Hard Things

I had planned to write you a big long letter today and do so many Karmic Balancing Gifts (I still will just after) and show you lots of knitting and then today was packing day for the Rally and several things that were supposed to be fast were slow and a few things that were supposed to be easy were hard, and now it’s past bedtime and I have to get up while it’s still dark to start riding my bike to Montreal and I’m just now eating dinner and…

Let’s talk about hard things instead. I believe in doing hard things. (Betcha figured that out already.)  I think that if you are privileged enough to be able to choose to do a hard thing or not,  choosing to do it has real rewards that can change the way you see the world, the way your brain works, and the kind of happiness you (eventually) have. I think challenge is good for you. I do not think this about hard things that you do not choose.

I know a woman who has HIV as a result of being raped during a genocide in her country of origin.  I know another who thought she was in a monogamous relationship, and wasn’t. I know another one who has two HIV positive kids because she’s a refugee from a country where access to healthcare and medicine that can prevent mums from passing HIV onto their babies isn’t affordable, accessible or frankly, possible. I know HIV+ addicts and people with really bad luck and some who are sex workers because they ran right the hell out of choices at all. They are doing some really goddamn hard stuff, and they didn’t choose it, didn’t have the privilege to work against it, and the day that I tell them that I think the hardship they’ve endured was good for them is frankly, the day I open a (*&^%$ing moth farm.

The Bike Rally has something called “the big meeting.” We have all the participants there, and we talk to them about everything they need to know, and build the community they’ll need to get through this thing, and I had to give a speech. I talked quite a bit about how choosing to do hard things can make you happy – if they’d have been knitters I would have talked to them about that feeling as you take the pins out of a lace shawl that you really, really worked hard on, one that was a challenge. That part of you that feels the growth of a little self esteem as a result of the proof that you pulled it off – you know that one? Without using a knitting metaphor (which was really hard, let me tell you) I pointed out that the Rally can give you that feeling.  I also asked the Steering Committee to share their reasons for why they do this. They do a ton of work to make this happen over a year, and I thought people might like to know why they do it.  They gave lots of reasons. There’s 24 of them, and there were 24 reasons.  Some of them ride in remembrance of someone else, some ride because others can’t. Some ride because it’s the lace shawl thing, some ride because they love the community, some ride because they feel like they need to give a voice to someone who doesn’t have one.

At the end, I gave my reason, and I’m going to share it with you here.  Several of you have written to me very sweetly, because you are kind right down to your roots, and asked why on earth I am doing something that clearly hasn’t made me superficially happy this year (I cop to that) and that’s obviously really, really hard. I haven’t known quite what to say, but I do now.

Why do I do this? Quite frankly, it is my overwhelming belief that someone has to. Given our current political climate – given the pain and hurt of so many people around us, people who are seemingly invisible to the world around them – or visible in the worst possible way, those experiencing stigma, shame, discrimination, poverty… all the consequences of HIV/AIDS that occurs if they are unsupported practically and emotionally – when they are outside of a community – doesn’t somebody have to? Given a system where we know what we know about happiness and health, that it grows and thrives in a place where all that is minimized and choices and opportunities to do hard work and choose challenge are maximized – and given that we all have the power to change not just the world but the very lives of people who live in it…to make them happier, to make ourselves happier… doesn’t somebody have to, and doesn’t it have to be someone with the ability, luck and privilege to do it? I have a pretty beautiful life.  Shouldn’t it be me?

This has been a very hard thing.  It’s probably going to get a little harder, over the next few days… and I want you to know that as I’ve struggled, I’ve been so touched by the generosity you’ve shown me that has made every sacrifice worth it. I am grateful for you, everything you do, every donation, comment, email….  every action you take that proves that you want to live in a world that’s decent and kind and generous and a little bit more fair… I reflect on it often. You all are amazing. I am grateful when I think of you, I know PWA is grateful for you. You increase the amount of happiness in the world.

