My sister in and I are in a dark ICU room. It’s 1 am New Year’s Day and we’ve been here since 1 pm the day before. Visitors have come and gone. I’ve made a series of calls to far off friends and family members. Our mother, who’s barely audible because of the bipap mask covering her face, nods her head “no” slowly back and forth everytime we say we’re going to leave.
This is one of the most difficult nights of my life, and I’m unsure my mother is going to make it.
Little did I know, that night was just the beginning of a long, drawn out rollercoaster of fear, stress, frustration and healing -- that in some strange ways I am ultimately grateful to have experienced.
My sister and I finally did go home at 2 am on New Year’s Day. When we returned to the hospital we nearly fainted at the sight of our mother sitting up in bed, eating breakfast and hoisting a friendly wave as we walked into the room.
Phew. If my mom’s time has come, she certainly wasn’t going without a fight.
And during that fight, what quickly became clear to me is that how I spent my TIME over the next several months would require serious restructuring . . . and there was no way I could do it alone.
I had to ASK for help.
. . . . . .
One thing I know about us entrepreneurial types. We like running the show. We like to be in control. We like to call the shots. We like to take care of stuff on our own.
Asking for help? This trait does not naturally top my strengths list.
But I knew I had no choice. I needed to check my old beliefs, thinking habits and ego FAST, and ask for all the help I could get.
There have been many times in my life and business that I believed -- FALSELY -- that I had to go it alone.
I’m here to tell you that mental trash is a LIE. No matter what you’ve got going on, no matter how strained relationships may be -- there is an army of people you don’t even expect available to help you. Here are five areas that I asked for and received the help I needed to keep my business afloat and my life sane while I focused on taking care of my mom.
1. Servicing clients
I went into the holidays with a full client roster that quickly shifted after my mom was hospitalized. I had to cut my hours in half with one client. Two others decided not to renew our arrangement. I made a choice to put my mother first, which would leave me just a handful of hours every week to focus on clients. I was upfront and honest with all of them, even though at first I was tempted to carry on like nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Knowing what I know now, that approach would have been disastrous because there would be no way I could keep up that front over the span of three months. Even though I had to let some of my clients go (because it was in everyone’s best interest), they were respectful, understanding and upfront with me. And the clients who stayed on were always understanding of last-minute scheduling changes.
Chris Booth, business consultant and client says
The balancing act with your professional and personal obligations is challenging. When I went through situations with ill parents I worked for companies that understood the situation and gave me latitude to deal with things as they came up. As a business owner, my clients understand. . . (one time) I walked into a meeting with a client, sat down and immediately got a call about an emergency. The client didn't bat an eye. We just rescheduled.
Takeaway: Be honest and upfront from the get go. Most clients can relate, want to be helpful and will cut you slack.
2. Taking care of the family (kids, hubby, mom)
I’d like to say that coordinating childcare, school, hospital visits, client sessions and any sort of social life (including with my husband) was a carefully choreographed dance. In reality, it was typically a fly-by-the-seat of your pants fire drill. My husband, who has a demanding career of his own, as always, stepped up to the plate and took over most of the childcare. My in laws and several friends have been fabulous with taking care of our daughters and regularly checking in and offering moral support. Most times we didn’t even have to ask, but the times we did, they happily stepped up.
Check out the Family Reflection Card above created by Nicole Perry, host of radio talk show and marketing platform Powerful Women Revealed. Nicole says . . .
As an entrepreneur and a caregiver, I was putting myself and/or my business at the end of my own priority list. The idea for these cards came to me . . . when I purchased a set of Healing Tarot Cards. I thought hey, it would be great to create a set of cards for the entrepreneurial business woman! There are eight categories and 10 cards per category. I designed each one with a background photo that I took. I wanted each card to include a Limiting Belief, a Power of Suggestion and an Affirmation to turn the old mindset around. I use them with my clients and to inspire myself, to keep myself on track with my business and with my daily life.
What I love about these cards is that Nicole has tapped into the inner transformation that can be possible during challenging times in our lives in such a tangible way. This experience with my mom challenged me to face and re-examine my own limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns and false mindsets about having to endure hardships alone, not trusting the intentions of others and deeply knowing that being vulnerable is strength, not weakness.
*Images courtesy of Nicole Perry
Takeaway: You are not alone in anything. Friends and family mean it when they say “let me know how I can help” even if they’re not sure exactly what to do -- don’t be shy about giving them direction.
3. Filling in the knowledge gaps
This was a doozy. My mother has been a nurse for more than 30 years. I, on the other hand, know next to nothing when it comes to navigating hospital policies, dealing with personnel, understanding prognoses and advocating on someone’s behalf. And I pretty much bungled all of it. Thankfully, my sister and I had family members who are nurses who helped us understand better what was going on with our mom, as well as other family members who know how important it is to be able to speak up and make sure ill loved ones are not only getting care, but being listened to and treated well in the process.
Takeaway: Turn to knowledge and experience “experts” to get help navigating unfamiliar waters.
4. Filling in the money gaps
Daily tolls. Daily parking. Filling up the gas tank multiple times a week. Meals. For a while there I felt like the money was rushing out much faster than it was coming in. It forced me to get creative about how I could continue to serve clients in short periods of time, which led to this Facebook post.
While I did get clients from this, what I didn’t expect was the financial support that came from others -- no service needed, no strings attached. As a former coach often says about money “You don’t get, if you don’t ask.” This is proof.
Takeaway: Be unattached to the how and where the money comes from -- as well as the amount.
5. Strengthening spiritual connections
I can’t tell you how many prayers and divine requests I’ve made in the last few months. I’ve been working on my spiritual connection for many years but there’s nothing like a personal crisis to take it to another level. I couldn’t have managed this experience as well as I have without my spiritual team, including those right here on Earth to help (thank you Nicki Pakkala) me expand my capacity to receive divine guidance.
I love what Deborah O’Brien, speaker, author of Bliss Behind the Mask and founder of Bliss Full Self Image Consulting says about this . . .
Look inside. Listen to your soul! Ask God to help you . . . Surrender! When you surrender, you join forces with the power of the Universe and you find that your inner power can get you through anything.
While I’ve always been open to the unexplained, I’m a pretty analytical and logical person. All I can say in my open skepticism is that the dreams, messages and experiences I’ve had through these last few months simply cannot be explained away with science and logic. And even if they could, it wouldn’t matter, because it all helped me and my family in the end. Faith is powerful medicine.
Takeaway: Ask for divine assistance -- in whatever form that takes for you -- and have faith you’ll receive it.
You don’t have to wait for crisis to strike to ask for help in these areas -- whether that help pertains to your business or your life. In fact, I’d recommend getting your help lined up when you are in control and things are running smoothly. It’s challenging to make decisions and establish new habits with the shit’s hitting the fan, right?
When has not getting help held you back in business (and life)? How will you do things differently next time? Let us know in the comments.