In our family we have a motto: “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” My husband, Greg, insists this is true—the sentiment and the fact that it is our motto. He reminds all of us—me, our daughters, and now our granddaughters—of our motto any time we express a desire for something that he thinks could become a reality if only we would ask. 

I’ve seen this play out in many small ways. Staring at an empty store shelf and wishing for an item that appears to be out of stock, perusing a menu and wondering if I could have this instead of that, missing a deadline. In each situation, Greg reminds me that it doesn’t hurt to ask. Many times there is more in the back, the chef is happy to make the exchange, and explaining my situation to an actual human has earned me a grace period. 

These are all small examples of simply asking for and receiving what you want. And if the answer is no? It really wouldn’t hurt. 

Bigger things, though? I’ve always wondered. What if it did, indeed, hurt to ask? 

With each passing year, I feel an increasing urgency to accomplish the things on my life’s To Do list. There are books I need to write, places I want to see, goals I would like to achieve. And I’m not getting any younger. 

I’m reminded of the Roy Lichtenstein pop art cartoon of a crying woman with hot-red lips and the text bubble, “I can’t believe I forgot to have children!” I’m afraid I’m going to wake up one day and realize I’ve forgotten to do the things I always meant to do—but by then it will be too late. 

There is a myth that women can have it all. The reality is, we can have it all, but we can’t have it all at the same time. Right now, I have a great job but I don’t have the time or energy for the other pursuits on that To Do list.  

Here’s where the challenge to the family motto comes in. Does it work when the ask is as big as “Can I cut back and still work for Bloom?” I was afraid it would hurt if the answer were no.

I was prepared for the worst, but once again the motto proved true. Not only did it not hurt to ask, it made things so much better. 

Starting with the next issue, my title will change from “executive editor” to “contributing editor.” What that means is that I will continue to be a part of the magazine, doing what I love most—seeking out interesting stories; writing my column, stories, and features; and editing everything. I’ll still be heavily involved, working closely with the colleagues I hold dear. 

In addition, I will have the time and energy to pursue the health and wellness interests I have been developing over the past decade, continuing to train clients at the Monroe County YMCA and starting to teach group exercise classes. And, in January, I will begin training to become a yoga teacher. 

Worrying, wondering, and waiting are my defaults. Embracing our family motto is more difficult. And yet, when I do, I find the world is much more accommodating than I ever imagined. I just need to ask.

Carmen Siering

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