PS.  We took these pictures of us, Team Knit, a few weeks ago when we were all together and doing what we do – knitting and being friends. (Also we are fairly good at cocktails.) I haven’t had many opportunities to say it, but I want to do it here – I am so grateful to Cam, Ken and Pato for having my back this whole time.  This was harder than I thought it would be, and the real help they’ve been over the last year is more than I can say.  Cam’s been an amazing emotional support animal and a very good listener,  Ken’s always got my back when it comes to the details and covering me with the family, and Pato, he’s such a workhorse. Do you know he took my stuff to packing day for me today so that I could take the subway and get there before everyone to do my work? Thoughtful and practical.  I’m sorry for all of it guys. You’ve only got to get me through six more days and then maybe I’ll be less crazy.  I love you.

PPS.  You have already done so much to support us – we are all fantastically, wonderfully above our goals. I do have a few quiet hopes that are as yet unrealized, and if you’d like to give any of us a push in absolutely destroying those goals, I’d love it, and overachieving is what knitters do best. We remain (along with all of you) Team Knit, and we’ll catch you on the other side.





107 thoughts on “Hard Things

  1. May the weather be great and the wind be at your backs, all the way to Montreal. Go, Team Knit, go! (PS: I suppose “a (*&^%$ing moth farm” is different from a silkworm moth farm…!)

  2. This might have posted twice, but…May the weather be great and the wind be at your backs, all the way to Montreal. Go, Team Knit, go! (PS: I suppose a “(*&^%$ing moth farm” must be different from a silkworm moth farm…!)

  3. Thank you for making the world a better place. Thank you for doing such a hard thing. Be safe this week and know that we believe in you.

  4. I would say good luck, but I think you have everything all in hand–no luck needed. I am looking forward to photos. Congratulations to your entire team on meeting your fundraising goals!

  5. Stephanie, you inspire me daily. I’m about your late mum’s age, and I’d like to be you when I grow up (if I ever do). You give me hope that our world will be much better when I leave it than it is now. Thanks. It’s been my privilege to support your rides.

  6. Your mum is very, very proud of you.

    This is according to my mom, whose voice is so often in my head reminding me to wear lipstick.

  7. I very rarely comment here, but today I have to, because I agree to every single word you write. You not only do the right thing, you are also absolutely convincing when it comes to explaining why.
    May you have fair weather and a safe ride.

  8. I’ve done a few long rides on a trail bike lately and thought of you – so proud of what you do. I’ll be flying over you today, and will send best wishes and all good thoughts down to you through the clouds. I hope you feel them!! You can do it!

  9. Stephanie;
    I was thinking about you today before I saw your blog. I hope things go as smoothly as possible. It is a very good thing that you do – to use your online community to support something so necessary. You are right, we are privileged when there are so many who are not. Every little bit we do can help just a bit. Lots of little bits will add up.
    May the wind be at your back as you ride, the sun shining but not too hot!

  10. You (and Team Knit!) are such an inspiration! You have such a lovely and compassionate way of expressing what I think our world needs to hear right now. I’m with Karen, I’m striving to be like you when I grow up! Have a wonderful and smooth ride!

  11. Thank you for articulating why you are doing this … it made me cry, it moved me that much. And yes, it is why we do the hard things and speak up on behalf of those who cannot. May the wind be at your back the next few days!

  12. As the mum of two LGBTQ young men, who knows the far-reaching impact of HIV/AIDS, you have my sincere thanks. Your mum would be so proud of you. These posts choke me up every year. I know it’s hard, and the work is immense, but thank you for stepping up and doing the hard work. Not many people are willing to say, “If not me, who?” I’ve been so honored to “know you” all these years, since the early blog days, and well… anyhow. I can’t see my screen clearly any longer. Ride safe Team Knit. And thank you. XOXO

  13. WIshing you a good good ride Team Knit! Thank you for doing this ride and Thankyou, especially, Steph for your organizing work and the words that you write. I’ll be waving from Leishman Pt in Waddington NY as you ride past on your next to last day (past Prescott, just before you get to Morrisburg).

  14. Loved your speech this morning and this post. You are quite amazing as are all the other riders and crew, who work so hard on this important fund raiser. Enjoy the ride!

  15. Loved your speech this morning and this post. You are quite amazing as are all the other riders and crew, who work so hard on this important fund raiser. Enjoy the ride!
    By the way, I thought it was lovely that Elliot was there to see his grandma off on her six day journey. He may not understand at this point the importance of what you are doing but he will.

