Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Retired Knitter Is Not a Quitter: Elaine Shanks

     Elaine Shanks is ready for the upcoming Challenge.   Today she reminisces about her experience in the 2011 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

E – for Enthusiasm, 
      U – for Unexpected, 
              P – Persistence

      I don't remember how I discovered the 2011 A to Z Blog Challenge. One day it wasn't on my radar and the next day it was.

      Life is like that.

      But I do remember how thrilling it sounded as I read the description. I remember thinking – Yes, I could do this … a posting for every letter of the alphabet and my brain just instantly started popping out suggestions for various letters – the zanier the idea the better! (ah, Zany … now there is a good Z word.)

      Anyway, I digress. So I quickly hit the “join” button. That day was in late March. I feared I was already “behind” in the preparation. People had been signing up for a few months. Gosh, only one week for me to prepare.

      But my brain bubbled with ideas and my key board got a work out that week.

      I remember that first day – April 1, 2011 – visiting blog after blog eager to see who was doing what. I felt like I had joined hands with a cyberspace crowd of bloggers and we were off and running together. It was very exciting.

      I made sure that I wrote and “schedule to publish” 4 or 5 postings ahead. Keeping “ahead” seemed like a good idea. I wanted no pressure. I wanted to keep up. I wanted to rise to the challenge and finish with everyone. I wanted to enjoy the “high-fives” of all my companions in this cyber neighborhood and enjoy the fruits of everyone's labors. And I was thrilled when someone stopped in to visit and comment. I was filled with great Enthusiasm. (I love my E word - Enthusiasm is infectious. I love it in myself and in others).

Then, in mid April, it all began to fall apart. Oh, I had 4 or 5 postings scheduled to be released in the near future, but my blog writing stopped dead. You see I am a caregiver for my 85 year old mom and the winter of 2011 was very difficult for her. In April she became ill and was hospitalized. My brain was now focused on the part of my life (elder care) that was always filled with Unexpected events. (I am not a fan Unexpected - so U has been taken off my list of good letters).

        And so I watched from the sidelines as my 4 or 5 blog postings automatically published. Then I watched as my blog fell silent. Sometimes I would take time to peek at the other blogs – those that were still going strong … and I felt … let down. I wouldn't finish with the rest.

         But I am not a person to be kept down for long. I am Persistent – some might say stubborn.

        When the cloud that covered my family began to lift and mom began to improve, I started to write again. And I finished – not with the pack, but on my own schedule. I didn't reminisce with the finishers in the weeks after or take the “I Survived Button” for my blog – because I didn't really finish or survive within the scope of the event. But I had a whole lot of fun and made friends with many new bloggers. Persistence got me to the end. (Persistence is a very good P word.)

       And come April 1, 2012 – I'll be back! I will start again with the pack. I will plan 4 or 5 posting ahead, because you never know what kind of curve ball life will throw at you. And I plan to finish with the pack.
But if not, I will finish … 'cause it is just that much fun.

      We will "meet" again on April 1, 2012 at the starting line ... I can't wait to see you there.

Elaine Shanks, Retired Knitter (
I have been blogging since July 2010. I am retired, a knitter, a knitting group coordinator, an elder caregiver, an enthusiastic starter and a persistent finisher. I am also "grandmother" to 3 fabulous dogs - Meathead, Grimace and Milo. And like the rest of the world, I am trying to be better to myself - diet, exercise, friends and family. All these things are part of my next 20 years - and part of my blog. 

        All I can say is not bad Elaine.  Not bad at all.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the A to Z Challenge. You are a winner!

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta


Matthew MacNish said...

What a wonderful story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sometimes life gets in the way of plans. Glad you'll be back for this year's Challenge!

Unknown said...

I think this is a brilliant idea. And I'm inspired by your story as well. I'm going to click on the instructions and decide whether or not I'd be up to such a task.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sorry your mom was so sick during last year's challenge. Hope you make it to the end this year.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

What a great story! So sorry about your mom, I know how hard that can be. Now to go follow your blog, so I can maybe get knitting inspiration and for sure follow your A to Z posts this year!

Marta Szemik said...

Ahh, what a nice inspirational story. I am afraid as well that something will happen that will take me away - but life happens and I hope to be able to go "with the flow" and make it to the end as well.
I'll be looking for you in April Elaine :)

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

I loved this. And you.

jean xox

Ghadeer said...

How sweet!
I'm very inspired by your persistence! Looking forward to your posts this April :)


Great post see you in April.


Peaches Ledwidge said...

You're a perfect, patient, person. April will show up soon. Yippee.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

Oooops! Sorry about your mom.

BragonDorn said...

Can not wait till April to get this thing started :) Hopefully I don't injure myself again :P

Unknown said...

Great post...all the best for this year's challenge!

Tina said...

I love your transparency in this post. Life does happen. The name of my blog is "Life is Good" because I need to be reminded of that everyday. I have some very severe medical issues, and I need to have the attitude that every day is a gift from God. I'm glad you were able to be there for your mom when she needed to. I'm also glad that you caught some of the unbelievable love, support, and encouragement out there in Blogland. Glad to be traveling this journey with you.
Tina @ Life is Good Co-hosting the Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2012

Empty Nest Insider said...

Elaine, you were one of the first people I met during the challenge last year, and I will always be grateful. Glad your mom seems to be doing well now. Looking forward to spending another April with you!
Did you knit those beautiful (S)weaters you're wearing? Julie

Retired Knitter said...

Thanks all, for your wonderful comments.

Of course I am hoping for a less eventful life this April so that I can reach the finish line with everyone!

And, yes, I did make the sweaters that I am wearing.


MISH said...

I love your positive and persevering attitude (now there's 2 P-words...)!!
Well done!!

Alana said...

Elaine, I am so glad that you persevered. Your story touched me and your writing is beautiful. I really look forward to learning more about you through your blog.

And, by the way, love your smile and your sweaters!! You look like such a joy to be around!

Susan Kane said...

Loved to meet Elaine Shanks! I identified with you in the role as caregiver. Last year, my mother was failing, and passed away April 3rd. My posts had been scheduled a week ahead, kinda like God knew that my life had to be organized for a hard week.

Arlee Bird said...

What a wonderful response you got, Elaine. Thank you for joining us on the A to Z Challenge blog.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elaine .. you've done wonders for your mother - it's a tough time.

Love the seeing the pictures of you and one dog .. who is that?

I joined with you last year and too am looking forward to this year -

Thanks Lee - great guest A - Zer from 2011 ... great read

Cheers Elaine and Lee - Hilary