Goal not met

You know, I’ve seen so many funny pandemic tee shirts during the last year and a half.  Ones like “I was social distancing before it was cool” and “Free hugs – just kidding don’t touch me” or “I’m tired of being part of a major historical event.”  If I made a tee shirt for this phase of my life though, I think it would just say “Goal Not Met.”

Years and years from now when I am a very old lady, I imagine little children will ask me about the great pandemic. “Did you really stay home?” they will ask me, and I’ll say “Yes, for months and months.” They’ll stare at me all agog, and ask more questions and I imagine that they’ll ask me how we were ever able to do it. To cancel our jobs and stay home and not see our families and have little kids do school online and to not be able to see people you loved, or to travel or to even go to a store that sold a tee shirt or get a haircut and in my mind, there is a moment when they say “How did you do it?” and I will explain that I am RIDICULOUSLY bad at predicting stuff, and also a massive optimist.  That whole time, I will tell them – that whole time I was always convinced that it wouldn’t be much longer, and that things were about to get much better. I think, my darling knitters, that this, this incredible combination, might be the thing that has saved my sanity, while simultaneously leading to the least successful phase of my life, if you go by goals.

Every minute of this whole shebang, I have set completely ridiculous goals based on the belief stated above – that this thing is almost over, and we are POISED FOR JOY.  I have to say, so far I have really been super wrong.  I mean, catastrophically wrong… I have not been correct about a single thing.  I set a goal or make a prediction, the goal gets smashed (usually because I was wrong about the prediction) and I come back for more, cheerfully certain that sure, I was wrong last time, but this time, this time the fact that I was wrong last time only makes it more likely that now I will be right.

I am ready to admit now that there is something about this thing that uses up energy and makes goal meeting impossible.   Is it that it’s so unpredictable? Is it that if you admitted to yourself for one little minute that you don’t know when pandemics end or what the future holds that you’d have to acknowledge how long stuff has been screwed up for? Is that why I can say to myself “Stephanie, you have only 1.5 sleeves to go on that sweater. That’s an evenings work.  Goal set!” only to discover somehow that time has ceased moving normally and the next day I’ve made only a tiny bit of progress but somehow started something else? I mean what is going on?

I admit there have been a few spanners in our personal family works.  Quite some time ago, when I leaned that Meg and Alex were happily expecting again, I was so terrified thrilled overwhelmed that I promptly ordered a baby blanket kit and set a goal of weaving a million hopes and dreams into each stitch.

Was coming along too – getting big, and the weeks passed and Meg and I started talking about how she might announce their good luck, and enough time passed that I got brave and set a goal to embrace this wee one completely and bought matching jammies for them and Elliot and…. well. Just shy of the 2nd trimester mark, this babe’s heart stopped beating and obviously those two previous goals aren’t goals anymore. Just being here, whole and present in this time, supporting my family, being a good grandmother and knitting something other than that heartbreaking blanket is my goal now.

When these goals aren’t met – be they big or small, my fault or not, I respond with typical Stephanie Zeal™. Usually I set another goal.  Something bigger. Mostly, because I’ve been a goalsetter and somewhat of a failure (like almost everyone, it turns out I’m not perfect) my whole life, this doesn’t get me down.  Not terribly.  Usually I can shrug it off, and try again.  Like with the retreats.  Do you know that when I cancelled the March retreat in 2020 I thought there was a good chance that we’d be back in June? And in June I really thought that November would do the trick? I just keep thinking that any minute now, things are going to get much better.

This is what I was thinking around this years Bike Rally.  I thought we’d all be vaccinated (we are) I thought that would mean the virus would mostly go away (thanks for nothing arsehole Delta) and I thought we’d be able to all ride together to Montreal.  Well, goal not met.  Bike Rally leadership announced that even though we couldn’t all ride together to Montreal, we’d have local rides  (Toronto, Kingston or Montreal) for just two days.  Well, that wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but c’est la vie, by now I should have predicted that I can’t predict anything. (I know, it’s a complicated thought process.) Then our gathering limit was set too low to have training rides, and now the gathering limit is high enough to have training rides but you have to take the Subway to get there and people with unvaccinated little people in their immediate families really shouldn’t be on the subway if they can help it and…. the rally crept closer and Polly-f**kin-Anna over here (that’s what my mum used to call me) kept thinking it was going to get better any minute and I would wait patiently until it did.

