Getting Help

No one does it alone. No one.

I am terrible at getting help. So bad. I would much rather be the help than the helped. Having a husband with Parkinson’s Disease, I find his ability to help is diminishing. Of course he still pitches in and cooks dinner, but the quality of his work and the time it takes to get things done is very frustrating. For me. I need help.

On the flight home from Florida, I began to compose a letter to some church friends asking for their help with my darlings while I am going to be away for a few days for a worktrip to New Mexico. But then the plane hit turbulence and I put my laptop away. I have not opened that file. A part of me felt ashamed that I needed help.

In a city and a country of rugged individualists, I felt stupid and weak for asking for parenting and family support.

However, a few recent events in my life and in the world have reminded me that human beings need one another. We are social animals who like to live and work in community. It takes a village. We all need help – coping with an ill spouse, raising children, writing a book, organizing a demonstration or running a marathon. Here are some examples:

1. Occupy Wall Street — if you demonstrate alone, you look crazy. If you demonstrate with thousands of other people, you look like you have a cause.

2. NaNoWriMo — even the loneliness of novel writing can be ameliorated by thousands of on-line and real life friends cheering one another on. Creating small daily goals adds up to big accomplishments.

3. My Daughter’s Soccer Team — it’s much more fun to celebrate a win in a group than to win alone.

This weekend I saw this performance art piece at the foot of the High Line. The women were cutting each other's hair.

4. Haircuts — they just look better when someone else does them. In the same way, you can’t set your own broken arm.

5. My Family’s Well Being — I’ve met with a former colleague who started her own eldercare business and is helping us with Chris’s caretaking and I’ve also met with a lawyer to learn about protecting our family assets. These were huge and difficult calls to make and conversations to have. There’s more work to be done, but it’s a start.

Someday I may get back to writing that letter to my church friends to see if anyone wants to watch Charlotte’s soccer game or share a meal or prod the children to homework while I’m away. But I hesitate to finish and send the letter.

What if no one can help? Then I will end up exactly where I am. And it’s not such a bad place to be.

Mandala Occupies Washington Square


Yesterday I was in Washington Square Park along with hundreds of other Occupy Wall Streets supporters.

Let me come clean, I would like to say that I was there for the demonstration, holding a witty, anti-establishment placard, but I was actually just passing by to meet my friend and fellow writer, Dan Wakefield, to commiserate on the writer’s life.

We weren’t the only peripheral people there. Right near the arch, there was a mandala being created from huge ziplock bags full of colored sand. The artist would step in and leave his shoe print in the art as he sprinkled colored sand like powdered sugar on the cement.

I loved the colors. And it was amazing that in this square crowded full of protesters, families and college students, there could be sacred art on the ground. No one stepped in it, except the artist.

It seems everyone respects art — much more than they respect the greed of corporate America. Times are a’changing. Let me get my placard and come up with some witty words.