Make it, don’t fake it

I’ve been waiting all week to feel happier. To feel reconciled to recent events, to create a fragile peace and you know what? I suck at it.  I’m as good at this as cacti are at cuddling and somewhere in the gentle "let’s just wait and see, I am a rock in the river, events just flow over me" phase, I’m rabid. 

I’ve spent a whole week of my little life waiting for things to get nicer and darn it, they’re not, so I’m going to make them nicer.  If some things have to be a crap heap, well… I’ve always said that the universe seeks balance, and by wool, I’m going to start balancing it.  I don’t expect that much can equal this dose of hurt, but I’m taking a swing at it. I can think, right now, of three things that can make me feel better.

1. Someone in my family is coming to the end of their life – but you know what? There’s a new baby coming, and as much as I’ll miss the one, I’ll welcome the other, and it would not be right to let sadness sweep all my joy.  Joe’s brother Chris and his bride Robyn  are expecting a baby, and in the name of all my knitting needles, it shall be clad.  The wee grey sweater is already in the hope chest, and I think it’s time to order wool for a blanket. Or a sweater. Or five sweaters.
And a hat.

2. There is a fleece in my kitchen.  A beautiful little CVM that a friend gave me a while ago, and I have been washing it lock by lock.  I do a load of dishes, wash a lock. Mop the counter, wash a lock. It’s only been a few days, but I’m making my way though it, and it’s a wonderful reminder of the incremental nature of all things, and how not all trouble needs to be made right in this minute.   Anything that seems too big or hard?  I can just do it a little at a time.

I’m totally going to have it washed by Monday.  Maybe it will be a sweater. See #1.

3. I know I haven’t mentioned it much, mostly because Sam broke her arm and I was so bummed not to have my buddy with me, but it’s almost Bike Rally time.  It was super hard to decide to do it again. You’d think that after managing something like that once, it would be easy to decide to take it on again.  I did it once – I can do it again… right? 

Instead I find myself properly afraid, in the way that only someone who has done it once before can be.  Last year I approached the 660 km that is the Bike Rally with ignorance.  I trained, I was afraid.  I fell down TWELVE times,  but I made it happen, and the whole thing was only possible through the magic of having no bloody idea what I was in for.  Now that I know, sometimes I’m a little weepy.  There’s knowing what it is, and that I’m up against that, and I know too that while Ken and Pato will be on the ride this year, the girls can’t be there, and that would make me even more concerned except for this:

My friend Jen.  Jen is doing the rally with me.  We are knitters. There’s a few other knitters on the ride (Hi Ken. Hi Pato.)  but really, Jen and I are exceptional on the ride for a reason that I’m just going to come out straight out and own.

We are dumpy, middle-aged straight mums.  You have no idea how not cool this makes us.  This makes us so not cool that sometimes, when we realize that 90% of the Rally is male and Jen and I are still the ones who have the most body hair? We need about 8 more cups of coffee to get through it. 

To be frank, this is why we need you.  We’ve looked around. We’ve seen the writing on the wall. The rest of the rally (mostly) they’re FABULOUS. They’re immaculately groomed, they haven’t had a fight with any teenager who can’t see the future, and  hardly anyone ever pukes on them on a regular Tuesday.  They have beautiful, amazing, ultra-light carbon fiber bikes and (I really can’t stress the impact of this enough) THEY LOOK GREAT IN SPANDEX.

Jen and I? Well.  Between us we have five kids, we have the best bikes you can afford if you’re also trying to save up for a new dishwasher, and we have had more than one conversation about how to get cloth diapers really white.  (Sunshine and vinegar.) We think other riders shouldn’t go so fast down the hills because they could really get hurt, and we are concerned that they might be hungry.  When we see ourselves in spandex, we have to make up comforting lies.  We, and I think this is totally safe to guarantee, we are the only ones bringing knitting on the Rally, just for comfort. We are your dork team, and we have been practicing.

For a few weeks now, Jen and I have been going on training rides. Jen lives in the East end, and me in the West, so she rides to my house and has a coffee, and then I ride to her house (and we have coffee) and then I ride home.  It’s 40K each time for both of us, which has been enough up until now, but tomorrow marks the first time that we’ll seriously bust a move, at our first 70k training ride.  We’re both giving up a day of our long weekend and a big chunk of a summer to try and make a little more awesome in the world, and here’s the thing.

If you were out riding with me and Jen, you would see that awesome is only the way you can describe our riding if you are speaking in a spiritual sense.   We’re slow. We’re really trying, but we’re two mums who are not taller than 10′ if you add us together, and those stumpy legs? Let’s just say it makes you want to knock anyone taller than 5’10" off a bike out of sheer venom. Especially when they pass us and say encouraging things.  We’re limited in our resources – we don’t own fast bikes, there’s only so much coffee we can drink, and we can’t train hours and hours a week or we won’t be earning a living or be in families that are not resentful and dirty.  Willpower is going to have to substitute for skill when it comes to us.  In fact,  I think we’ve both realized there’s only one way that we could be awesome, and that’s in the fundraising department.

Last year, when – thanks to you, our little family did so well in the fundraising area, someone said that it was wonderful that I cared so much about HIV/AIDS and the gay community.  I just about fell over. I know that most of this work is spearheaded by that community, and heaven knows I love them as much as I do any part of humanity, but really, that’s not why I’m there.

This is:

And this is why Jen is:

Five perfect daughters between us, and globally, women comprise 50% of the people living with HIV. Worldwide, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in women in their reproductive years.

As mums, we just can’t truck with that, so Jen and I are going to put our dorky, dumpy, knitting, middle-aged, haven’t-been-dancing-in-years-but- are-pretty-good-at-stains and-earning-a-living selves on two pretty cheap bikes and fling ourselves from Toronto to Montreal.  We will not be fast. We might fall down. (So far this year I’m fine, but Jen took a tumble that cost her a helmet.) We will hopefully not be last, but the odds aren’t good.

