my family. It really is a roller coaster and there’s just no way around that… but I’m learning to focus on the moment and to attune myself to my own needs, not just the needs of those around me. It’s difficult but essential. And nothing to do with age!
    I hope you are surrounding by loving faces on this and the coming days xx

  43. I’m going to pile on the chorus and say that you absolutely have to take care of yourself and your boundaries first. Of course the trickiest part can be figuring out what are essential boundaries and what you can throw to the winds.
    Right now, I’m waiting to hear an update from doctors who are taking care of my big sister on the other side of the world. She’s had stage 4 stomach cancer for a little over a year and, as you said, has taken a turn. I’m 33, she’s 42, I’m terrified of the effect this will have on our parents. I have to hold down a job and not be a complete arsehole to my husband and friends.
    There’s no way I could have made it through this year without a certain amount of putting myself first. For me that’s meant doing my own laundry first & Mr Riveter can figure out his own if I run out of steam. It’s meant that I don’t miss my tuesday night bellydance and socializing with dear friends even if it means I buy an overpriced sandwich for lunch on Wednesday. It’s meant finding a local yoga studio. It’s meant accepting that I will occasionally be hiding in my cubicle at work, weeping silently, and as long as nobody pops their head in to ask me a question I’m ok with that.

  44. My grandpa passed suddenly a week and a half before my 21st birthday. I also wanted an un-birthday thinking it would be easier on my grandmother. As Kate posted above, we ended up having a family dinner at a local restaurant and while it wasn’t the same as it would have been had my grandfather been there- it was what we needed as a family to get through the really crummy time. Go and share a meal you didn’t have to think of or cook with your family and re-charge yourself a bit. You will get through this and your family and even the person you’re heart is aching over will not find you a monster for taking care of yourself a little. Lots of hugs headed your way!

  45. Oh, Stephanie. I have been in so many of the places you are describing. Can I tell you that you don’t have to have an epiphany tomorrow (or any other day) to be ok? You’re ok. You’re more than ok. And it’s ok to have needs, and to respect them, and to hold them just as gently and close as you would hold a pair of fuzzy booties. There’s a lot of love coming your way, from the comments on your page, from people who read and don’t leave a comment, and from many other sources. Just take a ride, and listen to the voice. You don’t have to answer the voice. Not yet. Just listen.

  46. You can’t take care of other people if you don’t take care of yourself.
    I may have come here for the knitting initially, but I’ve stuck around because of you. Well, the knitting too, but you are what makes it so good!
    *uber hugs*

  47. It is a road you have to travel by yourself doing what is right for you and then trusting you can then do what is right for others. When you admit your needs it is surprising how many people can and will offer support. Please take it now when you yourself need it as then it is much easier to offer it to others.
    If you don’t know how you will make it through — focus on the next few minutes. I am walking that grief road because of something I pray no one else ever knows. I have made it through today! U know you will make it.

  48. If your compassion does not include yourself it is not complete. (i read and i believe). Happy birthday, celebrate yourself tomorrow. XXX

  49. Have a peaceful birthday. 45 is not middle aged. It’s just mature enough to know you are grown up. But I’ve found the year we turn 45 is meant to be testing. For me, it’s work uncertainty, a husband whose health issues are retiring him from the workforce at 53 and a written off car. Take the time for yourself. You need it to rise above everything else. Be good to yourself and then you can share your compassion with others.

  50. I’ve always thought the Bill and Ted philosophy was the best life advice I’ve ever heard, so I’ll just pass that on to you, wishing I’d thought of it myself: “Be excellent to each other.” It covers so much, including the feeling that in being excellent to others we are allowing and pushing our own “excellence” in the form of wellness, emotionally, physically, mentally, etc.

  51. Happy birthday. Be good to you too while helping others. Sending warm, wooly thoughts to give you strength during this challenging time.

  52. I have tears in my eyes reading this post. Thank you for sharing. I ask myself these questions often, and the one thing I have learned and that I can share is when you’re ready to ask the question you already know what the answer is. As many have already said, you only have something to give others when you give to yourself. Even in difficult times and grief you are allowed to do this, whether it is small moments or big shifts in boundaries and relationships. Everyone will be better for it. All the best to you and your family. I am am sending caring and healing energy your way.

  53. Lots of love, Steph. I would tell that little voice: I’m so glad to be hearing from you, let’s keep talking, I’ll keep listening. The voice will become more clear. Bike riding is probably really good for this newly discovered part of you. No worries about being selfish because you know what that is, and this is not it. How to do what you are sensing will also be revealed. We’re with you whether we are going through our own variations or simply appreciating your honest sharing. Be nourished by the fresh air and beautiful early morning, and be nourished by your knitting and wonderful loved ones. And we care.

  54. Oh that I could hold you up and buy you groceries and scrub your tub . I hope someone close can do for you, That’s what this shit is all about.. Being there for others.

  55. I just turned 45 in December and I’m also a mother of three girls (but younger than yours by a few years).
    I’m only just learning now (through counselling) that I’m as important as everybody else. (I haven’t learned yet to put myself above everybody else – that’s a little much to ask!) And that it’s important to be a role model to your children so they don’t also become doormats.
    When you are exhausted, your loving actions can sometimes come from a place of resentment instead of caring. Take the time to replenish your energy, so they can truly come from a place of caring and it will feel better for everybody.
    Good luck with all the challenges, Happy Birthday, and treat yourself with care!

  56. You need to lock yourself in a room by yourself with no distractions and let yourself cry, scream, vent and grieve. Only then will you be able to refocus on others.

  57. I do not have much to offer, but I do know one thing for sure. You will never regret being kind to others, even if it means setting aside your personal needs. It’s an interesting paradox that being thoughtful of others is its own reward. Not trying to be sanctimonious, I wish I could make your pain go away.

  58. It’s ok to take care of yourself, too. It’s ok to have moments of doubt. It’s ok to have questions. It’s ok to be human. You are not God and cannot be all things to all people. Stop trying. Be you. You are pretty fantastic! Do what you are able to do and leave the rest to God. Find your peace. Praying for you and all your family.

  59. I know how hard this is to go through, and I know what it is to want to be what/who everyone else needs you to be, but you really need to listen to the voice. At least lean on Joe; I’m sure he has strength to share, and you can hold each other up. Forgive yourself the day-to-day things that are just not significant to the Big Picture. More than anything, your loved ones need you to take care of yourself.
    I’m so sorry this is happening to you and your family. I will be thinking about you all.

  60. All the very best to you, Steph. I had a close family member in palliative care for four months last year, and it was indeed a blessing for them that the pain didn’t last any longer. But so, so hard for those of us who are now without him.
    It can be hard to put yourself on the list of people who need your own support, but perhaps try to think of it as looking after yourself so that you are well enough to look after others (physically and emotionally). For example, safety videos on planes say that, in an emergency, adults should put on their own breathing mask before helping any children with theirs. It seems counterintuitive to not want to help those in more need first, but if the adult doesn’t get their mask on quickly then they may pass out before being able to help anyone else. The same goes for times of horrible stress and sadness. Keep yourself well and then you can go on.
    Most of us, I’m sure, come to your blog for you, not just your knitting. So all positive thoughts to you and your family in this hardest of hard times. Happy unbirthday for tomorrow.

  61. For someone who flys a whole lot, you should remember that when the oxygen mask drops from the ceiling of Life, you need to let it help fill your lungs before you assist others… Grief sucks the WORST out of everyone, no matter how hard they try to contain it. Please give yourself the oxygen and compassion you need to refresh yourself so you can be your best for yourself, your family and your Loved ones.
    A Big, Big, Big hug from the Mitten (right across Huron from you). Peace be with you all at this difficult time.

  62. I am more of a reader than a poster, but I reading your post today I felt moved to comment. Your inner voice is the voice of reason, it is telling you that you are spreading yourself too thin and that trying to keep a brave face on is too much to expect from yourself. Allow yourself some compassion, some time to yourself and acknowledge that it is not only okay, but necessary to put your own needs first sometimes. Rage at the injustice of losing a family member, let yourself cry in the shower and most of all, talk to your friends about what you need. You are worth it and you are surrounded by a virtual family, all of us who read your blog are here for you. Sending my thoughts to your family at this difficult time.

  63. >>The voice is confused about granting compassion, or rather, the voice isn’t confused about compassion at all, it just wants to know why (and this question was shocking to me ) It just wants to know why we aren’t putting ourselves on the list of people we are supposed to extend it to.
    THIS is the moment of clarity!!! You are deserving of compassion. Even more than that, you MUST learn to be compassionate to yourself in order to be truly, fully and completely compassionate to others.
    Love and compassion born solely out of sacrifice and misery cannot sustain themselves forever. Love born of love may do so.
    Flip it around – how would those who love you feel if they knew you were suffering? Wouldn’t they feel you deserve their love and compassion? So who are you to argue with their collective wisdom?

  64. Sending hugs and a reminder to think about instructions for oxygen masks in airplanes … “Parents put your own mask on first.”
    There’s a reason; you can’t give what you don’t have.

  65. Happy Birthday Steph. Thank you so much for your blog, your books and your insights. I love the knitting parts of your blog but read it for more than just that. Lots of love and thoughts. Be kind to yourself x

  66. Having gone through a few craptastic years I have learned to listen to the flight attendant. When the oxygen masks come down put yours on first. That way you can help others without passing out. Breathe. Deeply. And be compassionate to yourself as well.

  67. Accept my virtual hug and prayers. We come for you and your inspiration…not just the knitting.

  68. Count me in, with the knitting and beyond group. Sometimes you need to go to another universe, recharge and come back a more useful person. Let Joe and your daughters take you to that out of body/mind/whatever place on your birthday, you will be better for yourself and all your loved ones if you do.
    I’m buying another pencil from the cup too.

  69. Normally I’m a lurker, avid reader but not typically a commenter, but this post sparked a need to comment within me. You are among the strongest women I’ve encountered (also on the list are my mom and grandma). But even the strongest have support, it’s how they stay so strong. You’ve inspired so many, without your books and blog I would’ve never knit socks or lace or colorwork mittens. I think I speak for many of us in saying we’re here for you in this challenging time like you’ve been there for us (subconsciously of course). Many blessings to you and your family, and happy birthday.

  70. Stéphanie, chérie, one must first of all take care of one’s self. If the plane goes down, the oxygen mask goes on yourself so that you can then help those in your immediate vicinity…l immediate because you are attached to tje oxygen tube…same thing in real life. And you know, when loosing a loved one, it IS about you….you will be living tue rest of your hopefully long life without this loved ome. A loss is a serious thing. So….take hot, bubbly baths, go to yoga to help your body, spend on a massage and give the @$&! grocery list to someone else!!!!! Oh, and nobility is sometimes higjly overated, especially when it starts smelling of martyrdom. The wine for your birthday? Obligatory. And yes, celebrate. It is the day YOU were born, and that’s a good thing!

  71. Little voice, un-birthdays, and hot stinking piles of slag aside, your post and all the answers are a gift. So often I wish there were a “Like” button, so I could instantly second some of these warm and loving wishes, and things like the beautiful image of all those hugs wrapping around you or fixing the wobbly table leg…
    Yes, we maybe came here at first for the knitting, but it’s so much more than that. I hope you can feel the surge of love and support that is coming at you from all directions; I wish we could all be actual next-door-neighbors instead of virtual ones, and could bring a casserole or do a load of laundry or stick a Happy Birthday balloon outside your window…
    I’ll toast your birthday and your mom’s tonight, and hope for happier days for your family. Knit on!

    There are a whole lot of people here who wish they could do this thing for you…
    or the very least, take out the trash.

  73. A woman I greatly admire once told me that being a strong woman does not mean you have to be everything to everyone else. A strong or super woman understands when she needs help and asks for a extra set of hands making dinner or help with the laundry. We are better wives , mothers, sisters, friends, etc, when we take care of our needs. It keeps us healthy and energized for everything else we do for others in our life. And when this wonderful woman was nearing the end of her time here,she gave us a beautiful gift,she graciously allowed those of us who loved her so very much to take care of her. She also said that all of this would be so much easier if we didn’t like each other so darn much. I hope this helps. We are all here to support each other, in the good and not so good.

  74. From my obsessive reading of advice columns I can offer this suggestion: Ask a few friends to help you do specific things that will make your life right now more manageable. Like getting the week’s groceries for the family or picking up a take-out meal at your favorite restaurant. Maybe if they have a dish you really like ask them to make it for you.
    Also, from me, you may not feel like celebrating your birthday, but getting together with a few friends might help recharge you during this difficult time.
    Best wishes.

  75. Well, first off: thank you for totally making me blubber all over my keyboard.
    Second: I couldn’t possibly have said it better than Leta @ 7:19 (go ahead, scroll up and read it again, I’ll wait), so I’ll just add my voice to her words.
    Third: are there really people who only come here for the knitting? Seriously? Wow, they’re missing out.

  76. Balance is really hard for me too. That whole “perfect” thing is a sure way to make me crazy trying to contort into my idea of what I *think* I need to be for others. I feel for your struggle. I definitely think your birthday is a day to do whatever you want to (like cast on for 95 different projects, ’cause that’s how you roll). You know we all love and support you. 🙂

  77. Happy birthday to your mother, & congratulations to her on 70 years in life!
    As you turn 45, you need not expect a sudden change in yourself (adulthood, maturity, balance), but consider how, over the years, you have developed strength & depth that you might not have had ten or twenty years ago. Events may be difficult, but the skills to cope with them often seem to improve with time & experience.

  78. Sending you the warmest of wishes and support as you navigate through this dark, difficult time. Thank you for continuing to do what you do and be who you are, even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing. I’ll be holding you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  79. I don’t know if this will help, but I recently lost a family member last month. The end was not perfect, whatever “perfect” is in these situations and much of what I hoped to say and do was left unsaid and undone. But what I believe is that the end of a life, the last few months of someone’s life, do not amount to more than the totality of someone’s entire life. Relationships and love are built and strengthened over time and years not weeks and days. I know it is hard but I tried to trust in the belief that everyone is doing the best they can, and that feelings expressed with love and respect rather than perfection was enough.

  80. I’m sorry you and your family are going through such a tough time. Having someone die too young sucks.. You won’t wake up with any answers or revelations, but I hope you’re able to find some small joys on your birthday. You’ll get through this and be OK. And it’s OK to get take-out when you’re not up for cooking, especially on your birthdayM

  81. From one selfless do-gooder who tries to juggle everything (including the voice) to apparently another, I so understand and empathize with your confusion. I resigned my job today and I feel guilty and selfish even though it was destroying my health.
    I wish you all serenity. And wine.

  82. I came for the wool but stayed for your storytelling. Thank you for sharing stories of your life with us. All I can send you is warm healing thoughts. May your ride tomorrow bring you peace.

  83. I send you love.
    I send your family love.
    I send you good thoughts, and prayers, and happy memories.
    I send you the courage to tend to yourself during this tough time–you cannot give if your own bucket is empty.
    Most of all, I send you hope that this time will be filled with joy to help soften the pain.
    We love you, Stephanie. We may have come for the knitting, but we stay for YOU.

  84. If you do wake up tomorrow a wise adult who know how to handle stuff like this, please share your secret. Despite being nearly twelve birthdays ahead of you, I still don’t feel wise OR adult, especially under the kind of tests you’re facing. Life throws stuff at you, all you can do sometimes is roll with it. Enjoy your ride and your birthday as much as you can…..

  85. Many hugs Stephanie. I’ve been reading your blog for many years and while I enjoy the knitting posts, I love your soul-baring posts the most – you express so clearly things I also feel and am unable to say. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, and please do lean on the blog.

  86. Kindness begins at home. Do you truly understand what that means? You have to start with being kind to yourself. Have patience with and compassion for yourself. Take care of you. If you don’t there won’t be anything left of you to give to others. Remember on airlines they tell you that in event of an emergency to put your own oxygen mask on first. There is a reason for that–you can’t help others, not even your family, with their oxygen masks if you are unconscious on the floor of the plane. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the love, care and consideration that you treat everyone else with.

  87. Dear Stephanie, You need to take care of yourself! No one else can do that for you. that still, small voice is an important one & you need to heed it – for your own well being. You are currently going through a tough time and need to be gentle with yourself. Let other people take care of themselves; it’s THEIR responsibility to do that, not yours.
    I’m sending your warm thoughts and good energy. The world needs you!

  88. I have tears in my eyes too. Follow your heart and know that we all care for you. It’s not just the knitting! So many great comments say it all.

  89. I don’t know if you’ll make it through all these comments. But I hope that you can find someone to talk to. I’m sure your family needs your strength and compassion. likewise YOU need someone to lean on as well.
    I really like this article on how not to say the wrong thing.
    It applies to almost any crisis. Find someone one or two steps further removed then yourself and TALK to them. don’t try to be strong on your own. We all need help, especially in a crisis.

  90. Hi Stephanie – the year I turned 38 was my worst birthday ever. I spent it reeling from a miscarriage the week before, which happened about 8 months after we buried my dad and about 10 months after we buried my father-in-law. My internal compass did not point north for months. I can tell you that you can’t bear the unbearable. It’s the unbearable. You only survive it. I can tell you also that that horrible year showed me what a stellar man I married. I knew he loved me, but I didn’t really see how much until we had to climb out of that hole together. I’m sorry that this is a dark year for you. Next year won’t be. No worries about the knitting, and no worries if you feel this is too dark to share. We’ve all had a horrible year before, or will have one coming. Talk to us.

  91. Dear Steph, thank you for sharing your oh-so-humanness with us all for so long. I know a little of what you’re going through…a couple of years ago I had an equally sucky time. Hang on. Be needy, when you need to be needy and strong when you can be strong. Take care of Ms. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee first of all, so that you’ll have a little bit of her to share with those who will need you so badly when the time comes.
    Use the oxygen mask, and know that you WILL get through this, that others HAVE gone through this and survived, and that you have many, many friends in this wonderful, beautiful, harsh and horrid world, and all of us will be here for you when you need us to be here.

  92. It is difficult to find the path between generousity and martyrdom while fighting an encroaching and oppressive darkness. May love and light be your guide.
    And chocolate. Really good chocolate always helps. Say the word and I’ll slip you a couple of my favourite bars. It’s the least I could do for all the laughter and guidance you gift me – without even knowing. Plus, I’ve already donated to the rally!!

  93. Steph, it will be ok. Not saying it won’t be hard, it won’t suck, it won’t make you want to scream at the top of your lungs and hate everything and everyone that doesn’t have to go through what you’re going through for a fraction of a second from time to time. I say this as someone who has outlived more people I love than I can count on the fingers of both hands, and I still grieve those losses, some after more than 40 years. It. Will. Be. Ok. Live the best life you can, because that’s the best way you can honor the people you love who go before you. They are showing you how to live, and die, with grace. Follow their example. It will be ok.

  94. Acknowledge your birthday, because that is the beginning of when you arrived on the planet. For forty-five years you have been growing,parenting,sharing knowledge and giving the best that you can. Listen to the little voice, give it space to grow, so its wisdom can influence the future. Remember, you can hear the ocean in a shell!
    With love, Eve in Carlisle

  95. A couple of things:
    Don’t try to make things normal. Nothing’s normal, nothing’s right, and you just have to walk on that side of the road for the time being.
    You can defer your birthday to any day you choose. How about yesterday? You were mentioned in the New York Times yesterday, in an article about genres of audiobooks that are gaining in popularity as people multitask. Not a bad birthday gift, eh?
    Hold tight to each other. We’re here for you whenever you need us.

  96. Last year was that trying year for our household. We had three deaths in the immediate family, another in our extended family, and another of someone we had known (well) for over 20 years. We had a few other events that were also hard to get through, but my Joe and I did, and I’d like to reassure you that good years do return and that even during really horrible years there are brilliantly wonderful moments.
    Those great times are all the more cherished because the contrast with the rest of the year is so stark. I’m not sure I would have appreciated them nearly as much as I did or should had they been surrounded by good times.
    This year, in contrast, has been so unbelievably good thus far that we keep pinching ourselves to make sure we aren’t dreaming (and knocking on every piece of wood we can find).
    Hold on, you have proven yourself again and again to be strong. Things will get better and you will get through this difficult passage.

  97. I don’t think this is way too intimate, not at all. I come here partially for the knitting, and partially because you are spectacularly human. Your posts usually make me want to be a better knitter AND a better human. (Sometimes they just make me giggle, or glad that I don’t have a basement.)
    I am sorry that you and your family are losing someone you love. Please remember to take care of yourself in this difficult time–if you don’t care for yourself, eventually you won’t have anything left to give to others. Lean on each other.
    For our family, 2011 was the hot stinking pile of slag. I was incredibly blessed to have not lost anyone close to me for the first twenty seven years of my life, and then we were hit with three losses in a row, in the span of a month, the last only six weeks before our wedding. At first, I felt the way about the wedding that you seem to about your birthday, but in the end we went ahead with the celebration. Although it was bittersweet, it was also very healing to be surrounded by friends and family for a happy reason, and it helped fill my cup back up so that I could continue to give back to others.

  98. Dear Stephanie, Heed that voice. Compassion is wonderful, and it works best when it flows. You’re doing the big stuff; let others know how they can help. Then you can be nurtured to do the part that you alone can do. You have limits; acknowledge them and let those in your support system help.
    You are not alone.

  99. Stephanie – you can not continue to fill another’s glass if you do not stop to fill your own pitcher. You must find time to grant yourself, and Joe, compassion.

  100. Stephanie,
    My brother-in-law and my aunt passed away last year right before and after my 50th birthday. A month later I realized that I was very angry that I didn’t feel I had the right to celebrate an important milestone. Take some time to celebrate yourself tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be in a big way, but make it important. You are cherished.

  101. Steph, so many above have offered comfort and advice that I don’t know what else I could say that they haven’t. Many years ago in the midst of a hard year and a deep depression, I got bitch-slapped by the universe in the form of a Magical Dental Hygienist. She told me, “We do the best we can with what we have at the time.” That thought has done me a world of good in dark times – if I can ask myself “Am I doing my best?” and the answer is genuinely “yes,” then I am doing enough. If I don’t have ‘enough’ to be Superwoman, then so be it. I am doing the best I can, and experience tells me that when I look back I will have no regrets.
    I wish for you the support you need, the strength you want, and enough compassion to include everyone who needs it, especially you. Trust that you ARE doing your best, and be gentle with yourself. We all love you. Happy birthday.

  102. First of all, Happy Birthday-or unbirthday, whichever you’d prefer.
    Second, as so many others have said, I’m sending you thoughts and prayers for you and your family. And as so many others have said, please take some time to be selfish. Please take care of yourself. Whether or not they’ll admit it (or even know it), your family needs you to take care of yourself first.

  103. After reading the blog and your books, I think of you as the coolest friend I wish I had. I think that is true of many of your readers. Though we may have different beliefs on many issues, always know that your many friends are holding you in their hearts during the hard times. Be very kind to yourself. Hugs!

