How do you know when you need help? For many of us, asking for or even hiring someone to help us, seems to be outside our comfort zone. For the last year I have been saying to myself that I needed to get some help. Coming from a generation of women who were supposed to be able to ‘do it all’, I had gotten used to taking care of all the details by myself. Today, I finally took the plunge, and hired a housekeeper to come in once a month to help give me a break. It always seems like such a frivolous or extravagant thing to do, to hire a housekeeper. At least that’s the excuse I give myself whenever I consider it. There have been, however two other times when I depended on having a housekeeper to help me out. Both times I was a student.
In my mid-twenties, I was raising a young child, working two and three jobs, and going to university. When I was overwhelmed by too much to do and not enough time or energy to do it, I hired a student to come in twice a month to clean my house. The second time I hired a housekeeper was when I was again, teaching at three different university campuses, driving back and forth to the coast to help take care of my aging Father, and going to graduate school. Again, Sue, my housekeeper, was a life saver and blessing to me. For nearly a year, the last year of my Father’s life, Sue helped me bring some order, beauty, and relief to my life. Both times I hired a housekeeper, I felt good about giving someone some work—keeping the energy flowing so to speak.
And so today, I have once again decided it was time to hire someone to help me. When I say help me, that’s what I mean, because each time I’ve hired someone, it has motivated me to do a lot of the cleaning myself—to get the house ready for the housekeeper. The first time I had someone come to my house to clean, I made sure I was gone. When I’d come home, the house would look and smell so nice. The gal who cleaned would put her special touches on things—organizing pillows in an artistic way, leaving flowers on the table, or straightening things in such a way that I would notice a nicer flow.
In the 90’s when Sue helped me, I was usually home for most of the time she came. We had some nice conversations and one time struggled to put a new vacuum cleaner together. She made me some special Chinese Knots, that I still have hanging from my doors.
Tomorrow I’m having someone come over to spend a couple of hours cleaning. I have made a list of what I thought would be reasonable for the time she will have, and have plans to take care of some of the other cleaning and straightening before she comes over.
What finally pushed me into finally taking this step was having to spend most of last week and all weekend doing an annual studio tour. Next week I have a guest coming, and this week I have three project deadlines to meet. Even after a very exhausting weekend, I woke up Monday morning full of energy and drive to get a lot done. Knowing that it’s a good idea to follow the path of energy, I knew that my businesses had finally gotten to the point where it is time to share the load. And so I am embracing the offers that are coming my way.
Another friend has mentioned being willing to help me find someone to help with some of the busy work that needs to be done, and I’m realizing that to market my books and have enough time and energy to do the creative work that needs to be done, I need to find help with some of the marketing, organizing, and editing work that needs to be done. As a writer, a fine arts photographer, and a counselor, I need to delegate better than I have been. It takes a little time to get someone trained to help, and it requires trusting someone to help, knowing their skills and limitations. One of the best things to happen to me in terms of learning how to accept assistance, was having my own administrative assistant on my last full time position. The very capable and talented woman I hired, taught me so much about trust, about letting someone do what they do best, so I could do what I do best.
Now the time has come for me to move more deeply into my work, by acknowledging the importance of having someone share the load. Someone I can count on to do a little research, or someone to edit a piece before it goes to publication. Someone to help organize and do the pre-planning and arrangements for events. Someone to call in to help me get ready or tear down an exhibit. As it is, my jam packed portfolio, a box loaded with prints and photographs, and all the paraphenalia that I used for the studio tour are sitting right where I piled them when I got home, exhausted Sunday night.
Sometimes it’s important to take a significant step towards lightening a load and giving both body and mind some much needed rest and a break. Today, I took one of those steps, and honored my own limitations and needs. John Donne’s poem, No Man is an Island, reminds us that none of us needs to close ourselves off from asking for help or receiving it. Hopefully, this little change in my life, will give me a break from the sense of feeling like the Lone Ranger. I know how others appreciate it when I help out or when someone picks up the slack for them. In the interest of increasing the flow of energy in my life and in the lives of others. The energy exchange between people, whether it is among family members, between partners, or between those who we ask or hire to help us, is an important aspect of keeping the balance, harmony, and flow of life open and receptive.