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The Art Of Asking (with huge thanks to Amanda Palmer)

I’m not good at asking for help or support. I never have been. Close friends know that I’m very good at avoiding questions about myself because, even when I need support, I feel too scared, too vulnerable, to ask for it. I was brought up in a home where I wasn’t important and I was told I was only of any use when I was supporting others. I never learned how to lean on someone but I make a very good post to hold someone up or have them lean on me.

Although my desire to help stems from believing that was my only purpose, I continue to do it because I truly believe we are all here to make the world a better place, and, if by offering a smile, a hand, an ear, a shoulder, helps someone feel better, why wouldn’t everyone do it?

I have admired, sometimes with envy, those people that can ask for help. I longed to be able to do it but the fear of rejection held me back every time. As far as I have come from my childhood issues, there’s still a little voice that occasionally surfaces, telling me I’m not as important as anyone else; that I’m here to support, not be supported; that I’m the hard working donkey that carries the heavy loads whilst others cuddle the pretty lamb. But, mostly, I admired these people because I thought they were brave.

How brave to risk rejection, to admit vulnerability, to ask for support. I admire these people.

Over the years, I have offered many an ear and a shoulder, and I wouldn’t have it any other way (if you need one, message me). I have also supported lots of people on campaigns. I have never had much money but I know that, sometimes, a few pounds can make all the difference between something happening and something not. I know, from (oh my goodness I am that old!!) decades of fundraising, that the pennies really do add up and that every little bit helps. So, often, I will see a campaign and think, what will I do with this fiver? Will it help me? Or will I not notice spending it? In which case, is it better served elsewhere ( I have lots of inner dialogues. They aren’t always logical to anyone but me 😉 )? Sometimes, I know I need to keep it because I need it for bus fare ( my EB and my hips don’t allow me to walk far) or to buy dinner, or something else. Sometimes, I donate it. I have supported some fabulous campaigns! There are so many to choose from! I have donated to a young woman in America who wanted to make age appropriate bras; to the making of a swing documentary ( swing dance; not the joys of play park ones 😉 ); cat (obviously) related things; and to so many cabaret and performance artists wanting to share their talents to a wider audience; I have so many CDs from artists that I am so pleased I was a very tiny part of making it happen. Do I miss those fivers? Have I noticed them gone? Only when I get a craving for posh chocolate and I can’t afford to buy any 😉 Mostly, though, no. But I do smile every time I see the CDs or get an email about a project. And, how lucky am I that I continue to get joy from participating in such projects!

I am reading Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking. I’ve not finished it yet but she talks about how she has achieved so many incredible things because she asks for help. She believes in community, both in the real world and online, and she has created wonderful things in part because she has asked her friends and her fans for help. She has made herself vulnerable and open to criticism but sees all that as part of the process because the love and happiness that comes from it all far outweighs the negativity. Not that the nastiness doesn’t hurt her, though. Why people feel the need to be cruel, I don’t know; I believe in the adage that, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. And, as I often say on my Facebook profile, together we are stronger. Anyway, it’s a great book and I am learning from it.

Last weekend I got an incredible opportunity. A few of my friends know of my long held desire to be a Celebrant; I believe we all deserve the ceremonies we have in our life to be respected as important and personal, and I would love to be part of that, to be part of creating something that only you can have because only you have the feelings you have about the situation. Last weekend, I got to be the Mistress of Ceremonies at a friend’s 60th birthday and I lead their unofficial vow renewal. It was incredible! I was so honoured to be part of it; I got to partly realise a dream and, for reasons that aren’t mine to go into, I was part of something so incredibly joyous.

On Monday, I put on Facebook about how it it was such a fabulous ceremony and how I would love to do this for more people. Lots of people said that I should set up a GoFundMe. It had been suggested before but I had dismissed the idea; I felt embarrassed to ask for help; what if no-one wanted to support me; what if people were angry at me for asking for money; what if people rejected me because of it. It felt like a really vulnerable thing to do. I deliberated. I thought of reasons to not do it. Then I thought about why I should. I thought that, maybe, I should be brave. Maybe I should say, this is me, this is my dream, please help me realise it, please support me, please be part of it and celebrate this with me. So I set it up!

Since Monday, just over half of the money has been raised. I’m astounded and so very, very, very grateful. Every time I get a notification, even if it is not related to the campaign, I get anxious, waiting for insults, for cruelty, someone telling me that I shouldn’t be doing this and how despicable I am. I am still feeling very vulnerable about it all. But, so far, only one person has criticised me (I hope that’s the only one that does). Lots of people have chosen to not support me, and that’s very much their choice and I am sure they have very good reasons; some are saying they would like to but they can’t afford to and I really appreciate that (I have included them in all the updates because I appreciate them, too); but so many have donated! So many have said such wonderful things! So many have said that this is the perfect job for me; that my personality is ideal to be a Celebrant. How amazing is that!! I asked and, not only are people donating but they are offering encouraging words too. A few people have even said that, should I receive all the money and get to do the course, they would like me to do ceremonies for them! Wow! That’s fantastic!

To every single person that has donated, I thank you; I am so incredibly grateful. To all the people that have said such supportive words, I thank you; again, I am very grateful. I have cried a lot this week. The vulnerability, the anxiety, is making me sensitive (more so than normal), but I am so overwhelmed by the kindness and consideration people have shown. So overwhelmed. They are happy tears.

I actually asked for help. People are helping. How wonderful is that!

Love, Vie Xx

P.S. Just in case you want to follow the campaign or donate, this it the link: https://www.gofundme.com/help-vie-become-a-celebrant

Thank you. xxxx

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