Well, let me tell you GOAL NOT MET. Nothing has particularly improved with the pandemic- restrictions and problems are still in place and now I have three massive problems. I think I also have solutions, but with my goal setting track record public now, I’m not sure.

Problem One: There is still a pandemic on, and The Bike Rally powers that be changed the date of the ride, hoping for a little more time for restrictions to ease.  So…Given that Ken and I need to keep Elliot out of any transmission chain, we’re not feeling the big group love.  Cam had plans to be in Montreal on the new dates, so…  this year we’ll be driving to Montreal to ride there.  It’s a much smaller group, we can do the whole thing distanced without getting on the subway, and the only person who can’t make it is Pato. He’ll ride here in Toronto because right after he’s going on his (very) long delayed honeymoon.  Ken, Cam and I talked about it and decided that was an acceptable excuse. We’re going to Facetime him all day. He’ll love it. Problem one, solved.

Problem Two: I am undertrained.  I’ve done as many training rides as I can on my own but … well.  There’s no denying that I’m not ready.  I’m going to count on the fact that it’s just 200km, and hang in there. (No, I can’t believe I typed “just 200km” either. Blame the optimism.)  With that classic Stephanie Zeal™ today I am going with Ken on my first official training ride.  He needed help sweeping and I couldn’t say no.  It’s 105km of hills in what’s looking like some pretty oppressive heat.  If you have thought about donating but were waiting for the right moment – anytime today starting at 10am it would be amazing to get a ding on my phone, or any of Team Knit’s phones.  We will all have them turned on.  If I can get through today, I’ll feel a lot better about the ride I think.   Problem two… well maybe it’s solved we’ll see if I survive.

Problem Three: Team Knit in terms of fundraising is… well it’s Goal Not Met for all of us. That’s on me. In years gone by I’ve blogged and done karmic balancing gifts and stayed right on top of everything.  This year (see above) I waited for things to get better, and they didn’t, so now it’s time. I see that. There are six days to go before we ride, and that means I’m going to need to break a land speed record for fundraising.  It’s one thing for me to sit around in my cozy house, well fed and watered while waiting for things to get better, but that’s not how it is for PWA clients. They can’t simply wait for things to get better, and I know they’re counting on me, and the force for good that is knitters. Our donation links are here:


Ken (he’s so close!)



Now- here’s the deal.  I’m going to start up Karmic Balancing gifts again this year – just briefly.  We’ll do it in a few giant bursts and details on how that works are below.  (Hint, same as before.)  In addition (because I have been delaying it, sure that things are going to get better and any minute it will be easy) If we make our goals, I promise that I will blog 5 days a week for at least a month.  (I’m kinda hoping that’s enough to form a habit again.) That should be exciting for all of us, since eventually I have just got to finish that blue striped sweater, as well as the linen one that just needs a single seam.

I know meeting these goals isn’t going to be easy -but I have a lot of faith in knitters, and their ability to spread the word. Better than anyone else, we understand cumulative action, that while each of us may only be capable of a small gesture, the biggest knitted blanket is made of thousands of tiny stitches, and the whole thing falls apart without each of them. That’s what I’m thinking.  Now – I’m off to ride 110 kilometres of hills in the blazing heat. I’ll blog tomorrow if I live. (I’ll instagram all day as I go.)

Karmic Balancing Gifts.

If you donate to anyone on our little family team then please send me an email letting me know you’ve done so. Make the subject line “I helped” and send it to stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca. (Note the .ca it’s a Canada thing.) Include your name, address, and whether or not you spin.  (For the love of all things woolly, please use the subject line. It makes your email go to a specific folder and you have no idea what a difference that makes to my sanity.) You don’t need to say what you gave, or include proof. I know you’ll do your best, whatever that is, and I know you wouldn’t lie. (If you’ve already given this year, obviously you should send an email.)

Now, we know not everyone has money to help with – so we’re taking all kinds of help.  If you can figure out some other way to do that, that counts.  Maybe you can tell a friend. Maybe you can post about it to social media. Maybe you can forward the email to people in your family who will give…  There’s lots and lots of ways to help, and if you can figure out a way? Send that email, letting me know you did. No money needed. (Of course, money is always good too, and even the smallest gifts make a big difference.) I’ll draw randomly from those emails to redistribute the gifts.

