When I get my life back

Warning: I have tried to make this shorter. It didn’t work.  Hi. It’s me.

Over the last two years, I’ve made a commitment to PWA and the Bike Rally, that amongst other things, has meant that I was the Co-Chair last year, and (in a stunning turn of events) made me the sole Chair this year.  There’s been a lot of fallout from that – not the least of which is that my house has never been more trashed, my blog never more neglected, my friends and family have never needed to be more steadfast in their support as I’ve needed more handholding (both literal and figurative) as I’ve tried so hard to move forward through this challenge. It’s been difficult for everyone – especially Joe, as he’s needed to work extra hard to make up for the shortfall in my income as I’ve essentially taken a leave of absence to direct my energy towards the Rally and its success, and dude has done more dishes than he really bargained for. (Thanks buddy. You’re the best.)

I couldn’t have predicted that it would be like this. I knew a lot about what challenges lay ahead when I decided to take it on, but I didn’t know that destiny had a few curve balls to throw my way – who could have guessed, for example, that my Mum, my biggest help, supporter and longtime lightpost would be forced out of existence just a few days after I took it on, and that I’d navigate this whole thing while trying to manage my grief, the grief of my family, that it would be compounded by the loss of Susan shortly after, or the reconfiguration of everything that followed.  It has been complicated.

I will no longer be the Chair of the Bike Rally in 80 days. Increasingly, I find myself doubling down, working even harder, saying to myself that if you’re going to make a commitment, a sacrifice, that it should be absolutely worth it,  and that if this hard thing was worth doing, it is worth doing well, and so every day I send emails and wrangle a hardworking Steering Committee and navigate the Board and volunteers and worry about training rides for everyone else and worry about my own 50 year old body making it through training and I am consumed with concern about whether or not  everyone is safe and worry that this effort- investing in the sustaining fundraiser for PWA will fail to sustain them if I don’t get and keep my s**t together… and Blog, I feel like I can say this to you because we are so close… it has been scary and hard and I hope I am the right person to be in charge because so many people are counting on me for their very lives and worse….

I have started a countdown. Any minute of any day you can ask me how long it is until the Bike Rally safely arrives in Montreal, and I can tell you how many days, hours and minutes it is until that happens, and WORSE I have begun thinking of that moment, the minute that the responsibility for this transfers to some other brave soul, as the moment that I get my life back.

Today I had an epiphany (which is a word that sounds like Stephanie and I have always liked it for that.)

This is my life.

I am not waiting to get it back. This is my one wild and precious trip around the earth, and I know that when my Mum died, nobody could have been more surprised than she was. I know for a fact that she thought she had more time. That she was going to clean out her junk drawer, get the basement sorted, make a more time for more people, do even better in contributing to charities, and that when she left me, she was not done. Not by a long shot- and I realized that I don’t want to keep thinking about the days that I spend on this as a weird period I’m going through that will result in my real-life coming back. This is real life.

This is a world where every day you have just that day to make a difference, and here’s what I’ve learned about the Bike Rally, and the people who take part in it – They have all decided to give a voice to those that can’t be heard loudly enough.  Increasingly, as we get a grip on HIV/AIDS, it is those that are privileged that reap the greatest benefits. Those with access to healthcare, money, homes and support are living longer and better lives. On the other side, people who don’t have those things (women, children, immigrants, indigenous people, refugees, those struggling with mental illness and addiction) fall farther under the wheel, and need our defence.  (I will quietly state that much of the current political climate does little to help these people and families and leave it there.)

So- here I am, late (because the state of my inbox means that I am late to everything right now) asking for your help. Once again, Team Knit will ride for the Rally, and for people who need us, and we’re going to ask you to do what you can. This year Team Knit is:





Once again, I’m going to try and raise a ton of money, and like last year, I have a private and deeply personal crazy-pants goal. To this end,  we’re going to do Karmic Balancing gifts again, because I think I can answer that many emails. (I hope I am not wrong.) As often as I can between now and the Rally, I’ll choose from amongst the people who’ve helped and redirect a knitterly (or spinnerly) gift from someone else who wants to help.*

It’s going to be all about the Karma – just like we try to make it every year. We’re trying to change lives here, make things better for some people, and there’s so much more to that than money, so, here’s the thing. 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.)

