This is not the way I expected it to be.

I feel like this is pretty much what should be written on the tee shirt I’ve been wearing for the last while.  Finding a way to restructure the family, figuring out a new way to get the hang of all the changes, trying to let go, to move forward.  I keep discovering myself standing in the middle of a something I’ve never lived before, usually with a trashed kitchen and a lot of laundry, one or more people in the family crying or laughing either literally or figuratively, and thinking “this is not the way I expected it to be.”

Grief, grandmotherhood, parenthood, taking down wallpaper – honestly, almost nothing is the way I expected it to be, for better or worse, and I am just so glad that at some point in my life I decided that flexibility (both physical and spiritual) was something I should try to cultivate, and I both went to yoga and tried to get down with new points of view.  I admit, this has had limited success. I accept now that flexibility isn’t going to be the whole secret to happiness (although I swear it helps) and I am now convinced that the rest of it lies in what you choose to say right after you think “This is not the way I expected it to be.”

I’ve been trying really hard to be someone who sort of good naturedly looks at getting a surprise like that and thinks “Good golly I wonder what magic will happen next! Maybe we’re all getting lollipops!” but it turns out that the best I can do might be to surrender all hope of knowing what’s going on, all sense of being invested in my own expectations, and trying for a weakly uttered “Ok then. If someone will bring me a scotch while I take a bath, I think I can re-orient.”

Take today, for instance.  Today is my fourteenth blogiversary.  I have been sitting down at my computer/laptop/macbook for fourteen years, as of today, and writing to you about my knitting and my life and my everything, as often as I have been able.  I am pretty proud of this. I love this relationship between us enough that in the days leading up to this blogiversary, I kept thinking about what I would do to celebrate. A big post. Maybe show you some beautiful pictures, maybe a long letter to you, telling you about the amazing impact you’ve had on my life, and what it means to all of us that you’re here. (I try to do this every year, because it’s a really hard thing to explain.) Then things changed, and plans got altered, and my sister and I played a game of WWMD (What Would Mum Do) and voila.
blog 2018-01-23
This blog post comes to you from a hotel room, where I’m by myself, having trouble connecting to the wifi, hotspotting from my phone at a cost of wool knows what, after a drive to Ottawa that should have  been a simple mission, but wound up being a two day affair involving an ice storm, all so that I can be nearby and present for someone in hospital, only to end up sitting here, more or less quietly,  realizing that the universe isn’t done with the edit to my family and that things are pretty hard here, and that I don’t mean to be vague, just to protect the privacy of someone else and it’s all really sad and ending up with… this is not the way I expected it to be.

I thought that my blogiversary would be different, but as I got to working up a good head of self pity, I realized that it’s actually sort of good, because Blog… when I thought of having a blog, this is not the way I expected it to be.  I thought I would write, you would read and I don’t know what I thought would happen after that, but not this.

I never ever would have expected that after fourteen years, I would sit in a room by myself, a little bit lonely, trying to figure out my next move, realizing that there is no next move, just a simple endurance game, and the magic of showing up, and that what I really need is patience and strength and to hold right on tight and maybe to knit a bit… and to talk to my blog and realize in that moment that you, my blog, you make me less lonely, and one of you is always up, and you always know what to say when things are down, and wing of moth you are so funny, and…

This isn’t what I expected it to be.

Thank you for fourteen years of making this wild ride better. I love you, and I can’t tell you what it means that you’re there.

Now take a gratuitous picture of my grandson while I get on with  it.  See you tomorrow.

ellie 2018-01-23

(PS. If you are feeling traditional, this is the day that donations to my bike ride in the amount of 14 dollars (or a multiple thereof) freaks the daylights right out of PWA.  If I’ve entertained you $14 worth over the last fourteen years, let it rip.)

