Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ON FUN ~ Even Santa Needs A Letter To Know What You Need...

Image courtesy Karen Harvey Cox
At the age of 45, writer Regina Brett wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer listing 45 lessons that life had taught her thus far. As a breast cancer survivor, many of those lessons were learned the hard way. Five years later she added five more lessons rounding her list up to 50 and turned her popular list into a book called God Never Blinks. I found her list to be entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking. I thought I would go through each of her lessons learned and write about how that lesson has or has not come up in my own life, now that I am over 40 and feel old enough to have finally learned something.
"If you don't ask, you don't get."
~ LESSON #48
(I must first preface my thoughts on the above by saying that I recently realized, after 45 "50 Lessons" posts, that the chain letter of this list that I was working off of was quite inaccurate in the order of Ms. Brett's actual list. I went back and corrected all of my previous entries to match the correct Lesson number. Which is why you find me covering Lesson #48 just now. You will find the remaining lessons to be in random order. For myself, who values accuracy and proper quotation, this is annoying. For you, it shouldn't make any difference - the lessons and my thoughts are in the end, the point - not their order of appearance.)

I've always felt I was a pretty secure person. Once I moved beyond those insecure teenage years of course. I am always encouraging people, girls especially, to be strong, and go after what they deserve. To not be shy. To not be afraid. Validate themselves by going after what means the most to them. I remind myself to muster up my own courage to do these things all of the time. So I'm not afraid to put myself out there and stick to my guns. But I am often ashamed to ask for what I need.

If no one knows that you are in need of something - be it money, love, or a break from the chaos - it is hard for them to provide what you could use the most. There are moments in time where you have to put aside your pride and be honest with those who can help. There is a tremendous sense of relief when you confess your needs. Because inevitably, those you reach out to come through. Without judgement. They come through because they care.

Think about when someone you care for is suffering. You wish you knew what to do. How to be of the most help. Your greatest desire is to provide relief and make things better. You feel lost and useless and bumble around with attempts to ease their burden, only to find that what you've offered or provided is the same thing everyone else is doing. Don't waste time. Your time, being troubled over what you don't have. Their time, trying to figure out what you need most.

I recently read a book by Anne Lamott about her life as a single mom during her son's first year. A friend came by on one particularly challenging day and asked her what one thing she really would like to have him do for her the most. She threw caution to the wind and decided to confess her greatest need at that moment - for her bathroom to be cleaned. And as ashamed as she was to admit it, the result was pure joy. Her friend happily scrubbed away and left her with a place to scrub away her own stress. She was honest. Most of us would have shooed our friend away, trying to put up a front of having it all together. What I'm trying to say is that sometimes, it is okay to ask for what we need. Someone to give us a ride, a loan, a night out, a hug.

Every now and then, such as with Ms. Lamott, you don't have to ask for what you need - someone asks you to tell them. When you get so lucky, for God's sake, answer honestly. And the rest of the time, don't wait for your friends to ask if everything's all right. If you're as good at hiding your reality as you think, they'll never figure it out. And you'll never get the relief you need. Time is precious. Ask. And ask again. Until you get what you need to make the time worthwhile.


Jenny Girl said...

It can be so tough for people to tell you what you need. There is an older lady in my office who recently started. She didn't have money for her blood pressure meds, and went without them, unknown to us. Next day at work, we took her to the ER because she felt ill, and it was from not taking her meds.

She has been with us almost 6 months. I would have lent her the money in a heart beat, but she felt bad to ask. We told her next time, not to go without, but she won't ask. So we keep checking. It's good people that feel bad, and leeches who don't. It is such a shame.

Although, I could never ask for help either? Why is that?

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm not very good at asking. I have always been so independent. As my kids get older and are going in ten different directions, I have learned to allow others to help out. That is in the kid department. For me though, sometimes I just keep it all inside and try to figure it out. I need to work on this.

Tami said...

Hear, Hear! There's a difference between being whiny and needy, and asking for help when you need it.

This also applies to those women who sit around and complain because their husband doesn't read their mind. But that's another post.

Thanks for sharing your amazing insight!

kelley jensen said...

agreed--It's always easier to give help then receive help. I'm finding myself a little overwhelmed right now what with tending a toddler, two babies and a third due in a few weeks. I've had to let some things go and blogging is one of them. I thought I'd stop by and wish the three of you a very merry Christmas. It promises to be a most magical one for you as little Sammy is old enough now to get excited about things.

stacybuckeye said...

December has been a tough month for me and right now I deparately need some help but cannot ask just quite yet. But I will ask, even though I'll hate it :)