  104. The best piece of advice I ever got, when I was 45 … when my husband was struggling with recovery from an early-age stroke … and my father died two weeks before Hurricane Katrina … and I was in the middle of managing recovery efforts in New Orleans for the SPCA after the storm … and also in charge of repairing my mother’s home … and a friend said, simply, “You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. You have to learn to ask for what you need and sometimes say no to people. Don’t explain. Don’t apologize. Just ask for what you need when you need it. Just say, ‘I can’t, I simply don’t have time,’ when you need to.”
    One of the hardest things I ever did in my life was to give myself permission to take that advice.
    Keeping you in my thoughts.

  105. If you can stomach another bit of advice, here goes: sometimes the best thing you can do for the people around you is let them help you, which lets them rest for a minute knowing they’re strong and useful and needed. The real brilliance is when everyone gets a turn (or three) *not* being perfectly strong, and everyone else props up. Good for you, good for them, very good for the person leaving to see you’re taking care of each other. XOXOXO

  106. When the dust settles, you and Joe will be left standing. So be sure that you are taking good care of yourselves at this hard time. There is no “perfect”. Do the best you can with what you can. And 45 is a good birthday to have – so celebrate, even in a small way!

  107. Your words are such truth. Please don’t apologize for sharing yourself this way with us – I feel honoured to be able to “listen”, as it were. I am sending you and your family love, light and peace.

  108. I can’t really add much because it’s all been said. But count me in as someone who knows you have to take care of yourself first. My mom took care of my dad, who had Parkinson’s, 24 hours a day for 15 years, and it was a critical lesson she had to learn, too, that if she didn’t take care of herself first, she couldn’t take care of him.
    Be gentle on yourself, please?

  109. Yes, yes, she is in deep water but we know she can swim even if the water is cold. 45 is OK, and so is 50 and so is 60 (me, soon…) Do take care of yourself, we all love you

  110. I can’t do better than echo what LizFM said…
    “So, just in case you needed an extra reason to see to your needs, and allow other people to take care of you and help you (which for a lot of us is the hardest thing EVER), then do it as an example to the young women in your life.”
    Absolutely correct.
    Sending positive energy to you and yours.

  111. When my dad was dying I was only 22 years old. He was the first person that I really knew well that died in my life and it was a horrific experience that lasted over a year. A few things that helped me through:
    -there is absolutely nothing you can buy in a store to make this better for you or for them
    -telling myself “the only way through it is through it” a million times a day
    -telling my dad bye in my own way…I wish I had done it more directly when he was lucid, but I did what I could when I did
    -while it was awful to watch him suffer as he died I am forever grateful for the time it gave me to tell him goodbye–I feel truly sorry for those whose loved ones are taken from them with no warning, remember this is a ‘luxury’ many people are not given
    -I didn’t take care of myself while he died and I fell apart afterwards. I wish I had taken better care of myself during so that I could have healed faster after. That’s what he would have wanted and I’m sure that is what this person would want for those who love her/him. As others have said, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You will have more to give if you are healthy and have given to yourself first.
    My sympathy as you walk through this difficult time.

  112. In the final days, nobody ever says they wish they’d spent more time cleaning or doing laundry. Focus on what matters and what you love and let the rest slide until later – maybe a lot later. Take care and happy birthday.

  113. I haven’t read all of the gazillions of comments, so if this has been said I apologize for being repetitive. But there is a reason that the in-flight safety demo reminds you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others.
    Have a happy birthday. You are an amazing woman. Don’t ever forget that.

  114. In the words of a great Jewish sage named Hillel, who lived 2,000 years ago: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? Sending you cyberhugs and blessings .. I too came for the knitting, and stayed for you. Many happy returns to you and your Mom. Thank you for being you.

  115. Be kind to yourself. It’s the hardest thing for women, and us moms to do. Also, you don’t have to do this perfectly, your best is good enough. Do not second-guess yourself, down the line, for doing the best you possibly can do under these difficult circumstances. Peace to you all.

  116. You don’t know me so my words may not mean much. Just know they’re heartfelt. I’m so sorry you and your family are going through a difficult time. There’s nothing I can say to make that better but just know that I (and lots of others) are thinking of you with love and doing our best to send you psychic assistance.

  117. Sweetie,
    Take more care of you. After I lost my husband, the grief counselor told me that some days the most you can do is “just breathe”. Accept that and try being kinder to Stephanie.

  118. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give our families is to take care of ourselves and to let our families know that we are not superhuman. We hurt, we grieve, we make mistakes. In allowing ourselves to do this, we let our families know that they are allowed to do it too. Sometimes, the greatest greatest gift you can give is to allow someone to be there for you. I came for the knitting, I stay because you inspire me.

  119. Oh, Stephanie. So many have said it better than I can. We’ve had a death in our family this week, so I too am traveling in the Valley of the Shadow at the moment.
    What I want to add is part of the Navaho prayer from the Blessing Way. Navahos have a variety of healing ceremonials; their purpose was not to ‘cure’ the recipient, but to put them back in harmony with themselves, and with the world around them. You can find the full prayer at many sites on the Internet but let me leave you with these words:
    “In beauty I walk
    With beauty before me I walk
    With beauty behind me I walk
    With beauty above me I walk
    With beauty around me I walk
    It has become beauty again…
    Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me
    I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
    I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
    I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
    I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
    I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
    In beauty all day long may I walk.
    Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
    On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
    With dew about my feet, may I walk.
    With beauty before me may I walk.
    With beauty behind me may I walk.
    With beauty below me may I walk.
    With beauty above me may I walk.
    With beauty all around me may I walk.
    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
    My words will be beautiful…”
    Stephanie, may you walk in beauty.

  120. Another box of hugs ala Debbie @6:47 to use as you wish and a permission slip to have one wailing good cry as needed. The emotion needs to get out somehow and sometimes a phone call to a friend who will listen to you cry and wail and gnash your teeth and sob your anger at the situation is a wonderful thing.
    Agree that 2013 has not started out as the best of years. Here’s hoping for a turn to the better in the second half. We both need it.

  121. No one doubts that you are going to be an adult. But adults need tenderness and sympathy and a pat on the head or a touch of the heart so that they can get through the tough stuff in some kind of reasonable shape. We are not alone in this grieving process, but sometimes it sure feels like it. You have this big ol’ blog full of people out here, but we can’t be there to make you fat juicy salads or bring you quiviot or do your laundry, or even just laugh when you come home all sweaty from biking. Just know that we are out here sending enormous amounts of light and energy and concern to you. And hug that little voice of yours, at least from me. She sounds kind of spooked.

  122. Hugs and hugs and more hugs. Sending positive vibes and cyber tea your way. I think your morning bike ride sounds like a wonderful idea for tomorrow.

  123. Listen to that voice. Sometimes the right thing isn’t hanging back. Clearly it is somewhat about you. Don’t be so respectful that you miss an opportunity. There are no guidebooks for these things, but one of the benefits of getting older can be a diminished need to fulfill everyone else’s expectations. Be well.

  124. Oh, Stephanie, for your birthday I wish I could give you a lovely clean stack of your own laundry, with chocolate on top. (A chocolate; the image of hot fudge isn’t so good.)
    Happy birthday in the middle of grief. Happy because the one who must leave you does rejoice that you live. Celebrate you both, together. Cherish yourself for their sake. Maybe even learn to insist, for their sake.
    Maybe the dimension life’s demanding you stretch in, right now in this grief, is in sustaining yourself, too. In taking care of the weary, helpless, scared, angry–whatever–sides of the whole you. For the one who has to leave you, there’d be a joy in seeing you be whole. There’d be comfort in knowing you are learning to care for your whole self as they’d like to care for you, and can’t anymore. So they can dare let go in peace.
    We-blogdom-hold you all in our hearts. You tell our story too.

  125. What a wonderful, diverse, and loving group of people you’ve collected, Steph—-NICE GOING! Happy Birthday to you and your Mom, and I’m sending warm thoughts toward creative kindness to yourselves on those days! I couldn’t possibly say it any better than your readers have. It’s a gift to our kids, to accept strength and love and help from them, having admitted the need.

  126. As others said, I too came for the knitting, but very very soon after stayed for the wisdom and brilliant things you choose to do with your gifts. My best friend died while she was in full bloom and during those six weeks of ensuring she was at home, what was highlighted was the perspective someone very close to me had – of me, my role and expectations. It was not entirely positive, it was restrictive…and it was clear that time zips along. I did speak to that person and our relationship deepened. It is good to respect when life calls. It can be difficult to ask others to treat you as you treat them…but it is good for all

  127. I’m earnestly wishing you and yours peace in a time when it will be hard to come by. I hope you are able to feel the love of your family and friends that surrounds you, and figure out how to honor that voice deep inside…and let us all know if you do, because I know it’s hard.

  128. It’s in our nature as moms to want to put everyone else first and do what we think is best for them while putting our own needs and desires on the back burners…. That little voice is the one that speaks up and says “NO, I AM NOT OK, I AM upset/mad/whatever and my needs matter too.”
    Losing someone we love royally bites (toning down the language as your blog lacks an R rating lol) and unfortunately all anyone can do is put their head down and plow on through….
    Maybe your little voice is telling you that you need time to grieve too….

  129. You’re going to be ok. Really. If you can’t fully celebrate your birthday tomorrow (Happy Birthday – we’re all glad you’re here!), then do what you can to be kind to yourself.
    Dying is very often hard. Hard for the one leaving and hard for those who will be left behind. Death seems to be as magical as birth; though not as happy. It depends, though. My neighbor, Marija, died recently, just a few months short of her 104th birthday. She decided she was going to die and within three weeks she did. She was happy, at peace and ready to go. Her 76 year old daughter is having a very hard time accepting that Mama is gone and her grieving seems to know no end.
    Do what you can for your family member/ friend who is ill. Don’t over-think it and don’t allow yourself regrets — now or later.
    Best to you and your family.

  130. Ignoring your own needs is not good for you in the long run. Remember, every good relationship (of any kind) has some give and take in it. It won’t hurt if you ask someone to run a load of laundry, clean the cat box, or go to the market when you need to be doing something else. It also won’t hurt if you ask for a hug or a shoulder to lean on.
    Besides, The Blog is pulling for you. Lots of us have been in similar situations.
    (PS: You may not be superwoman, but I understand your knitting is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. Too bad it hasn’t learned how to leap over a tall building yet.)

  131. Hi Stephanie –
    I didn’t read all the comments, but did notice someone mentioned loving-kindness meditation, which was what I was thinking as I read this blog. You deserve compassion as much as those to whom you want to show compassion. Start with yourself and expand from there, moving from self, to someone with whom you have an easy relationship on to those with whom you’re having a harder time. You can individualize this to meet your needs, but I give you a basic loving kindness meditation and wish it for you and your family:
    May you be safe
    May you be happy
    May you be healthy
    May you live with ease and be free from suffering
    Take good care and have as happy a birthday as you can under the circumstances.

  132. When you wake up in the morning, you might want to ask the voice what it has to say to you instead. Everything you’ve mentioned that it’s said thus far seems to be right on. Those little voices are powerful indeed.
    And we come here for SO much more than the knitting. And send you energy for whatever comes next.

  133. Compassion begins with the self.
    Without that, there can be no true compassion for others.
    None of us feel grown up, I know I don’t, and I am 55.
    I am where you are, and I know this feeling, deep in my heart, the idea that you must remain strong, under circumstances that bring you to your knees, heartsick with grief, and yet…within this pain and heartache, there lies a recognition of grace, and gratitude. Gratitude for all of it, pain, pleasure, grief and joy, and most of all, love.
    I see the heartfelt, sincere and loving support amongst your followers and friends, and that is a beautiful blessed thing. Please ask for what you need at this time. It will be given.
    Happy birthday to you and your mom.

  134. Please let people help you. Please ask for help. You are a human being too, and you deserve compassion and assistance every bit as much as many of the people to whom you are so generous and kind. You don’t have to be superwoman. The people who love you want to be able to do for you what you do for them, I’m just sure of it! (-:

  135. Losing someone dear sucks, no getting around it. Feeling that everything is out of your control and utterly helpless is really painful/traumatic, especially when you are used to be being the one in charge/troubleshooter/mom or even worse a Type A. Sometimes you have to be learn to be grateful for the smallest things.
    Do what you can for your friend/family but don’t forget that you need to nourish your soul too. That little voice isn’t being selfish, it’s the voice of self preservation reminding you that your well being is also important.
    Make the best possible decisions you can, don’t second guess yourself, or have regrets. Just be.
    And if somebody else needs to step up and do the laundry, TELL THEM.
    And have the best possible birthday you can.

  136. This just appeared in my FB page and I thought it apt.
    Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.
    ~Sam Levenson (December 28, 1911 – August 27, 1980) was an American humorist, writer, teacher, television host, and journalist.

  137. Happy Birthday fellow Gemini ! Celebrate you ! Its’s OK to take a moment for yourself in this time of crisis. Afterall life is for living and celebrating when we have it ! I come here for Knitting AND all the other stuff ….keep it all coming !
    Hugs -Steph

  138. This is NOT a secular comment. There is a meditation practice called tonglen that might help you through this time. Google it…. Blessings!

  139. My wise friend the clinical psychologist gave me the metaphor of an emotional bank account. You need to make sure your withdrawals are balanced out with regular deposits. If you keep making withdrawals (or allowing other people to make withdrawals)without putting anything back in, you become emotionally overdrawn and that is when people are unable to cope any more.
    That little voice sounds like the warning letter from your emotional bank account branch manager, warning that you are about to become overdrawn. I’d advise listening to it, because the penalties for being emotionally overdrawn can be pretty stiff.

  140. As hard as it is, sometimes you do have to think about yourself before you can think about other people. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you a person. There is only so much that our minds and bodies can take before we snap and huddle in the bathtub gnawing on our favorite knitting needles. And believe me, you do not want that. It’s splintery.

  141. Well. I was 76 on Tuesday, and spent 4 hours of the afternoon choking, spitting up, calling 911, riding in a new ambulance, getting x-rayed, all to find out that I had most likely spit out the offending insulin needle in the very beginning…….
    and then getting a call late evening that my son – a grandfather, but my baby nonetheless – had been injured in a workplace accident and was to have plastic surgery on a severed thumb tip the next day…. some days are certainly not like others. Thank God! :/
    Keep hanging in! Better times will arrive!

  142. When my friend was dying I went through many stages. I didn’t visit as often as I could have, maybe I thought by not visiting I could extend her days and she would live longer. The dying days felt so long and infinite, but in truth, looking back they slipped through my fingers like water. This time will pass quickly, do what you must so you don’t have regrets later.

  143. The most caring thing my teenage son did for me was to hold my hand while I had to drink that awful stuff in the Gatorade for that age 50 test. He wasn’t always on time, he didn’t always do his homework, but he did his laundry, put dishes away, and helped garden. But he saw I couldn’t make it thru drinking that stuff, and accepted that, and stepped up to the plate.
    You have a lovely circle of family and friends, all of whom would feel so loved if they could help you. Do give them the opportunity to help.

  144. 45 isn’t old. Have compassion for yourself. You are amazing, which is why we are here. It’s not just the knitting.

  145. I have no advice for you, Steph. I work in a cancer hospital and I see family burn themselves out all the time caring for loved ones – I think I’m starting to burn out too. It happens differently for everyone, there’s no one answer to it. Loving this hard is *hard*. But I get it. So I’ll just say, most heartfelt, a very happy birthday to you, and I hope the love from The Blog helps you a little as you make your way through this time.

  146. Stephanie, I think you and I’ve been going through a similar situation and feelings. Someone dear to me and mine died this week after a very long illness. Crazy that I thought I could meet all my responsibilities AND be everything she needed. I kept saying “it’s not about me right now”, but in the last month, I started wanting my own life back and then I’d feel bad about that. I ignored some pretty cool things that I accomplished this year b/c I felt it was too selfish to enjoy given what my friend was going through. I even quit knitting b/c it reminded me that she couldn’t move her hands anymore and I could. I had to be reminded that my feelings didn’t affect what she was experiencing and that it’s ok to feel happy and live fully even when a person I loved was looking at her own expiration date. I’ve done a poor job of expressing this, I just wanted you to know you’re not the only one hearing that quiet inner voice you described. Don’t make my mistake, it just takes longer to walk back to balance.

  147. Oh Steph – I think that’s one of the hardest things to embrace, and one of those things that many of us superwoman/mothers/helpers don’t figure out how to balance until sometime in their 40s – so what I wish for you is that you have compassion for yourself through this muck. You are getting there – if you weren’t, that little voice would be mute. Moreover you’re doing so at exactly the right time in your life.
    Love and light to you and yours as you weather these dark days.

  148. We don’t know each other, Steph, but I love you. Not in any inappropriate way or in any way that requires anything from you. I love you for your humanity, your humor, your kindness, your honesty, your courage, your generousity and so many other wonderful qualities that shine in your words and deeds and that simply couldn’t shine like that if they weren’t stone real. You meet the world shining with this lovely light and you deserve to have that same sweet light shine on you. May all the love that has blazed out into the universe from your beautiful heart, spreading in ever-widening circles of light and warmth, shine back on you and fill you up today. You make the world more lovely, sane and precious just by living in it. All your selfless acts are just a bonus and you can take a break from them any time. Other people love to give, too, and would be honored and filled with joy to give to you. Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear Stephanie Happy Birthday to you. Thank you for being a gift just by being you.

  149. I asked my mother not that long ago how old she was before she started feeling like a real grown up (she’s 64). Apparently she’s still waiting, so there’s not a lot of hope for me in the near future!
    Listen to the voice – when you’re feeling overwhelmed it has a point. If you burn yourself out by looking out for everyone else’s needs while ignoring or burying your own, you’ll get to the point where you fall to pieces in the most impressive way, probably at a particularly inconvenient time. Just like those you love and care for, you are also worthy of love, care and respect.

  150. Sorry you’re going through such a time. Whenever births or birthdays coincide with the end of the life of someone we love, it feels unnatural to celebrate the birth/day. They’re all yours to celebrate. Remember the lives, remember the years, remember the day of our birth and the day of our death are preordained. We only have the time in between to make a difference. And you, lady, have touched many many lives. Take care of yourself. Take care of others. Accept kindness. Know that people who don’t really know you, care about you.

  151. The one thing I learned from trying to Do It All and Be It All during the last 10 years of my DH’s life, when Type 1 Diabetes was killing him by inches, is that if you deny your needs too long because you think you have to be The Strong One, you end up paying for it later. It took me nearly 6 years after his death to recover, and sometimes I still wonder. Do what you feel you need to do, but remember you are loved for who you are, not what you do, and that the person in crisis will love you, whatever you do or don’t do, simply because you are part of his/her life. Happy Birthday, anyway. On a hug and a prayer…

  152. Peace to you and your family. I’m sorry for the pain you’re all going through, and I’m sending strength and comfort to you all.

  153. I am so insanely glad that you have your wicked sense of humor in all of this, because really? If you didn’t have it, you might possibly be a little worse off.
    I wish I had something thoughtful and deep to say, but I am too tired after celebrating my own birthday (41) with a hell of a bike ride. Things have been hard here, too, and I tell you, humor and exercise have been my saving graces. And chocolate. And wine.
    I’m sending you as many wonderful, good vibes as I can muster this evening, hoping that you let go of the crazy notion of ever needing to grow up. You are doing what you are supposed to be doing, and I am grateful you are sharing it here with us.
    Much love to you! And happy birthday! Cheers!

  154. Dear Steph,
    Despite what you believe, you are breakable. Just as fragile as everyone else you are trying to protect.
    You’ve told us – now tell your family and friends. Tell them you need the same care and consideration and help and tenderness you give.
    You’ll be doing them a favor. If you do get broken or even simply quite dinged up, they will be sad and vexed that they hadn’t known to help you.
    They are surely wonderful, caring, helpful people; you’ve chosen to include them in your life.
    Reading the comments above, all of us who only know you through this blog and your books want to help. I am certain folks who know you in person want to do oh-so-much more.
    Sometimes it IS about you.

  155. Dear Steph
    Be true to yourself. Be kind and compassionate. There is no “right” way to get through grief. Just allow yourself to rest with it.
    And happy birthday. Life is a gift.

  156. Do take the time to care for yourself. It’t not being selfish; it’s being smart. It’s the only way you have the strength to care for others.
    Happy birthday.

  157. We sometimes used “time outs” when the kids were young. When they got to be a bit older, I would sometimes put MYSELF in time out. To regain equilibrium. Or just shut down (my own) bad patterns. Or to remember how to breath. Claiming time for one’s own sweet self & expressing one’s own limitations can be a very good thing.
    Best wishes for your ride, your outlook, and this next year: birthday or un-birthday.
    Peace be with you and yours.

  158. The more you try to ignore that voice, the louder it is going to shout.
    This year has been hideous for me too, I’m about to turn 45 as well and so far I have lost three family members in the last four months – two of them suddenly and unexpectedly and they were around my age. I tried to juggle kids, study (I’m changing careers) and grief in a responsible, adult manner but it’s really difficult when deep down I know I’m really only 15 still. So I listened to my little voice which turned out to sound like my grandmother, an impressive battleaxe of a woman who said things like “tell them to make their own bloody dinner” and “those tea towel could do with a bit of bleach but we’ll have a gin first, dear” – Grandma knew best, of course, and I started to kick arses and, astonishingly, it didn’t cause everyone else around me to crumble or suffer because I was being less wonderful and supportive. They coped and they’ve carried on coping and we all survived it together without long lasting resentment (on my part) or laundry-trauma (on theirs).
    And sod the knitting, we don’t come here for that. We come here for you. And we’re not going anywhere – wasn’t it you who told us in the first book, a long time ago, ‘you don’t leave the broken hearted’?
    Happy birthday Stephanie.

  159. Ask. It is the answer. Should it fail–demand.
    Breathe deeply. It will give you space.
    Listen. Your heart is wise.
    Be kind to youself. It’s the best thing you can do for youself and others.
    Cry. It strengthens.
    Allow. It is the only way through.

  160. Nineteen years ago, our family lost a child in the most horrible way possible. Seemingly from nowhere, people we didn’t even know appeared to feed us, drive us places, include us in activities so we would have something else to think about. In talking with them, I discovered that every one of them had a wound of their own that accepting their help gave them permission to share, and discard a piece of the pain.

  161. I’m a knitter but I don’t come here for the knitting. I come here for the authenticity. You are real. You are honest. You are beautiful. And when the real hurts, well then let it hurt. That is life. That is honest. We pray. We support. We love. Love- that’s what your writing cultivates. It’s virtual; we don’t know each other in person, but we still love. So much love to you and your family right now.