We hope you will help us be awesome. If you want.  No pressure. (Karmic balancing gifts and giveaways start next week, not that you would do it for that reason, but it’s still nice. Right?)

If you would like to donate to me.
If you wo
uld like to donate to Jen.
If you would like to donate to Ken (who is less dorky, but still awesome.)
If you would like to donate to Pato (who is not at all dorky, but is young and smart.)

Thanks.  Now I feel better. Things might be hard, but there’s still lots of ways for things to be okay.  I’m going to go knit something.

185 thoughts on “Make it, don’t fake it

  1. Oh, I’m so glad that Jen had a helmet on when she fell…imagine (or maybe try not to) if she hadn’t!
    Thank you for representing us, the dorky, dumpy, cannot for any amount of money look good in spandex, in such a spectacular way for such an important cause. Although, I’m 5’10, and would appreciate you not knocking me over.
    Love to you all!

  2. Every rally needs knitting hags. Not that you are hags, in the Shakespearean sense (or really any sense) of the word. But you and Jen and Ken and Pato and all those riders ROCK. I will hold your family, including those who are coming and going, in the light.

  3. Loss is a part of life. It sucks. It really, really sucks. But the only defense is to live life in the present and to love with your whole heart each and every day.
    You go girl! We are very proud of you!

  4. “Things might be hard but there’s still lots of ways for things to be okay.” Just what I needed to read today-you are an inspiration in so many ways! My thoughts are with you.

  5. Steph, what is more freaking AWESOME that 2 mums who care enough about their daughters, and the daughters of others, to commit to such insanity…er, wonderful and exciting adventure??? And you are right, the universe does seem to seek balance but most people do not seem to recognize that…a door closes but a window opens. Find joy in the remaining time with your loved one and the expectation of meeting a new little one. Juliana

  6. The circle of life – it’s wonderful you are doing something that will help others have a longer life.

  7. 410 miles? Did I convert that properly? And here I’m dithering between doing 33 or 45 miles for multiple sclerosis in June. So take heart – you might be wimpy, but you’re not as wimpy as I am.

  8. Especially when they say encouraging things. O, yeah. You’re going to end up being their mascots, you realize. And MSF is going to string lines across the road at the idea that you’re fundraising for others.
    Team Mums With Bums. Go, you.

  9. May all your Loved Ones, those arriving, those departing, and those still travelling The Road, be blessed with the awareness of your love for them.
    Going now to sort out what I can offer as a Karmic Balancing Gift.

  10. Rock on Stephanie and friends. you are redefining “dorky” and “dumpy”
    You have beautiful daughters and HIV/AIDS is a very worthy cause. I hope you guys raise the most!
    Safe cycling!

  11. “This makes us so not cool that sometimes, when we realize that 90% of the Rally is male and Jen and I are still the ones who have the most body hair? We need about 8 more cups of coffee to get through it.”
    Bless you, for pulling humor out of such turmoil in your life. I laughed right out loud and scared the cat. (Who has more body hair than all the members of the rally combined – and who looks REALLY bad in Spandex – don’t ask.)

  12. Thank you for inspiring me to train for my first 5k this year. If I can do that, you can do this. And you’ll be awesome at it. This is a fact.
    Also, I would love to donate a skein of yarn as a karmic balancing gift, if that would be of use.

  13. Do you get gold jerseys? I know some had them a few years ago if I remember right. That’s what I want you to have. I want you to have fun and be top fundraisers in your jerseys soe veryone knows you really kick arse.

  14. So glad to hear you are up to it! Always seems a new life comes as the other is leaving. That helps ease the pain somewhat. Re: bike race/knit hags, maybe you should guerilla/knit bomb the other bikes.

  15. STEPH.
    just know we all love you.
    and you rock.
    and the person you are losing will be in a peaceful young painfree place, with no trace of dorkiness or un-coolness, just smiling and painfree. That Is A Good Thing.
    that’s all.

  16. Very uplifting post. I feel better about everything already. I’ll be donating again this year, and look forward to cheering you on when you arrive at Queen’s. Way to go!

  17. Having been thru the uglies myself about 3 months ago, and with a friend 1 month ago, and now another friend 2 days ago, I’m heading for bed. I’m grabbing the cat and a bottle and pulling the afghan over our heads. We’ll only come out if one of us needs a potty.
    After that, I’d join you. Time to ourselves, and then devote time to those who need it. Soothes the soul!

  18. Steph, remember to keep breathing! It will help the coping with everything even when it can’t change the outcome of anything. In – out. repeat

  19. You are “Courage in the face of adversity”. Sending love!

  20. Dammit you made me weep. I admire your strength and determination. I think your daughters (all five) will be proud of their mums. And I wish I could ride with you.

  21. Dear, dear Stephanie,
    I know I cannot change your world view…but I can say this: you are not in charge. Call ‘it’ what you will, there is Something/Someone out there larger than you are, and larger than I am. I have been into The Pit not once but 9 times between 2002 and now — meaning I have lost that many Significant People in my life and I am here to tell you that it is not up to us, however, fast/much we knit or run, or ride or DO anything.
    So I may donate, yes, but I will also pray…about the joy you will eventually feel again, and the sunrise, and the moonset and the spring and the life burgeoning in the plant world and in the wombs of those soon-to-be moms again…
    and hope that you too will come to KNOW that there is One who cares for us all…not just a Clockmaker in the Sky who’s left us to spin on our own but One who REALLY cares and holds us in the palm of Her hand.
    Hugs and blessings!

  22. Been there. Two years ago, I lost my beloved brother and fell into a pit the likes of which I have never known. I also had a baby grandson (#5 in the grandchild ranks). That baby saved my life, I am certain of it. Still grieving. Another baby due this summer. I have no doubt he will save me further. Focus on the new life. I am convinced it will help you find the way back to your own. Hugs to you all.

