Developing your “ask for help” muscle

Nothing makes me happier than when Women on Fire members get together to nurture and expand their dreams!

Writing from their hearts: Darlene Wade, Nancy Aronie, Dyana Robenalt, Elizabeth Cassidy, Carrie Mays and Jenifer Madson. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Madson)

Such magic occurred this past weekend for women who attended our recent retreat speaker Nancy Aronie’s Writing From the Heart workshop in New York City.

And, while Women on Fire members were being inspired by brilliant Nancy Aronie and each other in New York, I was winging my way back to Naples, Florida from California.

I spent two days consulting with and being inspired by America’s #1 success coach and co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, Jack Canfield at his home in Santa Barbara.

He and his company’s CEO Patty Aubery praised our latest Women on Fire book and gave me great advice on how to reach more women so they, too, can be connected to the inspiration, strategies and support found here.

But it was not the fascinating business strategies and discussion at Jack’s house that I would immediately put to use.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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Learn how to 'ask for help' in this week's SPARK from Women on Fire®

As we said goodbye, Jack gifted me a book he co-authored with Mark Victor Hansen — The Aladdin Factor — with the provocative line on its back cover: Anything is possible…if you dare to ask!

At Women on Fire, we talk a lot about learning to ask for help.  It’s even one of the aspirations we’ve set out for ourselves: I can ask for help.

And yet most of us admit we aren’t so great at it.

Some of us dream to be like Woman on Fire Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of Unbinding the Heart, and the subject of a past Women on Fire monthly interview.

In her wonderfully charming way, Agapi revealed her philosophy and how she learned to ask for help.

“This directness was something that my mother taught me … to simply ask people in a gracious way for whatever I might want from them.

“I am ruthless. I will ask for anything. I will ask absolutely for anything. I ask people all the time in a particular situation—at the airport—I ask people to help me with my baggage. I see a nice man next to me and I ask, “Do you mind helping me?” Sometimes men get up and they help me and sometimes I say, “Would you mind helping me?” Nine times out of ten they are very happy to help.

“To ask for help you have to not have a fear of being rejected. Not to feel that if people say, ‘no, I can’t’ that you’re not going to collapse inside and feel that they don’t want you. It takes a certain confidence and a certain self-esteem and a certain feeling good about yourself that you’re worthy of asking for help. That you’re worth asking for help.”

With Agapi’s asking abilities on my mind, on the first leg of my flight home from Jack’s house, I devoured his book, determined to put into practice his wisdom:

  • You get what you ask for
  • The answer is yes …but you have to ask!
  • There is a price you pay for not asking
  • She kept asking…and she got it
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get
  • Asking improves our chances of receiving by 200 percent!
  • You can ask for anything

Emboldened, on the second, three-hour leg of my flight, I had no idea I was about to test my “asking” wings when a drunken, vulgar-mouthed young man stepped over me and plopped down in the window seat next to me.

At first I thought I would simply ignore his crudeness, swearing and wild attempts to engage me in conversation, including calling me “uptight” and “baby.”

Next, I considered silently slipping a note to the flight attendant to tattle on his outlandish behavior.

But I stopped myself. I realized this was situation where I needed to ask for help. Jack was right.  There would be a price to pay for not asking — a rough and uncomfortable three hours.

So, I unbuckled my seatbelt, walked to the front of the cabin and told the flight attendant that “the man next to me is inappropriate and I need your help to remove him.”

The Captain appeared within seconds, and in very short order, installed a burly man next to the offending man and moved me to a more comfortable seat.

I’m embarrassed to say that in the past I would have been concerned about the drunken man. I wouldn’t have wanted to humiliate him by making a scene nor would I have wanted to put out anyone else by changing seats.

What I also would have feared in the past did happen. The drunken man made degoratory comments when I moved.  I didn’t care.

The burly man was able to handle the drunk with great dispatch, even telling him to sit in his seat and stop speaking.  Surprisingly, the young man complied and was mostly quiet (and snoring) the rest of the trip.

Usually when I think about asking for help it’s along the lines of making a request to build a business, asking for additional support to lighten a load, or inviting others to participate to expand opportunity.

But, sometimes, asking for help means to simply keep yourself safe and out of harm’s way.

Please join me this week in a challenge to ask for help at least once each day this week. Share your courage and success so we can cheer you on in the comment section of our blog.

Thank you for being a part of this amazing community — and welcome to our more than 100 new readers of this week’s SPARK! We are thrilled you’ve joined us.

Now, go ask for help for something that will enrich your life! 🙂


Debbie Signature

A fire and rain-y night

Two weeks ago we had a Nor’easter here on Martha’s Vineyard.

The winds and rain slapped and shook our home until I was certain the shaker shingles would fall off.

Inside, I was baking a coconut cake for a dear friend’s birthday celebration and feared a power outage could leave the cake half-baked.  I was sure Trudy’s 90th birthday party would be cancelled, anyway.

As so often is the case, none of my worries came true.

The winds continued to howl, but our home stayed intact, the power stayed on and Trudy stepped through the dark and rain into the party on the arm of her dashing son to the wild cheers of dozens of family and friends!

What a perfectly fitting tribute that a Nor’easter arrived on Trudy’s big birthday because she is all energy and power!

I’ve told you in the past about Trudy Taylor, one of the many wise and brilliant women I’m so fortunate to have in my life.

Wise counsel always from my dear friend Trudy Taylor (Photos by Rob Berkley)

I hope you, too, have the wit, wisdom and support of a woman who has lived decades beyond you.  Please tell us about her here.

At the party, organized by Trudy’s extraordinary daughter Kate and son Livingston, love was shared and love was given to honor the matriarch of one of the world’s most famous musical families.

One of her five kids is James Taylor.

The warmth, excitement and joy inside where the birthday festivities unfolded gave no clue to the pounding rain outside.  All focus was on the tiny woman with the very big personality surrounded by the fiery candlelight from the “parade of cakes.”

And, after the cake surprise, Trudy shared her life’s wisdom with the crowd:

“Be sure to do what you love.”

“Follow your dreams… the dreams you had when you were young.”

“Don’t put off doing what you want to do.”

All this from a woman who left home at 16 to attend a music conservatory; sang in halls and churches throughout New England; raised five children born within six years of each other; faced the deaths of a young sister and then later her beloved son Alex; got divorced; pursued art as a painter and master gardener; and traveled the world including off-the-beaten path trips to China.

My favorite Trudy moment at the party came when Livingston took the microphone.

First, he sang to his mother.

Then he shared this:

“When I was a little boy about 6, I told my mother I wanted to build a swimming pool.” He said he then watched for that look on her face that would suggest it was an outrageous, ridiculous idea.

But it didn’t come.

“Where would you like to build the pool?” his mother asked, and then she helped him figure out the best place to put it.

For this, Livingston, today a popular, accomplished musician, author and college professor, would always grateful to his mother.  Her willingness to allow him to explore whatever interested him set up a lifelong learning and belief that he could do anything he put his mind to.

Throughout her children’s growing up years, Trudy remembers being criticized for allowing them to express themselves creatively.

“People were always saying to me ‘how can you let them do that?’ and ‘why don’t you stop them?’

“And, I would respond:  ‘because then they wouldn’t be who they are.’”

May you always be who you are in this world.  In this week of Thanksgiving, it is a gift to know that you can be you!

I’ll see you back here next week to celebrate what several Women on Fire are up to and to cheer them on.

Bye for now from Trudy and me! ~ Love, Debbie