“I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.” ~ Avicii, song lyric from Wake Me Up
It’s hard for me to ask for help. I am the helper. I provide support for others. I fix all the problems, anticipate the needs. When I find myself overwhelmed, confused, unable to handle what is happening, I don’t reach out. I am convinced that I should be able to do everything myself.
Right now my life is difficult. I took on too much at once — a new project at work, a new puppy, a sick dog, and yoga teacher training. At the same time, I am still working with the grief from the loss of Dexter, and even Obi and Kelly before him, as well as deep sadness about other things. I’m also working with a therapist, trying to heal 30+ years of disordered eating, distorted thinking. Because I’m so busy, I haven’t been taking care of my body like it needs. I feel weak and tired, sluggish. I’m convinced I am failing, making a mess of things even though I am trying so hard, doing the best I can.
A few times on Facebook, I requested support. I was asking specifically about raising a puppy, needing to hear from people just how long things would be this hard. I’ve done it three other times, but am suffering from some sort of amnesia about how this works, and keep getting stuck thinking this is how it’s always going to be, that the difficulty will never end. But every time I post about it, ask the question, it seems like people don’t take it seriously and end up either joking with me or offering more general encouragement. This helps, but I am desperate for a timeline. When will this ease up?
So I asked for help directly. Stacy Morrison is an online friend. We’ve never met in person, but follow each others blogs as well as being connected through other social media, and have developed a friendship that way. We have a similar way of seeing the world and are working with similar struggles. She also just so happens to have a six month old puppy, a Lab/Terrier mix, so I knew she would still remember, be able to give me an answer. I reached out.
Her response was immediate, direct and compassionate. What she said didn’t change the specifics of my situation, but I immediately felt better about it. The support she offered made all the difference. And all I’d had to do was ask.
There is no shame in needing help. There is no shame in weakness, illness or sadness or confusion. There is no shame in being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do. We don’t need to hide our broken hearts, our struggle, our suffering. Telling the truth, being vulnerable is how we access the support we need, is how we heal. We can start by admitting we can’t do it all ourselves, that we can’t fix or handle everything that comes our way.
Go ahead, kind and gentle reader. Say it with me: I need help. Can you help me?
1. Eric: He gets out more than me lately, takes more pictures. This one has a funny story behind it. When Eric left our house, the sky was the brightest red and he knew it would only last for about 10 minutes, so he ran as fast as he could to the park to try and get a good picture of it, but by the time he and Sam got to the first open field, it had faded to pink. Still a pretty amazing sky, picture if you ask me. Oh, and he also bought me flowers yesterday, not for Valentine’s Day but for being me, for being a good mom to our dogs.
2. Love. Deep and enduring, unshakable. “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.” ~Robert Fulghum
3. Being a writer. I love it so much. When I’m not writing as much (like recently), the words build up inside of me, my fingers itch and my heart aches, and in my dreams, I’m always writing.
4. My interns at CSU. It’s all the good things about teaching, working with students, without any of the grading or other tedious nonsense.
5. Retirement. I hadn’t had access to my account balance for awhile, set it up to only receive e-documents and then could never figure out how to get into my account. When I finally did, I was so happy to see the amount, so grateful for it.
Bonus Joy: The trainer who stayed after puppy class answering all my questions. All of my dogs have been hard puppies, and a full Blue Heeler is a whole other level of hard. I also seem to have total amnesia when it comes to how this whole puppy thing works, how long it takes for the uber puppy constant attention to be over.
Bonus, Bonus Joy: Sam. How lazy he is in the morning, how content being walked, fed, and loved. How well he’s made this transition, even though he’s not completely well. How he shifted so easily to not being crated when we aren’t home, mostly just hangs out on the couch and sleeps — we know this because we’ve videoed him a few times to be sure. How good he is playing with Ringo, even though we have to limit how much he does.
1. Telling True Stories with Laurie Wagner. One of the aspects of story telling that I value most is when a writer digs into the material of their real lives and shares from that true and beautiful place. If you’re wanting to strengthen that vibrant muscle of honesty in your own story telling, consider signing up for Telling True Stories, a 5-week online writing course which starts on March 3rd. I recommend this course and this woman with my whole heart.
2. Kayden + Rain, a little girl experiences rain for the first time.
4. The Smoke and Mirrors Behind Wheat Belly and Grain Brain on Forks Over Knives.
5. Neil Gaiman reads Green Eggs and Ham.
6. Cool stuff from Viral Nova: Sometimes The Simplest Photos Are The Most Eye-Opening. These Ones Say So Much. and This Fairly Normal House Is For Sale In The UK. But It’s What’s Out Back That Has Everyone Talking. and I Couldn’t Believe What This Guy Was Making For His Unborn Child. But By The End… WOW.
