Help Me, and other difficult phrases

I hate to ask for help,” she said. Clichés are often true.  In this case, apples don’t fall far from the tree. Go ahead, Google “Hardest words to say,” and see what you come up with.

I am sorry

I am wrong

I don’t know

I love you

Help me

That is a list I can identify with.  How about you?

Why is it so hard to ask for help?

I fear rejection. They might say no. They may think less of me for needing help.


I fear to impose. They might want to say no, yet feel like they have to say yes. They have so many other burdens to carry.  I don’t want to be just one more.

I am independent. I can do it myself. Besides, others often fail me.  If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

If I ask and they help me, they may hold it up to me forever saying, “You would be nothing had I not helped you.”

I want control of the outcome.  They might help, but not help in the way I want.

I need affirmation – support for my plan.  They might offer advice. Opinion.  Tell me how to do it instead of just supporting my plan.

Have you experienced some or all these anxious feelings when you needed help?

What if you need help and you don’t ask for help? You may injure yourself.  You may get burned out, exhausted or ill, trapped. What if you just wait for someone to see your need and offer? You kind of huff and puff and hint and sigh. They may reject you anyway. Seeing your need, they may offer or foist help on you whether you want it or not -give you pink preppie skirts when you needed hiking boots. One way or another, they will doubtless offer advice and opinion.

So why not ask specifically for what you need? Choose your confidant or potential benefactor carefully.  If you need a car mechanic, a medical doctor is probably not a good substitute. A multi-level marketer may not be your best counselor, nor does your great grandma a sturdy piano mover make.  Go ahead and choose with care.  Ask. Then trust them a little bit. A wise helper might teach you how to fish.  They might lend you their fishing gear.  They might have greater insight into your roadblocks and challenges and give wise counsel – a needed boost rather than a ruthless kick in the pants.

But if they say, “Hey, I know you are desperate for money.  Let’s talk about getting you a loan! (or buying lottery tickets – or robbing a bank – or some other get-rich quick scheme).”  Nah! Withdraw your request and run the other way. Helping you spend or helping you into debt is not helping you.

You can ask for help and still remain yourself and guard your heart.  We all need a little help of one kind or another from time to time. May you – and I – have the wisdom and discernment to know when to ask for help and the dignity to receive help without selling out our deepest dreams or indenturing our spirits to shame.


Vacations are for light and laughter

She meant it in love, but I almost laughed in her face.  As I exited the door for my  much longed for camping vacation, my housemate admonished, “You be sure and camp where there’s enough light, now.”  She meant, be safe.  She meant; we care about you. I intended to sleep in National Parks and State Park campgrounds.  Is a million stars enough?

It is good to begin a vacation laughing. After all, absence of laugher is a critical deficit. I was burned out. Discouraged.  I needed nature. I needed therapy.  Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

In my wanderings, I hoped to find clarity, specific guidance or maybe even a new life.   Is that too much to hope for? In place of clarity, I got peace. Rather than specific guidance, I got to travel and hike with my daughter. Sometimes the best therapist in the world is a wise daughter, sister or cousin. I didn’t get a new life, but I got to nose about in ghost towns and open spaces and contemplate old lives – including mine.  That too, brings peace.

And there was laughter.  The meal at Garbanzos was already well flavored with the humor of my two youngest before they were motivated to snap and post a selfie.  Being national siblings day, it was a legitimate social plan, rather than rude self-absorption.   As they fussed over their phones, I asked Philip if he wanted to add my leftovers to his takeout box.

He looked up and deadpanned, “We can’t talk to you right now, we’re on facebook.”

“Very well,” said I and whipped out my own cellphone.

A moment later, Philip looked up. “Mom!  Did you just voice text me?”

Yes, Son.  Yes, I did.

I may not have found clarity, specific guidance or a new life, but I loved talking with my grown children and seeing them relate.  I think I may have found myself again, for my sense of humor is intact.

As I said on facebook: Vacation is for those times your heart has come up missing, and you need to go and find it.

Sale! Or, why you should take the zip line

What makes a vacation?
According to my daughter-in-law, it is not a vacation if you wake up cold. When I woke up in Mueller State Park on April 9 it was 22°. My fault for choosing a campsite in excess of 9,000 feet elevation with peak views. I was in a sleeping bag in the back of my Subaru with two quilts on top. For me, the reason it didn’t feel like vacation was that the showers weren’t open. I love my daily bath. Hot and cold running water are the two great luxuries of life.

It’s not a vacation if you left a messy desk back at the office and carried the worries with you. I tried to leave everything in order at the office so others could function with ease. I scheduled several posts in advance. After three days, I even stopped checking my email.

It’s not a vacation if you are so tight on money you brought the left-overs from the fridge and that is all you have to eat. My hamper was stocked with chips, nuts, fresh apples and avocados, and planned camp stove meals.

Perfect avocado presentation by Andrea
Perfect avocado presentation by Andrea

It’s not a vacation if you take it during spring break and your taxes are not yet done. Someone earned money doing my taxes this year. It was every bit the luxury of the years’ worth of pedicures it cost.

It’s not a vacation unless you have time to read and write. Next time, I will do less driving and more writing.

It’s not a vacation unless there are pianos along the way. I make it a point to play every accessible piano I encounter. This included the piano at St Catherine /St. Malos – in the mountains and intentionally scheduling time in downtown Ft. Collins with the pianos about town.

Our Lady of the Mountains St. Catherine / St Malos
Our Lady of the Mountains St. Catherine / St Malos

It’s not a vacation unless there is plenty of laughter. Loved, loved, loved travelling with my daughter for three days. It was even better when we met up with my youngest son.

Philip and Andrea laughing
Philip and Andrea laughing

It’s not a vacation unless there is wiggle room for spontaneity. Despite being admitted to Royal Gorge on the senior rate, I essayed to ride the zip-line. It was too windy, so I saved myself 40 dollars. Just like money saved at a sale, this savings cost me more in the long run. Remember what I said about hot and cold running water being the two great luxuries?

Vacations should feel luxurious. Do you know how many campground showers remain closed for the season? Do you know how many hot springs there are in the Rocky Mountains?

Vacations are for enjoying as many as possible. Just keep telling yourself, “I saved $40 on the zip line. Surely I can afford this.”

The Lorelei
The Lorelei

I saved $40 on the zip line.  Surely, I can stay another day!



Vacation.  Vay Cay  Shun!   I have been contemplating taking one.  In fact, I am on one.  In the days and weeks leading up to this time, it was my goal to put everything in order at work – to leave the office and the store turnkey so that the workers taking on extra hours in my absence would have a smooth time of it.

Forget leaving disarray so you are missed.  That goes against my grain.  I am nearly as bad as the mother in Night Crossing who wanted to mop the floor before the family escaped so the officials would not find evidence of slovenly housekeeping when they came in to investigate the disappearance.

Besides, when things fall into chaos in your absence, others usually blame you for being gone anyway.  They accuse you of not caring – whether or not you have accumulated so many vacation hours you are required to take a few before the busy season arrives and no one can be spared.

To complicate matters, work  – and holding it together personally – has been so busy I have had precious little brain cells working in the background to plan an enjoyable get-away.

Breath deep.  Here I am on the threshold of departure with only one load of laundry to finish and an oil change to complete before I am off.  But what do I want to do most at this very moment?  Write.  Play the piano.  Vacation has a way of doing that; bringing into sharp focus the things that really matter.  So after I write; after I play; after the oil and laundry and maybe even after some leisurely work communication; I’ll be off !  Yes, I am going to explore some beautiful places in beloved Colorado.

And when I’m gone?