The Art of Asking
Posted by Pat Grissom at November 19th, 2016
Something told me to stop at the library the day I found Amanda Palmer’s awesome book, The Art of Asking. That title was enough to grab me. Plus, it was on CD, so I could listen to it in my car. I had no way of knowing how much I would eventually benefit from its profound authenticity and unbridled candor. As a four-year-old child, I remember begging my parents to help me find a lost teddy bear that never surfaced, although I knew in my heart exactly where it was – in the top of the living room closet. So I started early struggling with my ability to ask for and get my greatest desires.
As soon as I plugged in the first CD and heard Brene’ Brown introduce the book, I was hooked. Brene’ is a Houstonian as am I. She has written several outstanding books on vulnerability, which is a central theme of The Art of Asking. As I am sure Brene’ would agree, the price of claiming personal freedom to make wise choices hinges on taking a brutal honest assessment of the choices we have made thus far.
Then Amanda Palmer takes over, and I am amazed by the contrast between the two women. Brene’ is a PhD sociologist and Amanda is an independent musician, playing the type of music my 32 year old son likes. Amanda begins by telling the story of asking a group of women at large if anyone has a tampon. While this strikes me as bold in itself, I also get the significance of this story. In certain situations, we can give ourselves permission to make the most seemingly intimate requests, but in other areas of our lives we struggle to make the most basic and necessary appeal – like asking for what will keep me alive and working as an artist, expressing the divinity that is mine to give the world.
In The Art of Asking Amanda Palmer gives the reader full disclosure, sharing her courageous journey of defying convention by initially choosing to dip ice cream after getting a college degree, rather than follow the traditional route of corporate America. Then her creative genius kicks in, and she finds expression as a human statute dressed as an eight-foot bride who gives out flowers when someone drops money in her upturned hat.
As the book progresses, Amanda describes becoming disenchanted with the company who produced her music album, so she decides to try a Kickstarter to fund the next one. She has awesome success. That’s where the Art of Asking inspired me to start a crowdfunding project to promote a book I had written, Too Much Gold to Flush.
I wrote it during my recovery period following my husband of three months announcing he was in love with someone else. Originally, I wanted to kill him. But doing that would only put him out of his misery and open me to a long term acquaintance with the legal system. Plus, eliminating him would do nothing to help me understand how I got into such a mess. My first instinct was to detail my partner’s indiscretions and flaws, from which I would have learned nothing, except how to assign blame. It was only through seeing my own stupid mistakes that I could claim the option of making new and different choices next time.
My story of finding the lessons hidden within the experience of a failed relationship is a perfect fit for women who are in shelters since they too are struggling to make sense of their own lives. (The average woman that goes into a shelter will do this on average seven times in her lifetime, so obviously every woman needs to find her own core beliefs that keep her in this revolving door of dysfunction.) Listening to The Art of Asking inspired me to start a two-part crowdfunding project – Empowerment through Education. Number one, it places my book in the hands of women in shelters. Secondly, it is creating college funds for the women in these shelters. Please give whatever you can to this campaign in order to help women to help themselves. The website is https://try.tilt.com/empowerment
I taught at the junior college level for 20 years and I know the impact that education made on my own life as well as that of my students. I was the first in my family to go to college, and I’m sure many of the women in shelters also come from a background of minimum education. One thing that most people who have not gone to college do not realize is that there are numerous programs like Pell grants that enable economically disadvantaged individuals to stay in school, but first they have to take that first step of actually enrolling and getting started. Sadly, many women stay in abusive situations simply because they feel trapped financially.
Together we can break this cycle of abuse – not by convincing intimate partners to play nice and treat others fairly and civilly, but rather to empower abused women. The message of my book is that anyone can look at their own life, the choices they have made, own them, and then make wiser choices next time. This process results in strong relationships – first with ourselves, and then with others as a result of that initial choice to practice healthy self-love. Next, every individual deserves to have the training required to secure jobs that will enable them to support themselves and their families.
I’m asking for your help. A woman in a shelter will benefit more than you can imagine. Her life will be forever changed because you cared enough to make a difference.
https://try.tilt.com/empowerment Share this link on your social media and encourage everyone you know to do so as well. Please give by the middle of December as the books will be delivered to the shelters for Christmas presents. What an awesome gift for you to give others – Empowerment through Education.
Thank you, Amanda Palmer, for your honesty, your vulnerability, and for encouraging others through your example. You are awesome!