  162. OK — Unsolicuted Advice #732: It’s OK to take care of yourself first sometimes. If you don’t, there eventually won’t be anything left of you to help take care of others when they truly need it.
    UA #733: Age is just a number. Some days you will be a mature 40-something…other days your inner 3-year-old will take over & throw an all-day tantrum. You often don’t have a choice in the matter.
    UA #734: They don’t call it suffering a loss for nothing. It is never easy, and the more you care about the person, the harder it can be. You will never get over it, but you will get through it…even if some days it doesn’t seem possible.
    If we have learned anything from the stories you have shared with us in this blog and in your books, you are surrounded by a wonderful family, biological & otherwise. Lean on each other (that means you can lean, too), and you will make it through.

  163. It is a heartbreaking situation when a loved one has to face challenges regarding their mortality. The best thing you can do for others and for yourself is to keep doing what you would do at any time – that is, live. Live your life as you would each day, and be yourself. To do so is not a callous or thoughtless action. So celebrate your birthday, maybe keep it somewhat subdued but celebrate with them, and they will most likely love sharing it with you and seeing your joy. Keep each day simple and normal – don’t pressure yourself to be awesome because that’s what triggers sobbing meltdowns.
    Take care Steph, and take a break when it’s needed.

  164. Evidently some really terrific people, including yourself, came into the world on a June 14th. My daughter turns 19 tomorrow. I hope that you have a really wonderful day in spite of everything.
    I don’t have any words of wisdom. That same little voice has been niggling at me for considerably longer (I won’t say exactly how many years 🙂 and I still haven’t got a good answer. If you figure it out could you share?
    Sending love and hugs!

  165. Listen to your little voice. We all wish we were strong and capable of anything. Fortunately, we aren’t. If we were, we’d have nothing left to learn and nothing left to work toward.
    I wish you peace during this time and much compassion for all and for yourself. You need to be on the list too.

  166. You are so amazingly honest, deep, and wise, and clearly loved by so many. It is this, as much if not more than the knitting that brings me and others to check daily for the latest word from you. Love and blessings to you in this difficult time.

  167. I have just started following your blog and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I am continuing to learn that i need to give myself as much love and compassion as i give others. Some of my identity is tied up in me taking care of others. I love it, it gives me great joy, but at times feels overwhelming. When I begin to feel this way I know it is time to slow down and take care of myself….for at least a moment. One of the ways I do this is to knit, which I must admit is usually for someone else! But knitting calms me, centers me. Be kind to yourself

  168. I’m supporting you in this decision — and I am so encouraged by your transparency and honesty.
    A psychologist friend of mine told me, after I lost a loved one, that when our brains are grieving they are not very attentive — people tend to get into accidents when they are grieving, because they are not aware how hard their brain is working to sync up with a huge loss and the emotions that accompany it.
    It’s something I try to pass on to everyone I know who is facing down a big loss: Your brain is working very, very hard right now, even if you can’t feel all of it. In fact, the overdrive to do things may be part of that. Please be extra kind to yourself and allow yourself that small additional bit of care in your day-to-day.

  169. I echo some of the wise voices who have already talked about compassion for self as well as others. Why do we so often think being there for others means sacrificing ourselves? What if that which is most needed is sharing the load, and the pain?
    Maybe,for today, awesome is just taking one step at a time. Take care and know you are being thought of often.

  170. Put a list on the fridge and let someone else be responsible for assigning/finding volunteers for what has to be done. There’s nothing magic about laundry and meals that means only you can do them. Cleaning either!
    Nobody I know, either older or younger or the same age as me, feels they are really a grown-up. Because each of us is living our only life, one bit at a time. There is no one answer or one way – just the one that each of us finds. We are always learning our new limits.

  171. Perhaps a different viewpoint about you pending loss will help? At least a little.
    I envy you, that you know this is coming. My loved one died suddenly and there was no time to say the things that should have been said, no time to spend with them. I am now much more open with the rest of my loved ones, for the simple reason that I may never see them again — who knows how much time we are allotted?
    They are not being robbed, and neither are you. Every single day from the day they (and you) were born has been a gift. Every gift eventually gets used. Even the gift of life. We all are ultimately only here a short time.
    I’m not going to tell you to be grateful because right now it’s not anything you will want to hear, or be able to process. I am going to tell you that the time you spend with that person now, as much of it as possible, will sustain you when they are gone, and you will be grateful for every moment you spent with them during these times.
    Do not do laundry, wear dirty clothes. Spend the laundry time with your loved one. You will never, in the long run, regret it. And make all your family members spend as much time with this loved one as they can as well.

  172. Steph, 5 years ago we went through crisis, big crisis. Like, I walked out of work and didn’t go back kind. Hubby plodded on in the office because we had to have health insurance, but it was really bad. He wrote a list for the two of us. I won’t share the whole list but one item was, “We will pursue only the paths that move forward and stop pursuing those that are only roadblocks.” There’s a lot more about taking care of us and saying screw you to the rest of the world.
    Anyway, you have to do what’s right for you, Joe, and the girls. I really believe that’s the right order as well. Then, with what you have left, you can move on to the rest of the family and the rest of the world. There will be enough of you to go around ONLY if you take care of yourself. I hope you can feel the love from all of us and know that we want the best for you. Go pull the covers over your head if that’s what you need today. The bathroom will still be gross on the morning. XO

  173. Dear Stephanie. At 54 I have lost a goodly number of important people. Some were relatives, some were friends, all were pieces of my heart. I have been in the neighbourhood you are in now, just a different street.
    45 does not convey great wisdom overnight, but your little voice is a signal that you are coming into a new stage of your life.
    As far as being “the rock” that constantly gives to others, there are many good thoughts in the comments. Here’s one more:
    While being the rock who is always giving and looking after others, you are depriving other people of being able to give to you. By not stepping back, you deny them the opportunity to give. Life is not a contest to see who can give the most, nor is it a contest to see who receives the most – it is a sharing of everything we are and can be. We all need to be able to give and to receive, or we lose some of the most precious opportunities to grow. You have an opportunity right now to begin some of the receiving (start small, it takes a while to get the hang of it), which in a strange turn of humanity is actually another form of giving.
    I will uphold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers as you make your way through this difficult time.

  174. Dear Stephanie, it’s after midnight, so may your today be better than the previous one. Let someone help you today.
    You are allowed. Give yourself permission to be all the things you need to be. Sad. Angry. Fearful. Lonely. Needy. Weak. Raging. Loving. Compassionate. Consoling. In Pain. Slow, or Fast. Confused. Tired. Wakeful. Curious. Wondering. Strong. Dedicated. Tireless. Creative. Undaunted. Amazing.
    One or two of these can be you today, perhaps all of these will be you today. You are allowed.

  175. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, though I’ve read your blog for years… I just wanted to say that your humor and knitting inspiration have gotten me through a lot of dark moments, and that I hope you get whatever you need to help you through yours. I wish I could give back to you some of what you’ve given me!

  176. Dear Stephanie,
    During the deaths of my parents, who lived 180 miles from me, I did the best I could. I wasn’t perfect, I just did the best I could.
    When I found that all I wanted to do was snarl at every request made of me, I eventually realised that I needed some down time where I put my needs first. If I didn’t have this downtime, I would be of no use to anyone else.
    So then, and now, when I need downtime where I put me first, I say to myself, “I am doing my best. I am not perfect. I must forget/ignore the judgements of others. They are not where I am; they do not/can not know how completely overwhelmed I am. I can only do my best. I must take care of me right now.”
    Many hugs.

  177. I hear people say it could be worse. What I am going through is not as bad as what someone else has to deal with. The thing is … we all have to deal with our own circumstances.
    In order to deal with the tough stuff we need to nuture and care for ourselves . You can’t take care of someone else until you take care of yourself because you will have nothing to give.
    Be gentle with yourself so you can be strong for your family. Sending you cosmic hugs.

  178. Compassion is not lying under the truck. Caring is not Doing Everything For Everyone.I don’t know what compassion is but it is not self sacrifice nor self denial. Perhaps closer to not not-caring about some specific person(s)? Not blaming nor not hating?
    Giving should not mean being empty yourself. Being open and needing support is indeed a way of giving support and sharing with those close to you. Let them help you as much as you want help them. Not giving ourself away to the Other without letting ourself get something as well is more like sharing and more likely to forge mutual bonds of aid and Compassion. We all want to be superman/woman. Let it happen for us all.

  179. I turned 45 yesterday and I’m nursing my mum while she dies of aggressive cancer. I totally empathise. No wisdom from me just a wave from across the sea from a road that looks a lot like yours. My mum is desperately hoping for the ‘turn for the worse’, here’s hoping we both find a peace we can live with.

  180. Hugs. Take care of yourself.
    Its been 1 1/2 years since I lost my mother to cancer. It was terrible watching her go through it and was grateful when her body let her go. For us left behind it’s been hard. My daughter was born 8 months later on my mother’s birthday weekend. My daughter is what has gotten my dad and family through the minutes, days, weeks, months, and 1 1/2 years. And yet we miss her deeply in each of those moments she isn’t there to experience with us. There have been times when I took a shower just to cry tears down the drain. It seemed easier that way, like rain soothing away pain and saying it’s ok to cry, I’ll help.
    I heard someone say “it isn’t being dead that’s the problem but getting there”.

  181. I read your blog this morning looking for some light relief from all the shit that is going on in my life at the moment. Your words touched me more than you can imagine. We’re non of us super woman just mother’s, carers. But, we can do it and get through it. Thank you for sharing, for not pretending that life is a bunch of roses all the time. You have people around you that love and care for you. Let them share the good and the bad with you.

  182. I donated to your ride for a variety of reasons today but the one that pushed me over the top was wanting to support you and send you a big snuggly birthday wish during these trying times for you. I love you and your blog *whatever* you write. Best wishes and good luck on your ride. I know you will be awesome. You always are. 🙂

  183. Blessed Birthday Stephanie, may you have enough strength to weather the storm.
    Love You!
    Hugs, Paul

  184. When I don’t know how to do something….. I read a book by someone who does.
    May I suggest you read
    ‘On grief and grieving’ by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
    You do not have to invent the wheel, somebody else already has the diagrams.
    Good luck , its shit.
    Love and Hugs

  185. Steph, Since I started reading your blog and books oh so many years ago I have laughed and cried with you. Losing a loved one is a hard thing no matter what. Whether they leave in an instant, or over a long time there is no way to really get ready for it. Balancing being there for others, and taking care of yourself is a delicate dance indeed. We all need to not be afraid to take the strength were we can find it, and not be afraid to let others support us.
    We, The Blog, most definitely want to hear about the ups and the downs. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we feel like you are family. Everyday I check to see if you have posted something new for me to read, and while I love reading about knitting I really want to read about you and your family. I love to hear about the girls, and your stories about Hank always warm my heart.
    Take care of yourself, and we will keep reading. When you are ready to share with us we will probably collectively bawl our eyes out. Then we will send you our love, and help you move on. I have all the faith in the world in you.

  186. Many have said it already. So MANY kind words of wisdom. I only wish to add that whenever I have said its not about me. Its about everyone else here, i have felt both noble and like i wanted to bash someones head in all at the same time. I dont think we really can leapfrog over our own important needs, and by important i mean being equally as valuable in the great scheme of life as all our children and suffering relatives. If we leap frog over ourselves, ignore ourslves, our true self sits down on the side of the road and cries. May i suggest NOT killing yourself with the bike ride this year? May i suggest triage? What really IS the important stuff only you can do? What are the extra burdens you are carrying for no good reason? Anyway. I never came for the knitting. i came because you always tell the truth. So lots of love. And remember if you don’t take care of yourself no one else will, either. And thats just plain silly.

  187. Read the book *Co-Dependent No More*. Ignore the subtitle. It is one of the wisest and most compassionate books I know about how to give “the voice” its voice.

  188. Listen to the little voice. The idea that you can be superwoman and look after the whole world is absurd. Long ago, faced with a friend who–like you–thought the best and most wonderful thing she could do would be to look after everyone while completely ignoring her own needs, I coined the term ‘masochistic nurturing’. It’s dumb. I’m an academic who’s specialised in death studies for over ten years and you know which population is the least cared for in a situation where someone is dying? Not the dying person: the caregiver/s. And I ask you, dear caring knitter that you are, how can you give and give and give to others if you have nothing left inside? You have to look after yourself in order to be able to look after others. You know I don’t mean total self-indulgence; you know I mean reasonable measure; but beating yourself up to be all things to everyone else while ignoring your own needs (especially for comfort and compassion) is just not good. I’ve been in a similar situation as you more times than I care to remember, so I don’t speak as an academic here, I speak as a survivor. Be loved.

  189. In the UK, this week, it’s carers’ week: the week where we, as charities, remind people who spend so much time looking after other people that time out to look after themselves too is a good thing.
    You know this, and you’re intelligent, brave, and compassionate. You’ll find balance, and you’ll be OK.
    Get the groceries delivered until after the ride is done, and take a good multivitamin if you don’t already. You cannot train properly on crackers.

  190. Being compassionate includes being compassionate to yourself and to Joe. Being compassionate includes doing yourself the kindness of spending the time necessary to YOU with the person who is probably not going to get as long a life as you would have chosen for them. Being compassionate includes forgiving yourself for not having all the laundry done, because really, in the grand scheme, clean clothes are nice, but they don’t ALL have to be clean at once.
    As for the little voice, give the little voice the respect deserved, give teh little voice compassion.
    I am sorry you are facing a struggle as a family. But, at least you are facing this as a family, rather than alone.

  191. In order for you to grow up, you need to allow your children to grow up too. When my MIL was gravely ill it came as a tremendous relief to me when my daughter, only 21 at the time, spoke up for me and made me realise that I did not have to do it all. It empowered me and it empowered her. I think it made my MIL very proud of us both. Being strong is what we can all be when we acknowledge each others power to help.

  192. Sorry for all the things you’re going through. Life can be a relentless thing sometimes. But it’s still okay to look after yourself, now more than ever, and not feel guilty if something makes you happy. Grieving doesn’t mean not also finding joy in something.
    Hugs. Please allow yourself to have a happy birthday, even if it is the quietest, most low profile evening you spend with someone you love. The memory of it will be a little oasis of light in the memory of darkness when some time has passed. Deliberately not doing anything at all will only add to the present misery and the pain of future memories. (Speaking from the memory of two birthdays during an agonizing phase in my life.)
    Hugs again.

  193. When I was taking care of my parents during their final months, everyone kept telling me to take time to care for myself, too, so I would have the strength to deal with what lay ahead. Thing is, I didn’t know how to do other than what I did – pour myself out for them, treasure them while they were here, and somehow try to convey the enormous love and respect I felt for them. It was a strangely focused time, where for once I felt free to tell others “no” to things – worthy, valuable things, mind you – that would keep me from the harder, higher purpose of being with them. And folks understood.
    What I hope to convey is that you, with your caring heart, will find a way through this. Forget the “perfect” and just do, be, what you can. If that means saying “no” or having a meltdown sometimes, so be it. Forgive yourself, because you are only human and can only do what you can do. And knitting – or more accurately, blogging about knitting – can wait. We’ll be here.

  194. Dear Steph
    When I was in my 40’s I became suicidally depressed for several years due to repressed childhood abuse. I stayed alive because I could not bear to hurt my children with a suicide though I wished for it daily.
    What made the difference was 1) asking for help, and receiving it. What my children say is that the most important lesson they learned from my parenting was watching me go through this; watching me struggle and cry and keep putting one foot in front of the other. They learned to cook something when all I could do was stare at the wall. They learned that one survives and that joy afterwards is possible.
    You know me: I am daily grateful for life, love, grandchildren, knitting and friends.
    Someone above in the replies said that it is like a birthing. We continually become human in our struggles and loves.

  195. We love you bathroom, crackers and all. Thinking of you, holding you all in my thoughts and heart. Be gentle with yourself, you dont have to be perfect you are perfectly and wonderfully you and that is a great thing x

  196. I turned 45 a month ago, and it was also a bit of an unbirthday. Not the same story as yours, mine is just about a life that was almost stolen, but given back….. but not the same life we had before. I blogged for the first time in 5 months yesterday and it was hard, as is just getting up every morning to be honest. I can’t believe that you manage so much, a rally, a book, knitting, blogging etc…… I hope your unbirthday is full of love, and that somewhere some laughter too, even if it’s kind of hysterical, “i have to laugh or i’ll cry” Happy 45.

  197. Well. Here’s the thing, amiga. What you’re experiencing is a process that, like little else in our lives, we can’t make better or simpler or faster or easier. In fact, we can’t change it at all, we can only try to stay on the galloping horse. It’s terrifying to know it won’t/can’t get better, only worse, especially so for those of us who are used to being in charge/proactive/together (read, “Superwoman”). It’s terrifying to be helpless, and we tend to respond to that fear by doing more – laundry, cleaning, cooking, whatever – as if we can somehow find a safe place in busyness and the illusion of strength so that we won’t have to feel the anguish we’re trying to hold at bay.
    It’s life, and we can accept it or change it. This is a situation we can’t change, and the only option is to surrender, and trust the process. That means accepting that things aren’t normal, that everyone’s experiencing the heightened emotions of crisis, and that so are you. This is not a situation where you can tough it out and get through it; rather, it’s a process you need all the help you can get to survive, where everyone has to pitch in because you can’t do it on your own – nor should you. First, you deserve the help. Second, your stepping back a little makes room for others to step up, and everyone deserves that opportunity.
    Wow, clearly your post has touched a nerve with me! I won’t go into gory detail, nor rant any further, but heartily second all the wine and chocolate and good wishes for you, Stephanie. Trust the process, trust yourself, and you’ll be fine. Keep the faith.

  198. I’m barely a knitter; I come here for your wit and passion and honesty. I like that I have come to know you a bit through your blog, even though we are not likely to ever meet.
    I wish you a happy birthday, and comfort where you can take it, pause when you need it, love all around you.

  199. Go On Stephanie – scream out loud – weep, mourn, live your feelings of grief – and then live life – deeply and with integrity.
    Grief is part of love, if we never loved we would never know the tears of loss.

  200. I came for the knitting but stayed for the real life, you have a great unbirthday

  201. I have this taped to my fridge and I find the message very comforting. Maybe it will help you, too: “Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, then it isn’t the end.”
    And, by the way, I’m 47 and still waiting for that little voice to offer solid, grounding advice & clarity. Until it does, just muddle through the best you can. It’s what the rest of us are doing.

  202. First off, Happy Birthday!
    It’s crazy sometimes how the Universe and the Powers the Be arrange things. Last night I got the news that a very dear friend had been hit by a car and killed while out walking. Like you I’m now thrown into the woods without a map, compass, or GPS to help me find the way. I’ve been here before, way too many times, and it doesn’t get any easier. Actually it just seems to be getting harder. I know exactly the voice you’re talking about because I have one too and it sounds a lot like yours. I too have high expectations for myself. The struggle to do what’s right and to be the kind of person I can be proud of is just tough, especially in trying times like these. It’s just brutal. So, what I do is this, I try to look at my actions as if I were someone else. Same with that little voice. I try to look at them like I would if my oldest dearest friend had the same issues, thoughts and feelings. I ask myself what would I think if my best friend said this to me? That she was trying hard to be Super Girl and was having some needs and wants of her own. (My BFF’s by the way are amazing people, full of grace, compassion and love so I trust their judgement implicitly.) What I find is 99.99% of the time I would tell them to give themselves as much love, kindness, and compassion as they give to all the others in their lives in such a tough time. They are struggling and suffering too. So please let yourself off the hook. Be easy on yourself. Be kind to yourself. Take a hot bath and don’t forget to bring some chocolate and a great beer. Light some candles and have a good cry, then say a toast with the beer, eat some chocolate and soak. It’s ok. You’ll find your way out of the woods eventually and so will I. Unfortunately things are really going to suck for a while but we can do it as long as we are nice to ourselves. I’ll try to remember it if you will.

  203. Go spend more time with your loved one. Reading between the lines, I think this is what you really want to do but you are being respectful of somebody else who is close to your loved one. Being superwoman and doing all the house-chores is serving you some purpose right now but I’m not sure its the right one. You need to tackle this now and share with the person at the boundary what you really need.
    Good luck and lots of hugs to you.

  204. I feel in my bones that the comments section of this post is broken open with love and gratitude for who you are, the “who” you share with us, whether that’s the knitter or the rider or the mother or the midwife. We all share a great fondness for you (and a pox on anyone who has been disparaging in this sacred space… A gentle pox, just enough that they realize they’d better shape up) and wish you as much loving kindness for yourself as you evince for others. More, in fact, because you DO deserve it, especially from yourself. I hope this comment finds its way to your ears or to someone else’s who will benefit from it – Be at peace and allow that little voice to teach you what she needs you to know. With immense respect, M.

  205. My husband died last year, in his sleep. He wasn’t in great health, but we sure thought he’d make it past 47. I have spent the time since putting one foot in front of the other, doing what needs to be done, trying to make everything normal for the kids. It’s a “new normal”, and we’re still finding our way. I was struggling with grief, and my best friend had a melt-down everytime I saw her after he died, as she was going through her own issues with her mom’s health. I told her I was having a hard time and she said, “How should I know? Why didn’t you tell me what you need?” Truthfully, I didn’t KNOW what I needed, as I’d always been one taking care of others. It’s hard to be the one needing help. Harder to ask for it. But sometimes, you just have to put down the load you’re carrying and take a break. We find our way through, with each other’s help. Your blog gives us a look at how one woman gets through her life, and we can take ideas from it. We appreciate seeing all of it, not just the knitting (and oh, how knitting has gotten me through this last year). My best to you. I’ll have a cup of tea and send good thoughts your way.

  206. They are my quiet moments reading your blog. It slows my breathing and helps me connect with someone I’d love to have as my neighbor. You are special and what you share with us your followers is honored and cared about. We are all here for you. Feel our energy and let us hold you up when you feel like you might fall. Have a peaceful day.

  207. Happy Birthday to you! Hang in there; life can be quite shitty sometimes, but things pass. It will be okay.

  208. In order to take care of others you must first take care of yourself. Give yourself the gift of listening to YOUR needs on your birthday.

  209. When my Dad was dying, we had some friends and neighbours who helped by leaving fruitcakes on our doorstep when we didn’t want company. We ate fruitcake instead of dinner, and knew that people were offering us an edible hug. help kept us going when it was hard to put one foot in front of the other. Let people know that you’re struggling, and let them help you keep going so that you can focus on the things that are most important to you at the moment.

  210. Stephanie- thank you for expressing your words so beautifully as I am going thru the same right now. Your words give me hope that I too can be as strong and as graceful as you.

  211. If we had all the answers, the journey would be over 🙂 Trying times are a test and the older we get, the more stuff/life we get to deal with.
    I hope you do take a moment or two to acknowledge your day, a milestone bday at that. As others have said, be gentle with yourself. I’m sure your compassion and goodness continues to shine, even when you feel it isn’t. Namaste.

