Friday, July 27, 2012


I'm not sure about you, but I'm one of those people who doesn't ask for help very well. In fact, it's kind of pathological. I would give away my last dollar to someone who needed it, I would drive to the ends of the Earth for a friend (or even a stranger), but I just am not good at asking even very close friends or family for help--even when I most need it. Even when it's offered, I'm not very good at accepting help. Although in theory I believe we all live in a community and we do best supporting and relying on each other, deep down it's as if I think I'm the exception; that I'm somehow supposed to be totally self-reliant and to lean even a little on someone else means that I'm deficient.

This may be why I find moving to be so stressful--it, by definition, cannot be done alone. Think about it: how many pieces of furniture are in your home that cannot be carried by only one person? Nevertheless, for most of the moves in my life, and there have been far too many, I have moved myself without asking for or accepting any help. About a month ago, when some of my sewing friends heard that Karen and I were moving, they offered their help and the use of their trucks. I was so moved that they would offer their help. Of course I wasn't going to follow up and ask them for their help (!), but their very offer was so moving to me-- that people I hadn't known for very long would volunteer their time, truck, and muscles on such an onerous task! I tucked their gift of an offer away in that place in your heart where you store such things, and then I returned home where I continued packing.

A few weeks passed, and I discovered, much to my dismay, that the house I was moving into was left in terribly dirty shape. Although the landlord was quickly responsive, it delayed our move by several days and added a great deal of stress to our already stressful move. We were juggling the cleaning of the new place, the moving of all our stuff (and there is an awful lot!!) from one place to a mile away to the new place, and preparing to clean out our new place (because unlike the tenants who left our new place in squalid shape, we felt obligated to leave our place in an even better state than we had found it).

Around that time, I received a text from my sewing buddy April, asking me if I was going to be at our upcoming sew day. I responded that given the move and the cleaning, I was going to have to give it a miss. She wrote back that they should turn the sew day into a "clean Shortcookie's house day" instead. I jokingly wrote back that I loved the idea, but was horrified at the thought of other people having to clean up dog fur and dust and such. I went back to my cleaning and packing and didn't give the text another thought . . .  until later in the day when I saw a message on my phone, telling me that indeed, sew day had been cancelled and that the very next day I was going to have four sewing friends showing up on our doorstep with rags in hand to clean out our old place.

Karen and I both teared up--what an amazing gift!! First thing Friday morning, April, Ella, Jenny, and Sue (and Miss Olivia, Ella's sweet little miss) arrived with red bandanas on their hair (with one waiting for me!) raring and ready to work. They tore through the house, vacuuming, cleaning baseboards, bathrooms, dusting, leaving the house completely spotless and smelling wonderfully fresh!

They couldn't stay for long (because they had all had to arrange for childcare in order to make the 1-2 hour drive as well as the several hours of cleaning), but we brought them over to see the new house and treated them to lunch on the porch as the very smallest of thank you's for the most special of gifts.

I learned a powerful lesson that day: I have spent a large part of my life trying not to impose on people, trying not ask too much, and trying to be self-reliant and independent. As a result, I think I have shut some people out by not letting them in when they offered to help in the past. Part of friendship is not just the generosity of giving, but also the warmth and openness of accepting others' generosity. I am so touched and so grateful for the amazing gift that Sue, Jenny, Ella, and April gave us -- not only in giving up time that they could have spent with their families or cleaning their own homes, not only in scrubbing our home clean, but in teaching me an invaluable lesson about opening up my heart and accepting help.

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