  23. Best wishes to your loved one for a peaceful passing.
    Congrats to Chris and Robyn on the impending arrival. Steph, remember to also knit booties, mitts, etc. if the due date warrants and permits them.
    And why not wash a lock of fleece when you do other washing chores? Load the machine, wash a lock. Mop the bathroom floor, wash a lock. Wash your hair, wash a lock.
    Finally, you KNOW you and Jen are going to be “foster moms” for all the guys on that ride — and those with any sense will love you for it! (P.S. to Ken and Pato: Bring some knitting along. Don’t you guys need some new handknit socks? Of course you do!)

  24. Pato had raised the least when I looked at your pages, so I donated to him. And while it doesn’t keep your family member healthy and with you, hopefully it will keep other people with their family members.
    And the party that will commence when you guys cross the finish line (last or not) will be epic! I plan to be there in crazy, handmade-hat-wearing spirit!

  25. I’m so glad I read this tonight! I am thankful for all you are doing, and I’m praying for you — in your current tension with your loved ones between life and death, and your physically and emotionally grueling bike ride.
    My hubby goes out tomorrow for his second sprint triathlon, and I TRY my first next month. I am at the deeply resentful stage for all the time and energy it absorbs. I guess I’ll have to report back when it’s all over.
    You will do fabulously. I’m proud of you!

  26. I had to donate to Pato … poor guy trying to compete with your awesomeness and noteriety. I hope that it’s easier this year than you remember.

  27. As a 5′ 0″ cycling mother of two girls who are not old enough to be trusted with lidless cups, I’m donating to Jen. Riding hundreds of gruelling kilometres while leaving my husband to the nightmare of perpetual meltdowns over the wrong coloured socks/shoes/drink bottle sounds like a very fair swap.

  28. You are both rock stars. Here’s to dumpy moms everywhere. I am a chapter president.

  29. Gosh if I didn’t have to get back to work after this wonderfull year off on mat leave I’d ride with you girls…
    It would be fun! (ok might have 5 more inches but also 50 more pounds so not a fast rider here either)

  30. I don’t get how you can have such curly hair, but have three daughters with straight hair. How did you do that?

  31. Cheers for real-life moms. Gold stars for actively seeking the good to balance the bad (the only way we survive.) It’s hard, though. Just–necessary.
    Thanks to your example and blogging about it, I rode in my very first charity ride a few weeks ago (VERY short distance, on a very un-racing type bike. No brags.) I’m not that short, but definitely not the svelte looks-great-in-spandex type, and coping with 68 year old body that I’d stupidly neglected while attending to other stuff. (It was supposed to stay in the condition it was in at (mumble), all by itself, during various crises. And like a bike left out in the weather for years…it didn’t.) I don’t expect to ever match your mileage (still struggling toward riding 10 miles in one day. Not there yet.) But wow, being back on a bike at all, and then riding the “Family Ride” this year at the local Autism Society rally…that was something cool that wouldn’t have happened without your talking about your ride.

  32. Sorry, can’t help it; I’m just a fixer by nature. Can’t do anything about your loved one, but… Have you and Jen considered approaching one of the bike stores in Toronto about the loan of some better bikes for the rally? Some sort of sponsorship deal? As you point out, you guys do stand out from the crowd, and frankly, you represent a much larger demographic than the rest of the guys. Some sort of campaign along the line of “ANYONE can do better with a quality bike.” As a 60 year old mom and knitter, I’ve not done any bike rallies, but over the years, I’ve bought a heck of a lot of bikes. Look at the blog exposure you could give them. Nothing wrong with accepting a little help to raise all that money for the cause.

  33. I’m with Beth at 10:32. Maybe they’ll kick in some $$, too. I should buy a new bike (have none, except the one I bought my daughter when she was 10. She’s 37). I might be influenced in bike-buying brand…from a dumpy mom and grand-mom

  34. Tomorrow i travel a bit to attend the undergraduate graduation of a young woman who I’ ve known for much of her life. Her mother died two years ago So friends are travelling and we will meet to cry and laugh and celebrate this young woman who faces the future,and to celebrate her mother who we miss so much. In our joy will be sorrow. And in our sorrow there will be joy.

  35. I think Beth Soper is brilliant.
    Try it!!
    Everything works better with better equipment.

  36. Thank you for reminding us that it’s okay to ride a bike to get fit, rather than to show off your perfect body in spandex. 🙂 Thank you for riding for the girls (and boys) who are our future.
    I’m glad you have a new addition to look forward to as you wait for the end of another life. ((Hugs)) No matter how we wish we could stop time, life goes on, both the good and the bad.

  37. I’m sorry that life has been so hard for you, but I am extra glad that you are doing the bike rally this year. I’m pretty much off biking (and most exercise that isn’t walking), because I’m paranoid about staying pregnant, so I want to cheer extra loud for those who are biking for such a wonderful cause!

  38. I’m tall, but I’m pushing 60; and I bet you look absolutely fine in spandex to everyone but yourselves. I’m my own worst critic, and dorky? Oh HELL yeah! Want to feel lots better about the whole bike rally middle-aged mom thing? At least you can RIDE a bike! I never learned till I was 25 and that was on my s-i-l’s bike in a church parking lot at the end of our street. I have not been on a bike in probably more than 20 years and have no aspirations whatever to do so. I can, however, ride a horse. What you think you look like in spandex bike shorts, I think I look like in a Western shirt and blue jeans. We all cultivate our Inner Dorkiness. Embrace it, work with it – in 20 years you won’t even notice it. My mom always said the only compensation for growing older is not giving a damn what anyone thinks of you, and she was right.
    That having been said, I have to tell you that you are one of my heroes, not just because you are funny, smart and a knitting ambassador with serious clout, but because you have a social conscience and you do something about it. You live what you believe and that is something so rare, so amazing, that I find myself admiring your foolhardiness…, COURAGE AND ENTHUSIASM… tackling this really very daunting project for a second year. I don’t need to say “make us proud” because you always do.

  39. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes it’s hard to let joy exist when you’re in the middle of something so rough. Enjoy the baby knitting and the ride!

  40. Yep…For better or for worse, “Team Mums with Bums” is gonna stick. But you & Jen can totally work it! Best of luck…
    I, too, must now go in search of a Karmic Balancing Gift to help the cause!

