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The discomfort you're feeling is grief

I'll be honest. A few weekends ago, I was having a really rough time. If life hadn't been disrupted, many of us would have been at DFW Fiber Fest, one of my favorite weekends of the year. When the festival was canceled, I told myself (and you) that I would spend the time up to the weekend and during the weekend itself doing tons of social media posts and live videos. But none of that happened.

Instead, I found myself drawing inward, retreating. I was still talking to friends and even did some virtual meetups. But my energy levels were low. Really low. Just the thought of mustering up the enthusiasm for a live video felt exhausting. Instead, I spent much of the weekend playing Animal Crossing.

Be Kind to Yourself

And I felt incredible guilt, which just compounded the rough time. I had all these plans for things I wanted to do. Plan out the next yarn club and advent calendar. Promote other dyers and designers and notions makers. Run a KAL to help us keep connected. Learn JavaScript alongside my son. Read a ton of books. On and on. Instead, I was gathering materials for my small island (named Avalon of course) and doing some fishing and catching of butterflies. What about all my big plans? I was making my mood even worse by beating myself up for not jumping into all those plans.

But then I read some articles and listened to some podcasts and things started falling into place. In particular, this article -- The Discomfort You're Feeling Is Grief -- really hit home.

What I'm -- we're -- feeling is grief. Grief over the loss of life before, of life as it should be right now. And as with grief from the loss of a loved one, there's a process and so many emotions we can go through. And I -- we -- need to let ourselves grieve without self-judgement. It's okay if you are feeling this. It is normal. Don't try to ignore it. Let yourself work through your feelings, whatever they may be.

And if you're mad at yourself for not "taking advantage" of all this "free time," if you find yourself not really accomplishing anything "extra" each day and wondering what is wrong with you, stop. We don't need to be superhuman and learn tons of new things or knit/crochet all the projects in our queue. Be patient with yourself. Be realistic about where your headspace is. Do what you can. It's enough.

Comparative Suffering

Some of you may be familiar with Brené Brown. (If you're not, I invite you to look into her work.) She recently started a podcast, and she's been releasing episodes pretty quickly to help during this coronavirus crisis. (The podcast is called Unlocking Us with Brené Brown.)

In particular, I recommend the episode titled "Comparative Suffering, the 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball." I listened to that this morning, and the beginning and ending parts of the episode really spoke to me (the middle was good too). But it was the idea of comparative suffering that stood out. 

Go listen to the episode, but the basic takeaway is this: You might be thinking, "How can I complain about what I'm going through when X person over there has it so much worse?" And so you feel bad about feeling bad about your situation. You feel like you need to hide your struggles because you really don't have it that bad comparatively, right? And that in turn makes you feel even worse because you're not letting yourself process your feelings; you're pushing them back down inside you.

But here's the thing as Brené Brown clarifies in her book Rising Strong: "Empathy is not finite, and compassion is not a pizza with eight slices. When you practice empathy and compassion with someone, there is not less of these qualities to go around. There’s more. Love is the last thing we need to ration in this world." Don't forget empathy and compassion for yourself as well. Back to Brené: "Hurt is hurt, and every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us."

You Will Be Found

Something else that really helped me out was watching a video of the song "You Will Be Found" from the musical Dear Evan Hansen in which former and current cast members got together (remotely) to sing. The song has always had a powerful message, but seeing this performance just really added to that. I hope you'll take a few minutes to watch it.

As for me, I woke up on Monday morning feeling lighter. Feeling like I could concentrate on things again.  Maybe I won't get through my big list of all the wonderful things I could be doing. And that's okay. But I feel today like I can finally tackle writing up an article on single-ply yarn vs. multiple plies or how to figure out which yarn to substitute for the yarn a pattern calls for. This weekend, I couldn't even contemplate doing those things.

But I still wanted to share what I've been going through with you (and I'll write about yarn in a future newsletter) in case you need to hear it for yourself. 

You are not alone. And you will be found.

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