Have you ever had way too much coffee on a day when you are very tired, and gotten that funny feeling? It’s like the start of panic – not fear, or dread or worry, but the smallest little seed of a feeling that’s trying to make you run and paradoxically trying to keep you from taking a deep breath at the same time? It’s an insistent little thing that whispers “I think you should get ready to freak out because we are about to be in trouble here.” If it’s a coffee induced feeling, I just chalk it up to having enough caffeine in my system that I can feel my hair growing, and resolve to be a better person who sleeps more and drinks less coffee. Lately, I have that feeling a lot of the time – despite (mostly) actually managing to be a better person who is sleeping lots and drinking less coffee.
I know it’s not coffee this time. It’s an actual sense of impending doom brought about by the fact that doom is sort of impending all the time right now. I know I’ve confessed to you that I might have overshot a little with my commitments this year – so far I’ve found the way through this period is to just put my head down and work, and look forward to the day (it is actually only 46 days) that I pass this mantle on, but overall, I’ve started to realize that the sense of doom is being generated by evidence of my own inadequacy.
(Pictured, an unfinished cowl. Yarn is one strand of The Artful Ewe Kid Silk Lace, with one strand of Habu’s Mini Pom Shiro. I cast on a bunch and am going round and round, sometimes knitting with both, sometimes just the lace, and sometimes with the lace doubled. If I ever finish it will be charming.)
Please note, this is not a low self-esteem moment. I do not need to be reassured that I’m great and I get a lot done, it’s simply noticing that there is an insufficient quantity of me to meet my goals. I’m behind on work emails, the house is trashed, I have been trying to finish a simple cowl for two weeks, I didn’t finish my June socks, I’m fishing my summer clothes out of bins and my winter ones are piled in the hall because I haven’t had time to swap them out. I haven’t been writing the way I’m supposed to (or need to, to be less crazy all the time.) I haven’t planted all the annuals I bought even though now it’s July, I have no idea what the hell is making the kitchen floor so sticky, though I feel like all I do is mop it. I haven’t been on my bike as much as I should be, the fundraising for Team Knit is behind, I haven’t done any of the Karmic Balancing gifts, I really need a haircut and I think that the flowers in the hanging baskets need watering.
This general state of inadequacy is, as you can imagine, uncomfortable. Now, I generally believe that I’m pretty good at being uncomfortable, and I think that’s a pretty effective way to be a human most of the time, and when this started happening I just got uncomfortable and stayed there – coping with the load by sort of hopscotching around it all, doing a little bit of everything, trying to multitask the snot out of it all and not really getting a sense of accomplishment from any of it. The floor was cleaner but not clean, I’d answer the most important emails, but not all of them, I’d write one crappy paragraph but not an essay, I’d worry about the blog all day but not do it, and gradually this feeling of inadequacy has given way to something that early this week I figured out is actually stress.
(Pictured, June’s unfinished socks. Pattern is Paragon Socks, Yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in Cardamom. It’s my favourite solid sock yarn right now. There’s some hope I’ll finish these today or tomorrow. Maybe.)
That moment, I think – may be be what saves me. The minute I realized it was stress, I remembered a quote my mum loved to say to me when I was younger and losing my scene. It’s from a writing teacher I like a lot, Natalie Goldberg. She said “Stress is an ignorant state. It believes everything is an emergency.” The minute I remembered that, I realized that I had to start handling this whole thing differently. I stopped trying to hysterically do it all every day, and instead began to ask myself questions.
Does this need doing? (Is it truly important? What will happen if it is not done today?)
Does this need to be done by me? (Can I delegate this, or ask for help?)
If the answer to those questions was actually yes, that it was important and had to be done by me, then I just settled down, let go of everything else, and did it. I also wrote “time is a commodity I choose how to spend” on a post-it note and put it over my desk. (This probably won’t help as much as the other things, but at least it reminds me that I don’t “lose time” doing things. I can only “spend time” and I decide on what.) This approach has meant that a lot of things have shifted over the last week. First of all, my Bike Rally inbox is just about empty, which is awesome- because that thing was breathing down the back of my neck with fetid hot breath. It also means that yesterday we took Elliot out on the boat, because I realized that missing that would mean I’d be bitter and nasty about missing so many nice things – it means that after I spend this time with you today, I’m off to a Canada Day outing to celebrate the great good fortune I have to live in this country, and it means that Saturday I rode my bike 100km. I’m still fishing summer clothes out of the bin because there are no police about that, and it also means that the kitchen floor is still sticky, because you know what? That’s actually not important, and it can be done by someone else and… screw it. (I did water the plants.)
So this morning I got up and looked at the list, and tried to figure out how I should spend my time voila, I am here. Happy Canada Day all – I can’t think of anything more important than thanking you all for your help with this. The fundraising really is important, and I can’t do it without your help. Let’s go.
(By the way, if you’ve only just arrived and are wondering what we’re doing here, read this. If you’re wanting to sponsor part of Team Knit, or help us spread the word, our links are here: Me, Ken, Cameron, Pato. We’d love any help you can give, and every little bit counts. We’re all still inching towards our goals.)
First, an absolutely gorgeous bag from Lisa at Red Staggerwing, which looks just about perfect for trucking around knitting. I’m sure that Melissa B is going to love it.
Next up, Rebecca, a longtime friend of the show has 5 skeins from String Theory Colorworks that she is (somehow) going to part with. (Inexplicably her email says she has more self-striping yarn than she needs, which doesn’t sound right, but I’m grateful anyway.) She’ll be sending them off to new homes with Carla K, Kristen G, Susan B, Michelle C and Marsha W. I’m going to let them fight out who gets what colour with Rebecca.
Susanne Visch, a designer and generous soul, has offered (again this year) three knitters the pattern of their choice, though I don’t know how they’ll possibly choose.
The shawl choices alone could take you forever to look at, and that task will fall to Marolee S, Amy N, and Susan G.
Judy (who seems quite lovely) wrote and said that this beautiful Masham from Indigodragonfly has been begging for a new home, and karma has decided that it should go off to Kim G. (Who I bet is lovely too.)
Tess Young took a peek around and found that she has the perfect kit to send along – her beautiful Anglebury Cowl Pattern along with a 100g skein of John Arbon Viola Yarn, for which it was designed – in a colourway called “unpredictable.” (Colour designed by Canadian hand-dyer, Emily Foden.) I hope Sarah P finds it delightfully unpredictable that it’s coming to live with her.
Whew! I’ve emailed everyone who received a gift so if you’re wondering if you’re the knitter mentioned, check your inbox. I know that’s only 11 gifts given away, and there’s plenty more in the hopper, but if you’ll excuse me, I’m taking a sanity break from the computer. I’ve been at it all day, and my nephews, a lovely summer evening, a celebration of the wonderful country I live in, and a little bit of knitting await me, and suddenly, that all seems very important.