  212. For you:
    One coupon for 1 hour of time:
    1. sitting down
    2. have a good cry
    3. feel sorry for yourself
    4. let the grief wash over you a time or two, and
    5. knit a prayer

  213. Stephanie, here is something profound and amazing from someone a generation older than you, something I myself learned the hard way: You count too. It doesn’t rob anyone else of anything they’ve got to have if you put yourself on the list of people you need to take care of. In fact, in the long run, the long, painful,grinding run of trying to get through horribly difficult days one at a time, taking care of yourself pays off, it keeps you sane and allows you to keep doing for others and giving to them. A dry well can’t overflow, my dear. Take your birthday off. Rest. Do something fun and silly. You WON’T be hurting anyone else. I promise.

  214. I can relate to everything you said, having been through great loss myself. What I tell people is: do the best you can, and forgive yourself the rest. It is so hard.

  215. Sending you loving thoughts.
    Try to remember that the well needs filling. If you keep pulling up buckets it will dry up and then no one will be helped, including you.

  216. It’s perfectly natural to question yourself when you’re watching someone leave this world.
    Being left behind is horrible – especially when it comes as a release to that person.
    You’re being strong for your family, let your family be strong for you in return – cope together and lean on each other.
    Hugs to you and Happy Birthday for when you & your Mum decide to celebrate

  217. Hi Stephanie,
    I am sorry you are experiencing this loss, but you are right to look after yourself and your needs as well. I lost my best friend/cousin at about your age. It was a profound experience that stays with me long after her passing. Profound in that I have a new depth of appreciation for all life and an understanding of a young life leaving before she could experience more. You are loved. Happy Birthday.

  218. Let the laundry pile up. Only do underthings, and only when you can’t stand the thought of going out to buy more. Just because those jeans can stand up by themselves doesn’t make them *dirty* – they’ve just got character.
    And a meal or two from the local grocer’s salad bar will do just fine.
    Hugs to you and yours.

  219. Your grief is real, even if your loved one hasn’t quite left yet. It’s okay to honor it, and not be perfect, and not be the nicest person ever, and get cranky with us strangers on your website, and even to say, ‘I don’t want to knit this week’ if that’s what it takes to get through.
    You have built an amazing community because you’re you and you’re special, and reaching out to that community is a-ok.
    Best wishes to you and yours.

  220. Can’t do the donation from this (work) computer, but I’ll be heading to the library later today. Keep in mind that if you don’t take care of yourself too, you can’t be there for others who need you. A crazy pace with a heavy load makes a rough trip — try to share the load. Hugs to all, especially the rock that is Joe.

  221. Compassion should indeed be extended to oneself (or oneselves). And it’s okay if you aren’t Superwoman; while we’d all like to be her, it is a sad fact that she is fiction (and does she ever do laundry in the comics?)
    You’re in a time of immense difficulty. That’s okay. It’s okay to allow that it’s difficult, and that maybe it’s all right if some of the little things don’t get done.
    Other people have already quoted LizFM but I think she’s right: If not for yourself, do it as an example to the people you love. They, and you, are worth it.
    (Also, I’m going to hazard a guess that this outpouring of love and support for you taking time for your own needs is not surprising Joe at all.)

  222. One of the most important things to remember is that you can’t help anyone else if you yourself have collapsed. You have to look after yourself first – and by that I don’t mean ‘be selfish’, I mean give yourself the time and space and attention you need to be effective.
    Rest. Hold your boundaries. Don’t let other people run roughshod over you because they’re suffering and you feel like you have to excuse them; you don’t! You don’t have to stomp on them in return, either, but standing up for yourself or just walking away for a break is perfectly reasonable.

  223. I don’t come only for the knitting, although that is always either lovely or amusing (both of which are good things). I come for the wonderful perspective you offer on so much of life, and the ever-graceful way in which you voice it. Today, I’d like to offer some advice: Sometimes, being the best you there is means holding other people to a high standard as well, and not letting them get away with being less than they are capable of. Don’t lie down and invite them to drive over you if it makes them feel better, because it won’t. Stand up, look them in the eye, and say “You are better than this, and I won’t allow you to be less than you are, because I love you THAT much.” It’s way harder, trust me.

  224. Listen to the little voice. Take care of yourself as if you were someone you love. Rest, eat as well as you can, breathe.

  225. I went through a death in the family earlier this year. It is a time that is not repeatable, you get no “do-overs” so you must take baby steps and get through as best you can. Focus on what is important, what you will not get a second chance to do. Laundry will wait or be done by someone else as will all your normal activities-give yourself permission to let go of the daily and focus on what you cannot do again. You will never regret it.

  226. For what it’s worth, I keep reading all the time, and I love the *you* that comes out along with the knitting. And when I read these posts about your recent tough times, I want to send some compassion your way and knit YOU a pair of socks.

  227. We are supposed to love others as we love ourselves. So be kind to yourself. Otherwise you have nothing to give to others. We all walk this road. You have my prayers and so does the person you love. And your family of course. We live the knitting stories, but we love you more.

  228. So. Here’s something I’ve learned during the last 65 years about being female. Regardless of where the little voice lives in your body (mine sits on my left shoulder for some reason), when it starts whispering to you about an impending crisis you are free to ignore it. Sometimes you luck out and things just resolve without too much trauma. But sometimes they don’t. Then, if you haven’t formed a Plan B for coping, eventually you will totally melt down. Unfortunately this does not result in the support you so desperately need, it just scares the living daylights out of everyone, they avoid you like the plague, and you are left feeling more alone and unsupported than ever. Try hard to pay attention to the voice. And that’s easier said than done.

  229. Loss of a loved one
    the pain of chest clothed in boulders
    the twist of a never ending knife
    or so we feel lost, aching, alone
    it will ebb but never to neap tide
    but as it recedes, the memories arise
    moth wings of happiness touch us
    and ease the ache.
    the loss is present always
    the memories are its balm.
    thinking of you.

  230. One of the things I love most about your blog is that you share your life, human-ness and sense of humour – you are not afraid of imperfection in life or knitting (or if you are afraid, you have learned how to make friends with it).
    Listen to that little voice.
    Sometimes honesty and being real means acknowledging our own needs. We may still choose to put them to one side, but it is saying that they’re not invisible. I admire your struggle and aim to choose to be noble and to give others lee-way. This can be the most difficult thing, and shows us what we are made of. It is also OK to give yourself lee-way – be kind to yourself. Accept your self, where you are, as you are. Knowing you will keep changing, but that this is where you are now.
    It must be a hard thing – good and bitter – to be saying good-bye like this too soon. But you can share in that journey (and share your journey) with the person – you both may be richer for it.
    May you have wisdom and strength too.

  231. Many of us come here for more than the knitting. we come to hear you. your good things, your bad things, life. You may not be Superwoman, but you are pretty damned amazing in that you try really hard most days to be a good person. that’s all we can do. Hoping with all i can muster that next year’s birthday looks just wonderful as it approaches. And love to you and your family in these dark days.

  232. I feel for you and I understand your predicament all too well. Those who have previously said that you are allowed to have a bit of fun and you are allowed to pay attention to yourself are correct. Denying your own needs is the destructive side of grieving. You can turn to your inner voice and tell her that you hear her and are there for her. You can then ask her what she wants or needs. The answer may surprise you. And if it means you need to have some alone time with wool and wine, or curled up with family and friends, or a small cry in the corner these are all ok things. I’m sure it just seems very hard to ask for help when you’ve committed to doing and being this strong person.

  233. Loving and supporting yourself is hard, especially when there are so many who need us. However, taking the time to take care of your own needs and happiness brings a greater authenticity to what we give to others that otherwise may be lacking. Remember what you wrote about the designer who’d never actually tried to knit their own pattern? Couldn’t the same be said for this? Quality vs quantity?
    Thank you for speaking so candidly about things like this. Your honesty about the unrealistic pressures we put upon ourselves as women and mothers (men and fathers too) has helped me a lot. As a young(ish) mother of 3 kids under 6, I’m starting to reconcile the ideals I had about being a good mom with the reality of my life. I’m glad I can start to do that now and hopefully allow myself to let go of the guilt of not being able to do everything, so I can truly enjoy the awesome experience of my role as mother. That is a gift you’ve given to me, and I’m sure many others. It’s an immeasurable kindness, thank you.
    I hope you do celebrate in some small way. Every year of every life should be marked in a special way, especially in the face of loss. Happy Birthday.

  234. Be kind to yourself- you are wonderful!
    Happy early Birthday- I will make a donation to your cause!
    Much love to you and your family!

  235. Please don’t apologize for a dearth of knitting content. Like many others, I came for the knitting but stayed for you. I care, as does the rest of The Blog. If I lived within a day’s drive of Toronto, I’d bake you a carrot cake for your birthday, but in lieu of that, here’s a long distance hug from someone you’ve never met.

  236. Hey Steph,
    I dont know you – wish I did! So I say this lightly of what I read in your post, trying not to be out out turn. Its ok to grieve. It sounds like that it’s what your little voice is trying to say. When crapy things happen in life it is normal to want to keep it all smooth and “normal”. Doing foster care – I find myself responding that way when I grieve the los of a child going home. Then I hit a wall and say that it sucks. Its not fair. And I hate it. I go for long walks and chew out people in my mind….
    No matter how old some one is, how much pain they are in… death still sucks for you. And that is ok.
    No matter how old, how peaceful death is it still sucks. It is

  237. Nobody can be strong all the time, Steph. At some point, you need to look after yourself so you can keep being awesome for others 🙂 To me, it’s sort of an investment. The more I do for myself, then the stronger and more capable I will be for others.
    I’m so sorry that your family is going through such a difficult time 🙁

  238. I bet that your someone would be happy to celebrate another year of you. As one who daily is surviving cancer, each year is a gift. Thankfully, we get to enjoy your next year a little, too, so it’s a gift for all of us. I’m glad you are here, and not just because it’s your birthday, but that gives everyone a reminder to be grateful for what we have, which is so often immeasurable.

  239. My family lost my dad last November after a mind-numbingly brief, indescribably painful dance with pancreatic cancer. Months later, my brother and I are still struggling with our little voices. Everything has shifted; and I have come to terms with this being a Year of Change and Transition.
    I like Lee’s comment, above. Breathe through it. It’s how we’re born; it’s how we meet our death; it’s all we can do some days. And that’s more than okay.

  240. Bless you,Stephanie. Our “little voices” sound remarkably similar (and I imagine there are hundreds of other people who posted above who could say the same – knitters seem to be an amazingly generous, compassionate and self-sacrificing lot). Happy birthday, and know that you are loved for who you are and not how much you can get accomplished.

  241. Yes, many of us did start coming here for the knitting, but I’d wager many more keep coming here for YOU.
    Are you really being compasionate to others? Or are you running from your own grief you think you have less right to grieve? If you’re running, there will be h*ll to pay one way or another someday. It’s OK to ask those other people to throw in a load of laundry, it may even help them handle this situation.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to both you and your mom. You can cancel festivities and celebrations, but it’s still your birthdays and deserve to be recognized.

  242. Stephanie..all I can say is listen to that small voice…and you are Awesome!!!
    I will be thinking of you today:) 🙂

  243. In times of grief, I turn to one of my favorite books, Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. It’s about loss and grief and faith and family. I found solace in it when I lost a loved one.
    I am wishing you strength during this time. I am also wishing you the ability to allow yourself to not be a super hero. Sometimes during times of letting go, it takes more strength to let yourself express your anguish, to let yourself say goodbye. I’m not being as insightful as I hoped I could be for you, but I am thinking and praying for you and your family.

  244. Happy Birthday today. As much as we’d love the world to stop at times, it doesn’t. Yes, we all have those moments when we need to be strong, but taking care of ourselves isn’t being weak. I hope that you find your balance.

  245. When I find myself feeling this way, I try to tell myself to remember to take care of my children’s mother, my husband’s wife, my mother’s daughter. Because they need her to be her best and sometimes that means taking care of her first.
    Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

  246. Cycling seems like an excellent response to clear your head and take a break.
    Wishing you and your family well under difficult circumstances.
    Maybe buy yourself some really colourful flowers?

  247. You have exhibited your compassion for others and your family and friends and mere acquaintances have benefited from that teaching. If you do not seek some compassion for yourself and take care of yourself emotionally, you are omitting part of the lesson that others should know.
    I agree with another post that you should celebrate your birthday in some way. It doesn’t mean your are not sad at the prospect of losing a loved one or flaunting your milestone of making it another year.
    This is life. Life should be lived.

  248. To quote a little blue, animated fish…all I can say is “Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!”

  249. Hi! It’s your socksummit priest pal here~ usually a lurker, but coming out for this~~~
    I was just having this same conversation with myself this week~~~ it was my birthday, and I thought, “Wasn’t I supposed to have my #$%^ together by now???”
    Been studying mindfulness and compassion, and wanted to pass this along. You are not alone on this journey, but know that~ wherever you are on it~ you are absolutely in the right place FOR YOU at the right time. We are all like pilgrims on the same road, and there is companionship in this lonely journey, my friend!
    Please enjoy this blog-gift!
    peace to you and those you love.

  250. Give yourself permission to be human. It’s ok to have needs. You may be surprised at how many people would like to be the one who is there *for* you.
    Sending you many warm thoughts. Watching someone you love leave you is beyond hard. There are no words for it, really. May you find as much peace as is possible in times like these.

  251. Happy Birthday. Personally, I think you should always celebrate/honor life and the passage of another year…even if it is only treating yourself to your favorite beverage and your favorite meal.
    Can you say “nervous breakdown”? Listen to that shy, little voice and stand up for your needs. You can’t be compassionate if you are crushed.
    Normal household procedures (cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) still need to be done. Unless the people dumping those responsibilities are in the immediate household of the person who is passing (and the person in passage is either totally incapacitated or in hospice somewhere), then they need to carry their share. It is hard, and they may be depressed. However, this is a shared burden…and that includes the work problem.
    My mother has Alzheimer’s. She lived with us nearly two years until we could no longer handle her care. I spent a long time in therapy learning to listen to my little voice and ask directly for what I needed.

  252. The thing is…the world goes on…either way. It was a total surprise to me when I stepped off that particular merry-go-round. The worst that happened was people said, “Oh. Okay.” Some even said, “Bravo!” No one ever thinks worse of someone for being human, too. Hugs and love.

  253. I’ve been where you are now – my mom passed in January. You do come out the other side, and the sun does shine again. But being an adult is overrated. You don’t have to if you don’t want to.

  254. When my father was in the hospital before he passed away (a stay of four months) I inwardly whined each night that someone else should help with the dishes because I was just too tired and emotionally wrung out to do them. But I did them anyway. And the laundry, and all that other stuff while silently wishing someone would take pity and help out. Big mistake! These memories now taste very bitter to me, and I wish I had simply asked for help, or asked at the very least to have companionship while I did those chores.
    Be nice to yourself. Don’t raise your expectations–accept that you are not going to be a candidate for House Beautiful for a while and ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or simply say, “I can’t do that right now. I’ll get back to it later.” There’s no shame in that, and it doesn’t mean you’re being selfish. You’re being human, and you’re going through a rough time. Best wishes.

  255. I came for the knitting, but I stayed for everything else. I know that’s been said a thousand times here, but it’s so true. I started reading your blog last year, and I ended up buying all your books after a few entries. I became a mother almost two years ago, and I can’t even express how wonderful it’s been to read about your own experiences with your daughters and husband; it’s given me an idea of what to expect and allowed me to not be nearly as hard on myself when I can’t keep up with everything around me and just need to sit and knit for a moment. I hope you can find some peace and solace during this time; losing a loved one is never easy even if it’s time. A Happy Birthday to you, and try to find a moment for yourself today. 🙂

  256. I am SO sorry that your family is having to go through this type of pain. I pray that the ride can clear out some of the doubts and the knitting time you have this week brings you comfort. I also really wish I could drop off a bottle of wine to you.

  257. Hi Steph – many years ago my Nan used to go outside and talk to the chickens when her life sucked. She’d sit outside on an upturned bucket and really give vent about all kinds of stuff. None of us were allowed to follow her out and after 15mins or so she’d come back inside (sometimes wiping her eyes) and carry on. What I’m trying to say is give yourself time EVERY DAY to “talk to your chickens”. Even if you don’t have chickens, draw some on a piece of paper and sit and talk to them. I’ve been doing it for nearly 40 years and it works. They don’t judge, or answer back or even advise. They just listen and accept. Sending love and light, always. xxx

  258. Happy Birthday!!! you inspired me to make a little contribution to your ride, in honor of your special day. thank you for the amazing thing you are doing.
    and please, heed that old saying that you can’t take care of someone else unless you take care of yourself. take a little time for you, today especially, but every day.

  259. Family deaths are amazingly sucktastic. Truly. I lost my father in 2001, and was living in CT at the time. My father was in CA, and I remember getting the call, on my birthday, that it was time to come home. That birthday was summarily cancelled.
    Close family deaths are life altering and life lessons all wrapped into one, and it’s a lot of change in a short amount of time, and you have to make split decisions, etc. However, after losing 3 close family members, the most important thing I’ve learned is that you have to take care of yourself. Ask someone else to handle the laundry for a day, allow yourself time to knit and think, whatever. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of the ones you love. Lean on friends if you can, you have many I know. So let them know you need a shoulder, or a bicep for lifting, and they’ll show up. Peace to you and your family.

  260. After this is past, or even before, look up
    Incredible ideas there for those of us trying to manage the chaos, both internal and external that assails us. Such wonderful ideas on how to manage perfectionism. Has changed my life, seriously. Unimagined wisdom there in little tiny baby steps. Now I have more time to knit!

  261. I’m posting today, as well as yesterday, so that I can wish you a proper happy birthday. Reading through the comments as I scrolled down to post this, you can almost feel the arms wrapped around you, supporting you in this sad time.
    For your birthday, I hope that you are able to stop and enjoy this sun filled, rain drops still sparkling on the leaves, birds singing kind of day. I am in Markham, and I am sending you all my good wishes for a better day for you. You bring so much joy to so many us, are quoted at the dinner table like an old friend and even our spouses know your name (and the names of your family, which is sometimes weird…). So, I am sending that joy your way, and I hope that at some point today you feel it arrive, and remember that 45 years is something to be proud of!

  262. Hugs. Please put your oxygen mask on first; you can’t help people if you are drowning. Listen to that small voice, it is right. I hope your birthday is serene, beautiful, and has joy for you.
    (I have an inkling of what it’s like for you, my dad passed last year and it was sucktacular.)

  263. I hope your birthday is full of love and that the good will from all of us lifts some of your burdens for the day. Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be there for others.

  264. Wishing you a beauiful day, peaceful thoughts and strength to care for all those you love.

  265. loss of a dear one is very very hard. harder than i ever imagined it would be. and for a longer time than i ever imagined.
    don’t lose yourself too.

  266. Oh man. This hits so close to home, Steph. If you figure out the solution, please let me know. I am pulled between young children, aging parents, a husband’s career… Thanks for sharing. Holding you in the Light.

  267. Wishing you a blessed birthday, a year filled with peace and a great race.
    As to the superwoman stuff, I have a very good friend whose 12 year old son recently died. During the horrific process of his passing to a better more peaceful place, she was well into her superwoman stance, when her 19 year old son pointed out to her that none of them needed superwoman, what they needed was their Mommy. She said that at that point, she realized that what she needed to do was love them, hold them, laugh with them, pray for them, comfort them and what she needed from them was for them to love her, hold her, laugh with her, pray for her and comfort her. It goes both ways and often the person that we feel we need to comfort is the one that ends up comforting us. God bless you and your family. May you find comfort and peace in giving comfort and peace.

  268. Happy Birthday, Hang in there, and Here’s a donation for your rally ride. Sending Light to you and yours.

  269. Thinking of you and yours, darlin’, through this difficult time.
    And when you’re ready to do a celebration of your birthday, I hope it’s a wild fun time for you and all you invite.

  270. So much wisdom and kindness in these comments. I won’t say happy birthday, but I’ll send you care and compassion. Enjoy the bits of joy where they can break through in this hard time. As you go through the days, take a few minutes every day to listen to your own body and spirit–you have to as you train for the rally. As you meet others’ needs and care for them, give yourself a few minutes of compassion too. And, let others care for you. If someone offers to do a task for you, let them.

  271. The year my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I had just found out my husband had been having a long-term affair and we were separated. My children were 11 and 9. My mother lived about 20 minutes away. I am an only child and have no relatives in this country. Through that spring and summer I went every morning to her house and cared for her. I arranged for hospice to come in the afternoon. I came back late afternoon to give her dinner and once more at night after my children were in bed. This is how my friends helped: one took my children to a half day summer program every day. One took them to a nearby water park for a day. One took them to the zoo for a day, One took them swimming at her lake for a day. I did not ask them to do these things; they simply thought what can I do to help and then did it. (My husband criticized the condition of our lawn). All through that summer I focused solely on my mother and my children. I didn’t see or do anything else; no knitting, no reading, no visiting, no traveling. I put ‘me’ aside for the time of her dying. Nothing was more important. I accepted the help of my friends because that helped my to keep my focus where it belonged-on my mother. It was exhausting and it took a while for me to recover, but I don’t regret a minute and in fact, in a life where I rarely feel I handled a thing well, I think in this part of it I handled things exactly right and as well as I could have. I think my advice is: if this is someone that close to you, forget everything else. Spend the time with them and on them because soon that won’t be an option (I don’t know how close this person is to death-if it is going to be a very long (years not months of course this would not be possible). Accept any and all help with everything else. If you are not close to that person, look at the people who are. Think about what they would need and then provide it. My friends didn’t call and say “What would you like me to do?” although if they had I would have broken through my shyness and the habits of a lifetime to tell them. They said: this is what we want to do. Please let us do it.

  272. I see I’m like the 15th person to mention putting on one’s own oxygen mask first, but it is my favorite analogy for these times. I have no worries that you are going to manage to be awesome, and I do affirm that it’s important to take care of that little voice, and yourself in general. I wish your family comfort and peace, and it makes sense to me that you are not ready to share most of the details, and that is totally and completely fine. Hang in there, all of you.

  273. Stephanie, please be awesome to yourself, as well as others. Having walked the path of losing my Mother in April, I have learned that I cannot be awesome to others if I am not awesome to myself first. Alone time, crying time, sunrise/sunset watching time, chocolate chip cookie eating time, sitting with mind in neutral time – all are part of being excellent to oneself and necessary for all of us. We understand that you need this to care for yourself before you can be with us, so please know that we love you, we are sending hugs to you and your family, you may take as much time for this path as you need to and we will still be here with you, and please be awesome to yourself first – you are so worth it! Hugs, peace, and understanding to you and your family. May the rally be your road to the future!

  274. Okay have you ever thought of becoming a writer? J/k…that was a beautiful expression of your situation!! Hang in there and know that many people care!

  275. Happy Birthday, Stephanie! You give us all so much pleasure. May God bless you and yours through the coming days, years.