379 thoughts on “Fourteen

  1. You don’t know me, I seldom comment, but I know you. I think it’s wonderful how you are able to share so much of your life with more or less total strangers. I’m a little bit jealous. I’m so private my own family probably doesn’t know how I feel about most things in life. You are made of total awesome. I love your caring, sharing, abilities and how you think. Thank you for sharing. Others like me (surely there is someone out there like me) truly appreciate you.

        • Well said Jill I’m here and I feel exactly the same way. Life is unexpected and this blog–Stephanie and everyone else who loves you as much as I do–have kept me through a lot of bumps over the years too. Thanks yarn harlot for writing even when you don’t know what to say b/c the words are always perfect.

    • Jill, you described me perfectly! And Stephanie, you give so much through the blog that it is only right that it can offer something back. Take care and stay warm x

    • Just like Jill, I love your blog but seldom comment. Today, however, I wish for you peace. Just plain old peace-mind, body and soul.
      Getting old is hard, I’m telling ya! Nobody told me aging parents, young adult children, a career, death, cancer would be like this. Definitely, not how I expected it to all go down.
      Alas, I’m trying to strike that delicate balance between holding on and letting go.

    • I’m just like you, only a very few people know what I really think and feel. I just marveled the other day that a niece of mine is having some health problems and there are spaghetti suppers and food trees and a constant stream of visitors. If I were in her position, I’d probably have 5 people who knew, 4 of which are immediate family. So like you, I have a great deal of admiration for people who are willing and able to share parts of their life that may not always be pleasant. I strive to be one of those people brave enough to put things out there and see what the world sends back.

    • I could not have said this better, and it perfectly reflects my own thoughts. Stephanie ‘you are made of total awesome’, and you are appreciated just the way you are.

    • Another like Jill here! Just wanted to add my thanks and appreciation and say how much I’ve enjoyed and looked forward to reading your blog over the years. I lost my mum nearly 4 years ago and was initially ok, then periodically floored by the grief, it does get easier to bear but it’s no picnic and I still miss mum every day. However I also became a granny 15 months ago and the joy of that was and is, everything every loving grandparent says it is and more – as you know!
      Much love and appreciation,
      Terri x

  2. Thank you for this blog, for all the great knitting advice, adventures and mishaps and most of all for sharing your life with all of us.
    And the photo of your grandson really is great, that mischievous smile made me smile, too!

  3. Happy fourteen! Thank you for all you do – I so look forward to your posts. I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time…sending big blog love your way!

  4. Congratulations! You’re right, nothing is the way we expected. Not even the f-ing wallpaper and certainly, not the children.Tonight is my 25th wedding anniversary. Tom and I should be on some exotic trip, but, alas, we are not. Life didn’t cooperate. But we had a great bottle of wine, and now I’m contemplating my own blog post. Read yours before I started and it made me smile. We just go on doing the best we can. And we’re doing that. Happy 14th Blog-versary!

  5. I always read and seldom comment. There are always so many comments that there is often nothing left unsaid. But today I will tell you how much I have enjoyed your writing, and sharing, and honesty, and your inspirational knitting (and now your grandson! He is just precious). Looking forward to the next 14.

    • Exactly what I had hoped to say.
      Also thrilled with my knitting community and our $14 donations to support a yarnharlot and her community.

  6. Thank you for sharing your life here – even the hard parts. Your blog was a big help when I was going through a really hard part. I am still thankful.

  7. Happy 14th Blogiversry. I’m sorry to hear there are more sad times for you and your family. Take things one step at a time like knitting – one stitch at a time. Icame fairly late to the blog – I read most of your books before I started reading the blog. I’ve been reading the blog from the beginning over the last few months and it has made me laugh and cry and given me a whole library of knitting patterns I want to knit and wool I’mgoing to have to remortgage the house to buy! Thank you for it all. I’ll be thinking of you and your family as you navigate this difficult time.

