Giving and Receiving


In honor of Valentine’s Day, this post is all about giving and receiving. And asking for help. Asking for help is something I’m not good at. Ok, scratch that. I am good at it with some people. Ok, I am good at it with Shawn. I ask Shawn for help with everything. I sign him up to do things for me when he’s not completely sure he wants to do it. But he’s a good sport. And I’m very… persistent.

I rely on him a lot. And he is very capable. But sometimes I think I rely on him too much. I feel comfortable asking for his time and energy (maybe too comfortable) but I am really uncomfortable asking that of other people. Asking for help is scary.

Asking for help and getting a ‘no’ can make one feel crushed. Ashamed. Angry. One might turn those feelings back onto oneself. That’s unpleasant. Of course, when someone says yes, that’s not necessarily a simple result either.

When I receive help, it makes me feel glad. Grateful. Validated. But I am always apprehensive of feeling like a ‘drain’ on somebody else. I don’t want to feel like I am receiving without giving back. It’s important to me to reciprocate. Reciprocating requires vulnerability. Communication. Openness. It can be difficult to be open. But it’s difficult in a good way. The heart muscle is a good muscle to exercise. And I’ve found that being open with other people often results in closer and stronger relationships.

I am a fan of giving and receiving. It’s better, in my opinion, that needing something and not asking for it. It’s better than feeling deprived, isolated, bitter. Sometimes, relief is just a few interactions away.

I re-realize this truth all the time connection to my music. I am a musician. I am growing and expanding and improving and, like most other people, I am groping my way through life trying to figure out what I’m doing and how to achieve my goals and dreams. It’s definitely helpful to have a partner who is on the same page.

Shawn and I have a band called Roan Yellowthorn. We made an album called Indigo that we released in September (I tell the story of how we made it here). We make the music – I write the songs, sing, and play piano and Shawn does all other instruments and produces – we do most of our own booking, we pitch ourselves to agents (I really want an agent you guys), we promote ourselves on the internet, we make some of our graphics and artwork, we create events, make plans, we do some of our own photography, and some of our own video work. We basically run a small business.

I have a serious passion for it. We both do. We put an insane amount of energy into it. Because we love it. Because we want to. And I feel very fortunate to have the support (emotionally and practically) to be able to put real time and energy into it.

This is where asking for help comes in. Sometimes Shawn and I (even though we are superheroes) can’t do something alone. Sometimes we have to *shudder* ask for help.

This is what superheroes look like (pic by Sarah Valliancourt)

The more Roan Yellowthorn grows, the more necessary it becomes to ask for help. To put it another way, the more we want to grow, the more it becomes wise to ask for help. There are things I just don’t know how to do. Oftentimes, I take this as an opportunity to learn. I have taught myself basic coding, rudimentary graphic design, some kind of business literacy, and much more in order to get things done for Roan Yellowthorn. But sometimes asking for help (or even paying for it) is the difference between spending 6 grueling hours on something and getting a mediocre result and spending much less time and getting a truly stellar result.

It’s good to collaborate. We had our logos made by Emily Montagno, an amazing designer. We were introduced by a mutual friend. She designed all of our logos and every single time I look at them, it makes me happy.

I mean come on how cool is this? It’s my own eye.

We have asked friends to take photos of us. My friend Sarah who runs Brown Eyed Photography has taken many of our favorite PR photos and even did the portraits that make up the artwork on the front of our album.

Sometimes I have to ask for other things – honest opinions about my work, loving childcare (shoutout to our amazing family), the list goes on. Without help -without asking for help- none of this would be as sustainable.

Since being signed, we’ve ramped up our productivity and expanded our horizons. And even since then, I’ve realized that I can ask for things there. I don’t necessarily have to do everything myself. That’s a relatively new realization. And it changes things in a profoundly positive way.

It takes a village, you guys. I am still learning this, myself. But the message I want to impart to you is this: ask for help. Help someone else. You might be glad you did. People like to help each other. It feels good. It feels good to give back. And it feels good to receive. I hope that if you ask for help, you will get it. And sometimes it’s reciprocation enough to be grateful. And to return the favor, or pay it forward, when you get the opportunity.

Happy Valentines Day!

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