If you want to contribute a gift, It makes me less bonkers if you do this: Take a picture of your gift. Email me with the subject line “Karmic Balancing” (that’s important) with the details, picture and a link, if you want me to use one. When one of the helpers is chosen for a gift, I’ll email you the address, and you can ship it right to them. (It’s not a bad idea to let me know if you have shipping restrictions If you only want to ship within Canada or the US, for example –  I’ll keep track.)

55 thoughts on “Goal not met

  1. We’ve all missed you so much, Steph, and I hope this letter means we’ll get to see you a lot more. That being said, I’m so sorry for Meg and Alex on their loss. I hope they’re going to be okay, and see their lives come back together again. Good luck to the entire Harlot family!

  2. Good on you Stephanie. I can’t even imagine riding 110 kms let alone in blistering heat. I really, really hope you make your goal because I have missed your blogs. I made a donation back at the end of June but I’m going to make another little one to motivate you.

  3. Oh no, I’m so, so, sorry to hear about Meg’s pregnancy loss. When there was a months-long pause in your mention, or photos, of her, I did actually suspect that she was pregnant but didn’t want it mentioned yet. That nature takes its course is little comfort during losses that your family has incurred. Sending love to you all.

    Methinks that setting a goal of blogging 5 days a week is another sign of Stephanie Zeal TM! Perhaps blogging once a week would be more realistic and would definitely lessen the pressure on you. All of us are feeling enough pressure from the pandemic situation and all of the precautions/restrictions that we and officials institute to keep everyone safer.

    I hope that, somehow, you can get a haircut soon, whether in a salon or from someone who makes housecalls to cut it in your backyard. It’s amazing what a difference a long-awaited cut can make in our moods and abilities to carry on (plus you’ll feel cooler in this heat with less insulation on your head).

    May you and your family know joy and peace.

    • I too could entirely understand if you commit to one blog post a week. I also have the habit of over-committing myself and it never, ever ends well. Be kind to yourself!

  4. Donated when you first announced that you were going to do a different sort of ride. Take care of you and yours. Stay hydrated and safe.

  5. Oh Stephanie! I’m so sorry your family lost another sweet baby, and so close to term, too.

    My granddaughter had an uncle whose heart suddenly gave out at age two, and her own was dicey while in the NICU so she and her brother and father have been tested up one side and down the other. I know how very fortunate we are. I so want your family to have better outcomes! Much love and gentle hugs and sometimes life just hurts.

    And here you turn it around, as you always do, to serving and loving others. You’re the best.

  6. So sorry to hear about your family’s fresh loss. It’s so much for one family to endure. Sincere condolences.

  7. It’s so good to read your words again! As a colleague once told me, “progress, not perfection.” Keep your focus and give yourself some love!

  8. Thanks for your post! Hope the bike ride was smooth today.
    What a year (or 17 months)!
    Yes maybe we should print up some “Goals Not Met” t-shirts (or knitting bags).
    I am looking forward to seeing photos of the finished linen sweater. I was tempted to knit it but that specific yarn is not so easy to find in Canada.
    20 posts in a month is a lot of work! But your readers would enjoy it if it happens. Maybe some instagram cross-posts could help.

  9. Yes! – something I can do to make the world a bit better while it feels like everything around me is spiraling down the drain. (I live in Florida, USA. I can’t even talk about it…) I donated to Pato because I figure (correctly or not, since all your kids are older than I can quite accept these days) that his friends are less likely to be able to help as much and because news of his wedding was a true bright spot even though I’ve never met. Go get ’em Team Knit!

  10. So sorry for you and your daughters loss. No words can make it right and I am so sorry. Take care of yourself and your daughter in this terrible time and hope for better to be forthcoming

  11. Due to COVID we missed our big fundraising ride again this year (500 miles in 7 days for Anchor House in Trenton, NJ), so we rode RAGBRAI last week in Iowa. We had a couple of super hot days and nights, so I can relate.

    Sadly, I also have a daughter who has suffered several pregnancy losses. We are currently on eggshells hoping this one makes it. So, I will donate to a fellow cyclist in honor of our brave daughters.

    Best of luck with your upcoming rude!

  12. I saw Meg’s post and am sending all the love possible to your stunningly resilient family. Your tribe is strong, indeed, and the massive love and respect you all have for each other always shines through. On a totally unrelated side note, good to know we share the Polly F’ing Anna nickname. Glorious optimists unite! Best of luck on the ride and the fundraising. You’ve got this.

