How to Have Helpful Help – Part 3: Do It Yourself

A dear friend once called in a panic, she was hosting a dinner that evening and the two palms in her yard had straggling fronds but the gardener was MIA “Pull them down yourself,” I said. “But I don’t know how,” she wailed.


Yes another reason why I hate The Secret – all that emphasis on thinking of the future and not enough on learning how to use long-handled pruners.

It is truly delightful to have someone clean my house – but I also know how it clean it.  I love my tailor dearly and I can tack a hem, sew a button, and stich up a small rip. Basics, my dear, basics. Let’s not throw caution to the wind and learn how to bias cut, let’s leave that to the professionals, but get to an elementary standard. Learn how to clean a toilet and, if you have a gardener, pull weeds and water now and then. Get good at tossing slugs (take a leaf from the fig tree, carefully pick up the slug and toss it over the garden wall, also works for caterpillars but be careful because some can cause a rash, use two fig leaves).

Divas are not strangers to machetes (which is why divas so seldom go to jail when an abusive husband suddenly goes missing, but that it the story for another day). I have, more than once my dear, taken on an unkempt date palm and emerged victorious (avoiding being cut by pricks, such a helpful life-skill).

“Don’t ask anyone to do what you can’t do yourself” is a nice motto but a little ambitious. I would suggest, “remember karma.” Now and then, get your own cup of tea. There’s a pecking order in the universe and it changes. While you might be able to boss around your tea assistant now, when the CEO calls you in, well… do you want her to treat you the same way you treat the tea assistant?

When people are bastards, be surprised because you have never treated your housecleaner, tailor, gardener, tea assistant, waitress, counter clerk or ‘customer service representative’ with anything less than courteous honesty.

Give grace – give forgiveness – give patience (and occasionally practice with a machete because one never knows, does one? ‘One’ of course does not include me. I know.)