  276. Each person must find his/her own path through the forest of grief. You a right to respect the boundaries of others as each path is personal. However, do not ignore your path through the forest. Getting what you need starts by listening to that little voice and then letting it speak out. The path of grief is as demanding as any bike rally. By allowing yourself to voice your needs and ease them you receive the strength to carry on. I know grief, am on intimate terms with it. Such has been and continues to be my life. It is not a test, it is life. You can’t help the person who falls off a ship and is drowning by jumping in after her/him. That is a good way for you to drown too. The best way is stay on the deck of the ship and do everything you can from there to help. You and your family are in my prayers. Do what you need to today to help you.

  277. This is so helpful. The gift of being a writer is being able to say what is real in a way that people can actually grasp. You articulated things in this post that I don’t know how to and wish I could. After the hurricane (Sandy) we have been struggling with tremendous loss (deaths close to home and loss of homes) which sadly manifested itself differently in different people. Like you we value niceness excessively. Like you we wonder sometimes what it means to be true to yourself, not selfish, never that, but true. It’s also odd to find yourself continuing to need to mother (three young ones in my case) and write a book (as I am) and do the laundry (ditto), when reality has shifted around you and your insides vary between hurt and numb. So sending out solidarity and happy to donate.

  278. You are The knitter. It is good to see the human side of you. As for the robbed part we all don’t know when that times comes. Bathtub falls and car crashes happen all the time. Stay as you are: soft on the outside,(and funny), and strong on the inside.
    hugs to you and your family

  279. Dear Stephanie, I feel privileged to “know” a person who is willing to be as open and sharing as you have been. It takes great courage to be so vulnerable, especially when your heart is breaking and you’re questioning your own judgement.
    What I did not hear you say is that you and your family are grieving. I suggest that you take it one day at a time, and do what feels right right then. None of us know what tomorrow will bring, and if you trust your instincts, you will continue to do what is right for you.
    IMHO this is not a time when you get points for having a stiff upper lip; you do get points for being willing to experience the pain and healing of being emotionally available to yourself.
    If you can find space and time to cry and be held, you will model behavior that gives others the privilege of crying and being held themselves. If s/he’s open to it, it’s ok to also do this with the person who is dying. Tell them how much you have appreciated their being in your life,and how much they will be missed. Tell them that you’re having a hard time, so that you can perhaps comfort each other. (Depending on how sick they are, don’t be surprised if there’s laughter in shared memories!)
    Please as kind to yourself as you would be to any other person. Make sure to find something every day that brings you joy, whether it’s riding your bike, listening to music, watching birds at the feeder, knitting, whatever…..
    You will get through this, a stronger, better, and wiser person. You will be so proud of yourself!
    I admit I am being directive: I am about to begin radiation for recurrent cancer and what I’m suggesting is what I want for myself and the people who love me.

  280. Don’t even apologize for not sharing details/name of your family member. It is more important to respect their privacy. You share so much with us — really just a bunch of friendly strangers — but don’t worry at all about drawing the line. We all understand and respect that decision.

  281. Dear one: you are asking the hardest question every woman has to face, and I’m sure the hundreds of other responses are filled with wit and wisdom to help you get through this time.
    I simply send loving support on your journey.

  282. If you blog was only about knitting I probably wouldn’t read it very often.

  283. You know how when you are on an airplane and they always instruct you that, if the oxygen masks fall down, you should put the mask on yourself first before you put it on your child?

  284. As you may realize right now more than ever before, each day is truly a gift. So embrace the anniversary of the day of your birth. Give thanks that you are here to see it. Perhaps you can “celebrate” differently this year.
    Those of us who stop by here each day do so to get a glimpse of a real human being, a person who smiles and cries, struggles and achieves, knits and rips – but most importantly we get a glimpse of a person who lives honestly and with integrity.
    Give yourself the gift of seeng and being who you are, a person like all those in your life and out here who has needs and who has a limit to what they can do. Remember, superwoman is a fictional character for a reason!

  285. Stephanie,
    Happy birthday!Make sure to do something nice for yourself, even if it is to take 15 minutes out of your day and knit or spin peacefully.
    I’m sorry you and your family are going through bad times. I’ve been there, too, and offer you and yours positive thoughts.
    I made a small donation to sponsor you on the bike rally. Sorry it can’t be bigger. Things are tough here.
    Take care,

  286. I am so sorry for your troubles. We all pay for our lives with periods of unspeakable pain right in the middle. The ones who are left behind always feel it the most, from missing those at summer camp to feeling our loved ones slipping through our fingers as we try to hold on at the end. I think it is because the ones who leave, for camp, for a new job, whatever, are going towards something, and those who stay are not. My father taught me a lot about this as he died. His last words to me: “It’s no big deal.” This has nothing to do with your beliefs, it has to do with the building blocks of what is happening where we can see it. Your loved one needs your care, and love, and needs to know that you will be all right when they aren’t there to help you. You need to know this, too. You can do this.
    As an aside, I know your feelings about saving the energy of the planet. I agree with you. But doing everything takes energy, maybe yours, maybe the earth’s, maybe someone else’s. This is a time to save your energy. The laundry takes less time to do if you let it pile up a little and take it to the Laundromat and do eight loads at once. (I learned this the hard way. I will never forget it again. In times of crisis, the Laundromat is your friend. It also gives you a two hour break, as no one wants to go with you, and you can think, or knit, or read, as you choose for a little while.)
    Your loved one has to do this. You can do this.

  287. Oh. I read and ached and wondered about the wee voice and it occurred to me that she might be saying, “me, too.” That compassion he needs? Me, too. That grace? Those socks, my wool? Me, too.
    I bet many voices are whimpering in sympathy today. Many of us would like to bring by wine, chocolate, and magical yarn made from the eyelashes of virgin butterflies, to sooth and help you heal. We can’t, so please help us out by caring tenderly for your Self.

  288. Peace, sweet knitting friend. Remember that non-violence begins at home. Respect your grief and your own little voice. You are noble and noble is a great goal- but you don’t need to be noble and also have a clean house while fulfiling all needs of others. (That for the record, is not so much being awesome as it is being unrealistic). You can be noble and also let your grief tell you what you need to do for you- listen to yourself and let yourself be. You are already awesome, you don’t need to do things and act certain ways to be awesome.

  289. Steph,
    We who read your blog and your books every day are more than just knitters. We have the same trials, dilemas, questions, and guilt feelings about who we are, what we do with our time, and where we fit as you do. You are not alone! We are right here with you through it all and feel very personally connected to you and your family through your stories and pictures and yes, even your rants!
    You have given us all a voice and validation from thousands of miles away! Do not ever doubt your value to yourself and others…and, learn to give yourself a break once in awhile!!
    I am 6 years your senior and give myself to others 24 hours a day as a nurse. Without you to look forward to every day, I would be lost!
    Thank you for you…..just you!
    This too shall pass : )

  290. Dear Steph, Your family trauma is really none of our business, and you only have to tell your readers what you want to. There is nothing in my understanding about what blogging is about, what The Yarn Harlot is about, what being a member of an online community is about, that says you have to tell us every last little thing in your life. Who is born, married, died, etc. is your business, not mine. Best wishes.

  291. I most recently discovered your blog and wish to thank you for your gift of expressing your feelings and your wonderful book All Wound Up and a quote from Washington Irving you shared with your readers: “There is a sacredness to tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power . . . They are messengers of overwhelming grief, and of unspeakable love.” In my experiences, nothing restores a well of energy running dry than watering the whole body with fresh showers of tears.

  292. only your loved ones body will be leaving the spirit always remains and looks after us in angel form

  293. {{{{{{{Stephanie}}}}}}} Holding you and your family in my heart, throughout this most difficult time.
    I strongly recommend reading a great book, ‘Things I Learned From Knitting … whether I wanted to or not’. It’s by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (maybe you’ve heard of her??), a very funny, profound and comforting writer. I understand she’s having not-the-happiest of birthdays today, but I hope she has a great many birthdays, many of them deliriously happy, after this one.
    PS: I come here for a LOT of things, and the knitting is only one of them.

  294. I hear you, I feel you, I am you often. And what I know as a psychologist turned life coach is that we cannot keep giving and giving and giving to others without filling up our own gas tank as well, or we run out of gas. I love and am grateful for that little voice inside of me that gets sad and says “what about me?” It’s my little indicator that the gas tank is nearly empty, and that not only will I not be able to give the way I have been, I’ll do it very badly indeed. That very possibly anger, bitterness, and exhaustion fueled tantrums will pour out of me instead of the love and compassion and nobility I desire. The very best thing you can do for the loved ones around you is to fill you own tank, get filled up with love and compassion and whatever else you need so that you can be there for others, I really believe it is the only way. I wish you peace.

  295. I don’t come here just for the knitting. I come here because of you. I find you interesting, funny, confident, vulnerable and human. I think of you as a friend which may seem a little weird since we have never met and the only touchable you is an Apple computer screen. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I am a Christian – I believe in Christ and try my best to be Christ-like. I want to love everyone (even the unlovable which is difficult) but I have problems and I know others have problems and they aren’t as easy as finding the right pattern or the right colour of yarn. We found out 2 weeks ago we were going to be grandparents for the first time. We were so excited and I was planning all the baby knits. This week no excitement the baby hasn’t miscarried but isn’t growing and the doctor says he/she will certainly die within the next week. Our daughter and son-in-law have been devastated, upset, angry and solemn – all the emotions one would expect with such news. This little one is not to be our grandchild on earth. Yes, I believe in heaven and, yes, I believe God has all of this under control but at the same time I don’t like it. I would rather not be going through this. I would rather be in expectant celebration. Such is not to be at this time. Stephanie, I am so sorry for what you are going through and I know it doesn’t help your circumstance to know that others are having trials too. I want you to know that I think of you and your family often and I pray too. My hope is that you will find a way to maneuver in these times that will be a help to the person involved, your family and yourself.

  296. Steph, Happy Birthday! Reading through this blog has opened one of my thought process, I’ll share with you.
    I am now pushing 80yrs in October, so I can tell you now to listen to the voice in your stomach. What it s saying is you are not a machine and that you have NEEDS now! If you don’t listen you’ll end up a very sour person.
    I was a bit older when I had to wake up to what life had to offer for me. I woke up to the fact I was a gypsy, heart and soul I had the need to travel and see the world for me.
    What really surprised me was my family supported my needs. Right now I have logged 40 countries and 440 cities. I planned, save money and was off.
    My husband finally retired 3 years ago. No we don’t travel together.
    I have not traveled for a year as he needed me at home but the feeling is still there talking about my adventures helps. My Grand kids love it.
    So Loving yourself is very important.
    Been there done that!
    Pat Dixon

  297. Oh dear Stephanie. I feel for you. All of these comments must let you know how much we all care for you and your family. It’s not just about the knitting. You have truly inspired me to be a better human, so you have already done lots of good in this world. Your generosity and compassion for others is wonderful, and I know from personal experience that when things go bad, the instinct to try and balance that out on the karmic cycle is very strong. But here’s another thing to remember: one of the foundations of Buddhist philosophy is that one of the most important things we can do for the other beings in this world is to minimize our own suffering, thus taking ourselves out of the way. There is productive suffering, and unproductive suffering. Make sure that you understand the difference. On your birthday celebrate the woman that you are, celebrate your mother and your daughters, and let your love for them and their’s for you carry you through the understanding that we are all here for only a very short time.
    Love and blessings to you.

  298. Do be as kind to yourself as you are to others. You can’t do it all, and if you overload the lifeboat, everyone drowns.

  299. Virtual yarn and coffee heading your way,
    Actual love and positive vibes.
    And a donation.
    You make us all better just by being who you are.
    Do what you need to do. You are loved, not only by your family and those who know you but by the thousands you touch daily with your blog and your books.

  300. This post reminded me of a lot of feelings I had when my dear mother-in-law was on hospice. I only had a few people to look after at the time, so I know you’re feelings are more than mine were, but the only thing I could do for myself it seemed, was when I found a moment alone there was a lot of junk food and tears. Maybe not the most productive coping method, but I always felt a little better after. Knitting myself to sleep every night was also great (knit my first socks then, one fits, the other ended up to short).
    Sending lots of love and light your way, and wishing your loved one a swift recovery or a swift passing. That’s all my mother-in-law asked for.

  301. If it is any help, what I’m in the midst of learning is “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Eph 4:15) The entire chapter is about maturity and how this fits into it. If we don’t speak truth, we’re robbing others of what they need to learn and not being true to ourselves either. If we don’t speak it in love, we’ll regret it and it won’t do the work that it should. It’s one of the toughest things in life to balance those, but won’t leave us with those regrets and feelings in the pits of our stomach that something isn’t right. Blessings on you and yours!

  302. Dear Stephanie, Happy Birthday. You’re only a couple of weeks older than my son, two years older than my daughter. That doesn’t make me smarter, but it makes me wiser, perhaps, although not necessarily. Having gone through a couple of similar agonizing times in my life as you’re doing right now, I can tell you that I’ve learned that it’s best to let go of that which you can not control. No, we can’t make it all better for everyone all the time. You’re doing a damn good job of making it a lot better for an awful lot of others. To quote Mother Teresa, “You are Holy in what you do.”
    In my eyes, you are truly amazing, you are a cut above some of the rest. Do the best you can to laugh as much as you can. In the face of adversity, laughter (and wool, of course), will see you through to the other side of this very personal heartache.
    So, on your birthday I wish you Blessings, Laughter and the strength you’ll need to see you through. (((((Hugs)))))

  303. Thank you, for giving your readers something that is just a little amazing, profound, and wonderful – the reminder that we are not alone, that we all struggle in one way or another with our responses to that little voice.
    The stuff we’re meant to learn in life never ceases to amaze; just wish the learning wasn’t so damn hard sometimes!
    Warm hugs to you and your family.

  304. I’m sorry life’s such a jumble for you now. I hope you’re having a good birthday in spite of it all. I have come to realize that, sometimes, maturity means acknowledging that voice. I, too, am a mother, and I have spent years trying to be the mom of whom my kids will one day say, “she never asked for anything in return.” But, by George, sometimes I need things in return. Do I feel guilty about it? Yes, quite often. But that doesn’t make the need any less real. So don’t count it as a lack of maturity that those are the words your voice is speaking. Count it instead as a sign of maturity that you’re able to hear it.
    And, while being strong for others is good, don’t be so strong that you pay for it down the road. My dad died when I was a kid — a still-in-the-single-digits kid — and everyone told me to “be strong for your mom.” I was. For about three years. Then I broke. I dare say my being broken in the way I was for nearly a year at that age was harder on my mom than it would have been had I been a bit less strong three years earlier. (Sheesh. I didn’t expect to tear up just from commenting.)
    So, yes. Hold on to Joe, and let him hold on to you. Help when you can. But please stop lying in the driveway and inviting people to drive over you. Tell people, instead, that you’ll be happy to help them — if they either give you a hand up off the pavement or even just a moment to get out of their path. Peace!

  305. Sorry to hear about the family member.
    Just a little while ago, I told a loved one: be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
    Sometimes I think we forget *hugs*

  306. Happy Birthday Stephanie!
    Be kind to yourself. You’re allowed to be human. Honest. Just do the best you can, knowing that some days, your best is better than other days.

  307. I am 65 and still struggling with the “little voice” although my voice has become ocasionally less shy and more strident…. As women, I think we all suffer with finding the balance. It’s a little easier when things are sailing right along. It’s much harder when we sail head on into a big pile of crap.
    Talk (and listen) to Joe, talk to a friend you trust. It’s too hard to sort out the little voice in the swamp of your present situation, alone. As my daughter says, “pull on your big girl drawers” and ask for some help. My heart is with you.

  308. Stephanie, I am so sorry. This all sucks. No doubt there are too damn many comments, and mine is trite and repetitive – someone already said this I am sure, but the analogy of the oxygen mask on the plane is really important. Put it on.
    Years back, I lost a loved one to a death less kind than I would have wished, and I tried to be pretty amazing, and probably was, but the cost was very high to me, and ultimately to those around me.
    Please know that you are amazing and wonderful, and beloved. To honor that is not to dishonor the one who is leaving.You are whole,although it does not seem so, and when you awaken, alive, those you love and those who love you will celebrate that, however quietly.

  309. Still … happy birthday, Stephanie. Like everybody else who visits your blog, I’m happy you are here and have a birthday to celebrate.
    I’m very sorry that someone you love apparently won’t get to do this anymore. My heart goes out to your family and I hope for peace and comfort for all of you.
    I think that there is no clear line between compassion for ourselves and for others. In fact, I think part of being strong for others – a wish I wholeheartedly understand and share – is sometimes being … not weak, but vulnerable and less than awesome for yourself. I believe that the experience of falling a little bit, yet being able to get up and go on makes a person in crisis stronger, more able to help loved ones in the end.
    Unwillingly and painfully you are learning to let go of someone you love. Whenever this happened in my life, I’ve found that the life lesson gets much harder if I try to clutch everything else even more tightly. Especially myself and my own feelings.
    It is okay to let other people not just know but experience that this is effing hard for you, too.
    For your birthday, may there be strength and calm when you need them, a safe place for you to be sad and scared when you must and enough yarn, wine and laughter to keep it all together anyway.

  310. *hugs*
    Happy birthday. I wish I could do something else other than virtual hugs right now, but it’s better than nothing, I guess. 🙂

  311. Today is Friday! Stephanie’s Birthday! Hooray! Celebrate the good on this day. Try for one day only to remember how many people love you, like you and want to hear your voice- with and without knitting needles in your hand! It can refresh you to receive and give you more to give. Empty wells don’t refresh and help anyone! Besides, who told you you don’t deserve? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  312. Best, most honest post yet. Don’t ignore the voice, it will age you and make you angry. Embrace it and discover! Happy Birthday (from someone who’s 5 years ahead of you)! And safe journey to your loved one…

  313. Today in honour of Stephanie’s birthday I am donating money to my favourite charity and arranging to do some work at the local food bank. Perhaps that’s something we could all do, give to others today.
    Happy Birthday Stephanie, take care of yourself.

  314. This was such a timely post for me. I’m REALLY bad at saying ‘I want’ and somebody pointed out to me this week that it’s insanity to think that by being tough on yourself and bowing down to others’ needs all the time that you’re being selfless. What you’re actually being is selfish and a control freak. (I’m speaking to myself right now because it’s clear I might have to repeat this to myself quite a lot before it sinks in. But, wink wink, nudge nudge, I thought you might find it useful too.) It’s a revelatory and scary idea but saying ‘I want’ to yourself (I haven’t managed out loud yet) is GOOD for you. Yep, still processing that, and at the moment it’s manifesting as gin and tonic with cheese instead of a long run, but I’m sure there’s a bigger point I’ll get to eventually.
    By the way, if we were only coming for the knitting it would still be the best knitting blog for a mile. But it’s even better than that because of the not-knitting. If you see what I mean.
    Good luck. If nothing else, you can be sure everything will keep changing. Just keep on keeping on (with knitting clenched tightly in hand. Gauge? What gauge?)

  315. Happy birthday, Stephanie!
    I think you need to go for a nice, long walk at whatever speed is comfortable, and then go with someone (maybe Joe) and have a good meal, at whatever speed is comfortable, and take a day or two to yourselves.
    You can practice the biking later. The laundry will still be there.
    The people who share your sadness can grieve in smaller groups. Someone who is not trying for grace can be spoken to later, or not.
    If you stretch something hard enough it breaks.

  316. Stephanie, thank you for your thoughtful approach to life. It is terribly hard to watch as others prepare to depart from life, but there is no requirement that those around them should live less of life–if nothing else, their departure reminds us of how precious each day of life can be. I am so glad that this person has you to love and support him/her, and I will be praying for the comfort of all of you during this very hard time. It is a privilege to be with someone as they die, and as they prepare to die. Huge hug here for you. Ann

  317. Happy Birthday! Listen to that voice. You’ll be glad you did. And the compassion you are showing to others, well, I have a sneaking feeling that they’ll be willing to show the same to you. Much love.

  318. Listen to your voice. The reason it is in your belly is that it has not reached your throat yet. Just listen, then you will know what to say and when.

  319. Peace to you and your family at a trying time as this. I feel you are a friend I have not met and read your blog when I have had a trying day. You lift my spirit as no other person can. Your humor is exactly what I need. So, to return the favor, Do not exclude yourself in compassion, kindness or needs. As women, we tend to forget we are humans and need as much or more of what we give to others. Take an hour of your birthday and sip tea or wine and knit, remembering the happiness that person brought into your life. Forget the darkness for that hour. Oh yes, don’t forget the chocolate! 45 is young. Take care of you.

  320. It’s never easy. There is no right way. Grieving over future grief is so hard. Eventually the healing can begin. It seems the “new normal” is constantly shifting and hard to keep up with. It is good to love.

  321. Not that it is very helpful, but we have your back. For those of us who have experienced these emotions, issues and grief, we know what you are going through and you have hit the nail exactly on the head in your explanation of it. As usual. You have a way of expressing, in words, what we all throw around inside our heads but have no talent to put it all on paper. I always get a good laugh when I read that you are a “humorist.” Well yeah, you’re a Mom and how can you be a Mom and not be a humorist unless you want to be batsh&^ crazy and deal with everything else on our womanly plates. Your plate is full to overflowing right now and I hope you can picture us all standing behind you in our support. I can’t tell you how many entries I have read on your blog (Entries? Is that right? Letters? Whatever)and after reading it, all I can say is “Yeah, what she said.” Stay strong, good luck with your run and we are all sending good thought vibes of strength to you.

  322. Your honestly in this blog is one of my favorite things about it. So do not worry about that. And know that we do not need the details to care about you and yours–and I respect the discretion that you show here. And know that I am pulling for you to learn to be as compassionate to yourself and your needs as you are to others and theirs. And I am wishing you solace where ever you can find it. And I owe you karmic balancing gifts.

  323. One of the hardest things I’ve learned in yoga, this compassion business. Extending it to myself, I mean. It’s a bit like the oxygen-mask-on-your-own-face-first thing, if you don’t compass ?compassionate? yourself up first, there’s less for others, in the end.
    Losing close people is one of the major train wrecks of life, you should not be doing stuff like training for rallies or knitting angora sweaters for presents at this time unless it makes YOU feel clearly GOOD (if any good is possible). And you know what? Everyone in your household is old enough to do their own damn laundry.

  324. All I know is that what works for me is different at different times, and that it’s never, ever what anyone else thinks it ought to be.
    Attending a death is like attending a birth – it requires your full attention, but it also requires that you remember that you will have your own life to return to afterwards. Probably don’t let anyone run you over with a car, though. That doesn’t work for anybody.
    Hang in there, and happy birthday!