  41. I’m praying for you during this rough time, your daughters are so beautiful, & you wear that spandex like a boss! I love you.

  42. I can’t think of a more lovely welcome for your newcomer than a sweater made of handspun CVM…it may be my favorite wool ever! (And not just because I enjoy telling people that there really are California Variegated Mutant sheep in the world, though I must confess to enjoying that as well.)

  43. Well, here is to babies and bikes and fresh air and loving people with all our might. Yeah…don’t let that spandex be the boss of you 🙂 I know you don’t. Maybe a bike shop WOULD loan/donate/sponsor bikes for the race?

  44. Don’t worry about those others in form-fitting spandex…bet they never thought to help their Mom or significant other qualify! And it is always easier if there is someone else there to share the experience.

  45. Oh, you will do great. I was happy to sponsor Pato.
    I was talking with a friend about loss, as he lost his grandmother this spring. He got a little teary and gruffly said that death is a part of life. I said, yes, it is, but it’s not nice for those of us who are left behind.
    But you are absolutely right when you say that you can’t let your sadness overwhelm all your reasons to be happy. There is always a hole in your heart that misses the loved one that is gone, but luckily you have so many loved ones still here! ((hugs))

  46. If there will be prizes offered again, i’ll send along another set of glow in the dark stitchmarkers or more. You have a lot on your plate though and probably don’t have time to organize that.
    I am rooting you on. Rooting all of you on. RAWR!!!

  47. You are awesome for doing this. awesome awesome. I did 75k this weekend to get home (someone turned the train into a bus) and… it took me 5 hours. I don’t think I could have kept going much further either.
    As well as being awesome for raising all the money and stuff you are also awesome for busting the steryotype of who rides bikes.

  48. Fundraising is just one of the ways you are awesome.
    So proud of you.
    And BTW, think of the bike ride as getting pregnant the second time…you knew what you were in for and you knew the outcome would make it all worthwhile. And you were right.

  49. Cycle of life seems so trite, yet it is. I too strive, with my now 61 year body, to work my grief thru movement and knitting. Such contrary actions.
    Blessings on sharing your life with us. Ride with pride knowing thousands cheer you on, from many corners of the world.
    Now I will go to the donation page and add the little bit my new life allows.
    Blessings to you, Jen, your families….

  50. Isn’t the goal of this to raise money? You are very skilled at fund raising. Could you possibly come up with a way to fund-raise for the project without having to actually ride? Youngsters are invincible…or think they are. Maybe the older and wiser could turn their energies to supporting the team in a different but no less valuable way. Regardless, you have my support and dollars! Make all us Senior Mamas proud!!

  51. Stephanie you are an inspiration to me: to try harder, to be better, to look after myself and to just keep going.

  52. Do you read these comments? Do you have time?
    Time for a Corporate Sponsor. Just like the big-boys. Maybe one or two of the yarn companies should sponsor you and Jen, and get you proper gear, bikes, logo spandex (I know you really want something in Spandex…), and you can really be in the ‘groove’. Not groovy, of course, that is an entirely different place to be.
    And a comment about the fear. Imagine someone who has been diagnosed with Cancer, gone through treatment, and then retests positive. They know what they have to do again, and frankly that would scare me more than anything else and I’d be hysterical crazy with fear. This is just a bike ride. And since you’ve already fallen down, just consider that you won’t fall down as much this next time. Or get a stunt – faller to take the falls for you. What a great idea!

  53. You go girl! Both of you are awesome. I am putting quarters in a big jar to send off to your cause, a very worthy one. I am so proud of you I feel a bit ridiculous, what fabulous role models for the girls.

  54. 1. It was wonderful meeting you and hearing you at The Knitter’s Edge event in Bethlehem, PA. Can’t imagine how you did that trip knowing all that was happening back home.
    2. That picture of your daughters is amazing. They are beautiful!! (p.s. they will eventually ALL not be teenagers)
    3. Agree – Knitting does make things better – or at least manageable.
    4. Bike on!!!

  55. This makes me think of my cousin who had 2 dogs. when she became pregnant with her oldest, she had to put down one of her dogs. And when she became pregnant with her second, her other dog passed away (old age).
    It is nice to see that even when the universe takes something so dear away from us it has a way of giving us something so precious.

  56. Nothing like the not-quite-impossible to take your mind off the inevitable. You are not dumpy or dorky. You are THE MOMS on the ride. That is inspiring to anyone, including those spandex-rocking hard body athletes.

  57. I am mostly a lurker here but want you to know you are in my prayers. Sometimes life is hard. My advice? Keep things are routine as possible. Routines are comforting. It can be healing for you. Sounds like you’re trying to do that. It is not disloyal to your loved one. It will allow you to be more of what they need.
    But, in your time, do allow yourself to grieve. It, too, is healing.
    Oh, and one more thing: those young guys have nothing on you! We oldies can still rock! 😛

  58. So awesome! As a fellow dumpy middle aged mother, I am heading over to both of your fundraising pages now. You are wearing spandex so I don’t have to — and that’s worth fundraising for.

  59. We, too, are in the middle of the circle of life as it turns. We lost our 34 yr old daughter a month ago, but are eagerly awaiting the birth of her nephew any day now. It is sort of mind-wrenching to be both grieving and celebrating at the same time, but it does give us something to look forward to. Your family will be held in the thoughts and prayers of many people world-wide, so I hope you let all that good will support you during this stressful time. We needn’t be religious people to know that those prayers are meant to sustain us, and to fully appreciate the feelings that prompt others to pray for us.

  60. Whatever your situation, I can tell you are hurting…my heart goes out to you. In the span of just 8 weeks, I lost my Mother in Chile, shortly after, my children’s adopted grandma in the US passed, she was like a Mother to me until her last days, my Father in law died less than a week ago, my son was in a severe bike accident (thank God for helmets!), lacerations, stitches, concussion, road rash…you name it…and at that time, his first and only pet, his beloved kitty became quite ill…. I know one thing…we cry, we suffer…we FEEL…and we are resilient….
    Much love to you and yours….