  8. Congratulations on 14 exceptional years! Thank you for the laughter, joy, education, and tears. For letting us feel like a part of your family.
    I hope the Universe leaves you and yours alone for a good long time. For now, just keep doing the next right thing.

  9. Please don’t be alarmed if I say I have been stalking you for years! Meaning your blog is my favorite, but I have never commented before. You have a way with words that I truly enjoy, and have even made my husband laugh (I sometimes make him listen to my favorite parts). I appreciate your honesty with the hard parts, and your willingness to share those feelings with us. I’m sorry you have to cope with another sorrow. I understand the hospital waiting unfortunately, as my husband had some health scares this past year, but knitting and connecting with others helps. So I thought I’d say “Hi”, and let you know that you have more friends than you realize. We’ve just been shy!

  10. I feel I know you and your family so well…l enjoy every word and story you share. Your struggles are our struggles, your triumphs our triumps. So never think you are alone…only a keystroke away. Keep hugging that sweet baby close…

  11. I check once, twice, sometimes several times a day to see if there is something new from you. First discovered your blog about three or four years ago, went right back to the beginning and read every single post. Your writing is inspiring, funny, gut-wrenching and a terrific example of how sharing makes things easier. With your honesty, you show us how it is to be human and makes our lives feel “normal”. Thank you for every single word.

    • I have to echo this comment – almost exactly what I would say – rarely comment, read the entire blog from the beginning, check almost daily for new entries, and – you touch all who come here and through them others as well – THANK YOU FOR EVERY SINGLE WORD.
      Bless you and yours

    • I am a similar reader. Thank you for the great reading – knitting, parenting, being Canadian and so on. I think very few of us are leading lives the way we expected them to be and the lives of those who are can change in a flash. Will now go make a donation.

  12. I too always read but rarely comment. I’m starting to face some of my “life gets in the way” stuff and I realized after reading your blog that it’s going to be OK. It will be difficult and will be different but it will be OK. Others in my family are going through these changes too but I will be the primary care giver. I know that I’m going to have to ask for help which is very different for me but it will be OK.

    • Kim, and Stephanie,

      Other people are happy and honored to be asked to help. Especially if you ask for specific help. It is definitely OK.

      And now I have to touch “the world” to leave this comment. The world will help you out

  13. I think those of us who blog, even though most of us will never reach your fame (Seriously! You ARE famous!), understand the community of Blog. Glad we can share your burdens and ease your loneliness. Thank-you for letting us. (((HUGS)))

  14. I’m going thru this right now too–not the family.bit, that happened long ago, but the “This is not the way I expected it to be.” You are so very lucky to have such loving family and friends, and we are so very lucky to have you. Hugs to you in that hotel room, and Happy blogaversary.

  15. This blog is like a great circle of loving arms meant to bear you up when you need the comfort, cheer you on when you are celebrating, and listen when you need a sympathetic ear. We are here for the good times and the bad, Stephanie. Your candor is comforting because so many of us experience similar travails. Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is all the strength we have. You just keep on keepin’ on. We’ll keep on listening, loving, and caring.

  16. I don’t know which of your legion of loved ones is suffering and I hope and pray that they will be healed.

    I can only tell you that your blog and rereading the history of your blog has gotten me through two bouts of chemotherapy and a total collapse of my lungs and immune system due to chemo. I can’t tell you what you have meant to me over the years but on the dark and endless days when I didn’t have the strength to move or the energy to even keep my spirits up, you made me chuckle or sometimes even laugh out loud, The eau de chèvre episode remains one of my perpetual favorites,

    I eventually recovered and you helped me do that. On your darkest days, please don’t ever forget you help just by being there and by being you,

  17. Thank you for 14 wonderful years of knitting, laughter, and tears. And even longer for those of us who remember your postings to the Knitlist! Your strength and courage shine through even if you feel like dissolving into a puddle on the floor and it is those times that show us who we truly are or want to become. You are wonderful!