  13. It is not good to be angry but angry I am. I am a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and I have so enjoyed meeting with my patients in person again. Doing telemedicine sucks the life from me. That being said it is all I can do to stop myself from screaming when I hear my patients say “I am waiting to see if the vaccine is safe.” or “I’ve seen a lot of negative things on line” I am putting my own health at risk for people who cannot be bothered to actually look into the facts or believe people whom they normally trust.I fear we will soon be back to telemedicine.

    Karmic balancing is probably not the right term right now because I feel like we are being reincarnated into a new horrible world every time this virus mutates. At any rate, I am terribly sorry about the baby. I did send in a donation because despite everything I am very grateful to have a roof over my head, food in my belly as well as many many other good things.

  14. I know by now you’ve already done the Rally, and I want to say that I am proud of you and all of Team Knit. It would be really hard to say there’s a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic on and it’s totally reasonable to skip it once (or even twice), but you’ve recognized that the needs don’t go away in a pandemic and might even increase.

    Also, sending lots of love to Meg and her family. My brother-and-law and sister-in-law just had a similar loss — they went for an ultrasound to find out the sex and instead learned there was no heartbeat. It’s so difficult, and they should be commended for talking about it because it happens more than people realize and it’s not anyone’s fault.

  15. I’ve tried to donate, have been able to before but as I’m outside Canada, I can’t fill in all the required fields this time. Any ideas how to fix this?

  16. So sorry to hear about the miscarriage. Sending you all love, strength, and hope. If it’s helpful to hear, I had one child, then two miscarriages, then two more healthy children.
    For karmic balancing gifts, folks should be aware that it will cost you a minimum of $12 in postage to send anything from the US to Canada. I have Canadian grandchildren. When I went to the post office to send a little hat (yarn cost $8), the postage was a shock!
    Happily, the we are finally getting to see them this week after 17 months and can hand-deliver knitted love.

  17. Welcome Back! You were missed. My dad has a saying — The Fickle Finger of Fate is on the back of your next right now. It will eventually move on but for now just do the best you can. It’s gotten me through a lot of hard times.

    I also wanted to reiterate that the size of your gift does not matter. I’ve been a non-profit fundraiser for most of my career and I can assure that for every $50 gift, there are 10 people who are hesitant to give because they only have $5 and they don’t think it’s enough. If you’re one of those people, just go ahead and give any amount that you are willing and able to and trust that, as the say, the sum is greater than the parts.

  18. There are no words; my deepest condolences to Meg and Alex on their loss. The past 18 months have been painful in so many ways – but sharing the Knit signal for support until able to donate directly. Trust a contribution after the fact will still be helpful…
    Stay safe and strong.

  19. Stephanie, it’s good to hear from you again, even with your family’s tragic loss. I am so very sorry and wish all of you healing. Stay safe!

  20. My first thought was “oh, I should donate, but it is so hard to reach all the way over to my credit card”. But then you mentioned going back to blogging more often and next thing you know I was hitting Donate. So apparently it is your writing that motivates me!

  21. I am so, so sorry for the loss your family–and specifically Meg and Alex–have encountered. What heartbreak. To echo what another commenter said: I commend them/you for talking about the terribly sad loss, which is indeed far more common than most people realize.

    And, yes, this is the year of Goals Not Met. As always, I enjoy your words, your perspective, and your optimism. Thank you.

  22. As we work our way through week 12 of a pregnancy, my heart just went thud! There are no words. My deepest sympathies to you and your whole family.

  23. I donated to your team member furthest from his goal at the time, knowing he’ll catch up and the team will once again cover itself in fund raising glory. No karma balancing gift necessary, your blog is karma enough.

  24. Been following you on Instagram, but miss your posts. I’ll finish this and donate. Hoping for a better next year for you and yours, and all of us!

  25. I have not caught Covid-19 or the variant, Delta. I got vaccinated, avoided crowds, wear a mask whether mandated or no. Something else I do — I use a nasal saline mist, and I have not had a cold or respiratory ailment for 20 years.

    This morning I read an amusing news story about an Olympic swimmer (was his name Tom Daley?) who did handwork in public while waiting for his events. What was so funny was the writer of the article didn’t seem to know the difference between crocheting and knitting.
    Not knowing when or if the Bike Rally would ever happen, I have already made a contribution, but do not want to participate in the gifts. Really glad to read a post from you again. Our Knitting in the Heartland was one of the first events that was canceled when this whole thing began to happen.