  61. Really, Joanne? Steph’s posted about love, loss, and making things better — and you choose to comment on the appearance of people you don’t know on the basis of one photo?
    I’d like to think you wouldn’t say such a thing in person to these lovely young ladies and their mother. Please remember you’re a guest in her virtual home.

  62. I was so very worried about you…and my imagination went ballistic!
    LIFE is a series bumps – is it not? With any loss, you never stop missing someone, but learn to cope better. And, then you look forward to another try, more bumps, more coping…and another try.
    “Keep calm, knit on.”

  63. Urgh. I tried to donate, and it triggered my card’s fraud prevention system. Apparently good customers of my bank do not donate to Canadian charities. I will try again at some later time.

  64. I’d like to contribute a karmic balancing gift of some hand-dyed yarn. Not sure how to do that.

  65. My thoughts are with you and yours in this time of change. I have done what I could for the ride. You are a woman of great spirit and courage and an inspiration. Thank you.

  66. Sometimes facing the loss of one who has been in and a big part of your life is the last bitter lesson in growing up. And, it hurts! So sorry.

  67. Joanne, why do you need to make such a graceless comment? If something is hurting you, it’s better to say so, without inflicting the hurt on others. If I were you, I’d apologize so that one of those karmic balancing gifts doesn’t descend upon you with a thump.

  68. If you lived closer, Steph, I’d invite you over to hug a sheep. They make everything feel better. . . at least for me. So enjoy those locks of CVM. They’ll be perfect for a baby sweater. 🙂
    So proud of you. The rest of us, dorky knitters all, will be cheering for you!

  69. Thank you for pointing out the change in demographics of people living with HIV/AIDS! I feel like people still think of it as the “gay disease”, which hurts both LGBT* people and women. Keep being awesome, hugs and good thoughts to you and yours in this difficult time.

  70. Wow, I learned something important today. I’m pledging to support you because I also have a perfect daughter and because you take the time to learn important stuff, and because you try to do something about the stuff you learn. Thank you for always trying to walk your talk.

  71. YEA! Pledges for both you and Jen for hanging in there and being awesome!

  72. Your loved one must feel the wind beneath their wings because of how you are celebrating life….theirs, yours, your daughter’s….and the idea that life should be full. Prayers and comfort to you and your family during this time of loss and the beauty of renewal. Thank you for all you do. You inspire me. And so many others

  73. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear “things might be hard, but there’s still lots of ways for things to be okay” today. My partner has been having mental health struggles recently, and things are hard. But lots of things are still okay. Thank you, and I wish the best to you and your family through this hard time.

  74. Hugs to you on #1.
    Encouragement to you on #2.
    As for #3, rock on TeamDork, rock on.
    Yarndork (aka mom of 5 perfect boys)

  75. I will help in my small way, Steph. It’s true – some US banks won’t deal with Canadian charities, and tax receipts must be for a US charity – but I’ll figure it all out. The $$ help is what counts.
    Beginning to bike again after 10 years of living on and near all-gravel roads, where I’ve fallen many times and stopped riding years ago. Now keeping bike at friend’s in town, and it’s tough to get up on that seat again – I’ll be 76 in June. But it’s so fun to ride! I will persevere! 🙂

  76. Go Steph! Go Jen!
    My daughter seriously broke a helmet at 13, and the local school kept it on permanent display to show kids why we wear helmets. It helps if the crack is nice and dramatic (hers was, and she lived to tell it because she had it on.)
    Ride safely, and thank you for doing this!

  77. I generally really like your writing, your darn good at it. Besides from the good story your telling. -I must say I smiled at your knitting phrases. (If that’s the proper word, English is only my second language)
    So thank you 🙂
    And good luck

  78. Yup, in the midst of loss that my brain could not take in, and my body was feeling quite insistently – I wove my way forward and I spun my way forward. Those pieces are really precious to me now. Knit on, ride on, it builds a bridge.

  79. I could loan you guys a tandem, so you don’t lose eachother in the scrimmage, and whoever is riding in the back (stoker) can give whoever is riding in the front (captain, oh my captain) nice backrubs, and you can share foolish jokes and go faster downhill and get sympathy uphill…. plus there is a bell for the stoker to communicate with aliens.
    anyhow. All the love. All the moral support.

  80. Steph, I’m a middle age dorky mom of three perfect sons who loves and admires you. I ran a half marathon last year for the first time and can’t believe I’m going to do it again, so I can totally relate to the fear (and huge time suck the training requires). I am so sorry for your impending loss but cheered by the new baby on the way.
    I pledged my yarn money for the month-instead I’ll knit from my stash and send warm healing thoughts. You inspire me to be a better person. Go team Mums with Bums!

  81. Blessings in all the appreciative and celebrative ways, Steph and Jen! ALL of our daughters benefit, and don’t you forget it! What beautiful role models, and no wonder those young women are beautiful role models already! Thank you. I’m sorry for your losses, and I’m impressed and proud of you.

  82. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up that matters. It helps to have knitting to cushion the fall. All the love for the rough and wonderful days ahead.

  83. I enjoy reading about your adventures with yarn and escapades with knitting. the bike rally news bores me.

  84. ROCK ON!!! And the spirit of your three beautiful roses will get you through it all.

  85. Steph, I am so proud of you!! Doing the second one is sometimes harder than the first. I started with the biking back in 96. Or should I say I picked it up again, I used to ride everywhere as a high school student. But I started up again with Team in Training – the fundraising arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I have now ridden in 5 centuries for them and 10 additional ones for “fun”
    It’s great! The people you meet are amazing and it’s good for you to boot! So Ride ON! And Knit! And have fun and stay safe!

  86. My father is beginning a battle against cancer that has metasticized to his brain. Your last two posts have been meaningful to me in many more ways than I can possibly describe here.
    May I add, however, that I find both JoAnne and Nora’s snarky comments really depressing? I hope that you can ignore them, Stephanie, understanding that 99% of us are so appreciative of your writing. You are an inspiration.
    Also, once again Presbytera is wise beyond words!! She is my hero.

