I Sing the Body Electric, Knit Without Ceasing, The Inner Landscape

From Under the Cork Tree

One of the symptoms of my still-not-finally-diagnosed-but-most-likely-rheumatoid inflammatory arthritis is fatigue. I find it particularly frustrating because after working so hard over the past year to get in better shape, and being so much lighter, it stinks to be exhausted by doing almost nothing.

Because I spent a large portion of my mid-thirties experiencing and recovering from a major depression, I associate time on the couch with that period of hopelessness, so just lying down to take a nap sometimes feels like an echo of despair.

Cork tree
I have a hard time understanding self-care unless it involves *doing* something for myself. I'm great at making appointments for therapy or massage or foot reflexology or coffee with a friend. I'm not so great at just sitting quietly and smelling the flowers.

I tried doing a little knitting earlier in the week.

I may need to explain about the knitting. It means a lot to me. It's creative and useful. It's soothing and meditative.

I own a lot of yarn: maybe not as much as some people, I won't claim to have a stash of Yarn Harlot proportions, but I do own a lot of yarn, some of it purchased with particular projects in mind that now seem impossibly far away.

There have been days when I've considered splitting up my stash and sending it off to various blogging knitters I love.

That's when I know despair is getting the better of me.

So, as I was saying, I tried to do a little knitting earlier in the week. There is a pair of socks, you see, that a parishioner at Main Street Church bid on and won in an auction last fall, and she agreed they could wait until I had finished my Christmas projects, and I began them in the winter and was just past turning the heel of the second sock when the pain in my fingers grew to be too much and besides that they began to swell.

Those socks went on the cruise with me at the end of March, and I could not work on them then, and until this week, the socks sat in their Ziploc bag, unchanged. Last weekend I picked up the unfinished sock and discovered, to my horror, that stitches had fallen off the needle. I put them back where they belonged, and that fifteen minutes of effort felt like hours. Monday evening, I picked up the sock again, and eventually accomplished two rounds of knitting.

If you're not a knitter, let's just say that is a pretty lame amount of progress, a quarter of an inch at best.

I'm under no pressure from anyone else, I'm very clear about that. The pressure all comes from me. I like to be in the middle of the ring, not under the cork tree.

But that is where I find myself.

(Image from "The Story of Ferdinand," by Munro Leaf, with illustrations by the great Robert Lawson.)

21 thoughts on “From Under the Cork Tree”

  1. (((Songbird))) I too find that anymore, I am almost uncomfortable just sitting and being… have to be “doing.” Makes me wonder what I am hiding from that I don’t want the quiet time to ponder. I can so relate to how you are feeling, and know that you remain in my thoughts and prayers. It *will* get better.

  2. Dear one, my heart hurts with yours. Gentle is the way. Thank God there is no one else pressuring you… the internal pressure is quite enough!
    Now. Is there anything I can do to help with RevGals stuff? Please let me know. You have my email.
    Love to you (((Songbird))).

  3. It is hard, adjusting to the diagnosis of a chronic illness–you may never have the energy and facility to knit as much as you’ve used to, although your facility may come and go (my aunt just visited and was knitting up a storm, so happy that a break in her arthritis let her knit again, after 4 years away). The not knowing, the being out of control, is hard. But you’ll find your way (with reflection, the help of friends, family, and your medical people), and you’ll redefine self-care, and redefine what “in the middle of things” means.
    But the getting there is hard. I’m sending love through the pixels to you today.

  4. Songbird, I’m sorry to hear about your health woes. I’ll add you to my prayer list.
    I am enjoying your blog—and you and I have very similar taste in books!
    I noticed a photo earlier of one of your sons in Pullen Park. Did you live in Raleigh? I live there now and love it.

  5. I’ve worked hard in the last year to figure out the difference in me between depression and…well, not depression. And figuring out self-care had a lot to do with it. Peace to you.

  6. I’m a ‘do-er’ too so I can relate to the frustration.
    There are good treatment regimens available — I really believe things will get better for you.

  7. It’s just so unfair that you made such an effort to loose weight and improve your health and then get zapped with something like this. It’s just unfair and I really sympathize with you.
    Here’s hoping that you’ll get some relief soon and be able to resume knitting..and exercise…and have more energy.
    Praying for you!

  8. Ferdinand is a super hero in this family, and Hattie G and I will join you under teh cork tree any day…but that doesn’t mean we don’t sympathise hugely, as I’m sure you know. Hoping that the meds may make knitting a realistic possibility very soon, and that other ways of being kind to you will present themselves gift wrapped too. xx

  9. I am sorry about the knitting — but glad that you are doing something about the medical issues and hopeful that the knitting can resume soon. (I hope that parishioner made a goodsized donation for the socks-to-be. One of c-knits’ friends who made some for me says that she will only do them for friends or will trade them for other handmade items that sell for $100-150!)

  10. this must be so very hard to navigate. i’m glad you got the stitches back on the needles (discovering them off is so discouraging) and two rows done. two rows is something. ((((songbird))))

  11. Yes!! Ferdinand!! Ferdinand, who liked to sit just quietly under the cork tree and smell the flowers, is one of my favorites from the days of reading to my children, and long before.

  12. My mother has rheumatoid arthritis … diagnosed over 25 years ago. We were all extremely worried when she was diagnosed, wondering what the future would hold, but as it happens she’s had only a few flares since she began treatment. I hope that they can figure out exactly what is ailing you, so that you can be back on the road to health very soon.
    I’m thinking of you. ((((Songbird))))

  13. ((((Songbird)))) God of Love, I ask you to pour your Spirit of comfort in over and through my friend Songbird today. Relieve her physical pain and her troubled Spirit. Bring her peace and some belly laughing joy soon please. Amen.

  14. Sending warm, centering, peaceful vibes your direction, Songbird, and a reminder that your worth comes from somewhere deeper even than your bones.
    🙂 Peace, girl.

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