It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Sometimes that shelf is too high for you to reach. Sometimes things require more strength than you can muster. Sometimes what is required is not something you know how to do. Sometimes you realize that acting on your own could make things worse. Sometimes you find yourself in a scary situation. When that’s the case for me, I ask for help. And that’s okay.

Asking for help does not mean that you’re weak. It does not mean that you’re a victim. It does not mean that you’re being manipulative. It simply means that you need help.

A true sign of weakness, in my opinion, is refusing to ask for or accept help when it’s obviously needed. If you’re going down for the third time, it’s foolish to drown because you’re simply too proud to ask for help. It’s so much more self-destructive to suffer in silence than it is to swallow your pride and reach out for assistance.

If no one ever needed help, then societies wouldn’t have been invented. Think of asking for help as the ultimate form of taking care of yourself. You should be proud of your ability to recognize that need and act upon it.

And helpers are amazing. There was a reason that Mr. Rogers said to look for them when you see something scary. Helpers are generous and kind and compassionate and caring. A true helper isn’t going to judge you for your need. They’re not going to think less of you. They are going to realize that someday they just might need help, too. And that, too, is okay.

The coolest thing about being a human is that your asking for help today does not preclude you from lending a helping hand tomorrow. So don’t let anyone make you feel like a victim. We all have good days and bad days. There’s no shame in that. The strength is in recognizing that fact.

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Be My Eyes

I never thought I’d say this, but for the first time in my life, I really, really wish I had an iPhone. I’ve managed to avoid jumping on that bandwagon all this time, in spite of the fact that people often look at me funny when I tell them I can’t access the internet on my phone, and while it is capable of taking photos (I’m not that far out of the loop), it can’t send them to anyone.

The thing that has finally given me iPhone envy is this app that I heard about just today, called Be My Eyes. It connects sighted volunteers with blind and low vision people who need some momentary assistance. Given that there are about 14 volunteers currently signed up for the app for every blind person who has signed up for it, the gentleman whom I heard talking about it says he gets a call about once a month.

These calls can be something random, like, “Can you tell me if this milk has expired?” or “Is this tie green or red?” or “How many eggs does this recipe call for?”

I think this is a wonderful way to give a helping hand to someone in need. It would be great for homebound individuals, for example. They could feel as though they were contributing to the wider world. A great way to battle loneliness is to make a difference for someone else.

This app is one of those delightful inventions that makes you wonder why no one has thought of it before. If you have an iPhone and any time at all, I encourage you to volunteer. And if you do, I’d love it if you shared your experiences below.

P.S. Since I posted this this morning, several readers have pointed out that the app also works on Android. So those of you with fancier phones than mine really have no excuse!

 

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Messing with a Scammer

Early one morning, I was staring blankly at my computer screen, in an utter fog, wishing I weren’t allergic to caffeine, when the following message from my friend G popped up in Facebook Messenger:

“Hello Barbara?”

I knew right off the bat that this couldn’t be G. First of all, he would never call me Barbara. (The only person who ever used my full first name was my mother when she was pissed off.)

But the other big hint that this couldn’t be G was the fact that he passed away 3 months ago. For a split second, I wished fervently that it was really him, that his death was a huge mistake, but I knew better.

And that instantly infuriated me. This was clearly a scammer, and I bet he reached out to everyone on G’s contacts list, so that must have been a painful jolt to his wife and kids. How cruel.

So I decided to mess with this person.

Me: “Hi G! How are you?”

(As I typed that, I wished this guy was burning in hell.)

G: “Am fine, Busy online Searching on what to invest my Grant Money on and you?”

(Yep, definitely not G. G knew how to punctuate and capitalize.)

Me: “I’m good. Same old, same old.”

G: “Good. Was wondering if you’ve heard about the federal government grant?”

Me: “No I haven’t.”

G: “The Grant is placed for those who need assistance buying a home, paying for bills, starting their own business, going to school, or even helping raise their children with old and retired people .This is a new program, i got $100,000 delivered to me when i applied for the grant and you don’t have to pay it back.”

(I cannot believe anyone would fall for this scam during the Trump era. No way on earth is the government going to give us money to help ease our suffering, without some serious strings attached. This scammer must think the streets here are paved with gold.)

Me: “Wow. That’s good luck considering all you’ve been through.”

(Like, uh, dying.)

G: “Thought you might have heard about it already?”

Me: “No. We haven’t talked in months.”

(That’s putting it mildly. If only we could.)

G: “I contacted the online claiming agent through link and he checked me.”

Me: “Checked you for what?”

(Rabies? Psychopathy? A serious lack of common decency?)

By the way, we should talk about the 900 dollars I owe you.”

(I threw that in just to see if I could get this guy spun up and excited and waste more of his time. The more of his time that I wasted, the less time he’d be spending scamming someone else. But at this point, the scammer went silent for a day. I guess it takes one to know one. So I decided to give it one last try.)

“Seriously, though, I do feel guilty for not paying you back yet.”

G: “Forget about that yet. I know when you have it you will pay up.”

(What a mensch. Especially since I never asked G for money in my life.)

“Let’s talk about the good news. If you click on this link and fill out this form, you might be able to get the grant money, too.”

That’s when I started getting bored with the game. Of course I wasn’t going to click on any link and turn over my social security number or my bank or credit card information, or open myself up to ransomware. So, for my final salvo, I decided to let him have it.