  87. (((((( Steph )))))) (((((((( Jen )))))))) Love and strength and laughter to you both. My heart is filled to overflowing (as are my eyes) reading this post. I hope that both of your hearts and spirits will be similarly filled, at just the moments you need it, by all of the love, pride, and support that this community holds for you. Bisous…

  88. Glad Jen lost a helmet and not a skull.
    Read this
    and then read both of the books it references.
    There is a piece in our Jewish High Holiday prayerbook (which I don’t have handy to get the exact language) that asks, if we were offered the opportunity to suspend death, but on the proviso that birth would also cease, how could we possibly accept that exchange?
    So mourn a death, but rejoice in a birth. They are the opposite ends of the journey we each take.

  89. Your head and heart are in the right place! Life happens no matter what 🙂

  90. BEAUTIFUL! There is nothing like helping others to boost your spirit. The sadness doesn’t go away, but with time it will get “softer”. You can’t go around grief, you have to go through it. But there are ways – just like what you’re doing – of coping.

  91. Yay for you! You are so so awesome for doing this. I did a big one-day ride 3 years ago, after being sick with Lyme for 20 years. It’s so great to get our mommy butts out there.
    I invite you to be a member of our metaphorical MOB: Moms On Bikes. We’ve got grit!
    My brother died of AIDS one month before anti- retrovirals were introduced. Just a little bit on the wrong side of the history of medicine. I also had a great-grandfather who died of a strep infection a month before penicillin was released. I hope those are the only two near-misses for our family.
    Thank you for doing the ride in recognition that it’s such a big women’s health issue. My respect and love for you blossoms.

  92. How could I resist supporting 2 “dorky, dumpy, knitting, middle-aged, haven’t-been-dancing-in-years-but- are-pretty-good-at-stains and-earning-a-living” women? I resemble that remark. Uh…well, maybe at 70 I’m a tad past middle aged, but you get my drift. I’m with you all the way from a seat on the sidelines!
    Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

  93. Team Mums With Bums! I love it, really truly love it. Is someone making t-shirts with that logo?
    I’ve tried to teach my son (age 22) that if you own up to your mistakes and/or laugh at yourself first, you’ll have a better time in life. Many thanks for giving me another example of how that works.

  94. I see from your twitter account that you’re into audio books. I have a bit of a comfort for you if you’re in need of it. And you do seem to be, my dear. *hugs* I am not Christian, and saw this book and thought it looked amusing: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. It’s irreverent and funny as hell, and yet actually rather sweet and poignant. I send you my comfort and strength. Remember that sometimes bearing something with strength and grace just come down to hanging on by your fingernails.

  95. Way to go. How awesome.
    Life deals an interesting ‘hand’ sometimes, but that is the best part of the adventure!!!!
    I follow the sentiment…:Mums with Bums”
    Great cause, great fun, go ladies….

  96. Dork teams are my absolute favorite!!
    This dumpy, 40something, mum of 2 incredible girls (who just got her very first bike since she’s been a grownup) admires the hell out of you both!

  97. <3 <3 it is so hard to lose someone you love. I love my husband of 41 years almost a year ago, for no apparent reason that makes any sense at all. It sucks but you have to move forward. Much love, I know how it must hurt.

  98. Steph, spend as much time as you can with the person your family is losing……… you have no regrets about that.
    Best reads are The Time Travelers Wife, The Secret Life of Bees and Diana Gabeldon’s The Outlander
    sending up good thoughts for you & yours!

  99. “Wisdom, Happiness & Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they’re part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They’re not only the ending, but the beginning as well.” -Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh. A funny, surprisingly thoughtful little book-I hope it helps to continue to have all three in the coming days-you have shown it in spades so far.
    The photo of your daughters is simply beautiful.
    And finally, “…we are concerned that they might be hungry.” I will laugh for days on that one, most likely at odd moments, in fact, I might even snort and I won’t care. For that, I thank you.

  100. If those 3 beautiful young ladies were mine, that would be the photo I would have enlarged, in a frame, on a wall where everyone could see it. Good luck with your training and the actual ride.

  101. Steph, I’m not a commenter normally, but just….I don’t know…you are awesome and brave, physically and emotionally. And I appreciate that. Good luck to you and Jen and dumpy moms everywhere (including myself).

  102. Hi! I bought myself a bike yesterday for my 35th birthday. My goal is to be able to ride it to the farmer’s market and back. Ride on!

  103. My thoughts will go with you on your bike rally, and I hope you don’t fall down. My thoughts will also be with you for your departing and arriving family members. Take care.

  104. I am sort of you and Jen, but the South Florida version. I bike to the train and then bike to work and back again. I’m the only person in high visibility safety gear and I feel like a dork every day, but the dog can’t get a job so it’s up to me to feed us. Now that I’ve converted KM to miles, I’m going to work harder on distance rides. Good luck.

  105. Steph- I know how hard this is, but being a naturally positive person, you can only feel pain for so long before you naturally look for the positive in your life. It’s the way of those whose glass is perpetually half-full.
    Your good works – whether it is riding for HIV awareness or knitting for a new wee one, are things that you need to get through the tougher times- the passing of a loved one or some other tragedy.
    Persevere. That is what you are meant to do. Find a way to make a positive. Create the positive energy you need.
    When my mom was ill last year, we had a pizza party in her room. That was great enough, but the best was when we broke into a spontaneous singing of Bohemian Rhapsody (complete with chorus and harmonies). It was totally off-key, but a lot of fun. The nursing staff came down to Mom’s room and we thought we were being too loud. The nurse said ‘Actually, we heard you at the nurses station and wondered if you would step in the hallway and do it again. The patients are loving all the laughter coming out of this room.’
    We turned a bad situation into a great memory with just a song. It’s one of the best I have of the end of my mom’s life.