  325. Dear Stephanie, it may sound trite and maybe even false, because most of us don’t know you personally, but it is NOT just the knitting; it is because we LOVE YOU – your humour, your humanity, your vulnerability, your thoughtfulness, and yes, your compassion. We are so fortunate that you share these with us.
    When I was about your age I too had a crisis similar to the one you are suffering through. I kept on in the face of all the warning signs because “I’m the mom; I’m the strong one; I need to be here for everyone.” Nope. My kids were very young at the time, and I ended up with a complete breakdown. You cannot nourish others from an empty vessel. You have to nourish your own spirit, you have to take time to keep your body healthy; and you have to TELL people around you what it is they need to do. Relationship counsellors tell people not to expect those around them to be mindreaders. Write notes, or lists, or emails, or post stuff on a chalkboard or whiteboard in the kitchen, or on the fridge, and ASSIGN TASKS. Break them down as much as possible so it doesn’t look like a mountain of work, and do it daily so it has a chance of actually getting done. If it is supposed to be done today, it gets done today. So what if normally you can cope with doing everyone’s laundry, dishes, cooking? This situation is anything but normal. If you can’t count on your family to pull together in a crisis, when are you supposed to be able to count on them? Don’t be afraid to say “I need help”. It took me 44 years to learn that I don’t have to be perfect, that I don’t have to do everything myself, and that it is permissible and even desirable to ask others for help. Think of it as conferring adulthood on THEM, as in: “I know you are capable of doing this and shouldering your share of the burden, and I know that because you love me and are now an adult and not a 2 year old, you can and will become a fully participating member of this family.” Blessings and prayers and all manner of good thoughts, Stephanie. And love, in its widest sense.

  326. Steph: I want you to know that by baring your soul and your heart to us, you are already doing one of the hardest and most important things you can do in this situation. You have reached out, albeit to the friends in the ether, and you have allowed some, if not all of us, to be assured that WE are not alone. That even when the times are darkest, there is someone we know who has been through this or even worse and has survived. And who would hold our hand if she were nearby and called on to do so.
    Hugs and Happy Birthday from your #1 Minneapolis stalker.

  327. When I was several months into being severely ill, a dear friend pulled my husband aside and told him he had to have something else to do besides just take care of me or he would go crazy–it’s just part of life. I got to come home from the hospital and recover, and I know how lucky we all are for that. But I will forever be grateful to the friend who gave my husband explicit permission to take care of himself, too, and to take time for himself. It helps keep the balance.
    Much love to you and yours always.

  328. Dear Steph,
    From a longtime reader and sometimes-commenter, sometimes you just have to put yourself first. (Wish I could remember that a little more often, myself…)
    You have some very wise readers. And we all love you. Please be good to yourself today, on your (non) birthday.
    Sending love and light to you and your family…

  329. Happy Birthday. It’s hard, but you’ll learn to respect the voice, the “ME”, and occasionally give it some priority as well. I’d bring a birthday bottle or two and candles without hesitation if there weren’t 1120 miles/1800 kilometers between us. I’m not a knitter but sure love and admire you.

  330. 54 here, Stephanie. I’m still hoping to wake up an adult the next day who incidentally might have less laundry to do. And I’ve only got one daughter! Thinking of you, wishing you the best, great strength and a new source of yet-untapped compassion to tide you over through all of this, whatever it may be.
    p.s. I don’t read your words for the knitting. Knitting is just the icing on a delicious spice cake of story.

  331. Stephanie, I’ve been where you are. Sometimes the best thing you can do at a time like this is to admit that you can’t be strong all the time. Take a bit of time — be it an hour, or two, you’ll know the right amount — and let it be all about you. Then you will be able to once again be the pillar of strength that you want to be. My heart breaks for you and your loved one, whoever it may be. These are the times that strain our souls. We come out the other side a changed person … and generally one that is stronger and better than ever. Much hugs and love to you and yours.

  332. Oh, Steph. Please give voice to your needs, when you can. I know it’s hard, but you have to take care of yourself, otherwise you can’t take care of others.
    If you don’t, you end up sobbing in bed for an entire day when you can least afford it. My husband’s going to start chemo in two weeks for the third time, and this is something I need to keep in mind for myself, too, or I’ll end up in the bed-sobbing situation (like I did oh, just about a year ago).
    You are not inexhaustible, and you need help, too. And you are very important and necessary and your sanity matters, okay? And being nice to yourself is absolutely crucial.
    Please, for the sake of everyone who loves you and doesn’t want you to lose it when you least want to (because that’s when it always happens, when you bottle it up, oh, yes), please take care of yourself. Fill your needs, too. Try to be as kind to yourself as you would a reasonably polite stranger or a small animal in your care, okay? If you wouldn’t treat a stray dog a certain way, then for the love of all things woolly don’t treat yourself that way, either.
    And yes, these are all things I need to be reminded of, particularly with what’s on my horizon. I’ll keep you in my prayers and thoughts, and your friend, and your family, and my friends and family and myself, too.
    I really had higher hopes for 2013. I really did. And, now it’s all about me, again! Doh! Sorry!

  333. Happy Birthday, I went through this part of your year, last year….Hang in there! Birthday or no birthday, be kind to yourself. You are losing too…..and you will grieve…be as kind to yourself as you wish to be to everyone else. It’s ok to say
    “Whatever” isn’t going to get done. It’s ok to be mad, sad, and happy.
    Sending you patience, grace and strength!
    Again, Hang in there!

  334. Here’s wishing you a calm, peaceful weekend, birthday lady. Be kind to yourself, have a delicious meal, enjoy the company of friends, and dream sweet dreams. And though you’re not the hugging type, please accept my gentle hug of support through this time to you.

  335. By the way, my mother told me before she passed that you never really feel like you are grown-up. She was 72 when we lost her, and she claims that she never really did grow up. 🙂

  336. So many thoughts swirling around, and I haven’t been successful at articulating them well. Instead, I’ll just drop off some support & kindness & empathy for you and your family and your loved one.

  337. I’m heading towards 44 at the end of the month, and I can’t claim any great wisdom at life. But one thing I’ve been trying to teach myself is this: Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend.
    That means no negative self-talk (would you say those words to your friend?) and no insane expectations of perfection (would you expect your friend to do this, with all the other stresses she is under?). No tolerating other people treating you badly (would you want your friend to just put up with it?)
    We’re all works in progress. We all get it wrong part of the time. We all need a little help, or a hug or a kind word sometimes. We all feel like that little kid who wants to scream that it isn’t fair. Because it really isn’t.
    So here’s a hug, and a kind word — I come here for so much more than the knitting, which is beautiful enough to deserve it on its own. Thanks for letting us strangers into your life, imperfections and all. Peace to you and your family.

  338. If you can’t (for any one of a number of reasons) celebrate your birthday today, please take time to realize that many people rejoice on account of your birth. You are much loved.

  339. Stephanie ~ have as good a birthday as you can. My beloved father-in-law passed away on my 45th birthday. For me, it was so sad. For him, it was a blessing. He was ready to go and I wasn’t ready to let go. Ever since, his death and my birth are forever linked. It took me years to realize that he and I had a bond in life and it didn’t end when his life did.
    Birthdays are a celebration of life. When we lose someone we love, we need to be able to celebrate the life that we shared with them. As that great philosopher Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened”
    Try to be as good to yourself as you are to every one else.

  340. As one who is in charge of a lot of people and things and felt I had to “do everything” I have come to the realization that if I let other people help several things happen. The people you let help are greatful to be able to do something for you as you do so much for them and because other people are helping, you can take time for yourself, and be able to take care of everyone/thing you think you need to. Goddess blessings to you and yours.

  341. Stephanie – I come here for you, your humor and your insight, whatever the topic. We had a slag heap of a year in 2011. After that experience, I feel like setting boundaries and letting my little voice through are some of the best things to do when the excrement hits the fan. Follow the ring theory of kvetching, too. Thank you for all that you do.

  342. You said, “The thing is, that when I started finding a way through this, I decided to be amazing. I thought I was the woman who could manage all of this.” Your inner voice is trying to help you be that amazing woman who CAN manage all of it, just maybe not in the way you imagined. Your voice is trying to get you to the “sweet spot” – that spot where the needs of the world (bike rally, book, etc), the needs of others (family, friends) AND your needs overlap. From my own experiences, inner voices are pretty wise.

  343. It’s been a heap of slag for me, too. Apparently, this is the year of the oxygen mask lesson. That is, you’re supposed to put on your own before you help someone else with theirs. Otherwise, you know, you’ll just be gone–passed out from lack or whatever–and both masks will just be dangling there because you didn’t give yourself some breaths to make sure you’d be able to give someone else some breaths.
    I don’t think it’s about selfishness, though I constantly worry that it might be….and harshly judge myself accordingly.
    But I want to say thank you for bringing it even further into clarity for me…. this self-compassion thing is tricksy.

  344. Please stop “being there” for everyone and take care of you. Yes, you can be strong by putting yourself aside, but you can be stronger by carving out you time that lets you grieve, make peace with yourself and the inevitable end of your beloved family member’s life. Take a few minutes (an hour or two – more if you need it) to reflect on the good times, the good memories, and to allow yourself to feel the sadness.
    It’s okay to be a bit selfish – and sets a good example for others. Give what you can, but don’t punish yourself if you need time or help, too.
    ((hugs)) and sympathy to you and your family members, all of whom will grieve in their own way.

  345. My birthday is Monday. I will be 60, my mom is currently in cardiac intensive care, where she has been for three weeks. My faith is my crutch. Sounds like your Joe and your girls are bearing you up. I won’t say happy birthday, I will simply wish you peace and strength. Deedee Winters

  346. Some of the best advice I’ve received is this: Forgive yourself for not being perfect. If your best friend was going through everything you’re going through, how would you respond? With compassion – a hug and telling her she was going to be OK and get through this, and she shouldn’t feel guilty for having needs in the middle of all of this. And then remember that applies to you, too.
    I love the other poster’s oxygen mask metaphor. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others.
    My sympathies for what you and your family are going through. Feel the love and compassion coming from the blog and know you are loved and accepted as you are. Not as who you are trying to be. Happy Birthday.

  347. We all adore you, for your knitting, your sweet honesty in life, love, and …everything that you are. We love you holistically, and you and your family are in my prayers. I pray while knitting, and so it seems particularly appropriate. Gentle rest, nourishment, and peace.

  348. Steph – I have been reading through the prior posts and there is a lot of wisdom in those words. I can’t speak for anyone else but I come to your site for your humanity. You are one of the most couragious people I know because you let us into your life, mistakes and all, good times and bad, with honesty and humor letting us know we are not alone. I helped nurse my grandfather and my mother through cancer holding their hands as they took their last breath. It is a hard thing to do and live with, but I think what you need to understand is that you still need to live your life. Having a birthday celebration for you and your mother is not going to detract from your compansion for your family member, but it will add sunshine and support for you and your immediate family. As for the housework and daily chores, ask for help and give your children a chance to help you, they are probably feeling just like you wanting to help but not knowing how to do it. Asking for help can sometimes be a blessing to someone else as well as yourself. My prayers are with you and your family as you travel this rough patch in the road.

  349. Dear Steph, I’m sorry to hear that all is not well. You have to take care of yourself too, otherwise you cannot be strong for others. Just think of safety advisory you get on planes: ” in the event the oxygen masks are released, please put on your own mask before helping others”. It makes sense. Without oxygen for yourself, you can help no-one.
    Happy birthday! Get yourself a nice cake! You deserve it, and you probably need it!

  350. Steph – I think I speak for most of us who come to the blog for your humor, warmth, compassion and all the other wonderfulness you share with us…and oh by the way, yeah there’s knitting too. I learned in my grief group that one is of little use to others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. We always left group with the mantra “be kind to yourself.” I pass it to you. Be KIND to yourself; this craziness and loss will pass and you will get through it. You’re very very lucky to have Joe to help with that. Take care – many mental hugs are coming your way.

  351. I am not a knitter, in fact knitting drove me back to crocheting in a hurry. It may have been the fact that my 9 year old sees the needles and the warrior in him cries “en garde” and off goes the yarn.
    I did want to say though that your writing tickles my heart.
    I also wanted to say that your little voice will probably grow and one day you may find yourself saying ‘no, i can’t accommodate that right now’ and you will be firm, you will not be in a panic, and you won’t feel guilty.
    Perhaps it would help to think that by saying ‘no’ you allow someone else to say yes.
    My best for your family

  352. Dearest Harlot,
    I started reading for the knitting. I rave about you to my friends and family because of everything else. You give a gift to all of us with your willingness to share so much of your wonderful/normal/imperfect/whathaveyou life with such humor and grace. Please do listen to that voice and take care of yourself too. If that means asking for or accepting help then do so. But do not ever feel you have to apologize for writing about something other than knitting. Or anything else for that matter. Our thoughts are with you.

  353. Happy Birthday, dear Stephanie! After days of rain and cold, the sun is shining brightly here. I hope it is shining for you, too.
    Sending love and light to you and your family.

  354. Well you may want to cancel your birthday but you need to be celebrated just like your Mom.
    So Happy Birthday to both of you. May you find Peace and Happiness in the coming year.
    Someone as nice, caring and giving as you needs to know that you do so much for so many mostly without knowing it so celebrate your birthday and take care of yourself, as well. If you do that then you will be able to take care of those around you when you and they need it.

  355. You and your blog have been a big support for me in awfully dark times, though I’ve never told you so before. The best advice I have is to let your friends take care of you. Here is a song I’ve held onto even when I couldn’t quite believe it:
    Everything will be all right
    Day is day and follows night
    Everything will be all right
    Darkness flows into the light

  356. There seems to be a big wave of karmic balancing donations with great karmic thanks from your readers, including me. Thank YOU for the gentle reminders of what is important. Happy un-birthdays to you and your mom.

  357. Don’t beat yourself up over this. It too shall pass. The laundry will be there tomorrow. All the other errands can wait.
    Its called being human. Sucks at times,, but then there are the good parts that we never forget!

  358. Even the Bible says, that you should love others as you love yourself. So loving yourself is the first condition, in fact enabling you to love others. This is very close to my soul, as I struggle with the same thoughts you put so heart breakingly clearly in your post.

  359. Stephanie,
    Celebrate your birthday!
    For my 60th birthday this year, I was sitting with my mother in the hospice house. I knew she would pass soon. But suddenly I knew that she would still celebrate my birth. A music therapist sang “Happy Birthday” to me. I called my husband and had him bring dinner and a cake to my father’s apartment and we took an hour off to celebrate.
    She passed a few hours later. But celebrating was a good thing to do.

  360. The post before this was “a Willie Nelson song” … so take some time out and listen to Willie singing Always on my Mind …
    Happy Birthday Steph, love hugs and compassion coming at you right now and for as long as you need it

  361. I hope you wake up to lots of wine on your front door step. I’m too far away to drop one off, but if I could I would. And don’t be too hard on yourself – I turn 60 this year, and I’m just now learning those things you talked about. Like a two year old learning to share, these are tough life lessons.

  362. A not so very wise woman, me, once said, and found it to be true “In order to give TO others, one must have something of their own to give FROM” And that means doing a teensy bit of taking what they need from the world around them. Maybe that means a nice cup of tea while watching the sun come up and, for the moment, doing nothing else. Maybe that means more, maybe less. It depends on what else is happening. But, don’t forget to take just a bit, too, so, you have something to give.

  363. All my love to you and your family! Remember that the sun always shine after an awful storm!

  364. When I turned 40, I set a line from a Melissa Etheridge song as my personal growth goal for turning 50: “I have found a little peace, between will and sacrifice.” (I believe I got there by 50, but it took about a decade. Be patient with yourself. Growing up takes more time than we give it credit for.)

  365. I’m sorry you’re facing a hard time right now. The only thing I can tell you is that you are not responsible for anyone but yourself, so to try to make others happy at the loss of yourself is futile. I’m turning 60 today, to your 45. Listen to your elder! (LOL!) Have the best day possible. One after the next. Happy birthday to us both.

  366. Dear Stephanie,
    You’ve earned *all* and even more of the love we blogees give you.
    Here’s a point to keep in mind, though. You don’t need to earn it; it’s yours just because. Please realise that you don’t have to justify caring for yourself and getting what you need; you are a real person, not a robot. Asking for what you need is one of the strongest and most vulnerable things you can do.
    My Dad will probably finish dying in the next few weeks and I hope I can manage to be that strong and vulnerable myself. It’s not quite a KAL but there’s a lot if the along part out here.

  367. Happy Birthday to a fellow Gemini and Happy Birthday to you mother who will be my age when she officially celebrates.
    Sorry you are going through such a difficult time right now. You are in my thoughts.

  368. Our mother died just over three years ago, and I will not exaggerate one iota if I say that this has knocked our entire family profoundly off it’s axis in ways we are only now tentatively beginning to heal from. I remember watching the Kevin Costner movie years ago where he’s Eliot Ness and he’s fighting the bad guys and his friends are all lying dead on the floor and he just steps over their bodies and keeps fighting…and we see these things and we think that the death of someone we love is not supposed to affect us, not supposed to make a dent in our routine. Bull you-know-what. Death is a major life event, like childbirth. How can we not expect it to hurt us, stomp on us, change our course? Give yourself permission to be needy, give yourself permission to cry and rant and rave. I made bargains with myself about when I could cry and when I could not, when it was okay to totally lose it and just break down sobbing. The trick is that to get to the other side of the swamp, you have to walk through the middle. And that all of us have to walk through the swamp at some point. Some people will understand when they see it, some won’t. It doesn’t matter. There is no right way to prepare for a death and to grieve. And there is no wrong way. Hugs to you. Everything you do is okay. Nothing is wrong.

  369. What they said. All of it. Be kind to yourself.
    No one will think less of you. I’m going to see if I can find someone in Toronto to leave a bottle or two of wine on your doorstep.

  370. PS- Happy Birthday to you. The absolute best tribute you can pay to someone you have lost or are about to lose is to appreciate the gift of being alive and to LIVE life and feel it as fully and as fiercely as possible. Don’t be ashamed or guilty for surviving. It has nothing to do with you.

  371. A dear one will be leaving soon. It is a gift to know and to be part of that. Do not miss being a part of that to somehow please others. Some of us have had a darling, precious part of us taken in a heartbeat and wish that it had been different. The time is so short, but it is still time. Do what needs to be done, don’t wish for something different later. Don’t give bitter a chance to get it’s toe in the door. Taking and giving goes in all directions. Find the love. Happy Birthday.

  372. I couldn’t agree more with what LizFM said. We came for the knitting – we stayed because of exactly who you are. I was in a similar situation last year (it was my mother) and you will make it through to the other side. People will surprise you with the good things they will do – you need to let them. My bestest friend help me get through the worst day by listening to the only request I had – I wanted an entire Costo buttercream cake all to myself! And she walked right into my house with my very own full sheet cake! Do whatever it takes!
    And happy birthday. Sending you lots of hugs and good wishes.

  373. Please, dear Stephanie, give yourself the compassion that you would give me if I were hurting the way you are right now. Treat yourself the way you would treat your most beloved friend. You are so worthy of all the love that you give to others. I’m donating to MSF on your behalf.

  374. I’ve been out of touch for over a week now. My family has relocated to Columbia, MO, and it’s taken it out of me. Stephanie, we love you. You drink a bottle of wine and eat lots of cake, and let us know what we can do. If nothing, we’re always sending vibes. 🙂

  375. Happy Birthday Steph!
    I wanted to let you know that the little voice in your stomach, that voice that you can barely hear sometimes? The voice in the pit of mystomach just heard your voice. You give so much of yourself away and you will never be thanked enough for the joy, laughter, and emotional breakthroughs you have given to a world of knitters.

  376. Steph,
    DO celebrate your birthday. YOU are the one who needs this celebration. YOU are the one who needa a cake. YOU the one who need to hear the happy brithday song!
    Stop trying to be everything to everyone..before you be someone to you first. There is no Steph is Steph is feeling left out, alone, used, unappreciated, and abandoned. You are not Mrs. Atlas..holding up the whole world and wanting the world to appreciate it. They won’t.
    If you want their appreciation; stop expecting it. Do what you are doing for yourself and the feeling you get for YOU. They will not care much because they can’t. They are too absorbed with them. They will not remember what you have done until after the event is ended and they may not even then. You have to know why you are doing what you do.
    In the will be your only real satisfaction.
    I remember each day I go to this job I hate to “Do what is good, because it is the right thing to do”. I know others around me will not care. But I know why I do what I do each day and that get’s me thru those 8 boring, repetitive, dull, lifeless hours.
    “Do good, because it is the right thing to do”

  377. Steph,
    At 30 I am barely an adult, but I have seen a lot of death and dying. I have cared for very sick people at the end of their life, and I can tell you a few things…
    – Do what you think needs to be done. No more, no less.
    – Share the burden with those willing to take it and sometimes with those who are not so willing. They need to be taught.
    – Listen to the voice inside. This is how you live without regrets and face yourself when others are gone.
    -Sleep and food will keep you strong. Take care of yourself.
    You are strong and wise. Have a little faith in yourself.
    Take care.

  378. Dear Steph. I’m so sorry to hear about these sad and difficult times you and your family are living through right now. I wish you much grace. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Perhaps it would be helpful to think of what you would say to your daughters or your husband right now, if they were in your shoes, and then try to listen to it yourself. Many blessings.

  379. Listen to that quiet voice inside — it’s always telling you something important, especially if it’s something you don’t really want to hear.
    I’m sending my love, support, and all-purpose mojo to you and your family — I hope 2013 starts treating you better soonest.

  380. We just started growing tomato and basil plants on our window sill and they are doing very well. Every day, I check them, making sure they get rotated, watered if they need it, and every day I face the fear that I’ll do something wrong and they’ll all die. But, somehow, every day they keep being green. They keep growing. Give them what they need, and they know how to do it.
    We’re all different, I guess. Just like tomatoes and basil. The plants need different things, but they grow all the same as long as those needs are met. For me and our family, this year has been a flaming pile of crap, too. There’s been a death, a rift because of it, personal sickness, and issues galore. But I keep looking at those plants and drawing a totally corny (how awesome if I had planted corn!), but very real inspiration from them. I don’t know how I’ll keep being green, or how I’ll keep growing, but I have to trust that as long as I’m getting what I need, it’s happening, whether I know how to do it or not.
    For me, it’s a lot of prayer. Quality time with my husband. Fun with my kids. Crafting of all kinds… spinning has become huge in my life right now, more so than the knitting. Maybe because spinning feels like less pressure. I’m just making pretty yarn, not something that has to fit someone or be a present or anything like that… It’s what I’ve discovered I need in the midst of all of the crap that goes on around me.
    Anyway, I do so sympathize with you, and really have no actual advice. There isn’t advice for things like this. I suppose that all we can do, as humans, is share our own stories, and let each one draw from the other what will give some life. You’re in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope that you still manage to have a happy (if somewhat subdued) birthday.
    And happy birthday to your mom, too! Even though it was cancelled. ^_^

  381. Dear Stephanie…I read your blog each and every day, I saw you when you were in Austin, TX. 2 years ago, and I am looking forward to your visit to the Greater Rochester, NY area in September…in other words, I respect what you say and what you do and how you write and how you make me laugh…you are an inspiring person…! However, I want to tell you that you are “over-thinking” your concerns, and punishing yourself unnecessarily regarding compassion…you already HAVE it…in ABUNDANCE for everyone, AND for yourself…if you did NOT have it for yourself, you would not be able to say what you say, do what you do, write what you write and inspire as you inspire…THINK ABOUT IT…!!! You don’t have to “quantify” compassion as it applies to you, for you are LIVING a compassionate life every single day. Even though you may rightfully feel as though others are receiving more compassion from you than you are reserving for yourself, perhaps that is just going to have to be the way that it is…goodness is its own reward, Stephanie….you are amply loved and respected and YOUR LIFE MATTERS…that is all any of us can even HOPE to experience……

  382. Sorry you’re having such a time! I finally got off my arse and made a sponsoring donation for your ride. This year started out rough for me and my family, but we’re on better ground now and at least that is something I can do to help someone!