*If you want to contribute a gift, I’m trying to make it easier -I have a better shot at getting it all done if you do this: Take a picture of your gift. Email me with the subject line “Karmic Balancing” 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 –  I’ll keep track.) I’ll try to get through them all, though it can be overwhelming. Thank you!

Finally, I know that many of you will lovingly speak of self-care to me right now. Know that I hear you, and that I’m doing it, while knowing that self-care isn’t anything without community care, and that we all have a responsibility to create the world we want. This last weekend I didn’t just ride my bike 80km, answer a million emails and try to be a good mother and grandmother, I also gratefully watched while Joe made dinner, told Ken all about everything hard and lay helplessly on Cameron’s couch after a marathon meeting while he plied me with wine and told me what a great job I’m doing, and we worked on his knitting, and mine, and I thought about how this is my one trip. I can’t wait for when I get my life back. This is my life.

I’d love your help.

67 thoughts on “When I get my life back

  1. That last bit is so real, and so accurate. I keep having to come to the same conclusion – all the insanity and beauty and craziness and overwhelm and quiet moments on the couch with my family – this is my one wild and beautiful life, and I have to stop waiting for when it gets peaceful enough for me to live it! Thank you for everything that you are doing to make this the world that we all want to live in – you’re not alone. (PS – it sounds like two glasses of wine might be even better than one – just sayin’.)

  2. A question & a comment. Will you still hear a ping when we make a donation? Please bring a picture of the little one on your rides so after the going gets tough you can mellow out viewing & kissing his image. You know we are all behind you giving you well wishes.

  3. I decided this year that this would be my “giving” event, even though I am in the US. I am so consumed with admiration for the work that you do for PWA and the Bike Rally, how you manage to have a life, do your training rides and keep us in the loop, that I can NOT help. (Not to mention that you knit bunny clothes!!)

    Hang in there Stephanie. You know that the Blog is here, and we have your back!

    We had Memorial Day yesterday – I touch the flag!

  4. You ride because some of us cannot. Either because of physical limitations, inability to stay on a bike (my internal gyroscope is broken), time and distance keeping us from it, or because our trip is almost over.

    You organize because you are very good at it, and have not failed the Rally in the past – they trust you, so you should trust it, and trust yourself.

    We, The Blog, are here for you. You have provided us with so much love and wisdom and bunny clothes pictures, and we will lean in for you with money, with prayers, with voices, with hope, and with love.

    Thank you.

  5. I waver. There’s not going to be enough yarn to make a decent scarf. There’s going to be too much yarn for a decent scarf and if I knit the skein to the end it will be ridiculously long. I look at the traffic map on the internet and see there is an accident along the route my son takes to get home, and there’s not going to be enough yarn. No, it’s not an accident, it’s a stalled vehicle and that’s nothing a tow truck can’t take care of, and when I get to the end it’s going to be too long, I should have stopped sooner. Maybe I’ll make a bunny and then I’ll have something to use my left-over yarn for, no, there’s not enough, here’s my son’s car just pulling into the drive, however much yarn I have will be just the right amount.

  6. This really chimed with me. Here I am awake at 3am with my to do list for Hospital Scouts swirling around my brain and having been thinking for weeks about the amount of my time it involves and it is nothing compared to your schedule! More power to your life.

  7. First off, we are having totally different experiences because we are totally different people who had totally different relationships with our totally different mothers.
    But it has been a blessing to have you to go through this TOTALLY DIFFERENT experience with. You put really good words to a lot of things that I have not been able to put words to, and I am generally a decent word-putter-toer. Thank you so much for sharing your experience of loss and for being a light in a dark place.

  8. I think you said it better than anyone else-this is it. While there are things we can change in our path or trajectory, a lot of times, there’s no going back to normal and no do-overs. While it means time away from all the other people and things you hold dear, never worry that it’s lost time. It’s time that enriches the story of your life and theirs. I’m so proud of what you are doing here even though I’m just a stranger on the Blog.

  9. All that you wrote is just one of many reasons I consider you one of my mentors in life. Thank you so much for this post. (And I will be giving more… though I may wait and choose the moment to coincide with a time that the “ping” could be especially encouraging!)

  10. G’day from Australia! I have a large network of colleagues in Canada. I have found the @F4LBR on Twitter, but is there a hashtag that you are using other than #F4LBR #Summer2019 so I can post and ask colleagues for a RT?

  11. My daughters and I go through the same HARD workout every year to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention since losing my precious 15 year old granddaughter to suicide. Hang in there; we are too. It is necessary for you and for us.