  18. Ah Steph, I so appreciate you and your blog. You are so wise and so human, so honest. I feel for you as you navigate these losses and hard times in your life. And I rejoice with you as you celebrate births and other happinesses. Thank you so very much for sharing your life, the good times and bad, with us. And, always, the knitting. I am grateful to be among the Blog and I thank you deeply. Happy 14th Blogiversity.

  19. We’re all here for you, as you have been for us with your stories, pictures, grandson, and even a little knitting when we have our moments, days, weeks, or months. Happy 14th and here’s to another 14 to come! Please raise your glass of scotch… with ginger beer & cherry, in my case…and toast to our Yarnharlot!

  20. Lemme tell you a thing:

    Whether you mean to be or not, you’ve been a source of inspiration for us. Knitting or otherwise, you inspire here.

    Also, you’re a human being. You’re allowed disappointments and grief and general “ugh.”

    As Mr. Churchill said: When you’re going through hell, keep going.

    Donation on the way, btw.

  21. I’m so sorry you are managing another hard thing. I think those of us who are old (me, not you) have often found that “this isn’t how we thought it would be”. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not so much. You are strong and bright which means you will perhaps struggle to manage but you will succeed. Thank you for your blog and know that we love and support you.

  22. Sending hugs your way. I’m sorry you’re going through a tough time. You’re in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly — I’ve learned a lot more than just about knitting here. Wishing you and yours health and laughter.

  23. Seriously,Steph, WTF? My heart is with you and yours, and sending thoughts for the very best possible outcome. Personally, I like to think of chemo as hope. On the brighter side, happy blogiversary, and hope you know what a difference you make in the world. And in one of those curious-quirks-of-the-universe, I’m in the middle of a project kind of thing that actually results in donating $14, yes exactly $14, to a charity. So I think I’ll handle that early and pop over to PWA right now.

  24. Congratulations on 14 years. I’ve been reading since the beginning and I do appreciate your candor, humor and wicked knitting skills. Thank you for sharing your life and your family with us. What you’re going through is tough, no doubt, but by sharing your thoughts and feelings with us, you are helping so many more. Sending love and light your way.

  25. I forgot, once I got over to the ride page, to make it a multiple of 14, but I did donate so here’s hoping they’re freaked out about the total tomorrow morning…and here’s hoping you find some comfort in knitting and knitters, and you get a good night’s sleep tonight, and that you remember tomorrow that you have a LOT of people all over the world thinking about you and wishing you well.

  26. Hi. If you are feeling grief over a change or loss, allow it to run through it’s necessary stages. But in the end, remember that happiness is not a condition, it’s a decision. Also, my favorite proverb (Hindu) is the Salutation to the Dawn
    – Attributed to Kalidasa

    Look to this day!
    For it is life, the very life of life.
    In its brief course
    Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
    The bliss of growth;
    The glory of action;
    The splendor of achievement;
    For yesterday is but a dream,
    And tomorrow is only a vision;
    But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
    a dream of happiness,
    And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

    • Thank you for that Graig. Going through “not what I expected” myself.

      Stephanie, I’m another warm hearted reader sending you virtual hugs and wishing you easement of pain.

      Thanks for the blog. My favorite story involved you being locked out of your hotel room sporting only a towel.

  27. Happy blogiversary, Stephanie! I’m thankful for you having started this blog 14 years ago, for without it I’m not sure I would have ever had the opportunity to have crossed paths with you the handful of times that I’ve had the honor of having done so. I’m sorry you have more sorrow in your life, thank you for sharing what you are able to of your life. It’s a joy to read your writing whether happy or sad. xoxoxo

  28. As one of the Blog who didn’t start with you 14 years ago but haas gone back and read from the beginning, thank you. You have been so open and honest about the challenges of life, motherhood, knitting (I did lace surgery a while back, inspired by you) and the rest. It is a gift to us know that We Are Not the Only One when something awful happens to us, and I am glad that we can be a support to you in your hard times too.

