My dogs threw up raisins all night. That’s a good thing because raisins are poisonous for dogs. They wouldn’t have eaten raisins, though, if I had just asked.
I had spent the day helping a friend. She has a bit of a health issue right now so I went to support her with pre-Thanksgiving errands. She ended up helping me far more than I helped her because she taught me the lesson: Just ask.
Everywhere we went she asked questions. People generally loved to give answers, even if they had to struggle a little for them. At one point she even asked someone if we were going in the right direction, even though I was standing in front of our destination. It was like she was a little fairy spreading magic dust with her questions. As the day progressed I realized how much I make myself figure things out on my own, not wanting to bother anyone. My mantra is “everyone is so busy, everyone has so much going on, I’ll just figure this out myself.”
I don’t think I’m alone with this silo mentality. If we assume that people don’t have time or don’t want to contribute to us, that silo becomes normal.
I have a neighbor who I call The Best Neighbor on Earth because she is. Susan loves to be of service. Even when I lend her things they come back looking better than new. She loves to make the world a better place. One way she does that is through her incredible kids. When I saw them a couple days ago, the eldest holding his homemade lantern for an event they were off to, it was clear that the holiday craziness was already upon her.
Normally, Susan lets the girls out and feeds them for me when I am caught away from the house longer than expected. She may have been unable to help me yesterday, but I didn’t even give her a chance to say no. So I returned home after dark, longer after their dinner time, to a bit of doggie mayhem. The girls had gotten into the pantry and had eaten a myriad of bizarre things over the course of what looked like a couple hours from the two room span of debris. I had only just days ago purchased the gigantic fresh yellow raisins so that I could make bran muffins for the very friend I had visited. They emptied the bag.
I nursed the girls through the night and they are now all better, but I put them in danger because I didn’t ask. I also didn’t ask when I was rear-ended on my way home. I didn’t even go to the window of the car that hit me. There was an accident on the notorious 405 freeway so traffic was moving very slowly. The truck behind me bumped me, not violently, but hard enough to leave a scratch and cause immediate pain going from my right braking foot up my leg. I wouldn’t have done anything with the information, both minor issues, but why on earth didn’t I even engage with him?
I was afraid of conflict, afraid of negativity, afraid of “no.” That fear factor put me back into my motorized silo.
My friend doesn’t care if she bumps into a “no” or even someone less than enthusiastic to help. She just keeps spreading the love. At the end of our day together she and I were sitting outside her house trying to get my car started. The ignition for the first time ever wasn’t working. No matter what we did, how we jiggled or jammed the key or steering wheel it wouldn’t start. I was about to have it towed when her neighbor drove by and after some friendly chit-chat she asked if the neighbor’s husband knew about cars. The woman said she didn’t think so but that she’d get him to come over anyway. Within about 2.5 minutes that very husband had jiggled and jammed the key into the ignition switch in just the right way to get it to start!
I realized I wouldn’t have even asked my own neighbor to come help had I been at my own house. Because of that freeway accident jam, I would have been stuck in a tow truck for two hours. Instead I inched my way home with the top down in glorious LA weather.
I hope I learned my lesson. I’m a “Just Do It” kind of girl. Over the years, though, I have modified that slogan to be far less empowering. It has become almost warrior like: “Just do it, you’ve got this, you can handle it on your own, just do it yourself, get it done.” But I am not at war. I don’t need to be Joan of Arc every damn day. So, I am embarking on becoming a “Just Ask” kind of girl so that I can spread a little more love like my friend, and be on the road to both giving and receiving far more.