Asking for Help

April 25, 2012

Oh, how I feel qualified to write about this topic! The old me was sooooo resistant to asking for help. I could do it myself. I could do it better. Everyone is too busy, and I don’t want to bother them. Blah, blah, blah. I was heavy on the giving, but not on the receiving end, and it was making me sick. Yes, physically sick. For over a year, I noticed that almost every health issue I had was on the right side of my body. Finally, it occured to me that this is the yang (of the yin and the yang) side, and has everything to do with giving, doing, pushing, expending energy, etc. There’s a place for all of this, but a healthy life needs balance, and I was neglecting my yin side, which is about receiving, resting, and nourishing ourselves.

This post is dedicated with deep love and gratitude to my friend/assistant, Alissa. I only use the word assistant because she refers to herself as such. For the longest time it would make me uncomfortable. I would giggle when I heard her say it, because really, who did I think I was to have an assistant? I met Alissa years ago when she was a college roommate of my friend’s daughter, Rachel, at NYU. When I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Rachel suggested that Alissa could help me organize my business, and so, for once, I let go of a little control and said yes. My life truly changed the day Alissa started to work with me. She’s a talented photographer and  has a very critical, creative eye which was so important to me. She helped me get organized, got my website up and running, and taught me how to manage it myself, so that I’m not dependent on her. (I’m about 60-70% proficient in this regard!) She understands my need to always have color and composition just right, and never makes me compromise myself. Alissa gets twice the work done in half the time.

But our work together often seems like a page out of The Cat in the Hat. More play than work. At least it does for me, and I think Alissa would agree. The thing is, I have yet to discover anything that Alissa can’t or won’t do, so when she shows up to work and says, “What are we doing today?”, anything is possible. Like the day she hung roller shades on my 11 ft. high windows. Or the time she helped me save my six ft. cactus from dying by hauling it into my bathtub to give it a good cleaning. (It survived.) Alissa was painting my big wall a beautiful shade of goldenrod yellow when the NYC earthquake shook my apartment. Thankfully, she had just climbed down off the ladder. She’s a great cook and can quickly whip up a healthy lunch in no time flat.

My mind was on Alissa when I wrote my last post titled Spring Cleaning–Inside and Out, because she was right there with me, helping me rip through my closets and purge what I needed to get rid of. Did you really think I did that all myself? Seriously? Alissa can be a bit merciless here, but I welcome her honesty and sense of keeping things simple. I crave organization, but don’t have good skills in this area. I call it my Vata-Pitta war, and the Vata usually wins out–my mind floating off in a completely different direction. Enter Alissa–she snaps me out of my Vata coma, and her organizational skills somehow rub off on me.

So, you’re probably thinking, “This may sound like fun for Barbara, but not for Alissa”. I know it’s her job, but I like to believe that I help to keep it from getting boring. One day, I taught her how to make a pie (mine are pretty awesome, I’ve been told), and she’s always privy to free energy work. We even had a field trip to Woodstock to spend the day with herbalist, Susun Weed. But the thing I can’t put a price on is the relationship that has grown between us. Some days she seems like a daughter and I’m nurturing her, other days her wisdom and common sense find me on the other side of the fence.

You certainly don’t need an assistant to allow yourself to receive. I guarantee there are people in your life willing to help you out at the drop of a hat, and not expecting a thing in return. In fact, I challenge you to let someone help you out without clamboring to even the score. (I have to stop myself from that life-long habit of “You gave me that, so I’ll give you this.”) Just take a deep breath and say those two precious words: thank you. Ditto for receiving things like love, affection, respect and praise.

I got pretty emotional writing this post because Alissa recently received her Master’s degree in Journalism, and is interviewing for a real job. I will miss her terribly. Whoever hires her will likely have no idea how lucky they are. They better treat her well. And Alissa, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

  1. Lovely – sounds like you are both on the receiving end. 😉

  2. Barbara, what a great post! I know a lot of people (especially women) who give way more than they allow themselves to receive. I’m taking tiny footsteps behind you — you are such a great example for me! Plus your sense of fun is SO appealing! Alissa is as lucky to have you as you are to have her. Take care, my friend.

  3. Nancy, Thanks! Yes, everyone would be blessed to have an Alissa in their life! 🙂 See you soon! xoxo

  4. Oh my gosh, Barbara, I am a little misty eyed over here! Lucy used to help me purge my closet in high school, and I agree she can be a little merciless, but it’s so nice to have someone like that when you’re someone who can get attached to a tanktop based off the distant memory of a boy, or something. I am so glad you have each other’s friendship! Also thanks for this post in general — I’ve been talking to people a lot lately about asking for help…how hard it is, and how necessary/powerful.


    PS I’m going to get acupunture for the first time next week!

    • Hi Emily! I had a really hard time holding it together while I was writing this post. I’m glad you saw it–it means so much more knowing who Alissa is and what she’s all about. She’s one of a kind, that’s for sure. I had (and continue to have) great success with acupuncture. Let me know how it goes! xoxo

  5. Awesome post Barbara…great relationship…and about the asking for help…it is a tough one, but getting to the point of being able to do it is amazing. With the move coming up, I am asking for help from everywhere…be well lovely lady

  6. Thanks, Randi! Good luck with your move! xoxo

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