There’s something about growing up in the Midwest. We have this belief that we are self reliant. And that’s important. It’s part of our identity. While at the same time we take for granted the fact that our neighbors stop to help us shovel our cars out of snow drifts, feed and milk our animals on the rare instance that we’re out of town, or loan us a piece of farm equipment. But mostly we tell the story of how independent we are. And a lot of us find it difficult to ask for help. Or even pay for it. Because why would we do that when we could just do it ourselves?

The first time I realized this mindset was instilled in me was during a therapy session with Dr. Versteeg. I don’t remember why I was seeing him, but I know I was feeling overwhelm and that it had to do with a photo shoot that I was doing. My first. Well, the first one where I was the subject. There was a lot about that photo shoot that made me uncomfortable. I’m a woman after all, and if TikTok comments are any indication, I’m going to be judged on everything from my clothing choices to my hairstyle to my weight.

My overwhelm also came from being overworked: I was the managing editor of two different publications with two different publishers, the mom of two teenagers, and the CEO, CMO and CFO of our household. My husband was still working nights at the time which was one more thing.

Understanding my type A personality, my therapist asked if I could afford to have the house cleaned. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself, to be honest. And I could afford it. I remember it was $75 at the time to have the house cleaned every other week. Perfect. One less thing to think about. 

That issue solved, we talked about a grocery delivery service which is no longer in business. Sign me up. As we solved one issue after the next I remembered that I knew a stylist who might be able to help me with what I could wear for the photoshoot.

I called Amanda Needham. She said she’d be happy to help. She asked me to bring some wardrobe options to a warehouse where she was currently working. She hung the clothes on a rack and immediately chose an outfit, but had me try on some other items “just in case.” Of course I ended up wearing her initial picks, because she’s an Emmy-award-winning stylist. She’s a professional. I would have overthought everything. She knew instinctively what would look good on me. And she was right. I still have that outfit.

The outfit Amanda Needham chose. Isn’t it perfect?

Years later when I was taking Susan Clark’s second series of classes she challenged us to create a personal board, taking into consideration what kinds of expertise we needed and what each person brought to the table. 

The people on my board have changed over the years, some of them rotating in and out. And the way I’ve organized my board has changed from how I initially designed it. For example, these days I have what I call my “right-hand” board members–right now they are four women. Then I have second-tier board members. There are six of them. And then I’ve added what I call “supporters,” i.e. like my masseuse, my TIAA advisor, my stylist… they provided services which sometimes I take for granted but they support me nonetheless. I also keep a list of thought leaders and even former board members, because who knows? Maybe they’ll rotate back up to the top. 

By the way, it’s ok when folks drop off. It used to bother me, but now I think of it like Michelle Obama talks about it when she talks about her “Kitchen Table” as she refers to her board. She talks about how some folks, “couldn’t make the climb.” Looking at my current board, I see that I need to revise it, because one person needs to go. 

The point is that we all know people who can support us. And they want to support us. Some may be generalists or, like Amanda, may be a specialist. Or it may just be someone who sees you. Who gets you. That’s kind of rare. Right?

We know people. Create a list. Ask them for help.


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