Why Asking for Help is So Hard

I just never know when the next ah-ha moment will happen.

Weed Eater

The man from the landscaping company came by to talk to me about some rocks.

We surveyed the backyard together. As we did, I apologized profusely for the condition of the grass along my fence line; as if the condition of the yard was some reflection on my character. I was embarrassed and explained that I had run out of weed eater string and was working on how to replace it. I assumed this would be the end of that conversation.

I do not know how to replace weed eater string. In fact, I did not even know that the string was designed to destroy itself. Yard work is not one of my gifts.

He smiled sweetly and said “I’ll do it for you.” I, of course, said something like “oh no, no I don’t want to bother you with that.” He insisted.

I stood and watched, uncomfortably, as he laced the string into the weed eater. I apologized for using his time to do this for me. I apologized for not knowing how to do it myself. Really, though, I was apologizing for needing help; I was worried that he would judge me because I could not do this myself. I explained, apologetically, that this is the first house I have lived in where I was responsible for the yard. In the past I hired someone to do it and growing up my Daddy always took care of the yard. As I gushed, needlessly, I wondered why I needed him to know why I did not know anything about weed eaters. Why would I?

He repeated sweetly and genuinely that he did not mind. He said that he was happy to do it and that “it makes us feel needed.”

It makes us feel needed – I thought about that comment for a couple of days. He did not care that I did not know anything about weed eaters; he did not expect me to and did not judge me for it. He enjoyed helping.

He liked being needed as much as I did not want to be needy. It’s clear to me now that when I refuse to ask for help when I need it I am depriving someone else of the opportunity to feel the joy of being needed.

Turns out, needing help is not a character flaw either. It is an opportunity to give someone else the gift of being needed.

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Home Ownership Lesson #8

It is mine and I can do whatever I want to it.

The last two days have been a cleaning frenzy in my little corner of suburbia. Thursday was the screened in porch, Friday was the kitchen, Saturday was everything else. I love a house filled with the smell of Clorox.

I noticed that cleaning my master bath is tough because of the door situation. The bathroom closet door is right behind the bathroom door into my bedroom such that the door handles will bang against each other. In order to get into the closet I have to close the bathroom door. This makes sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping a huge pain. It also encourages me to leave all my products out on the counter so I don’t have to get into the closet for everything. Contrary to what my parents will say, I like to be neat, but my closet won’t let me. It is not my fault.

Since the bathroom was clean, all my bathroom stuff was in the closet in its proper place. I want to leave it there in an effort to be the neat person that I like to believe that I am. So, as I prepared for an evening out on Saturday night I got irritated at my bathroom. I rolled my eyes and closed the bathroom door and opened the closet door. Again. I thought to myself, I wish I could get rid of this closet door, it is a waste of space. Then I closed the closet door and opened the bathroom door and continued on with my primping.

Then, I realized, wait, this is my house. I can get rid of that door.

And that is exactly what I did. In party clothes and freshly coiffed hair (my impulse control on such issues is clearly lacking) I snatched a Phillips screwdriver from my cardboard box of tools and proceeded to unhinge the door. Ten minutes later the door was is in the garage and I have unfettered access to my closet. Ah, it is the small stuff that makes me happy.

Now, I wonder if I should paint the inside of the closet? It never ends.

“A good home must be made, not bought.” Joyce Maynard, “Domestic Affairs”

 

Home Ownership Lesson #4

You will need to accept and/or ask for help.

I have been doing things myself for a long time. Even though I am the same baby that refused to walk because I had people for that – why walk when everyone carries me? I somehow went from happily depending on the arms of others for transportation to insisting on moving myself from my college apartment to downtown Richmond, Virginia when it was close to being the murder capital of the world. Mommy later complained that “I could have asked for help.” Honestly, it never occurred to me. I could do it myself.

Boyfriend #2 used to say that I am “independent to fault” because I wasn’t jealous and regularly told him that I needed a couple of days to myself. I thought he was over-reacting. Sometimes I prefer my own company, what’s the problem with that? I enjoy eating, going to the movies, shopping, and traveling alone from time to time. I have been told by people that those preferences are “weird,” “pathetic,” and “brave.” I just thought I was being normal? Sometimes a book, a movie, or NPR is all I need.

Not much has changed. I have rented apartments, traveled abroad, driven through the desert, chilled in Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago, and bought two cars myself. Most recently I bought a house by myself with some interest rate advice from a mentor and a chat with a few folks about realtors. Why not think that I can move into the new digs by myself? I thought I will hire movers to transport the furniture – even though the Family of Six offered to move me. Great plan? Two nights of pain, one doctor’s visit, two prescriptions, a sick day, and heating pad later – I realized this was not a great plan.

It started when I decided that I would move two night stands from Virginia to FW myself. Solid wood night stands with full drawers – no need to unpack them . . . waste of time. I unloaded these myself. The next day I woke up with a sore back. No big deal, right? I did some stretches and all was well. Next morning I had to keep my arbitrary schedule of moving things from my apartment to the new place (can you say OCD?) and was carrying a giant plastic container filled with clothes down the stairs. When I turned the corner into the garage I felt a sharp shooting pain in my lower back. That pain stayed without fading for the next three days. I spent a lot of time lying on the floor. Not good.

It turns out I need help.

Luckily I am extremely blessed with some homeownership angels who actually offer and expect friends to ask them for help. Shocking!  So, I have learned my lesson. I am letting the Family of Six help move some things, the Father of Six did all the prep for my painting and is cleaning the carpets, Sweet Chelle painted three rooms beautifully, Bob the Builder has recommended tree cutting services, and various others have provided muscle and advice. All I had to do was ask. What was so hard about that . . .

“How do I feel by the end of the day, Are you sad because you’re on your own, No I get by with a little help from my friends.”

John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Home Ownership Lesson #1

A house requires tools.

I bought the house on Monday. By Friday I had spent more than half of my down payment even though there were no major or minor defects and nothing was broken. These expenditures were just to prepare for The Queen and I to move in. We may be a little high maintenance (mostly her). So I will be posting a series on all the things I am learning (the lessons are coming daily at this point) about owning a home.

I was so excited to go to Lowe’s and buy my new door hardware. I bought some good-looking round knobs for the front door. I dislike those long straight handles – too much to go wrong, jiggle, or break.

I got into the car with my purchase and was on the verge of reporting my first home purchase to my Daddy when I realized that . . . I have no tools. That is right, my toolbox included one hammer, one tape measure, and one vice grip. I live in an apartment – I have people for that stuff.

So, next stop, Sears. Ruby Falls, an experienced handy-lady at home, advised me on a solid list of tools I should have and I trucked myself to Sears. Screw drivers, pliers, wrenches, nails, and a box cutter now join my hammer, tape measure, and vise grip. I’m set. For now. Except, I soon learned that you can’t buy just ANY old door knobs. You must buy the “high-end” knobs. I bought off-brand door knobs. According to the Father of Six, this is bad. Generic doorknobs break. So, I went right back to Lowe’s and exchanged (did you know that Lowe’s will take things back without a receipt – I was amazed) my generic knobs for a Schlage knob and deadbolt. I am told that you get what you pay for . . . I hope that is true.

Four-way screwdriver in hand, I attacked the front door and successfully installed new door hardware. Just like a real big-girl homeowner. Tools and all.