  383. Steph
    In September my husband spent a week in the ICU on the ventilator because of pulmonary fibrosis caused by the radiation that had helped cure his lung cancer the year before. It left him weak, housebound,and oxygen dependent. At the same time my youngest daughter’s FIL was diagnosed with 2 different cancers. In October, my brother’s youngest was diagnosed with breast, cancer. In November, the same brother’s wife of 46 years lost her battle with her 3rd cancer. Meanwhile my youngest daughter’s FIL had surgery for one of his cancers, went back to surgery for bleeding, and had a blood clot in his lung. In March, my husband’s sister died unexpectedly. In April, my husband died on his 65th birthday. In May, my oldest daughter’s MIL was diagnosed with lung cancer.
    It has been a bad year, but we have celebrated every holiday, every birthday, just like we always have. We even had a birthday cake at the open house to celebrate my husband’s life. Some of those celebrations have been bittersweet and a little difficult to get through, but life goes on and life is meant to be lived. Both of my SIL and my husband would insist on it.
    Listen to that little voice, don’t worry if all the laundry doesn’t get done, or if the kitchen floor is sticky, spend time with those you love and draw strength and comfort from each other. And if you are like me and need a little alone time to recharge take it. Take care of yourself. My
    daughters and step-daughter had me laughing the day of the open house. As they were putting the buffet together, every time I got up to do anything, I heard a chorus of “Mom, sit down, drink water and knit”.

  384. ….may your ride tomorrow help bring you some peace and save my happy birthday wish for when you are ready to celebrate ….you will feel like celebrating again, good times follow bad….if I was a better knitter I would have a knitting metaphor for you but alas I am not. Please just know we all care

  385. Keep listening to that voice. It will guide you if you listen.
    It is not selfish to take care of yourself and be authentic with folks. You have the same right to express your needs as anyone else. You are not responsible for the whole world.
    Been there. Done that. FINALLY (for the most part) am learning to listen to me and be true to myself. You can still be loving and compassionate to others even more so when you do it for yourself also.
    Prayers to you!

  386. My heart goes out to you. I’ve been there and I know it’s hard and it hurts. You will find the strength to get through this.

  387. I don’t really think you have time to read all these comments but I have to write. My birthday in February was much the same. A non celebrated day in the face of a family emergency, my BIL critically ill. And while he’s home now, he’s still sick and I’ve just found myself in a funk, in a small depression that my sister will soon lose her husband, my nephew will soon lose his father, at the same age I lost mine and I want to scream and rant but mostly I just keep going on. Taking care of my family and not quite keeping up.
    I’m running (swimming, riding) my first triathlon tomorrow and really, what am I thinking? But maybe this is my way of moving forward when I can’t control other things.
    We all get you. Thank you for sharing what you can.

  388. Sending you a hug and I know you aren’t a hugged but I also know you take them sometimes. I think now is sometimes. I am sorry for these difficult days . Find a baby to hold as you know they take the pain away momentarily and sometimes that is just what you need so you can carry on. P.S. I miss your face.

  389. Hi, Stephanie,
    Every day people die. And the rest of us still go on, loving each other and living lives of joy. The best thing you can do for your soon-to-be-departing relative is to fill your life and hers with joy. Because your lives are connected, your joy is her joy. You do not honor her with your squelched joy. Your joy brings her joy. My husband’s family are holocost survivors, and they raised him with “How dare you enjoy your life when so many died”, “how dare you enjoy your dinner when so many starved”, etc. Now, in his fifties, he is beginning to understand that the antidote to death is joy, not unrelenting sorrow.
    So go buy yourself a bottle of the new Crown Royal product, Canadian whiskey mixed with maple syrup. Best thing for tea ever! And celebrate your life, the best thing to do in the face of death. Sorrow buys you nothing. The cultural values are just wrong. Someday you and I will depart too. And then I hope my kids can joyfully celebrate me.
    Not here just for the knitting, although I love the knitting.

  390. Your little voice needs a megaphone. In a plane crash, you have to put on your oxygen mask first, so you can help others. In a crisis, you have to make yourself a bit more comfortable so that you have the energy, mental and physical, to do all the things you want to do for everyone else. I’ve had to teach and re-teach myself this in the last year or so. I’m so sorry that you’re having so many big events all at once right now. You’re going to get through it, just keep hugging the ones you love.

  391. “Put your oxygen mask on first” posted by Leta and mirrored by many…..that was exactly what I needed to hear today. For what ever its worth, you are not alone in this. Not the first, not the last, not the only one. (Deep breath). We all get through it differently and learn the life lesson along the way. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  392. The best advice I got as I struggled through my mother’s death was “be gentle – on yourself and each other.”
    I hope you can be gentle on yourself during this difficult time.

  393. If you cannot feel or see your self-light, you will not be reflected in loving and helping others. Continue to glow or you cannot warm others. Do not let life blow out your candle. It comforts me to know your light burns up there so far north of me!

  394. I’m still not sure I know what to do to take care of myself. I’m happy to take on the responsibility of taking care of everyone. Taking care of myself is not anywhere near as ennobling. But when that voice inside is angry and resentful–that’s not good.
    Sometimes even when I do know what I should be doing to take care of myself, I grit my teeth and refuse to do it, preferring to stay mad What helps me is to recognize that leaning on others gives them the opportunity to help me. Falling apart in their presence gives them the chance to step outside themselves to put me back together. Not being amazing all the time gives others a chance to grow. Letting them help is a gift to them.

  395. Honey,
    I don’t come here for the knitting.. I come here because in a weird internet way I feel as though you are a distant friend. I thank you for making me feel as though we are sitting across the kitchen table from each other with a cup of tea/beer in hand and sharing from our souls. I just wish I could deliver a solid, “you are on the right track” trust-that-inner-voice hug. God Bless!

  396. Word of advice from someone who has buried more loved ones than I care to talk about. If you don’t show yourself some compassion along the way, it will come back to bite you in the backside at the most inopportune time. Lower your expectations of what you think you have to accomplish and give yourself the room to grieve, so you can stay on the moral high ground.

  397. “This Too Shall Pass”
    Steph have a happy, peace-full Birthday, and belated birthday wishes to your Mum as well.

  398. i have not read your blog before. today i got to it from Soulemama, who i have been reading for ever, daily, or nearly. i don’t know what is going on for you or need to know, but i love your honesty and your writing. i want to say happy birthday and for goodness sake, be gentle with yourself as you walk in beauty. breathe deep and listen to good music and just love yourself. advice that all us mamas can take.

  399. I come here to see what you’ve got to say, if you stopped knitting tomorrow I’d still come. You should listen to that voice and cut yourself a big piece of slack, you too deserve some compassion.
    Happy Birthday Stephanie, try to go easy on yourself it will work out better. I think you’re pretty amazing already you don’t need to try and screw the laundry it can wait.

  400. I know I’m only echoing all the other comments but great minds think alike – it’s OK not to have all the answers, to do the best you can with what you have. No number of birthdays means you have to have it all figured out, just go with your gut instinct and wing it, it’s what the rest of us are doing anyway.
    And I hope you do find even a little way to celebrate your birthday – it’s the shafts of sunlight that keep us going through the valleys

  401. Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.
    Stephanie, that little voice is the voice of clarity. It’s one of the great blessings of our 40s, I believe. It’s been my experience that this clarity is often a gift of really difficult times like you are going through now. An “aha moment” can often come slowly, in the form of a shy little voice. Listen to it, give yourself time to hear and understand what it is saying, and let go of the idea that you should/must/will be all things to everyone else. Superwoman is a fictional character. The best way to be you is to honor your non-fictional self. The most adult people i know are he ones who allow themselves to be who they are. Give yourself moments in the day to process what you are going through. When people ask if there’s anything they can do, let them do something. Listen carefully as your little voice helps you sort out what your real place is, your real values are (not what you think they *should* be), then make your choices and expectations based on that knowledge.
    And if you will be reading to your family member again, you can’t go wrong with a book of Mary Oliver poems. Actually, get a copy to read to YOU, too!
    I wish your family member and all those who love him/her an easeful transition. And I send you and your mom birthday blessings.
    Be well.

  402. Hey Steph, I’m not going to offer you advice or my opinion. Just wanted to add my voice to “the blog”- we’re here, we’re listening, we care.

  403. I don’t know if you’re still reading the comments but…happy birthday to you and your mom. and give yourself a break. death is a hard thing to handle in a family. everyone handles it differently. and it’s all okay as long as you’re trying to be supportive. in your own way. and you learn so much about yourself while it’s happening. hang in there and i’m sorry you all have to do this.

  404. My mom spent many years fretting and worrying about doing the right thing when a friend or family member was dealing with an extremely difficult situation. Then the extremely difficult hit really close to home. She learned that for all the fretting and worrying about doing the right thing, the right thing was to drop all the worrying and just show up.
    Enjoy your birthday and go easy on yourself. You are an amazing woman just as you are.

  405. Dear Steph
    My heart goes out to you- I’m sorry to hear about your friend being close to the end. Please know that person couldn’t think any less of you having a birthday. As one of the most fabulous women in the world, you deserve more than one day of honor – but I understand the humble nature you live by. Happy Birthday! We love you

  406. Being the same age as your Mom, I have learned through the hard times of life that I cannot possibly help others, be what others need me to be and do unless I take care of myself….love myself….be good to myself! Yes, you can put yourself first (so to speak) because that’s what gives you the strength to be all for others. Without doing good to you, you will be drained and not able to be good to those who need you. God bless

  407. You’re a mom. Your job is to make things better or at least bring calm to the chaos. No profound answers will be revealed on your birthday (I speak from being 10 yrs your senior)but you should celebrate nevertheless. You and your family have my sympathy for these rough times.

  408. It’s fine to pace yourself. You can be human and imperfect – as the saying goes, being a good person lies in being just a little kinder than you actually feel. And I just turned 53, and feeling much the same, also going through really rough patch….Hang in there, and cut yourself some slack. (Also, looking to the future from one walking the road ahead of you, it is ok to get grey hair and a broader butt and even wrinkly skin and crappy eyesight – we are all still about 20 inside. Feel so embarrassed now about how I regarded “old people” in my ignorant youth.)

  409. Steph – You are allowed to be angry (furious, actually) and you are allowed to be sad. When my daughter was nine, she was diagnosed with leukemia. I needed to be “together” for her, but I had to allow myself to fall apart first.
    Find a room, go in, throw yourself down on any piece of furniture there and yell, cry and, if you need to, curse God (he can take it). Find a pillow and beat the crap out of it; kick the furniture. You have these feelings and the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself is allow yourself to feel them. Then, when the crying is finished, take a deep breath, let it out, and ask whatever power you may feel there is in the universe to give you the strength to be there for the people who need you; the strength to get through this time. These feelings can sneak back up on you so “rinse and repeat” whenever necessary. My father passed away four months ago, and I had to do a modified version of this.
    (My daughter is 31 now; married with two lovely little boys. And my father is at rest.)
    As for your birthday, if you don’t feel like celebrating – don’t. (Although, cake would probably be therapeutic.) I do hope this coming year will be a better one for you.

  410. Nobody comes here just for the knitting. The knitting units us, and is great fun. But we mostly come here for you because we really like you, and we truly care.
    Happy birthday xx

  411. Thank you for sharing, Stephanie – that’s OK that it’s not about yarn. I can relate to a lot of what you said. Hang in there.

  412. There is love in this world, and love in the next. Love you and sending you and your family thoughts of peace and comfort.

  413. Whether you regularly attend a church or not, sitting in one quietly (and even knitting while you do so) is an awesome way to cure you, I promise. The second best way is to pray for the others and go about your business as you always have. Your prayers for them will make you feel better and will miraculously cure them of their lack of compassion and/or unknowing unkindness toward you.

  414. Many years ago when I was in grad school I lost a aunt suddenly and then in the following week my grandma, whose weak heart gave out from the grief. I was 3000 miles from home and unable to fly home for either funeral due to financial issues. I kept going to classes but I could barely function. My friends were kind,but I was a zombie because my grief had made me numb. A few days into this I found a card and a big bag of fancy chocolate chip cookies in my mailbox at school. It was from a classmate, Jeff, who wrote in the card “when my grandma died all I could do is eat cookies and cry. It’s okay to do that. Here are some cookies.” I took the cookies and card home, and I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment and sobbing into my dog. Then when I was cried out I ate all the cookies In the bag. The next morning I woke up,and while I didn’t feel enormously better, I felt more alive, and when I went to school I was able to finally articulate the help I needed from my friends and professors, and they gladly gave it to me.
    I will never forget Jeff and his kindness and the fact that he gave me that “permission” to grieve and feel that pain. So Steph, here’s your virtual bag of cookies. It’s okay to sit on the floor and sob and then eat the whole bag. It’s okay to take care of yourself.

  415. It seems to me that turning 45 is sometimes tricky. It was the spring I was diagnosed with cancer. I still remember the wool that I bought to get me through the surgery and recovery period. It was a year of loss as the older generation started to die and a period of time when friends who also faced cancer didn’t make it.
    Where is that we go when we knit? It’s such a peaceful place and it gets us through so many crises in life.

  416. ‘Anticipatory grief’ can be very dark…especially when we try to imagine life as we know it without those we love. We all suffer in different ways, but one thing to remember is to celebrate that life while someone is on the way out. Physical pain can be controlled to a great extent, but I hope the emotional pain that you and your loved ones are suffering now might be eased by celebrating a life well-lived, and giving thanks every day for the time you have had together. In a 4 month time frame I lost three members of my immediate family, and I don’t believe that time heals all wounds. But if we are lucky, time can give us a chance to express and celebrate our love and say our good-byes. I wish you the best. pl

  417. Many of the things you say in this post remind me of this article I just read. I love Martha Becks’s books, her way of explaining things rings true for me. Maybe there will be a nugget of fresh air in there for you too (leave the dashes where they are but change the _ to / )
    oprah dot com_ spirit_ How-to-Stand-Up-for-Yourself-Martha-Becks-Advice

  418. June is birthday month around our house, too. Not all our birthdays are happy, for sure. However, there are many many people who are happy that we were born on these days years ago. Just want you to know that you make ME very happy when I can access your blog. (I understand the not-so-happy times, also.)

  419. I am moving and have a lot of yarn in different stages, some in half-done projects, that I would like to give to you or anyone who would like it. Can you help me? I am in Austin and would be glad to bring it to you. Thanks, Gail

  420. Steph, I also try to be superwoman, and there is nothing worse than disappointing yourself. After my mother passed (16 years ago), having no sisters, I put myself in the position of “family matriach”. And everyone knows that the matriach is in charge of holding the course for the family. Long story short, I failed miserably (in my eyes), and it’s taken a long time to forgive myself. It’s been a bumpy road, but the most important thing I’ve learned? You cannot be strong for others if you don’t allow yourself to be weak. Those that love you will welcome the opportunity to pick you up every now and then.
    And that voice that is telling you that you could be making mistakes that you’ll regret for ever if you are not nice? It’s o.k. to tell her to shut her pie hole! Those that truly love you will understand your momentary lapse of niceness.

  421. Happy Birthday. Take care of yourself and hugs and well wishes to you and your whole family.

  422. May you find the peace you seek, and that we all deserve. And happy birthday too. There can still be joy in the midst of sadness, and light in the middle of darkness.

  423. I am holding you and your family close in my trouts and prayers. Being 65, I have a slightly different take on life, and having been thru passings of my Dad, Mom, Mil, and hubby’s all since 2003, I would tell you to do and say everything you can, let -0- that is important to you be left behind, so when you come out on the other side of this time of sorrow, you feel complete with yourself. Some days yu will be the strong one, some days the weak one, and that is OK!
    We all love you so much, not just for knitting, but because you share yourself and your lives with us and, after all, that is what ‘community’ does for us …. Peace and blessings, today and every day ….

  424. I am here a little late because I took the day off from knitting and went visiting yesterday. Yeah, I did sew in a few strands of yarn but no knitting or at least very little, if you count binding off, knitting. I tried something. Something that you said/wrote somewhere in your blog or books or at least I am pretty sure you said/wrote this. Here it is as I remember. “If you can make a pair of socks in 2 weeks you should be able to make a sweater in 2 weeks.” **** So I tried.**** I made a sweater in 2 weeks.**** I don’t know why I tried.****Maybe because I needed something to really focus on and challenge myself or maybe because I have been thinking about and collecting the yarn for the sweater for over a year and I really wanted to make a sweater. Anyhow, I did it. There are a bunch of things that I did not do for two weeks (although I did manage to do laundry and grocery trips and time out for cooking and cleanup but it is grilling season so cleanup was not much.) Anyway I did it, I made a sweater in 2 weeks!!! I am amazed that I did quite frankly and a rather surprised because it does have a yolk that is stranded and I used 5 colors of yarn and it is not completely done, I still have ends to take care of.
    All this above is to let you know you inspire me. You inspire me to come to your blog, to read what you are doing and allow me to know a little of you. So, I hope your birthday day was happy. I am glad you share a little bit of you with me and the rest of your blog readers. I wish you a happy birthday, a happy year to come and a happy life. I know you will figure out what is important because you inspire us all. Peace and love to you Stephanie.

  425. Happy Birthday, Steph. Please indulge yourself just a little. . . take a tiny vacation from the turmoil, even if just for an hour or two or three. And know that you *will* get through it. We’re all thinking of you.

  426. A few months ago, Oprah published a comment by Donna Brazile that I think is so useful and applies to just about every situation we face. Here it is:
    “1. Be the buffalo. Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it—and gets through it quicker. Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo.”
    Go buffalo, celebrate your birthday, celebrate your loved one and charge into the storm.

  427. Tears in my eyes for you… I’m so sorry for your loss-in-progress. I pray that your 45 is better than your 44 apparently has been. A “whole heaping pile” better. Blessed birthday to you.

  428. Dear Stephanie, I wish I could send you the “bottle tree” we once saw in Louisiana when you visited years ago. A small moment of surprise and wonder created in a hurt place. I am wishing you small moments of wonder in all the hurt. As many have said, listen to the voice to honor and help others you must also honor and help yourself in these circumstances… Hugs

  429. 45 is not ‘well into middle age’. As a 69 year old – I’m well into middle age! Seriously, cut yourself some slack – you’re deserving of having your needs met too. And taking care of yourself makes you better at taking care of others. God Bless and hang in there.

  430. Dear Steph,
    I wrote my previous comment on a gin and tonic, fired up by a revelation about wanting, and amid all of that I forgot to send you what you most need – love and an attempt at understanding. Oh, and a poem. It’s Mary Oliver again, to go with her other superb piece somebody else sent you.
    The Journey
    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice –
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    ‘Mend my life!’
    each voice cried.
    But you didn’t stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognised as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do –
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.
    (Donation to follow right now.)

  431. Fascinating and ominous post. I’m not anything like you so I’m trying hard to understand. By my lights, here’s a bit of what your voice might be saying: you’ll be remembering this time and grieving in some ways the rest of your life, now is the time to put your relationship with the sick person ahead of all else so you’ll know you did everything, said everything and just sat there enough when they were still here, you’ll replay that part of your behavior often in future years. Don’t presume to know what others need or expect of you at this time. If they see you’re keeping frantically busy, they’ll just assume that’s your way of coping — all that you’re doing for others and keeping of commitments isn’t either expected or necessary. Do you really need to worry about stepping on others’ toes? Can you just ask them to make some room for you and work it out? Grief ebbs and flows and changes over time. Everyone handles it differently and it’s all OK. You will be able to handle it now and later. Give it its own time and place as needed. You know all this. Cut down now or very soon on the externals. That’s the voice I’m hearing in that magnificant post that speaks to so many of us. May you be blessed and cared for at this time.

  432. I am not dealing with what your dealing with but being a single mom means I often put myself last and I have a problem asking for and then graciously receiving help. The kind of help I would gladly give to someone else if asked. Last Christmas our priest’s sermon was about just that graciously accepting help when offered, accepting the gift someone is giving you and thereby, giving them a gift in return. I have thought about this often since then and have discussed this with others, one of my friends said that not letting someone help you is actually kind of insulting it infers that you do not believe you are worthy of their help or that you are too good for their help (neither of which is how I feel when I’m trying to go it on my own) and it has helped me to actually let people know that I am needing something and then accepting what ever they can give. Sometimes it’s as small as accepting a hug when it is offered. Sometimes it’s huge like my sister buying a house so I could rent it from her when I had to leave a bad relationship. Letting myself ask for and accept her help was one of the best things I could have done for our relationship. Sometimes not being the one being needed and allowing yourself to need someone is the best gift you can give yourself and others. I wish you peace and hope your birthday has some measure of that.

  433. We do not come here only for the knitting (at least I don’t). We come here for the knitter – for the lovely creative kind caring person that you are. I wish you peace during these difficult times. xxx

  434. Good luck growing up and older. I hope you are always surrounded by the people you love, but if not… that they leave their place beside you quietly and peacefully. Not to worry, we are all working on this and I love to hear what you have to say.

  435. Midlife sucks. The lousy life events pile on, and there’s no path around them. All you can do is move through them. There’s a song from childhood whose chorus is the only part I remember:
    So high, can’t get over it
    So low, can’t get under it
    So wide, can’t get around it
    Gotta go through the door.

  436. The thing about caregiving is that if one forgets to care for oneself and put one FIRST occasionally then perhaps there won’t be one to take care of others. Have seen it happen too often (the caregiver gets sick, for instance) Grieve for your loved one. Remember that they are going to a place where they are perfect, pain free and happy. Your family does fine while you are away on trips, they’ll do fine while you take some time for yourself now. They are grown ups, not infants. Remember that you are NOT the maid.

  437. She said it best, Stephanie, I’m copying it here, so you’ll read it again:
    “…you’ll be remembering this time and grieving in some ways the rest of your life, now is the time to put your relationship with the sick person ahead of all else so you’ll know you did everything, said everything and just sat there enough when they were still here, you’ll replay that part of your behavior often in future years. Don’t presume to know what others need or expect of you at this time. If they see you’re keeping frantically busy, they’ll just assume that’s your way of coping — all that you’re doing for others and keeping of commitments isn’t either expected or necessary. Do you really need to worry about stepping on others’ toes? Can you just ask them to make some room for you and work it out? Grief ebbs and flows and changes over time. Everyone handles it differently and it’s all OK. You will be able to handle it now and later. Give it its own time and place as needed. You know all this. Cut down now or very soon on the externals. That’s the voice I’m hearing in that magnificant post that speaks to so many of us. May you be blessed and cared for at this time.”
    Posted by: Suzanne at June 15, 2013 5:19 PM

  438. Hang in. It is tough days but you and your family will get through it. Knit. Hug. Love. Smile. Take time for small beauties.
    Happy Birthday.