  26. I’m so sorry, it shouldn’t happen. You’ve all had such a tough time. I’ve said before how your blogs have helped me through some tough times, so I’m glad to be able to help fundraise for a cause that’s so important to you. I’ll check out the time zones!

  27. Much love to you all, especially Meg and Alex. That is so hard.
    I hope your ride in Montreal will be less hot than Toronto, and I second the easing back in to blogging. Once or twice a week would be wonderful!

  28. Second trimester. Oh, Steph. No words. A blow on a bruise doesn’t begin to cover it.


    In other news, I do adore you. After a long self-aware tweet about Stephanie Zeal ™ and its drawbacks for your self-esteem, the promise is that *if you meet goal* you’ll blog *five* days a week for a month. Lamb. Petal. Its possible that that’s like the old “if you pick a guinea pig up by its tail, its eyes will fall out.” Two days a week would be wonderful for us out here, and The Blog ™ would rehydrate (and people would remember to check regularly — I missed this until today) and Next Year (when Things Will Be Better) goals will be met. Nevertheless, if we don’t have optimism right now, what do we have. What was the goal the first year? Could we shoot for that? It was a miracle then.
    In any case, Norwegian hug.

  29. Thinking of you and your family, and sending love and hugs to Meg and Alex. XOXOXO. I have a Karmic Balancing Donation that I will email you about.

  30. Pingback: Goal not met – #1 Baby Discount Site

  31. I am so sorry to hear this. My daughter lost her perfect little boy when his heart stopped beating so I can understand your feelings a bit. I am happy to hear you get to do local rides even if you are out of training. You will make it–you always do. I will think of you while I am at a knitting retreat next week (Idaho, USA) and will listen to the audiobook of “Casting Off”.

  32. Dear Stephanie
    My deepest deepest love to your whole family. I had similar losses myself when I was starting a family. It hurts so deep. I am holding you all in my heart and holding space for your grief.

  33. I think oddly we are all “goal not met” despite months of having to stay home. The oceans of time that ought to result in some major accomplishments somehow didn’t. I’m not sure exactly why but almost everyone I know feels this way.
    So sorry about Meg’s miscarriage. 🙁

  34. Oh, Stephanie! I’m so sorry to hear of Meg and Alex’s recent loss. So heartbreaking and terrifying for all of you. You are all very much in my thoughts.

  35. @$#)*”#&@)&’h, this is just such a @*&(*’ing pain. sorry for the expletives, but I am at the anger point in my pandemic patience. And hate to be the bearer of bad news, but folks, Learn. Our. History. The 1918 flu pandemic was really the 1918-1919-1920 flu pandemic. We are not even halfway through this thing. And the sh*t just keeps raining on us, despite the drought here in the pacific northwest. I am heartbroken for your @#$&storm and know we will one day look back on this and shrug, because one day we will have gotten through it by getting through it one day at a time.

  36. It hasn’t been entirely a good thing that I learned very early that planning too far out is futile. Certainly my more planning peers have sometimes been able to accomplish greater things, although not always because they take so much longer to recover from setbacks. But it’s made me much more adaptable in a pandemic. Numbers are going down? Quick, a picnic! Things looking grim? Let’s zoom again before we kill someone. It’s made it easier for me to only look at this week, and to try to make the most of it.. You are clearly the opposite, you enjoy those Christmas spreadsheets that give me a headache just reading about them for instance. But maybe we can compromise ? Hide that now awful blanket, and I will send some carpe whatever diem your way to keep you warm instead..

  37. I am so sorry about the loss of the wee one.

    I am sorry for the many losses and frustrations you have all suffered.

    Congratulations on making it through the rides and donating so much to help those that need it.

  38. I came today looking for news of yours. I am sorry I am reading about the loss of Meg’s and Alex’s baby. My deep condolences to all of your family. May all of you be comforted and know of no more sorrow as the Jewish tradition says.
    I hope you get to enjoy well the last days of summer.

  39. I seem to be catching up on a mountain of your blogs, which is lovely, but I am so very sorry to hear about Meg and Alex’s baby. I am sending love to you all.
    I will be donating at the beginning of next month. Well done on your rides.
    Bless you all x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.