Me: “Sorry, ‘G’, I’m not going to click on your link, and here’s why. You stole the identity of one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was kind and generous and supportive. He also died three months ago, leaving behind a lot of people who are heartbroken and who loved him very much. I doubt a scammer like you will ever be able to say the same thing, because you don’t build relationships, you take advantage of people. I think the real G would be highly amused by the fact that I’ve been able to waste so much of your time. I also think that since he was very protective of his loved ones, he’d be outraged to know that you probably also reached out to his wife and children, who are still grieving, and this must have given them considerable pain. Sitting in your dingy, third-world room in front of your crappy computer, you already know what I’m about to tell you: You are cursed. Maybe that’s revenge from my friend G and people like him, or bad karma from the pain you cause when you rob little old ladies of their life savings, or maybe it’s just your fate, but you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t desperate for the one thing that will never make you happy: Money. Know this: NOTHING will ever go right for you for the rest of your life until you change your ways and try to have a positive impact on people, rather than a negative, toxic one. Right now, you are pathetic. But you don’t have to stay that way. It’s up to you.”

I doubt any of this will sink in. I’m sure it wasn’t even read. But I have to say, I feel cleansed.

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Asking for Help

In mid-July I’m having outpatient surgery on my wrist. It’s fairly routine, but I’ll be home recovering for a week. This has me rattled. It’s my dominant hand, and I have no idea how truly incapacitated I will be.

Will I be able to open jars? Medicine bottles? I’ll open them in advance. Will I be able to cook? I’ll make casseroles that will be easy to heat up. Or maybe a big pot of spaghetti. And there’s always pizza delivery. I won’t wear anything with zippers. I’ll do all my shopping in advance.

Still, it’s scary to think of being even the least bit helpless when I have little or no support in this town. A coworker is actually driving me to the surgery. And my neighbors would come if I shouted out the bedroom window. They’re really nice. I have also made a few acquaintances.

I just hate to bother anybody. That would even be the case if I were back in Florida where I had plenty of friends around. I’m used to having to rely on myself.

And yet, if someone were to ask for my help, I’d give it without hesitating. Why don’t I think I deserve that same treatment? Why do I think that others would not be just as generous?

Maybe I need to be reminded that it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not have everything under control.

[Image credit: mindsetdaily.com]
[Image credit: mindsetdaily.com]

I Really Need Your Help

Believe me, I hate to ask. I’d much rather help others than be helped myself. The fact is, I’m desperate.

I’ve been through a lot in the past 5 years. I’ve been swindled out of 3,500.00 (read more about that here), my car has been totaled, I lost my life savings (read more about that here), I incurred another useless degree and a student loan to go along with it (read more about that here), the love of my life died unexpectedly (read more about that here), and I was therefore kicked out of my apartment.

But I have this one chance to turn my life around. I got this phenomenal job offer, one that would change my life dramatically, but it’s on the other side of the continent. Relocating will cost me $10,000. I’m about $5,000 short, so a friend suggested I try crowdfunding. The fact that I’ve already had contributions, several from people who have never even met me, others whom I haven’t seen in decades, humbles me and brings tears to my eyes. This reaffirmation of my faith in humanity is even more valuable than the money could ever be.

My life is one Big Do Over, so that’s what I decided to call my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Check it out here. Also check out the related video below.

Even if you are struggling as much as I am, and therefore can’t help financially, you can help me a great deal by spreading the word. Repost this blog entry, please, or share it on social media in as many ways as you can. Thanks in advance.

(For those of you who get this via e-mail, the video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNC1bagplxo )

Service of Bibliomaniacal Proportions

According to Wikipedia, and contrary to popular belief, library usage is on the increase in spite of, or perhaps because of, our kindles and our nooks and our laptops. Unfortunately many local governments still target libraries first when they need to make budget cuts. The services a library provides can seem intangible to the public. They don’t rescue people from burning buildings or fill potholes or keep crime off our streets.

Unfortunately many libraries seem to be lax in promoting themselves, and that’s a tragedy because they provide a lot of amenities. Everyone knows that libraries are places where you can check out books and DVDs and use the internet, but there’s more to them than that. Many libraries offer research assistance, tax preparation assistance, homework assistance and a wide variety of classes from adult literacy to yoga to cooking to computer classes. They often host community meetings and conferences and are voting sites as well.

More and more libraries are also housing used book stores and cafes. They are great sources of genealogical information as well as archives of local history. They often provide programs to spark an interest in reading in children as well as book clubs for adults. Many coordinate summer reading programs.

Not satisfied with your library’s collection? Most of them participate in an interlibrary loan system and can get the material you desire that way, and they are also usually quite open to suggestions as to purchases they should make. People often don’t take advantages of this.

I recently convinced my library to buy the book “Crazy Town” by Robyn Doolittle, about Rob Ford, the crack smoking mayor of Toronto. I was very excited when it came in, not only because I then got to read it, but also because everyone who checks out that book from now on will have been influenced by my suggestion, and that’s a wonderful feeling.

It’s hard to put a price tag on information and knowledge and entertainment, but if we don’t support our libraries and actively participate in their programs, we will feel their loss acutely. So go to your library today, and bring a child or a friend with you. While you are there, thank the librarians for their service, as their praises go mostly unsung.

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[Image credit: librarything.com]