  16. Thank you for your efforts. My stepson discovered he had AIDS 25 years ago. He does not know how he contacted HIV but probably 10 years prior go that. Aids treatment was in its early stages. He took many different cocktails og drugs. He was mostly I’ll and sometimes not. He committed suicide in the spring of 2004. He left no note. He simply couldn’t take it any longer. He knew he was going to die from AIDS and he decided to end life on his terms. With a hand gun and one bullet. He bought the gun and one bullet years before using it. The sole purpose of his purchase was his final solution for aids. Thank you to everyone for their efforts to support research and how to live with aids.

  17. Steph –
    I wish that everyone in the world would read your post, and take it to heart. You inspire us so much.

    Travel safely.

  18. Yes! And thank you for explaining because some of us mom types have been like, Honey you need to look out for yourself! I’m glad that I can give money to support this cause because I could not do that ride. You rock, as usual, in your own special way!

  19. Yes to all that. I think of you as a problem solver (in your sphere) and a light in the world. A light.

    Best.to the whole team

  20. You never fail to make me want to be a better person. I am always inspired, encouraged, and filled with hope when I read the thoughts you share with the world. Have a fabulous ride with fair weather and laughter. I’ll be there in spirit for everyone of the team.

  21. I watch the weather every day as my son drives to work — an hour-drive both morning and night. This week I’ll be watching the weather for you, Steph.

  22. I watch the weather every day for my son who drives one hour to work and one hour back home again. This week, I’ll be watching the weather for you, Steph.

  23. Oh, it’s finally here, the final stage. This is the “easy” part now, although it’s not going to feel like it. It’s still going to feel hard. I’ll bet it’s a different kind of hard on the other side…. May the inspiration you have given us, the courage you have provided to all those beautiful people, and the winds of kindness propel you through this final leg of your journey. Enjoy it. Then cry. Then have a cocktail. And then rest, it is hard won and well deserved.

  24. Here is it, finally, the last stage of your journey. This is the easy part now, although it won’t feel like it. May the inspiration you have given us, the courage you have provided all those beautiful people, and winds of kindness propel you through this final leg. Ride! Then cry. Then have a cocktail. And then rest, it is well deserved and hard won.

  25. This is why I always say Thank you.
    Thank you for riding because of some of us cannot, either by circumstance, or because we have broken internal gyroscopes, or are ill from the very thing that you are riding to support aid for.
    This was a year where I could not donate more than sharing out the call for help, but I wish it had been more. I do know, however, what I’m going to do next year – your fundraising is in high gear around my birthday, and that’s what I’m going to ask as my present – that people donate to this fund.

  26. Thank you again for being such a wonderful role model. You are not just my knitting (s)hero, but you continually remind us all of how to be good citizens in a way that makes me feel motivated. Ride like the wind, Stephanie. Thank you for caring for all people.

  27. You are an inspiration to knitters and regular people everywhere. Wishing you a successful ride and lots of donations!

  28. A thousand times YES! If only more people would step up to the plate and realize that SOMEONE has to do it!! A fellow someone wishes you strong legs and good weather! YOU’VE GOT THIS!

  29. You inspire me so, and you make me cry almost as often as you make me laugh. For a second, I thought how amazing it is that you are so inspirational AND so funny, and then I remembered that ALL of the spiritual masters that I admire (the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron) are really funny. Thank you for all you do.

  30. Wishing you all a wonderful ride, with beautiful weather! I see that today (Monday) is your longest day, so it’s all, metaphorically at least, downhill after today!

  31. Love you and all that you are and do. Thank you for challenging all of us to be what is best in us.

    Pato needed a little catching up to the rest of you, so, yeah.

  32. Hoping this doesn’t show up twice because my first try somehow doesn’t seem to have come through, but I just wanted to say thank you. For who you are and for reminding us who we want to be, too. Safe travels and know that we’re with you all the way.

  33. Hoping this doesn’t show up twice because my first try somehow doesn’t seem to have come through, but I just wanted to say thank you for who you are and reminding us who we want to be, too. All the best to you all.

