Tag Archives: relationships

Asking For Help

Asking For Help itsadomelife.com

Asking for help doesn’t come easy for me, but I am getting better at it with practice and maturity. I’m more of a stubborn problem-solver, preferring to work alone until I figure out a solution. I think some of this comes from being introverted and enjoying the time to process problems, experiment with solutions, and discover what works and what doesn’t in my own time. Working alone is easier because there aren’t as many opinions or disruptions in the thought process. Some of this comes from being a shy kid and just being afraid to ask for help. Having to ask for help filled me with so much anxiety and dread that I learned to avoid having to do it at all by adopting a stubborn, “I can do it myself,” attitude. In some ways it has served me well.

I’ve moved heavy furniture by myself by putting a sheet under it and sliding it around until I got it into position. Due to my limited sewing ability, I once figured out how to reupholster a couch with fabric, a hot glue gun, and a prayer. I’ve piled things on top of other things to create a makeshift ladder when I didn’t have access to a real one. I was able to reach things I never thought I’d be able to reach. Basically, I have found a way to get what I needed without asking for help. I am what people call independent and there isn’t anything wrong with that, unless you really do need help, which happens to all of us eventually.

Being “independent” has been my mode of operation for most of my life. Then, along comes Tiny-Small. She has no fear of asking for help. She’s actually quite the opposite of me. I often find myself telling her to at least try to do something by herself first before asking for help. I want her to be a good problem solver when she grows up and not be totally reliant on other people. The funny thing is I sort of get her point, why should she struggle for hours when someone else can show her how to do something in a couple of minutes? Or why should she do it when she can get someone else to do it for her? Asking for help certainly saves time and energy. It also creates bonds between people. Helping someone seems to make us care about each other more. When we help someone it’s like we are investing in them so we want to see the fruits of our labors pay off. Not to mention, that old saying, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine,” didn’t develop out of thin air. There is a lot of truth to that. When you help people they are much happier to help you in return. We are social creatures, I mean, that’s what the scientists keep telling us, right?.

So, here we are, Tiny-Small and I have different skills and different strengths, but we are teaching each other how to live happier and more successful lives. I mean, just a few days ago I was showing Tiny-Small how she could use a lawn chair to help her climb onto a slightly out-of-reach swing and then kick the chair out-of-the-way once she is ready to start swinging. Meanwhile, almost daily, she is teaching me the importance of reaching out to other people and asking for help. She’s teaching me there is no shame in not knowing how to do everything or in relying on the expertise and strengths of other people at least some of the time. In some ways she is teaching me how to be a better friend or how to even make new friends. Not too long ago we visited a new park. Tiny-Small was up on a jungle gym when she saw another little girl was afraid to cross a bridge, so she went right up to her, held her hand, and brought her across the bridge. They were instant friends. It’s kind of strange to think that a three-year old child is teaching a 38-year-old woman how to make friends. You have no idea how much relief I feel when I see her making friends so easily. I’ve been so afraid that she would be shy like I was as a child. I’ve outgrown most of that now, but I am still not great at making new friends. I am so glad she is. Her childhood will probably be much happier than mine was. This makes me happy and sigh deeply in relief. Phew!

I thought as a parent that I would be doing most of the teaching. I thought I would be showing my daughter how to live a good life. It turns out this relationship is a journey filled with mutual growth. I am quite certain she is teaching me more about how to live a good life than I will ever teach her. Most importantly, right now, she is showing me the importance of asking for help. I am asking for help more often now and that slight change in behavior is opening doors for me, doors I never thought possible. It’s also making my life richer. I am really grateful to have Tiny-Small in my life. She is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Some Stories Are Not Mine To Tell

Some stories are not mine to tell.
Birds at the shore.

I’ve been away from the blog for a while. I’ve been struggling with what to write about. Over the past week I’ve been on a journey both literally and figuratively (we drove to California and back over the course of 10.5 days). My life and “my story” have become entwined with the lives and stories of other people. There has been good news, illness, sadness, worry, and laughter. There has been accidental discoveries and diagnosis and even dogs involved. I am bursting with the endless possibilities of stories to be written, but some stories are not mine to tell. So, like that old saying goes, there is a giant elephant in the room and it is blocking the door. In this case that giant elephant is in my brain, rummaging around and bouncing off my thoughts like an uninvited guest with something big to hide. Something as big as an elephant. There are secrets to keep and privacy to respect and people who have incredible, life changing events taking place. Yes, I am a part of those events, but I am not at liberty to write about them. Not really.  I am not the star of these shows. I am merely playing a supportive role. I am like a backup singer to the backup singer.

Unfortunately, my preoccupation with the stories, and life journeys, of other people has left me sort of lost and empty when it comes to writing stories of my own. I have had a serious case of writers block. As a mom, wife, daughter, sister…there are many times when I find myself as a co-star in another individual’s drama, comedy, and some may even argue science fiction journey and I struggle with where to draw the line between two people or between two stories. I ask myself, where does my story end and another person’s story begin? Who has earned the right to tell this story? If I tell this story will it cause another person harm? Sadness? Guilt? Anger? Joy? As a blogger my urge is to spew all of my thoughts and feelings onto the page. I am ready to unload it all because writing gives me clarity and feedback makes me feel less alone. As a human, I have to remember that many people don’t want their stories told/exposed/embellished/dissected on the Internet. Some people don’t want their stories told at all.