  12. I would love to help out with the karmic balancing. You could auto-forward emails, I can spreadsheet it up for you.

    anitamford at gmail dot com

  13. Hey Steph,
    Not sure if this complement is one you hear in Canada, but as we say around here: “You are one seriously good egg!” Thank you for the inspiration that you give, the time that you give, the encouragement that you give and the honesty with which you do it. (I love that you aren’t pretending to be doing ALL THE THINGS for bike rally whilst having an immaculate house, chef-worthy meals and no stress at all). May you have lots of hugs and moments of woolly stress relief, lovely lady! (And super-cute love from small boys – that pic of Elliott asleep on the couch the other day was utterly gorgeous!)

  14. Dear Steph, you are a trooper and the world would be a poorer place without you. Joe is a super guy and your whole family rocks!, including Ken, Cameron and Pato! You really need “you” time and playing with Elliot! Don’t forget to break and take care of yourself. The Blog cares a lot for you! ❤️

  15. Hi Isa, nope – #F4LBR is the hashtag (and @f4lbr is who we are on instagram.) You’ve got it!

  16. I had a similar experience years ago which literally (and I don’t mean figuratively, I actually mean LITERALLY) changed my life. I was recently divorced, working a high-stress job with two little girls in my care and had recently inherited a small amount of money, which I wondered what to do with. Things were not going well at work, and I was thinking “When things get back to normal, I will do something about this chaos I’m living in.” And then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks: “This IS normal. This is my life.” I quit my job and went back to grad school to prepare for a very different career, from which I am now retired after a VERY happy stint at my “new life,” which was just my life all along.

  17. You need to take care of yourself, first and foremost. You’ve done a terrific job all these years, and will continue to do so as a rider this year. I know you’ll reach your private crazy-pants goal because you always do. And thank you for being an inspiration to all of those who struggle to take care of themselves. It is our one chance…

  18. Please continue to live this life. You have given so much to us. We respectfully return it to you with exponential prayers. Take care of yourself for yourself (and a little bit for us). Know you are loved.

  19. Thank you for that last bit. I’m not that old, but several times now in life I’ve found myself waiting for something, and railing against the unfairness. Well, it IS my one wild and precious life, and the sooner I accept that the sooner I can get along helping it truly be wild and precious and everything else I want from it.

    And thank you, as always, for what you are doing for others. It is such a legacy and an inspiration and watching you do this has made a difference to my life. When I’m home with my stash, I’ll fish something pretty out and send you a picture.

  20. Balance is overrated. Think about harmony–some of the craziest endeavors give you more energy… and so doing a lot of those are fine. Then there will be the simplest of tasks that absolutely drain you–so do less of those. As long as what you do is in harmony–it’s good.

  21. I wonder if you could delegate the karmic balancing. You know more than one person that could handle it and it would take some pressure off of you.

  22. Dear Stephanie,
    I echo the commenters above that you are doing an amazing job! And your life is making a big difference to others in so many ways (including spreading the word about the Friends for LIfe bike rally far and wide).
    I love donating to the bike rally each year!
    Thanks for your inspirational post as usual!

  23. So very, very true. In dealing with something difficult and kind of catastrophic for the past few years of my life, I’ve learned the absolute futility of the mindset that thinks one ever gets anything “back” or should wait until things are “normal” again to feel okay.

    I’m learning to live the now as though the now is all I’ve got — because it is. When I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t come up for air, I learned to grow gills and breathe the water. It’s all in the mindset, and you, dear Stephanie, have tapped into that wisdom over and over again. Thank you for using your tremendous bandwidth to share it with the rest of us.

  24. Count me in Sweetie. Unfortunately not what I would like but what I am able. Joe….you are are fantastic! A man who can cook…wow!!!!! I must say that mine does the dishes:)

  25. Steph, you are absolutely amazing. I don’t know how you manage to do all the things that you do, except that you do have your support team of family and friends who help you, whether it’s taking over some of your tasks, or just letting you know that you are cared for.

    I can’t afford to donate money for the rally this year, but I do have some lovely alpaca yarn that I can share for karmic balancing gifts. I’ll send you an email with a pic and info in the next day or two

  26. There’s no harm in looking forward to a less stressful period in your life, when you can reflect on what you have accomplished as you prepare for the next opportunity. So is it 79 days now or just 78?