  34. Oh how I laughed…”I’d open a ….moth farm!”
    Thanks for these insights. Especially timely.
    We (the Blogiverse) need to be reminded sometimes that the Real World has its rewards and sometimes it’s not wrapped like a present. And sometimes it’s …..tedious and tumultuous just …..getting there.
    Thank you for reminding me that although I may have very little, I still have more than some and gratitude is no small Thing.
    Thank you for allllll that you do and for sharing with us. My life is richer for it. You are a blessing to many.
    Good weather, good roads, good food, good friends, good ride, great donations.
    Go Team Knit!!

  35. Made 4 contributions today, one to each member of your team. Hope you got the ‘dings’ to help keep you going on the longest day of the ride. I know you’re not a believer, but I am – God Speed, Team Knit!

  36. I absolutely agree with you Stephanie – so much of human kindness and courage simply comes down to answering the question of “why me?” with “if not me, who else?”. Best of luck for the rally, we’ll see you on the other side!

  37. Stephanie, you nailed it. In all the big, important ways– you nailed it! I can’t wait to see how your hard work pays off this year. Sending so much love and support…

  38. Hmmm…. by all that I can see, the blog ate my comment, so I’m going to try again and hope I’m not posting twice!!!

    I just wanted to say that you nailed it all in the big, important ways, and I can’t wait to see how all your hard work pays off. Sending so much love and support…

  39. Thank you for this. I wish more people in this world thought your way, that the ‘someone who should do something’ could be them! I shall remind myself of this when I’m tempted not to do something because it will be hard. I hope the riding is going well, and that your worries for your fellow riders will decrease the further you get along the way. <3

  40. First time supporter/donor, for your unrelentingly positive efforts to help others, and your determination not to get sucked the negative spin cycle.

  41. Came over to find the donation links after seeing you and Cam with glowing smiles in your red dresses on IG.

    I am always impressed by your seemingly boundless energy – both physically and mentally – but you’ve made it very clear that it also has to do with those people who help you catch those spinning plates if you drop any.

    Although everyone indubitably looks fabulous today, you all may be feeling slightly less shiny after being in the saddle for so long. Therefore, I’m off to send a ping to all of you. <3

  42. Thanks for your excellent words as usual!
    Really important – and so pertinent.
    I am so happy to keep donating to Team Knit again this year.

  43. In the spiritual center I attend, we often say that when you see something that makes you think, “Someone should do something,” you are that someone. Congratulations on being true to that call, and on creating what I know will be a wildly successful ride this year!

    P.S. We also say, “Treat [pray affirmatively], then move your feet” and “where two or more are gathered, we eat.” We’re a pretty witty group. 😉

  44. Ah, the privilege of choice. So often forgotten by those who have it.

    Wishing you Good luck, Good weather and Good mechanics. I’ve saved some of my donation to try and give you a few dings up those hills!

  45. Hi, Stephanie,
    Have a wonderful rally. And please post pics from the red dress day.
    About hard stuff. A couple of years ago my sister gave me a book by the Dalai Lama for Christmas. The 5cent version of the book is that the best thing you can do for yourself, that is to say, the most selfish thing, is to do the most altruistic thing. The law of cause and effect says that if you do the most altruistic thing, you will be rewarded with absolute happiness, that is to say, the kind of peaceful happiness that comes from deep within and is not affected by any external circumstances. This, BTW, means that altruism is the best balm for grief. In addition to that I also chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (Title of the Lotus Sutra) because that accelerates my process. (I’m an SGI-USA member.) But back to the point, yes, altruism is powerful and wonderful and we must all do it, each in a different way according to circumstances and gifts. I’m in a wheelchair, so a bicycle does not figure in my plan, but yours does, so go for it! See you on the back side.
    Julie in San Diego

  46. By now, you are past the halfway mark…WOW! You certainly DO specialize in the hard things! Blessings on you, for that!

    BTW, my colleague who complained to you that I hadn’t supported HIM, rather, I had supported Team Knit? Well, the week “got away from me” (I know you understand!), and I donated to his ride after he’d finished.

    Safe travels, Team Knit!!!

  47. Can I just say that I love Pato came into your lives as one of your daughter’s teenage boyfriends but remained a good friend when the relationship dissolved. It speaks volumes what type of family you’ve created.

  48. For anyone reading this, I know that Stephanie is really really hoping to get the fundraising total to $1.6 million by the time they arrive tomorrow! They’re still about $23,000 back. You know what to do.