  106. As always, thank you for all that you do. I am continually inspired by you, by your courage and by your humanity. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, you make me want to be a better person: a better knitter, a better mum, a better human being. Thank you from this dorky, middle aged mama.

  107. Dear Stephanie,
    In 2011 I lost both parents within 4 months of each other. Dad always said he was sticking around just to take care of his Gloria, and once she left he was checking out.
    I understand the feelings you have, the sad anticipation, the lonely wait, even with people around you.
    Further I can attest that knitting helps tremendously. I see a certain scarf and I recall sharing a laugh with mom or dad as i worked it. Sometimes I remember a hospital waiting room when i see a sweater or a pair of socks takes me back to the convalescent home.
    But memories of our loved ones are all valuable, even though some are more cherished than others.
    Knitting helps.
    My thoughts and best wishes are with you and yours.

  108. Stephanie:
    Love to see you are riding again this year. You can count on my support again. If I want to help by providing a karmic balancing gift from my yarn stash, how do I go about doing that?
    Thoughts with you and your family in this difficult time.
    Signed up for your classes again at KnitEast. Look forward to seeing you in St Andrews in September

  109. I am so happy that Jen is doing the ride with you!!! You gals are awesome. I just don’t think I could do something that major and I really suck at riding bikes. Just the other day I was thinking, was it this hard when we were kids? Of course, now I have and extra 25 lbs riding in the trailer behind me and a new one working in my middle area at about 1 lb per month…so like and extra 20 lbs there too… So,Merde to both of you! (If you were a ballet dancer, that is what I would tell you instead of good luck or break a leg, you’ll need it!)

  110. Writing about this experience is a good way to work through your feelings – and maybe help others in the process – I hope you’ll continue doing this. You know everyone is here to listen…

  111. Hey, Nora? If the bike rally news bores you, don’t read it! Simple.

  112. I rarely comment but just couldn’t keep quiet after I read the comment from JoAnne@10:43a.m. Really JoAnne?? It’s people like JoAnne that make me so very sad. So sad to think that she has lived as long as she has and never learned or was never taught manners or politeness. Shame on her. Perhaps she’d like to post a picture of herself and we’ll critique her using the same lack of tact that she did.
    However, I will continue to read all the wonderful comments of love & support from everyone else and remember that the world is full good people. Then I’ll try to find a way to forgive/forget the pitiful one’s like JoAnne.

  113. Steph, alot of times you write things that make me laugh, and I like that. And then there are the times that you write things so damn beautiful, I sit here feeling my throat get tight, and the tears well up and oh my goodness… you are incredible.

  114. For starters, neither one of you is dumpy! You are both women to be reckoned with and my only wish is that I lived closer so that I could encourage more often and in person!
    One of the other posters reminded me…my daughter’s riding helmet was put on display at the barn where she took lessons. She got thrown by an annoyed horse…she broke her wrist…but not her head!

  115. A friend lost her 19 yr old son years ago and always dreaded the “anniversary”…then her second grandchild was born on that very day! The circle of life is Hard with a capital “H” but we’re strong [women]. I’m so glad you’ve found a reason to move forward and some hope/love has bloomed for you.

  116. Well, I was thinking that your girls look just beautiful and Jen’s are cute as pie. It is lovely that you can teach them that one doesn’t have to look anorexic to be fit. 🙂 Go team!!!
    I choose to assume that JoAnne has some sort of physical or mental condition that caused her outburst. At the very least, the poor lady needs glasses.

  117. Dorky people of the world unite!
    And way to go Pato.My donation and many others will go a long way.

  118. Babies are the only answer to loss that I have found to be in any way satisfying.
    Rubber side down!!

  119. I love teamDork. Can I join? I dont have kids but I have 2 cats! 😉 I think I said this last year that I want to do a long ride like you are; I’m going to have to stop living vicariously through your biking and spinning experiences.
    I look forward to your posts. All of them.

  120. Rams? Harlot? Somebody? Make tshirts! More fundraising! I’d buy one…really!
    Team Mums with Bums??? LOVE IT:)

  121. I want to do everything that I can to convince you that you and your riding mate are not dumpy! That’s being way too hard on yourselves. The fact that you are training for a long-distance bike ride automatically puts you into the cool category. You should come see the bikers on my local fitness trail. Those of us who walk and run have to make sure that we don’t get run over by the bikers with their fitted outfits and we-own-the-trail attitude. Such famous people as Dolly Parton and Tyra Banks have made it clear that you can cross over into beautiful at any moment. You just need to buy stuff!

  122. Hopefully you can get different handlebars this year, I remember the beating your hands took. Surely you don’t need to lean over racing-bike-style for what is more of an endurance rather than speed event.
    Sorry for calling you Shirley.

  123. I love reading the comments, but JoAnne’s took my breath away (and not in a good way). Whatever happened to “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. In any case, those girls of yours are absolutely freakin’ 100% gorgeous!!

  124. I was going to reply to Joanne, but realized I can’t without violating that important rule: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything. Won’t be saying anything, I guess.

  125. Good on Jen for protecting important real estate (a helmet is much cheaper than a brain) and good on you for getting back on the bike. I used to ride a lot and over time have become a coward about traffic and falls. Will donate as soon as I get paid this week.

  126. Whatever place you both finish doesn’t really matter Steph… getting it together to make the start is the achievement. Power to your pedals and may your wheels cover the miles effortlessly.
    Of course, if you and Jen were riding a tandem the one at the back would be able to knit as well!

