Emily Post and asking for help

Emily Post and asking for help

Let me just put it plainly. I don’t feel comfortable asking for help.

I mean, sure, if it’s something like, hey Husband can you reach that thing on the top shelf, or lift this heavy piece of furniture, then what does it matter? After all, if he wasn’t around, I’d figure out a way to do it myself. I’m an independent kind of girl.

So asking for help when I really need it? Not my favorite thing.

I think part of it is the social graces that my parents modeled for us and set as our standard starting when we were just tiny things. Graces that demand you never put someone on the spot. You never put requirements on friendships. You never talk about money (at least not specifics) publicly. You never make someone feel awkward. Very Emily Post.

So I hate asking for help. I feel like I’m asking someone else to carry my burden, my responsibility.

Ironically? I love it when others ask for my help. Especially in a real way. I have a friend, A., who lives hours and hours away, but she calls/emails/texts when she needs advice, or a listening ear, or comfort. I LOVE being there for her. It’s part of what keeps our friendship strong and real and intimate.

But me asking for help? Rarely. Granted, A. is probably the most likely to witness my own breakdowns. But it’s rare.

Right now we’re planning a graduation party for me and a dear friend. Husband, of course, wants to do it “right” (on top of being a chef, he is an event coordinator after all). My definition of a party and his are so totally opposite. My ideas are usually 2 or 3 close friends and a cozy living room chat. His are BIG and bold. But I can tell he wants to bless me and celebrate my achievement and do it in style. So I’m going with the flow. I’m not even going to get into the fact that we invited people that I don’t even know to come to this shindig.

We’re having around 50 people out to our house after graduation, and I wanted to include one of my best friends who is coming into town for the weekend to graduate as well. Why not give her friends and family a place to celebrate too? And let’s have her invite as many people as she can think of too. Because this is going to be an all out party.

But today, I had to carefully examine our current cash flow. And while Husband and I go back and forth between who is the realist and who is the optimist (with a few moments of pessimist sprinkled in), I’m the one who does our budget. So right now, as I look at the numbers, I’m the realist. I’m the one texting Husband and saying, hey, cash flow is low. Like too low. Like, we need to eat through our pantry before we set foot in a grocery store low.

But we have a party coming.

So Husband asks me to email my friend and fellow graduate, who had offered to contribute some cash for the party. I open up a new email and see this blank screen staring at me and all those lessons in social graces come back to haunt me.

How do I ask someone for money?? How do I do that without putting her on the spot, making it awkward, and placing requirements on our friendship?

But it’s gotta be done.

So I just write it. Honest. Real. Transparent.

I just tell her that we’re strapped for cash after car repairs, refilling our oil tank (which fuels our heat), and paying taxes. I tell her I’d like to take her up on her offer to help out, and if possible, could she mail a check.

Then, my heart anxious about this total Emily-Post-faux-pas, I hit send.

And you know what? Within minutes her gracious response comes, full of “absolutely”s and exclamation points.

Because she’s just that awesome.

And she’s teaching me a different social grace–humility.

“Affording” happiness?

“Affording” happiness?

A headline struck me today, it was an article from USA Today titled “Why do we spend money on happiness we can’t afford?”. Do you see something wrong with this question? Because I do.

Headline from USA Today

(Disclaimer: My comments about this have nothing to do with the content of the article, merely the headline…)

Can we ever “afford” happiness; is it really possible to buy happiness? I don’t think so. But this is the trap that Americans (and I admit, I myself) fall into over and over again. The black and white truth is that we cannot buy happiness! It’s not a commodity. And things, material items, can’t make us truly happy.

I believe that happiness is a feeling, the truth behind it is joy. And joy is something that we get from knowing that we are loved by God and redeemed through the blood of Christ.

So why do I and so many others think that buying just one more thing will bring us happiness?

Sure, we get an emotional high when we make a purchase, but why can’t we also get an emotional high from knowing that we are being responsible, frugal, self-disciplined when we choose NOT to make a purchase?

Husband and I have tried to mesh our desire for a comfortable, hospitable home and our slim budget by shopping clearance shelves for the little things and saving for the big purchases (like the leather loveseat and ottoman we recently bought at a liquidation sale for $300 or the antique trunk we found at an antique store in Ohio for $98 (which I just have to say, was actually under our budget)).

I find that the more I focus on the things in life that truly bring me happiness, joy and contentment, the less I feel the desire to spend, spend, spend.

So here are some of the things that are making me happy these days:
Ginger wagging her tail.

  • Wagging puppy dog tails
  • Cozy couch time with Husband
  • Crafting/Sewing/Baking
  • Cleaning my house (seriously!)
  • Hugging my pony
  • Reading
  • Sipping hot tea
  • Laughing with friends
  • Sleeping =)
  • The smell of Christmas trees
  • Warm fires, indoor or outdoor
  • Music that makes me dance
  • Clean laundry
  • Blankets, I love blankets
  • Taking long walks with Husband and Puppy
  • Looking at pretty, twinkly lights
  • Candles, candles and more candles (trying to make up for the lack of fireplace in our current home)
  • Funny thing is, most of these require minimal, if any, money.

    This is my happiness.

    Husband and I in Colonial Williamsburg.