  439. Happy birthday, Stephanie. I wish you peace in your heart, your mind and in your family. Hugs.

  440. I wish for your sake that you get the clarity and calmness of spirit you need to face these challenges head on. It is hard to deal with at any time, but it seems ven harder when it is someone whose vibrancy shouldn’t go out this soon.

  441. As I write this, you have 482 comments on this post and surely don’t really need another one.
    Too often, we think everyone else is handling something better than we are doing it ourselves. As for being fully adult – well, when you figure it out, let us all know. I’ve been at it for longer than you and I don’t think I’m there yet either.
    Most of us just do the best we can in the face of difficult situations, even though we beat ourselves up for not doing better. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Though we often wish we could meet our own unattainable standards, sometimes good enough just has to do it. A (wo)man’s reach should exceed (her)/his grasp…

  442. I am 43 years old. I am a wife, a mother, and I work full time. In addition to that, for the last two years I have been the primary caregiver to my mother, who has been fighting pancreatic cancer. A month ago we found out that she is now stage four, now at the point where they stop talking about treatments and start talking about pain management.
    I tell you all this just so I can be perfectly clear that I know what I’m talking about: You can’t do it all. Not only can you not do it all, you should not try. Helping a loved one at the end of their journey is a blessing and a gift, but it also an incredible strain. You need time for yourself to recharge your batteries. Even an hour a week, when you do exactly what YOU want, makes a huge difference, and you will return to your loved one more “yourself”… and “yourself” is the person they really want around, anyway.
    You and yours are in my prayers.

  443. For the good of your family, compassion. Understanding. No judging. No opinions. Go with your heart. Sometimes it feels good to say “No!” and sometimes you have to say “no” to preserve the one shred of sanity you have left…no second guessing. Decide and move forward.

  444. You don’t have to be a superhero. You don’t have to be everything for everyone all of the time. It isn’t possible and it is exhausting to try. Part of taking care of others is taking care of yourself. That little voice is the part of you that needs to be taken care of. Please listen to it and take care of yourself. Let others handle things for a little while.
    Much love and light to you and yours. Happy Birthday. <3<3<3

  445. Dear Steph, You are on airplanes enough to have encountered the “if someone beside you needs assistance, secure your own oxygen mask before helping them” routine. It has always grated on me emotionally, even though intellectually it makes perfect sense.
    Before attempting something scarily challenging, I ask myself, “If I do this, will small children perish? Will countries begin a war?” The perspective helps.
    Good luck–thinking of you and supporting you, cyber-style.

  446. The most “adult” thing (in this context) that I can imagine is a grown-up who admits that she doesn’t always know what to do.
    I’ve worked in pediatric palliative care for a long time and I’ve learned one thing: death sucks.
    The best anyone can do in the face of it is to cut herself an enormous amount of slack on a minute-by-minute basis. That means that sometimes you’ll need to lighten up on yourself for not being the nicest superwoman in history; and other times you’ll need to lighten up on yourself for not being comfortable screaming in public. Either way, all you can do for yourself, for your family, and for your dying loved one is to try your best given. Try to accept that what constitutes “your best” varies wildly. Sometimes you’ll be the rockstar of caring & other times you’ll be the one who cries in the bathtub. Both those things can be best.
    Whatever, you do try to go easy on yourself. Death is a greedy s.o.b. and taking manic care of everyone around you won’t protect anyone from the pain it causes.

  447. Death in the family creates tension among family members. Because people don’t know who to strike out in their grief – God is a favorite target – things are said among loved ones that are often cruel and unforgivable. You will never regret having taken the high road or wishing you had done more because it is obvious you are doing all you can. God bless you and keep you strong.

  448. I want to let you know that I love the personal posts as much as the knitting posts. It is good to know you are human, and how you honestly feel about things because a lot of the time I have had the same feelings as you. At least about motherhood and housekeeping 🙂
    Take some time just for yourself. And to receive the virtual hug I wish I could actually give you.

  449. I just got around to reading your post. I know that voice inside very well. Its a nagging little thing that sometimes manages to steer you into a direction you are not willing to go.
    I know that feeling when a family member is knocking on heavens door. Its both sad and a relief. One never knows what the “right thing to do” Or the “right way to act”. I think you must do what you know in your heart is what you need to do.
    Happy Belated Birthday. Hope you enjoyed your ride and got to see the sun come up. It just takes something simple like that to just make things seem a little better to deal with.
    And you do not have to be super woman and do it all. After all the laundry, dishes, and house that needs cleaned will be waiting for you when you need to get it done. Sometimes there are just more important things to take care off. Like be there with your family member in their last days. Remembering the days gone by, and taking in the journey ahead of them. I think God tells us to come to a screeching halt sometimes so we can just stop and take notice of what is going on around us.
    HUGS and Prayer for your family member.

  450. Dear Stephanie,
    coming to you blog for the first time I was so moved by your love, your honesty and your humanity. Peace, prayers and hugs to you.

  451. There’s nothing I can add to all these thoughtful and caring posts…except to send you another big hug.

  452. Feel what you have to feel. Don’t hold back. A thousand prayers are being said for you and your family.

  453. Take care of yourself, hon. If you and Joe don’t take care of yourselves, you cannot POSSIBLY hope to be there for everybody else. It sounds selfish, but it’s not. I turned 45 myself on the 7th, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over years and years of single parenting before my husband came along (and what a blessing he is), you have to take care of yourself and your needs before other’s needs, or you won’t have the energy for them. There are others available to do things, too. They may need to be reminded that you are not Superwoman, to pick up their share of the pieces, but that’s important, too.
    Keep being the graceful and wonderful person that you are. So many of us come here for the knitting and stay for the person we come to think of as a friend. I am proud to tell people that I come to your blog and learn from you and that you let all of us into your life so intimately.
    Right now, you’re going through a really, awfully, horribly rough time. But as another poster put it, you do not have to be a doormat. You’ve raised some incredible young women, and I’ll be there’s times you look at them and ask yourself how in the HECK did such amazing people come from YOUR body. It’s because you’re amazing and wonderful and giving and all those other positive things.
    But you need support and you know we will all support you and love you no matter what. It’s what friends do, and you are one of our friends, even if we don’t know you “in person.” Hugs and LOADS of love.

  454. Even though I am a big ol’ knitter I really come here for posts like this one. You are such a good writer and I suck at it. You put into beautiful words what we all want to say. Thanks Steph.
    Big squooshy hugs for your birthday and most of all for strength in this tough time. You are good at being a compassionate thinking wonderful person.

  455. I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff either. I’m sorry it’s you, but I’m glad it’s not just me.

  456. Happy Birthday, we ate cake for you since you are not in a celebratory mood, understandably so. It’s never ever easy to loose a loved one. Who can truly say what the ” right” response is. At our house when the poop hits the fan the first one to freak out has ” dibs” the other one hangs tough as long as necessary they we trade places. Be kind to yourselves, help where you can and hold each other a little closer for a little longer when needed.

  457. I think you’ve written about knitting something and you’re not sure about some facet, but you keep on knitting. But there’s this little voice or feeling that says “this isn’t right” and you keep on knitting until eventually you realize the mistake and are chagrinned that you didn’t pay attention earlier. It’s the same voice you are hearing now.
    You are amazing, you don’t need to try harder.
    Strive for a balance between what you want to do, and what you can do and be good to yourself. What doesn’t get done isn’t important and if it’s important to someone else they will take care of it.
    I too came for the knitting, but I stayed because it’s all good and I enjoy it and you.
    As with all things, this too shall pass. Take care of yourself so that when things smooth out, and they will, you will be in good shape. It’s hard to deal with losing someone, but it’s important to carry on as best you can, and that’s all you can do.
    Thanks for all you are – it’s great!

  458. If you want to talk, please know that there are ears to listen. If you don’t want to talk, please know that it will be understood why.
    Be gentle with yourself- and even with everything that’s happening, I hope that you are able to find some brightness in the days ahead.

  459. Just read thurs. blog. Belated happy birthday. I hope you managed to get some special birthday time in.
    I have been practicing with my inner voice for about 5 years now! I will be 60 this year. You are just as important and your feelings valid as anyone else’s . You can not deny the voice or things will come out of you at maybe not the best time. I don’t always do things or say things in the best way, but am learning how still. If the people who you need to talk with love you , and unconditionally , they will still love you. Maybe be mad or upset a while but they will still love you. I was afraid to say things to my family that I thought would start big fights, and you know, it was in my thoughts and fears. They understood. Hang in there, love yourself too.

  460. “Out of chaos comes a dancing star”, and “We cannot all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” I hope these quotes help you through the difficult days ahead. Best wishes for your birthday.

  461. I’m impressed if you actually get all of this outpouring read, Stephanie, and this bit may not be adding a single new thing to what’s already been shared, but:
    Further to Tori’s (6:44 pm first day)great idea of balancing support and the need to be supported, a thought that was crucial for my self-care in moving through a year-long medical crisis where I was the main support person: it is completely legitimate and, in fact, vitally important to take very, very good care of yourself (and you do know what that means for you to be healthy and OK), because if you do not, if you just keep draining the tanks, you will soon NOT have anything at all for anyone else. It’s a practical, large-picture stewardship of the resources you do have a say over, to ensure long-term sustainability–and to keep you out of either your own hospital bed or the back of a dark closet, where you won’t be any help to anyone!
    I found it freeing to know that it was really NOT selfish to take care of myself, and to talk things through with those who were not in the canoe with me, emotionally speaking, so that I was not in danger of overturning their boat–they could stand on their steady emotional dock and listen and love me, and that was a healthy and lovely part of the whole relationship fabric, too. People often want to help, but don’t know how; sometimes abducting you for icecream (even if it’s your suggestion) for 45 minutes is a lifesaver!
    AND sometimes you have to be ready to educate the well-meaning but clueless who have not been to this place themselves, and who make comments that crank up the guilt…refuse to take it on, and if you have the energy, you can suggest that there may be more to the equation than then are considering.
    c. =)

  462. I hope you won’t lose stitches if I make this all about me for a moment but. there is a lesson in my experience with cancer.
    I’ll keep it short but while I was struggling with the realization of my own mortality and fearing the treatments etc. the most stressful part was dealing with the fear of my friends and family. I spent a lot of time reassuring them that I was strong, that would fight and survive. It was a burden but I was nice and I held their hands and dried their tears.
    It would have made my journey (so far, so good) a lot easier if they would have taken care of themselves. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? The sick and dying need to know that the people who love them are taking care of themselves because they have other things on their mind.
    Please take care of yourself and then you’ll find you will have the strength you need to handle it all.

  463. That amazing, wonderful thing; the thing you want to know, is that the TRUTH is, you, in and of yourself, can never be all anyone needs; there is precious freedom in realizing that in our own brokenness, we are whole. sounds like you’re on the right road to come to terms with your own humanity. happy birthday! and by the way, no, i don’t just come here for knitting… i come to get a glimpse of your heart as a knitter. Blessings to you !

  464. I think your whole entry is one very good reason that you MUST celebrate your birthday. Restore, recover, rejoice (in any way that you can). There’s no point hiding from joy when shadows are gathering. Wishing you some serene moments in the crazy.

  465. I remember my own feelings after a family member’s young child passed away. Everyday things were painful. Commercials for baby food, Mother’s Day cards, etc. Then, I realized perhaps the best way to honor that child was to try to find the joy in each day. There was a double rainbow on the day she died, seen by family members who were 80 miles apart. We took it as a sign that there would be hope for tomorrow.

  466. When my mother was dying, my dad suggested I consider the decisions I made and then grant myself permission never to regret the decision I made. I was 22, she was 51. Way too early. But that advice helped: sometimes I just couldn’t be noble and had to take a day off, and if I remember now and start to regret, I remember that my duty included taking care of myself so I could be at the ready when really needed. It also helped sometimes when I was being a bit lazy and needed the motivation of knowing I might regret it in the future: it divided the important from unimportant choices.
    It’s a gift you can give yourself: make a choice for yourself, and forgive yourself in the Now. We all need to charge our batteries. Your family will need you in the future, so don’t burn yourself out now.
    Best wishes

  467. Do you know that Buddhist compassion meditation where you send yourself loving kindness, health and wholeness, love and compassion; and then send it to the people you love, and then people you are neutral towards, and finally towards folks that hit your buttons in the worst way? It’s brilliant, takes little time, and in my experience helps that little voice learn and discern and grow strong (even if strong is quiet) breath and repeat as long as necessary:
    May I be full of loving kindness;
    May I health and whole;
    May I be peaceful and at ease;
    May I be happy and free.
    I still have the most trouble offering it to myself, but it’s always worthwhile to do it a little everyday. Paired with a few rows of knitting it is pure sanity.

  468. Stephanie, I love your blog for its humanity (as well as the knitting). I just have one bit to share. My dad died when I was 17, at the age of 44, which is pretty much exactly the age I am now (in my 44th year). The great gift that he gave me was the commandment to celebrate and suck every bit of the marrow out of my own life. You are important, too, and you are in a fragile body like the rest of us. It is not wrong to be at once compassionate and helpful to others and to celebrate and nourish yourself and your own life. I wish you and your family the very best during this difficult time.

  469. This has been a rough year for our family as well, everyone copes with things differntly. Some days you cope well, other days not so well. Just keep trying and know that it is okay to be TIRED some days. Your heart, your mind and your soul tired. Hopefully when I come out of this tunnel and see the light I will have better words of wisdom. Plug on Steph, keep on knitting!

  470. I used to say “every 10 years I decide anew what I want to be when I grow up.”. For the last 30 I’ve been a mom. I’m having a crisis coming to the end of that… not that I won’t always be a mom, but that it’s not the prime function anymore. So I get where you’re coming from, Steph. Good luck with figuring out what comes next. I’m sorry about losing your loved one… and enjoy your birthday. You bring a lot of joy to a whole bunch of people you’ve never met and all in all, that’s a good tjing to be when you grow up 🙂

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  472. Compassion for self is so, so hard. We hold ourselves to such high standards, standards we wouldn’t dream of placing on anyone else because they are cruel.
    And we do it because it is easier than facing honest truth about what we need, and that we are human and that humanity is frailty as well as strength. Taking care, proper care, of a self is difficult. It takes time that you’d rather spend on other, more glamorous things that others will value more than your little needs. It takes self honesty that feels unfair and brutal. And it takes accepting yourself as you are, rather than some imagined future perfection. Holding boundaries is hard, saying no when you would love to say yes is hard.
    It takes putting the oxygen mask over your own nose before helping others.

  473. Yes you can. It takes a lot of quiet time to take care of yourself. And you can do that, too.

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  476. You are in my thoughts. Do the best you can do every day.
    Taking care of yourself, learning HOW best to do that and not feel guilty, is important. You cannot take on big challenges if you do not do the self care.
    End of life times for loved ones are hard: a blessing for the person passing does not make the loss of that person any easier to bear.
    Be kind to you!

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  478. The knitting may have brought us to you, but you are the reason we keep coming back.

  479. I know I’m way down on the list, but if you by some off chance get this far down into the comments, please remember that only by taking care of yourself will you be able to take care of others. Peace, out.

  480. And when you hear that little voice, you should listen if for no other reason then you are setting an example for your beautiful daughters so that they will know how important it is to take care of oneself. 🙂

  481. Hmm. I’m about to be 54, myself, and I can tell you that you ought to listen to that voice. It’s a lot easier to be kind and compassionate when you include yourself among those deserving of kindness and compassion. I know you know that, but I’m telling you it’s true. You are also allowed to want things and to say you want them, and to get them, too. Even just acknowledging that you are a person allowed to want things makes it easier when you have to give them up — but don’t always give them up. XX

  482. I know you know this, but I’ll repeat it anyway, we are able to be the best versions of ourselves when we take time to take care of ourselves. Sometimes that means a nap, sometimes that means food (right now!), and sometimes that means saying no, or saying that’s not what I need. Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself. Happy Birthday.

  483. Yes. This. (balance? priorities? creative work and the day to day? doubt and self?) Everything. All the best from the Eastern Townships…..

  484. Sandy said it (June 13). For me, when I am deep into supporting the needs of others, I literally cannot pull myself away to attend to my own needs. Yes, my own needs have to wait. But when that crisis is over I always, always make time for myself (and others that came along with me). A weekend away, several days at home doing whatever I need (including sleep or staying in bed reading). I DO find time, and the nice part of it is I do it my way and not necessarily what other people think is the way. That’s the truly liberating part.
    You and Joe should plan a vacation trip.

  485. I feel like this all the time. I am learning that when I am extending compassion to others that I need to extend compassion to myself. It is not mean or impolite to make room for yourself in your life. It is not mean to have your own needs and see to them. It is not mean to ask to be cared for.
    Hold yourself with compassion.

  486. I’m sure it has already been said among all the comments, I don’t know if you will even get to this, but Steph, please try and remember, you have to take care of your self in order to have the strength to take care of others. You have to feed your sole, meet your own needs in order to meet the needs of others. That prevents being used up.

  487. I so admire you. I am so thankful that what ever awfulness is trying to envelop you, that you have your Joe. Hang on to each other tight. Blessings.

  488. Steph,
    I do not comment often, but my heart aches for you, so here goes…
    Be compassionate…with yourself first. An empty well cannot quench the thirst of those we love. It is more than okay to say, ” Sure, I can do that for you, but I’m going to have to do it tomorrow, or tonight, or later, or as soon as I can.” Make time to take care of you (& Joe).
    Celebrate. Your birthday & every occasion. Someone you love is being cheated out of all the celebrations they should experience. Selfishly take them back! For this person you love, celebrate every special moment. In their honor & later, their memory. Suck the joy from every opportunity, for all those you love & then send that joy out into the world to do good. I guarantee, that no matter where your loved ones are…..they will feel & share in that same joy.
    Bless you on your birthday. May you & your family have the strength you need for this journey.

  489. I agree with many others, that to be compassionate includes being compassionate to yourself. If you are taken care of, then you’re in a better state to deal with everything else that happens. I’m always trying to tell myself this, so it’s clear to me that it’s easier said than done, but I think it’s worthwhile!
    Take care of yourself…

  490. I’ve been in your shoes most of my life. Way to many deaths and way to few weddings & babies. That voice is exhaustion. Take a break from earning your wings and ask for help from someone somewhere, turn it over to God, realize we all do the best we can, and remember your weary load is lighter than someone else’s weary load. With compassion – tmd

  491. Steph, I am so sorry to read your news. Losing someone you care about is never easy, even when you know that a swift and gentle death would be the best thing for them. We’re human. We love our family and friends, and we don’t like having to let go, to face the world without that special person in our lives.
    Grief is a hard thing to live with. Be kind to yourself. The pain does get better but it won’t be “better” all the time. You can go months, even years, without feeling the pain of grief when you think of your dead family member. Then, suddenly, a smell or a sound or something you see will trigger a memory and you’ll find yourself right back in the heart of the pain, back in the heart of grief, as if you’d never left it. Then it wears off again. (My father died in May, 24 years ago. In Britain, Father’s Day was last weekend. A couple of weeks ago, some advert for Father’s Day had me in a flood of tears because it triggered a flash-back of all the pain and grief of losing him.)
    Hugs to you. I hope your birthday was happier than you expected and represents the dawn after the darkest hour.
    – Pam

  492. I don’t know if you see comments on older blog entries… I catch up on your world irregularly…
    THANK YOU for saying exactly how I am feeling. I am lucky enough not to be facing the loss of someone dear – but we had a bad scare when my dad came to visit us and ended up with a heart attack on his way back to the airport. He came to help me out – because I was pregnant with number 6 and my husband was out of town (his darling grandfather’s funeral and a conference). Dad ended up staying with us for another month to recuperate – and be taken care of.
    My kids are 11, 9, 7, 4, 2, and 3 weeks (Tara was born on US Memorial Day 9lbs, 9oz) and they do NEED. We homeschool (*I*) and the two oldest do competitive gymnastics (3-6 days a week depending on my level of insanity and self-sacrifice). My 3rd child has thrown tantrums forever and we finally just got a handle on it (allergies) but he (and #s 4 and 5 learned from him) has a lot of bad habits to unlearn (we considered boarding school and had just started seeking help from medical pros… when a chance skin reaction and treatment with Benadryl improved his attitude! He got away with too much before, but there is only so much one can do – you handle the hitting before you worry about the rude words…)
    This 6th pregnancy (and I turn 40 in August) was Really Hard on me and I am recovering more slowly. I still can’t walk well or quickly without pain.
    My best friend just had her first at age 37 – a preemie (though she was the right size for her teeny mama). I want to go visit (200 miles away) but they are too tired (even for me to come help) and aren’t supposed to have visitors. And then they are moving 1000 miles away in a month.
    And my in-laws are visiting in a month. And they are dear. But they are still in-laws and guests.
    I just need to say all this occasionally. Because when you put it all together it starts to look like “yeah, I really am not crazy to feel overwhelmed.” My midwife keeps telling me to “value myself” more and take time to care for myself. She doesn’t have her own kids… Sometimes there just are these crappy moments/months/seasons/years and you have to survive and everyone (even the 7yo) has to pitch in with laundry and dishes (did I mention the dishwasher is broken?)
    We are moms. it is part of our job to make other people’s lives work out. Guilt is part of the deal – there’s always something more we said we would do that we have to renege on because we all think we can do more than we can. But they will manage. They will remember all that we did do (not just what we didn’t).
    And someday we will look back on it all and – if not laugh – at least sigh softly in peace that that period is done.
    I am trying to enjoy every bit of having my last newborn. It is harder to remember to enjoy every moment of my screeling 2yo and growling 4yo…
    Thank you for letting me vent a bit…
    Thank you for giving voice to the wisdom of the Woman Inside. (If you haven’t read “Dance of the Dissident Daughter”… well, go and do!)
    Peace to you and yours,

  493. Oh how my heart goes out to you. I turn 56 today and of course my parents are 20 somethings older than me. We have grave concerns for my dad. He is close to the end of his life and yet he may last for another year. Sometimes he doesn’t know who we are. Shouts for us to leave.
    Well, I just wanted to say you should heed your inner voice. That voice is smart and knows what is best for everyone, even you. I hope I’m not being too personal! but I send well wishes for you and your family to come through this hard time able to enjoy those sunsets.

  494. Dear Stephanie, I turned 45 this year. There was much grieving to be done at that time. My experience is that we still need to look after ourselves. The better we look after ourselves, the more we are able to give to others. To let ourselves be ignored, or our relationships, is too much to mend later. You’ll be ok. Everyone will be ok. You have a huge support network. Take care. I trust you will.

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