  127. I bow to your wonderful not-coolness. Why would you be cool? You knit sweaters to keep everyone warm! Keep on working to un-cool everyone there!
    I have been researching bikes and bike fitting recently, and your mention of height reminded me that I should get on my Crank Length Soapbox. Too many bikes come with the same cranks for a 5’2″ woman as for a 6’2″ man. And the cranks on a smaller bike aren’t always enough smaller.
    This blog descibes the rant:
    and this one describes the method for determining crank length:
    I got new cranks on my tadpole recumbent trike, and my muscles work better, my knees don’t hurt (severe arthritis, I can’t bend my knee all the way), and I can go up steeper hills (a smaller granny gear helped with that).
    The guys at the bike store had to be coaxed and not allowed to say “no”, until they found me the crank to fit me *and* my trike. Worth it! And it isn’t an expensive item, especially if you have someone even remotely handy to install it for you!
    Good for you to ride, again!
    I am doing a ride for me, for my health both physical and mental, for fun. It is a challenge for me, despite being a beginner level ride, because I haven’t been riding, and have so many physical issues. But I’m training for it, with the help of my 18 year old (also not cool, a wonderful nerdy kid) son who rode coast to coast across the US last summer.
    I’ll go donate for you…you are riding, we will support you!

  128. I’m looking forward to more baby sweater pattern recommendations. I seem to be in a baby sweater knitting phase… just ordered some DiC Classy for a Tulip sweater…

  129. Well said. There are good things to be immersed in when sad things seem all encompassing. Keep your eyes on those little (and big) things that bring you joy, because grief is a funny thing and will come to visit at the oddest times for the most unexpected reasons. It’s not to be ignored, but kindly acknowledged, embraced, and then recognized for what it is. My thoughts are with you.

  130. Donation made. And congratulations on giving it another go. I’m not sure I would have had the strength.

  131. Slow good byes are a blessing, it’s the fast ones that hurt the most. Say everything you ever intended to say.
    And the riding really does create futures for people that might not have ever had them. Indeed a balancing act.
    Will donate after next paycheck. Blessed be.

  132. “Things might be hard, but there’s still lots of ways for things to be okay.” Thank you for this. We are going through similar times right now, expecting our first, with a father on hospice, and a grandfather continuing his 30yr fight with heart disease. But we cling to the good things, the happy times, and each other. Wishing you peace in these hard times, and as much joy as possible.

  133. I was reading through some of the comments and it occurred to me to wonder: Why do some people feel the need to be gratuitously rude and ignorant towards someone who is gracious enough to invite us all into her life, family, knitting, and other endeavours? I’m absolutely appalled by this! Ladies,(JoAnne, Nora) please remember your manners and if you don’t have anything nice (pleasant, constructive, anecdotal – not necessarily only complimentary) to say, don’t say anything at all.

  134. I hope you’re getting time to rest and breathe during this. Hug as many people as you can, especially those gorgeous daughters.

  135. Just dropping in to say I’m thinking of you and yours. Sending prayers and mojo for healing in all it’s forms.

  136. Its a small world after all. This post uplifted my spirits immensely. In our little corner of the world my family too is dealing with a small crisis. A loved one is dying(my husbands dad), and we are about to welcome a new life (my husband and I’s first child) all within a short period of time. You are right when things dont look up on their own its up to us to make some of the happiness ourselves.
    I wish the best for you and your family as you go thru this difficult phase.

  137. When my brother announced that, out of the blue, he was diagnosed with an incurable, inoperable, hurrying to the end of his life illnes, we were dumbstroke. Then when I said just “comrade’ in my country meaning Best Friend Of All, I looked at him and knew, all that was needed to be said was packaged in that word, we knew we loved each other to the moon and back. Sometimes just being there and talking about ordinary things is the most needed with your person, with someone else it might be talking financial or “keep my garden alive” things. Do as your heart tells you and it will be alright. Minds run crazy at such hurting times and cannot always be trusted.

  138. Go Ladies! As another dumpy late middle aged non-athlete biker, all I can say is that the view is better at the back of the pack. And Terry bicycling’s fold-up little black skirt fits over spandex sooooo nicely for photo ops! And, singing old Motown really does help you get up those hills! I will be contributing again, and urging you both on!

  139. Stephanie, you inspire me. Really. You do. I wish you and your family blessings and joy and all good things.
    You, Joe, and your beautiful daughters take care of yourselves during this difficult time and we are all here rooting for you.

  140. I’m so very glad that there is something that I can do to support you. You give so much to your readers – I SO enjoy reading your blog and often feel that you have been reading my mind!
    I took part in Oxfam Trailwalker a few years ago (100km walk in 48 hours) and whilst challenging, it was an amazing and rewarding experience. Our team of 4 were pretty slow but we all made it through – however we excelled at the fundraising and we were just so proud of ourselves.
    Good luck with the bike rally, and may there be no falls!

  141. Wow, what an amazing thing you are doing… again!! I didn’t realize the stats for young women. I have a daughter and if donating to you can help her and other women count me in!

  142. Money is tighter this year than last but the cause is still good and the challenge still incredible. Good luck Pato et al (I donated to him since he was furthest from his goal 🙂 ).
    Best of luck and try to roll with the falls….

  143. When my dad died I got on my spin bike and cried. But that’s ok. Your feelings will pass. Just do what makes you happy and know that I laughed my ass off reading everything you’ve ever published. Thank you for all you’ve done to make this world a better place.

  144. Hopefully it was a Bell helmet. They actuallty have a warranty that states that if you fall and the helmet breaks (rather than your infinitely more fragile and important skull) they will replace the helmet. Ask me how I know.

  145. Stephanie, your blog made me cry, what beautiful sentiments you write! You go girl! What beautiful pictures of your daughters. They are very fortunate to have you for a Mum!

  146. My sympathies, Stephanie, to you and your family as you face the loss of your loved one.
    And you’re right – we don’t need to know who or how or anything like that. We are a bunch of strangers (admittedly, clever and friendly strangers who love knitting, so better than the average stranger, I’d say), who love all that you share with us, but to whom you do not OWE anything.
    It is enough that you have said, “Someone I love is dying,” and then, if you choose, you can share when that makes you angry or sad or unable to get out of bed or frenetic with Must Do All Of My Living NOW, or whatever you may be experiencing.
    Do what is best for you and your family, and we will be here whether you feel like talking about your feelings, or whether you feel like talking about Any Stinking Thing Else In The World, Just NOT FEELINGS, or anything in between.
    Again, my best to you and your family.

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