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Attention Moms: Help is not a four letter word

Posted September 22, 2013

Thursday morning was hectic, you could say, at my house.

I was scheduled to attend the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce's Working Mothers' Luncheon and interview the keynote speaker, Peggy Collins, a mom of two and grandma of one and author of "Help is Not a Four-Letter Word."

An hour before, my mother found out that her swollen foot was actually broken. I had to juggle getting her to and from the doctor, picking my younger daughter up from preschool, being at the bus stop when my older daughter got home from school and making it to the lunch for the interview.

It all happened, but not without a lot of help. And, lucky for me, I had friends I could count on. Another mom took my younger daughter home. A neighborhood mom was willing to get my older daughter if I wasn't at the bus stop. My mom's friend took her to the doctor and I picked her up. And Collins was able to meet me in a hastily re-arranged interview before the lunch.

I told Collins the story when we met. She'd heard it all before. My crazy morning proved her theory perfectly: The simple process of asking for help can make a world of difference for all of us. Peggy Collins Attention Moms: Help is not a four letter word

It's a lesson that Collins, who lives in Hendersonville, N.C., learned the hard way a couple of decades ago. She was the single mom of two kids; a busy executive who traveled 30 to 40 percent of the time; an active volunteer in her kids' school; and a daughter who was caring for her ailing parents.

One day in 1990, while she sat in her office, she had what felt like a heart attack. She drove herself to the doctor and learned that  hear heart was OK, but her life was a mess. She had had a panic attack. Later that night, after her kids were in bed, Collins sat in her bedroom and had an epiphany.

"That was a defining moment for me," she tells me. "I knew something radical had happened."

In other words, she decided she'd never live her life the same way. She eschewed medication to end the attacks, believing it was just a Band-Aid for a bigger problem, and changed her life instead.

Collins eventually quit her job and launched her own company. She took meditation classes and stress management courses. 

"I started looking at my life and found out I'd been chasing the wrong things," she said.

Collins' business morphed into a motivational speaking business, drawing on her own experience in life and business. Eventually, her talks turned into the 2007 book "Help is Not a Four-Letter Word: Why Doing It All is Doing You In."

Her main message to today's moms: "The real thing that worked for me was coming to terms with the fact that our value of ourselves is not an outside job. It's an inside job. I did a tremendous amount of work on myself. If we value ourselves, we automatically feel like we deserve to ask for help." 

At Thursday's lunch, Collins asked the group what the costs are when they didn't ask for help, when they tried to do it all themselves. Less time for themselves, resentment that nobody is helping, less enjoyment of life because they're too busy to enjoy any of it were among the answers. Those all are great reasons to take another look at how you're living your life and make some changes, she said.

And while her new way of living has meant big changes and improvements for Collins, there's another benefit too.

"Even my children say I'm so different," she tells me, "which I love."

Thank you to the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to Thursday's Working Mothers' Luncheon, a quarterly series that addresses the challenges of working moms. 

For more about Collins and her book, watch my video interview and go to her website.

Go Ask Mom features moms every Monday.


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  • snowl Sep 23, 2013

    I like that 2 letter word...NO.

  • nativeNCgrl Sep 23, 2013

    Another good read on the same theme is 'Maxed Out' by Katrina Alcorn.