  49. You are nearly at the end of your ride now. My IG has died so I can’t follow that way, but these words, your eloquence and your passion and your truth is inspiring. Go Team Knit Go.

  50. Congratulations on your finish. I’m sure you’ve learned a lot about yourself, and the power of friendship and teamwork. Have another pint and kick back. The hardest part is over and you made it.

  51. “Touch the woman”, it instructs; I hope I do! Sorry to have missed the send-off — I’d have wished all of your team (indeed, all participants!) my warmest best wishes. But I still want to say I’m fully in favour of your views about how good life could be for all, ‘if we all just’…. It truly is a breath of fresh air at this point, on this sad and sinned-against planet.

  52. YAY!!!! I’ve been watching the total on your bike rally page off and on all weekend and am thrilled to see that you have at last topped the $60 dream target you were hoping for. What a huge reward for a huge effort on your part, not just the past week but the whole year leading up to this as well.

  53. Team Knit gives me hope in the midst of a world and time that is very hard to understand. Thank you for all that you do to speak up and use your privilege for good! I am sending positive thoughts from my corner of the world for all of you…along with the many that you support in doing what you’re doing!

  54. oops I think my browser ate my earlier comment.
    Thank you very much for the incredible hard effort you have put into the bike rally over the recent years.
    Thank you also for highlighting the needs and work of the PWA organization – it may be new info to many readers.
    I am always very happy to make donations to the rally through the year and as it gets closer.
    Looking forward to reading about your next adventures!

  55. I tried to post several times and it wouldn’t post.
    So I’m going to try to repeat my well wishes.
    Just know they’re comin’ at you from me.

  56. Hey Steph,
    Have checked in a couple of times to see if you’ve popped your head up ‘post-ride’ yet. Take all the time you need, but know that we’re thinking of you and hoping that it all went smoothly. May the blisters be subsiding rapidly!!! You do a great thing with the bike rally (and just by being you).
    Love, Bindy

  57. I keep thinking there must be something wrong with the blog, that it doesn’t show that hundreds of people posted good luck wishes. This is a huge organization, physical and mental challenge. I hope you are getting a well deserved vacation after all this, Stephanie!

  58. Hey there, Harlot. I hope you are somewhere by a lake, surrounded by those you love, and knitting your brains out after shepherding the Rally to completion.

  59. I know you’re tired, but I miss you so much and worry, a little. Could you please just post a picture of your finish so i would know you’re alright?

  60. I think a lot of us are a little worried by your absence. Hope that your ride, and the administrative wrap up have gone well, and you are resting and doing whatever else makes you happy.

  61. I’ve been lurking and reading back from the beginning, just now to here. Her instagram pictures show her at a lake, deciding between kayak and canoe.
    The totals on the rally are awesome…all four of team knit exceeded goals. (I helped a bit)
    I, too, look forward to a new post.

  62. By my calculations Team Knit just exceeded $90,000! You all toiled hard for that and you should be exceedingly proud of yourselves!

  63. I have never dropped a ball of yarn down an elevator shaft, like Stephanie, but this morning I went out to the car in the driveway and found that my current project had followed me, pulling about 50 feet out of the skein that stayed behind in my recliner chair. Yikes !!!

    • ha, ha!! Oh dear, that’s funny-not-funny. Hope it wasn’t expensive yarn. At least you can find your way home! 🙂

      • Fortunately things had dried up after our recent rains, so no harm done, didn’t break, just picked up a few leaves which were easily brushed off.

  64. Don’t worry, friends, our Harlot is enjoying some well-deserved rest and time with the family.

    I have a fresh batch of jabs about the gansey waiting for her return.

  65. Don’t leave us hangin’!! How did it go??? Did you collapse at the end???
    anxious to hear from you….the blog awaits……

    • Follow her on Instagram as well as here, an you’ll see that she’ been on a week of well-deserved vacation after the bike rally.
      Read the comments above, and find out that she’s been having a great week with family.
      Life changes, and there are different priorities. The kids are grown, she has more freedom to pursue activities that take her away from home.

  66. Very relieved to hear that all is well with Stephanie. Whatever her pursuits, wishing her health and happiness. Lots of love!

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