  29. Thank you for being you and for sharing your life with all of us. With ever so much appreciation and gratitude for all that you are. Hugs.

  30. I have been reading your blog for nearly all of your 15 years of writing. I could say many things about your blog but the thing that I always think of when I think of you is all the times that you have offered your support of the lgbtq community…this has been so meaningful to me because I have come out in these 14 years of reading. Thank you for being a friendly place during a time of much personal transition!

    I know that there are no easy words in grief and transition…I won’t pretend that I can ease the pain. But I do send love from my corner of the world and hope that it brings some light to your corner of the world.

  31. My dear friend – we’ve never actually had a cup of tea together or met face to face…..but through your blog and your books I feel like we are friends. I have read and reread your blog over the years, sent links to friends (your ‘Enough’ Christmas post saved my sanity one year, and I had to share it) and you have made me laugh and cry (often at the same time). I know that this has been a rough few months for you and your family, and I add my hugs to many being sent your way by the blog group.

    Thank you for 14 years of welcoming us into your home and life – happy Blogiversary!

  32. Thank you for sharing and entertaining and letting us know you for fourteen years. I have no clue what the current wrinkle is, but wish you all the best while you wait.

  33. Happy Anniversary. Been here all 14 years despite letting my own blog lapse a lot of years ago and commenting almost never anymore. Thanks for all the yarns you’ve spun (figuratively and literally). All the best,

    Renee the Sequel (formerly of froggiemeanie)

  34. Steph, your blog anniversary should be joyous, but you seem stressed. Take care of yourself. A scotch and a long, hot bath would be a good start. Another good idea would be hiring someone to deal with that @#$%^^%$#! wallpaper.

    Hope your (friend? relative?) in the hospital feels better soonest. With luck, s/he will have been sent home before you get there.

    P.S.: Elliot is definitely YOUR grandson — he’s got YARN!

  35. It is never what we thought it would be…but we do get through it and come out the other side.
    You have made me laugh, cry, and spend more money than I can afford for yarn so I can knit what you are knitting.
    You inspired me to learn to knit socks after nearly 48 years of knitting. That was seven years ago, and yes, I have some idea of how many pairs…..
    I am grateful for your writing, your family, my family, all of us in this chaos together.
    I promise to donate tomorrow when I’m awake.
    Know you are loved

  36. Really, there is no such thing as a “gratuitous” picture of your grandson. They are all more or less required and all of them are necessary and adorable. And I don’t even LIKE babies.

    I hope life improves for you soon and you get more of the expected and less of the unexpected for awhile.

  37. I’m sorry you are having such a hard time. Life can be that way sometimes. I wish you peace of mind and the endurance of the saints. Hang in there and happy blogiversary — even if it’s not what you expected.

  38. Thank you for the past 14 years. Like so many others, I look every day for a new post, and I often reread the older ones (along with the books). Here too, it is not what I expected, but one day at a time. Sending healing and strength to you and your loved ones. And thanks for Ken, for that original gift which started it all.

  39. It looks like you posted this about an hour-ish ago, and there are already at least 3×14 donations in multiples of $14. I think I love that.
    I know I love this blog.
    (((Hugs to you and yours)))

  40. I never (ok, rarely) comment, but oh, you have brought me so much joy. thank you. I pray your friend is comforted knowing you are on your way. xoxo

  41. Oh Stephanie, life can be so unfair. I’m really sorry that you and yours are going through so many painful times.

    But, that baby! His smile makes the world (or at least the blog) smile with him. He is springtime, he is nature’s promise that life continues.

    And the blog is a living, breathing thing.I am blown away by the love and the wisdom that people share here. Just remember that we are surrounding you with prayers/positive energy/love. Anytime you need us, we’re here for you.

    Happy blogiversary to all of us!
    (I was instructed to touch the world to post this comment. Pretty appropriate! )