...how would people ever know we need it? And yet, how hard is it to reach out to ask for help? Not to make light of this issue, I literally will strain to open a jar of pickles for 5 minutes before asking Dave to help me (because it makes me so envious when he turns it one time and...voila! pickles). I have often been know to climb on counters to get to a bowl or dish that was on the top shelf of our cupboards (not joking----those cupboards were not made for 5' 3" people!!).
But I'm really talking about the greater needs we have in our lives. It has almost been five years ago since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Five years! Unbelievable!! But I will never forget getting the call from my doctor when I was 2,367 miles away from Dave telling me that, yes indeed, the biopsy had revealed breast cancer. All I wanted was to be in Dave's arms, but I received SO much emotional support from my colleagues and friends in the Danielson Group (the group with whom I was meeting in Princeton, NJ for a Danielson retreat). It was so hard to take in the "I'm so sorry"s and the "It will turn out just fine"s, as I hadn't had any time to process the information. But after changing my flight to get back to Dave the next day, the first person I called from my hotel room was my best friend from college, Robin Hoxworth, who literally cried and laughed with me in the span of our hour-long conversation. After that, and the falling into Dave's arms while surrounded by our pups who Dave had adorned with pink lockets and pink ribbons, I honestly do not remember how it happened, but we were suddenly locked into help that Dave would need after my first surgery (as he was still a working stiff at the time :) ). Robin stayed for a week, my dear friend Michelle Vaughn (who earned her doctorate alongside me) stayed a few days, and my other best friend in the world, Kelly Raaum, stayed for a week. I don't really remember all that time, but I do remember that there were so many other angels who sent meals, brought meals, brought AA meetings to me, and so much more.
Reaching out for help has never been much of my forte'. But I believe that there comes a time in every one of our lives in which we realize that help can be found if we just ask. I think about the teachers with whom I've been blessed to work who reach out to each other (and to me) for creative ideas on how to engage their learners in the learning. I think about the school leaders who email me (and are not ashamed to do it, which I believe is nothing short of a miracle) to ask for help in how to have better conversations with teachers or how to objectively observe and coach their own teachers in their school. I cannot tell you how much this means to them. I mean, I'll be quite honest. I certainly hope it helps my graduate students to get an answer to a question from me, but selfishly, it also helps me so much as it makes me think about my own thinking. What a blessing!!!
As a member of a 12-step group that relies on sponsorship (someone you find who has what you want in order to grow in a spiritual fashion), I know we joke about the 50 pound telephone. So many of us struggle to reach out to one another to ask for help. We say things like "I just don't want to be a bother". But the truth of the matter is that when we help others, we ourselves gain such gifts that are unimaginable and difficult to explain. Who wants to admit they can't "fix" themselves without the help of God or another human being that might have some wisdom to share? Not many people I know. But it is in the asking for help that helps us become stronger, which is one of those cool ironies of life!!
Just for today, I pray that you are able to ask another teacher, friend, family member, or spiritual advisor for just the help that you need. I'd love to hear your personal experiences with reaching out for help and becoming blessed by the experience.
And for the love of all things Holy, please don't climb on the countertop to reach the high shelf of a cupboard (at least without a spotter).