My first television show came about because a friend, Bea Sheftel, asked me to do her a favor. The fact that I knew nothing about television didn’t matter to her. She said we’d make a good team. I was willing to try and said yes. Bea was right; we did make a good team. Sadly, Bea died a few years later. I’ve gone on to host and produce two series of my own that air weekly on public access channels in Connecticut and Massachusetts as well as on YouTube. Both shows have won multiple national awards for amateur video production. In the summer of 2013, I’ll launch a third series – Weddings with Zita.
Last year, I officiated at my first wedding because a friend, Becky, asked for my help. She knew I had performed seasonal celebrations, funerals, memorials, rituals for as many as 500 writers, and business blessings for sole proprietors. She knew that I was legally qualified as a wedding officiant, and that I supported marriage equality. The fact that I had never performed a wedding didn’t matter to her or her partner, Elaine. With joy, I said yes. As a romance writer, creating the “happily ever after” moment in real life was a thrill. I fell in love with weddings, became a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® and formally launched my business, Moon River Rituals. I just officiated at my sixth wedding. Becky and Elaine are expecting their first child.
Every year since 1996, I’ve taught writing fiction at the summer conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild. Prior to 1996, I had never considered attending that conference. With so much focus on poetry and memoir, I didn’t think I’d be a good fit. But that year, my friend Carla Neggers was scheduled to teach a class on fiction at the conference and had to cancel at the last minute. She asked me to take her place. Now, seventeen consecutive years later, that conference fills my creative well in a way that nothing else can. And Carla is a New York Times bestselling author.
The say-yes-to-a-friend street runs both ways. One summer night in 2008, I emailed five
writers, Kathy Barach, Marsha Browne, Judy Huge, Paula Chaffee Scardamalia, and Anne Frazier Walradt, with an urgent plea for help. Our mutual friend Liz Aleshire was working on a manuscript about grieving. Liz knew she couldn’t finish the book to meet the publisher’s deadline. Liz was in a hospital ICU. Only a few hours passed before all five women wrote back with an enthusiastic and heart heavy yes. We finished the manuscript shortly before Liz died. 101 Ways You Can Help: How To Offer Comfort And Support To Those Who Are Grieving was published in 2009 by Sourcebooks. To this day, I hear from strangers, both individuals and organizations, about the importance of what Liz had to say.
In every one of these situations, my life was profoundly enriched because I said yes to a friend and because friends said yes to me. The next time a good friend comes to you for help, seize the opportunity. Give of yourself. What you’ll get in return could help shape your destiny and, in some small way, help heal the world.
Thanks for listening.