  27. As many have said before me and with such eloquence: thank you. Your words have long been a comfort and inspiration–today, they were balm.

    Sending you love and strength–and getting through (with as much joy as we can) this thing we call Life!

    Funds to Team Knit will be coming soon!

  28. You’ll be getting a karmic balancing e-mail from me tomorrow, going stash diving in the morning!

    I understand what you mean by “getting my life back”. As a recent divorcee all i wanted was my life back, but this is the life we live and the only one we get, pushed ahead by the choices and commitments we make. All we can do is try to make things a bit better for someone else…..

  29. Is there a deadline for Karmic Balancing? I won’t be home until July but would like to donate something.

  30. Hi Steph,

    I’m struggling with depression, which quietly insists to me that like is mundane and not precious. Thank you for a wonderful post that helps bring back into focus that all we have is each day, as it happpens, and boy does it matter.
    Helen x

  31. Can’t decide if I’m most impressed with your generosity or your bravery. Thank you for a wonderful post. Good luck with everything!

  32. A note for all the US readers planning to donate: because of the exchange rate you can donate more than you think! When I checked my credit card statement, I found I had donated less in US dollars than I intended. I’ll be sure to donate the rest on Stephanie’s birthday.

  33. You’re doing a great job Stephanie! What a wonderful life you are living! Thanks for being you and for sharing yourself with us and the Bike Rally and all of your community. <3

  34. In so many ways, you are right. We don’t get to go around again, we don’t get another go. That doesn’t mean that life will always be exactly like this, though. It’s ok to look forward to the next phase, and still live this one to the full. Like seasons. I love summer, but if it was summer all the time, who would want to knit?!

  35. I’m so grateful for you! Thank you for your words and your actions. Thank you for pushing the rest of us to be our best selves. Bike on!

    • Hi, the link is their names, where it says Team Knit is and the “Me”, “Ken”, “Cameron”, and “Pato”. Click on the name, it will take you to their donation page

  36. Even though you are Leading the committee alone, you are not alone. The Blog is supporting you all the day.

    Just don’t be afraid to tell all of your people: “I need help”. You aren’t in this by yourself.

  37. My heart goes out to you. I will keep you in my prayers. It is good that you have been doing self care. Take care.

  38. I see a money-making opportunity in publishing little posters (mugs, etc) with “Wisdom from the Yarn Harlot” on them.
    “This IS my life!”
    “This is my one wild and precious trip around the earth.”
    “Every day you have just that day to make a difference.”
    “I can’t wait for when I get my life back; this is my life.”
    I bet if we went though your blogs there would be so many that have inspired all of us at one time or another.

    Oh, and, You’ve got this!

  39. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  40. This pretty much has been your life for a good while-Doula, Lactation specialist, founder of Knitters Without Borders and now, Chair of the Bike Rally. I would hazard a guess that there is more you haven’t told us as you are as compulsively modest and shy as you are generous. Much success in the run-up to the Rally. I’m sending a donation in your honor and in your mum’s memory.

  41. The intro you wrote for the Rally Handbook was very well Done! Thank you!

    p.s. I got to touch the foot…stay grounded… a message to us all…

  42. I opened up this post on my computer and saw that it was long (you warned us) and realized I did not really have time to read it right now. And then I read it anyway. And I am so glad I did. Thank you for sharing your thoughts… and for reminding me that this IS my life, even though I have been saying for the last month (when my son graduated from college and moved back home, my daughter moved home for the summer, my basement flooded because we live in St. Louis, and my elderly mom suddenly needed relocating) that if things will just calm down, I can have my life back. Yes, this IS my life. You made me feel lucky to have my mom and grateful to be surrounded by the chaos that comes with my lovely children being back in the empty nest. Thanks for all that you do – I plan to contribute this year, even though I can’t give much!

  43. I was just wishing it were possible for we U.S. fans to donate in U.S. dollars – obviously too late this year, but maybe it could be done in years following?
    Took me a while to realize when I donate, say $10, you get 10 Canadian dollars, while if US donors could donate in US dollars, PWA would end up with more money.

  44. I don’t need any karmic balancing entry, but I did want to say I donated (at a discount rate: I forgot I was donating in Canadian $; I might have to come back in July and donate again after consulting the budget – maybe to a teammate or 3). I want to thank you for everything. PWA? It’s my community. I’m part of the rainbow umbrella letters, and it means a lot to see you take on this work for the vulnerable, underserved people. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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