Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Please help me welcome guest blogger, Nancy Harden. She is the owner of Red Hen Restoration. Journey's to remember, this is her story.
We’re going on a roundabout journey here – please, stay with me…
The story of The Little Red Hen was my favorite as a child. In the tale, the little red hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help from the other farmyard animals to plant it, but they all refuse. Her response is to say, “Very well… then I will do it myself.” And she does. At each stage in the process of growing, harvesting, grinding the flour, and baking the bread – repeatedly, she asks for help, and continues to be denied. Each time – her response is “Very well… then I will do it myself.” And each time she takes the action – alone.
This story still fascinates me. She is willingly asking for help. How many of us do this easily? And, despite being rejected repeatedly, she continues to ask. Not asking for someone to do the work for her . Asking for someone to do the work with her . And even when rejected, she takes the action needed. Doing the work alone. She’s not unable. She’s seeking a way to make the task more efficient, and perhaps even more enjoyable.
The little red hen is actively seeking to engage her immediate community in an activity that potentially might benefit everyone. End result – homemade bread. A symbol of independence, capacity to sustain oneself, hard work resulting in a sense of accomplishment.
My personal story?
It all began with a towel bar...
One morning, pulling my towel off the bar where it hangs, there is a loud crash as the bar hits the floor. Staring at the wall, the two holders at either end were still connected, one turned slightly downward. Looking at the crooked portion, I was puzzled. The set screw was still in place. Why had the bar fallen? Moving the end back in place the bar was again affixed and all seemed well.
Day after day, this happens. I try different ways of lifting the towel off, it doesn't matter. The bar falls. Every day. Until one day when I leave the bar leaning against the wall and begin to use the end portion like a hook. I'm busy. I have a life that runs non-stop full out. No time to take care of this minor inconvenience. So I “make do.”
A month or so later, a knob on the kitchen cabinet has now come loose. It won't stay screwed into the wood. I can grab the bottom of the cabinet to open the door – it doesn't matter. I've got a lot going on, and this is no big deal.
Now there's a light bulb out in the living room ceiling fan, the front door is sticking when I open it, there's a split near the hinge. The window in the eating area won't stay open, and the one in the guest bedroom won't full close. The room divider fell and there's a hole in the sheet rock. I'm tired. My mail begins to pile up on the kitchen counter. I notice I'm delaying going home, and leaving earlier to go to work. My friends and I meet at a local coffee shop, or restaurant. It's easier than asking them to come over, considering all the work I'd need to do in preparation.
A board in the back deck gives way when I step on it. I need help. Begin the process of finding a handyman near me to help. I look at the ratings and ads (I'm a smart cookie about these things – no dummy here) and make calls. Days pass without return calls. Then, finally, a call back. The message is garbled, sounds strange. We finally connect, and I'm getting a scary feeling just talking to this guy. No. I don't want a bathroom remodel. No, I don't need the entire deck rebuilt. When the return calls do come in, they don't want to do the small jobs. Or they don't show up for the estimate appointment. And now I'm wondering about being an older woman living alone, with an unknown man in my home. I'm feeling even older. Vulnerable. Tired. And a bit depressed.
My home is gradually falling to pieces around me, and I am falling to pieces along with it. Clutter is accumulating – why does it matter? I'm never home anyway. And when I am it's to spend as little time as possible here. A place to sleep. Clutter building. Why did I think I could live here for a long time? Maybe it's time to downsize. No one would want a place this broken down.
My towel is on the floor, again. My “make do” isn't working. I'm frustrated, angry, and my sons are coming home next week. What is wrong with me? I'm not stupid. I have a tool box. Surely to goodness I can at least get the towel bar back on the wall. And I do. Everything down off the wall. Holes patched. New screws affixed. The bar is solid, I can almost hang on it (well... not really). And suddenly, I feel like I am Queen of the fix-it world! I call my sons – they laugh with me and congratulate me, then ask - “What's next?”
I call my friend and tell her what I've done (I like to celebrate) and she says, “Really? My towel bar keeps falling down. Would you fix it for me?” No. I will fix it with you. We fix the bar, have a cup of coffee and laugh. She wants to learn to do more. So we work together. All the little things at my home and all the little things at her home, and we feel competent, confident. And our friendship is stronger. We begin to attend social events together.
Energized, I go through the clutter, organize the closets, then the kitchen, the bathrooms, the pantry, the garage. There is such a sense of relief as things are distributed to consignment, or thrift shop, or homeless shelter.
My sons notice. They see screens repaired, and boards replaced in the deck. The hole in the sheet rock repaired. They ask who is doing the work? Me. They laugh. Then they don't laugh. Really? Yes. Joke, maybe you should start a business. And the conversation begins.
It all began with a towel bar...
Red Hen Restoration is where handywoman meets Do It Yourself in a judgment free zone.
RHR facilitates skill acquisition for repairs and home organization for women living alone, inspiring them to confidently engage with their community.
We bring order and peace out of chaos, creating trust, cultivating community.
Together we will return the home you fell in love with to peaceful order, instill confidence in your independence, and create a community of engaging, encouraging women who understand.
What is remarkable about RHR services?
Home repairs and organization done with the client, not for them. Remarkability is in the relationship forged through empathy and compassion, absence of judgment, in working with women living alone, ready for change, and interested in exploring auxiliary paths to sustaining their independence.
Remarkability is in their engagement, their sense of accomplishment. Making the project fun. That moment of pure unbridled joy when they can say… “We did it!” Knowing immediately who they will call to celebrate with, and who they will call to tell about Red Hen Restoration.
Because they will have realized that asking for help is a sign of strength, of wisdom. They will know that healthy interdependence within a community of like minded women is powerful in a way that isolation in independence never will be.
Thank you for taking this journey with me. There's enough more to fill a couple of books... maybe later. Now, there are homes to restore, wonderful women to engage and inspire, and love to share and spread. Let's start a Red Hen Revolution – caring for and about each other in a way that will be noticed.
About HLA Consulting
HLA Consulting, located in Huntsville, AL home to NASA and the US Space & Rocket Center, provides high-level strategic communications, public affairs and marketing services to local and national highly recognized firms and organizations. The HLA team takes pride in making businesses great by building a strong reputation, raising awareness and expanding their constituency.
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