7. I love Kid President.
10. In Just 2 Minutes, This Video Will Make You Feel Silly For Ever Having Doubted Yourself on Huffington Post.
11. A Funny Video That Makes You Never Want To Fall For This Natural Lie Again from Upworthy.
12. What Career Should You Actually Have? a quiz from BuzzFeed. (I got “writer”).
13. The (delicious) truth about getting older from Susannah Conway on her 40th birthday. She shares a series of posts by other women as well. Some of my favorites were top 10 reasons why being 40-something rocks and What 41 years have taught me and You are beautiful and the art of getting older, posing with snakes + playing with fire.
14. From Good Life Project, “We Asked 29 Change-Makers One Simple Question. Their Answers Would Transform the Way We Live Our Lives. Here’s What They Told Us…”
15. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,
Listening to talks about the dharma, or the teachings of Buddha, or practicing meditation is nothing other than studying ourselves. Whether we’re eating or working or meditating or listening or talking, the reason that we’re here in this world at all is to study ourselves. In fact, it has been said that studying ourselves provides all the books we need.
Maybe the reason there are dharma talks and books is just to encourage us to understand this simple teaching: all the wisdom about how we cause ourselves to suffer and all the wisdom about how joyful and vast and uncomplicated our minds are—these two things, the understanding of what we might call neurosis and the wisdom of unconditioned, unbiased truth—can only be found in our own experience.
16. 10 Life Coach Tips For A Killer 2014, a list from Rachel Cole.
17. 25 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Time On from Marc and Angel Hack Life.
18. Ron Swanson’s 7 Best Statements About Life from Hello Giggles.
19. collaborations with nature on random weaving. So beautiful.
20. The Risks Worth Taking from Austin Kleon.
21. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” —Jean Valjean, Act II, Les Misérables, love scripts from Alexandra Franzen.
22. Are you hanging by a thread? from Danielle LaPorte. I need to hear this so badly this week (month, year…).
24. Hopeful news flash! We can’t beat ourselves up into being peaceful. So please stop. from Susan Piver.
26. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.
27. An Open Letter To Anyone Thinking About Trying Yoga on MindBodyGreen.
28. Wisdom from Dallas Clayton on Facebook.
I wrote so much for you today, more than I’ve been able to write in a long time. One guest post, another short piece about telling true stories, a Something Good post for tomorrow, and an outline for a submission about beginnings. And then all day after that, I kept coming back here to check in and see what you thought about what I wrote, forgetting I hadn’t published it, hadn’t posted it here. It’s like I’ve mailed a letter and you haven’t read it yet, and as I wait for a response, I miss you. I long for the days when we had so much time to spend together, talking about everything and nothing, feeling like we had all the time in the world.
Still, I am comforted knowing you are there. Like I told a dear friend today: We might be in a boat that is guaranteed to sink, but we are in it together, and I know that when I get too tired, I can put my head in your lap while you row, or we can lean into each other and simply drift for awhile.
1. Snow, the quiet and the white, the way it covers the back yard so Ringo doesn’t get into so much stuff that he shouldn’t, and snow tires so we can still get around in it.
2. Help for Sam. Our neurologist is going to share videos of his “thing” with her teacher, see if he can think of something we haven’t, and then we will be getting an MRI, to make sure we aren’t missing something. I can live with not knowing what it is if what we are doing is helping him and he’s stable, but he’s been getting worse, so it’s time to dig a little deeper. Keep him, and us, in your prayers, kind and gentle reader.
3. Sam and Ringo. I hadn’t realized how well they were actually getting along until I saw the contrast of Ringo with a group of new dogs at his first puppy class. Even though he wasn’t scared of things like the skateboard — we were warned to put our foot by the wheels because if it moved right away, it might spook our puppy, but instead Ringo immediately hopped on and tried to figure out how to ride it — he was too afraid to play with any of the other dogs. Not so with Sam.
5. Eric, having his support and companionship. Having someone who can run with Sam when it’s -11 degrees out.
Bonus Joy: Puppy class. Ringo most likely will need to go twice a week for a bit, just to get him used to being around strange dogs. It’s one of the only places he can go right now since he hasn’t had all his shots, and it’s a nice break from our routine.
Sad but necessary truth: Sam usually stays in the other half of the house when Ringo is awake with one of us in the kitchen/dining room. We are hoping this is a temporary situation, and even though Sam looks sad in this picture he’s much happier not having to worry about a bitey puppy right now, and he gets so much extra love and attention when Ringo is napping. We hope we can get his “situation” figured out, that he isn’t getting worse as we worry he is, that we can uncover a reason that is treatable, but no matter what happens he is so loved, has the best possible life we can give him. Sweet, sweet Sam.
Ringo is a working dog. Somehow I’d managed to forget that in the frustration, exhaustion of having a new puppy. Today, when I was trying to unload the dishwasher and he kept getting in the way, into everything, and when I was most frustrated, something shifted and I remembered: he might be a baby, but he already wants to work. So, I gave him something to do. He would get up and stand on the open door of the dishwasher (this is only possible because he’s not much more than 10 pounds right now), and I would get a treat, motion to the floor and say “off.” He loved it.