What do you write about when you can’t write about your life? What do you write about when your life and your “story” is just a small moment in another persons LIFE story? What do you do when your experience is so small in comparison to another persons experience?

I’ll tell you what I did, I became silent. I debated with Jim. I took notes. I discovered the moments that were mine to write about. I unwrapped my own foibles and follies and joys and heart-break. I dove into the mundane to find the small jewels hidden beneath the stories of other people. Eventually I found my voice again. It all started with the acknowledgement that some stories are not mine to tell. So, I won’t write them. I will put them aside. I will shove the elephant into a corner and put a party hat on it. Then I will slip out the door and unlock the block in my mind.

Instead of telling these stories that belong to other people I’ll write about how California and my hair hate each other, how Tiny-Small is not impressed by the beach and how Jim made me listen to a Jack Johnson CD for 14 hours straight. I’ll tell you about how I packed three bags of markers, colored pencils, and sketch books into my car and didn’t draw a single thing for over ten days. I’ll tell you about the five ways I learned how to add more fiber to my diet (yep, fiber matters) and I’ll even tell you about how one of my childhood dreams came true. I can tell my little stories and leave space for other people to tell their big stories because some stories are not mine to tell. Some stories belong to other people.  Luckily, in the middle of worrying about how to navigate through blogging about my life without harming others, I realized that there is always something to write about because, even with an elephant in the room, I still have a voice and I still have eyes and experiences and things to share. I still have my own stories, even if they are small and quiet, even if they have to squeeze past an elephant to be told.

 

For Some Reason My Husband Puts Up With Me

Fairie Painting by Lillian Connelly
Fairies

I don’t know how or why, but for some reason my husband puts up with me. I just want to say right now, if you like a perfectly neat house, never marry an artist. I mean, I have taken over the little guest house we have and filled it with easels and paint and canvases. Everything is art, art, art up in there. It’s like sitting inside a rainbow. There is no color scheme unless you count all the colors as a color scheme. Not to mention, I keep collecting odds and ends that I might need someday in a collage or sculpture or to make a stamp out of. I have even saved the plastic netting my lemons came in because that netted plastic might make a really cool stencil on something…someday. If I can find it.

Anyway, over the winter I took over the dining room table because my studio was cold. It happened again. Last night I claimed the dining room table as all mine…ALL MINE. I had to paint, but I needed to be near Tiny-Small who was busy simultaneously watching Mulan, eating a snack, and playing with her imaginary friend Boo-Boo, who we found out is a dog, is brown, is big, and likes to pet Tiny-Small. He is also gender neutral because while she calls him a “him” she also says he is her girlfriend. It looks like dressing her only in green and yellow baby clothes finally paid off. Anyway, this morning my dining room table looks like this because I literally painted until two minutes before I went to bed. Best night ever!

Messy table.
Here we go again. I don’t know how my husband puts up with me.

I don’t know how Jim puts up with me. He never complains. Meanwhile, I am always annoyed that he leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor or keeps every scrap of paper he encounters in a day in a pile on the kitchen counter. I think he is probably going to win spouse of the year award for putting up with my bad habits. Unfortunately, I am totally losing for my ungracious nature and messy I-own-this-table year round behavior, but also winning because I married the spouse of the year award recipient. Yes, Jim is still getting the short end of the stick, but that probably happens a lot to people who get these type of awards, don’t ya think?

face painting by Lillian Connelly
Faces, faces, faces.

I have more than one bad habit when it comes to making art. I probably have too many to list here, but I will tell you I have an unhealthy obsession with art supplies. I want them all. One of each, at least, to be precise. As soon as I try something new I read about something else new and have to try it…right now! TODAY! I recently read that most women spend their extra money on their appearance. What does it mean that I spend my walking around money on Stabilo pencils and paint markers? It means I walk around looking like I bought my clothes off of the thrift store clearance rack…because I did. Yes, this is what happens when your spouse is an artist. You have to suffer their throw-back appearance, unkempt hair, and watch them spend your hard-earned money on pastel crayons and fancy papers.

I don’t know how Jim puts up with me and my obsessive nature. I paint face after face…three in one day yesterday, and he compliments every single one as if he has never seen it done before. When I day-dream about a new watercolor brush, he comes home with it to surprise me. When I apologize about the table being covered with all of my stuff he pretends he doesn’t even notice. When I don’t sell any paintings he reassures me that I will next week. He says he doesn’t care about having a neat house with perfectly clean and tidy everything. He’d rather be married to an artist. He’d rather be married to me.

Girl Power painting of a gal with blue hair.
Girl Power!

I guess I can forgive him for leaving his shoes in the middle of the floor…at least this once, right? I mean, it’s the least I could do for this man who loves me enough to put up with my bad behavior. He even does it with a smile. He is totally winning that award this year, even if I have to make it myself…on the dining room table.