Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Injured deer

A single gunshot and I’m weeping. What is this immense sorrow? The fawn had two broken legs and no chance for survival in the wild. Putting its suffering to an end was the compassionate thing to do. So why all the tears? Why the sick feeling in my stomach? Why the pounding in my head?

The story is a short one. I found a baby deer on the path to the cottage this morning. I could tell she was hurt, but in the dark, I couldn’t see how badly. When I went back to the house, she was still there. As she fearfully used her front legs to pull herself away from me, she went tumbling over the hillside to the brush below. That’s when my tears started. My good intentions had sent her over the cliff!

I found her down below hiding behind our garbage cans. Again, she scrambled to get away from me, wedging herself between my son’s truck and the hillside. As she moved, I could see that both of her back legs were broken, bones sticking out. It was a brutal sight. I couldn’t even imagine how much pain she must be feeling, and it amazed me that she made no noise. Her mama was pacing on the hill above. I put my hand on the baby’s neck and felt her racing pulse. I spoke to her in hushed tones, and she calmed down. I covered her legs with a sheet to keep the flies away and then left her alone as I searched for help.

I posted on FaceBook and then started making calls. After several unsuccessful attempts, my friend Linda found someone at DNR who was willing to come out. It didn’t take long for him to assess the situation, and he asked my permission to shoot the deer. I said yes and thanked him for doing the hard things that most of us would find impossible.

The sorrow and tears persist. They seem to be springing from my conscious choice to allow myself to acknowledge just how vulnerable this whole thing makes me feel. As I open my heart in compassion, I open my eyes to the truth: Everything,  everyONE dies, eventually. Pain is real. Suffering is real. The deer did nothing to “deserve it.” Sometimes, stuff just happens: to deer, to strangers, to those we love. I know it is impossible to selectively numb feelings. We cannot numb sorrow without also numbing joy.

And so I will sit here, grateful for the depth of today’s sorrow, knowing I have the capacity for equal measures of joy. I will hold myself gently and compassionately as I recommit to living life fully, with my heart wide open. Tears and laughter, sorrow and joy, death and life. This time around, I’m playing full out: Show Up – Be Seen – Live Brave!

Vulnerability is the Birthplace

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

watercolor painting

A Time To Heal (watercolor and ink by Barbie Dallmann)

When I was a senior in high school, I broke my left knee playing flamingo football–boys against the girls. After six weeks on crutches, my leg wrapped in plaster from thigh-top to toe-tips, the day came for cast removal. I vividly recall my first glimpse of the leg. I say, “the leg” because it really didn’t resemble MY leg. The leg was shriveled, dirty, and hairy! But even worse than how it looked, was how poorly it functioned. The knee didn’t bend, and it couldn’t hold any weight whatsoever. It was a useless, pitiful little thing, just hanging there with no cast to protect it.

After weeks of physical therapy and excruciatingly painful exercises, I was able to take my first tentative steps without crutches. It was over a year before I could attempt running and even longer before I could operate the clutch pedal of our extended bed International Harvester pick-up truck.

Now, over 40 years later, there are still times my knee “acts up.” It’s not particularly fond of steep, downhill descents on rocky trails. For the most part, though, I go through life, walking three or four miles a day without giving it much thought. I climb stairs, ride bicycles, and easily deploy a clutch pedal. Once healed, it’s hard to remember the process of recovery: limitations, pain, frustration, and wanting to give up.

I think the same is true for healing emotional wounds. For a little while, it’s okay to wrap ourselves in protective armor while the worst of the injury heals. But the longer we wait, the more we atrophy and the harder it is to return to normal. And it’s no more realistic to expect instant emotional recovery than it is to remove a cast one day and plan to run a marathon the next.

Sometimes the recovery period feels worse than the initial injury, and certainly some wounds are worse than others. The more traumatic the injury, the longer the recovery period.

Ultimately, I believe in the wisdom of the body and heart when it comes to healing. If we take our bruised egos out of the picture, surrender to the reality of the situation, release whatever needs to be forgiven, and listen to the small, still voice within, we will heal. Healing–both physical and emotional–calls for patience, kindness, self-compassion, and self-love. Lots and lots and LOTS of self-love. And maybe a trusted friend or two to lean on while you’re learning to walk again.

 

 

Read Full Post »

New Beginnings Painting

“New Beginnings” – Acrylic painting to be auctioned at the Charleston Art Walk April 17 to raise funds for the WV Children’s Advocacy Network

Last year at this time I was insistently resisting the label “artist” (See: I’m not THAT!). This year when I received the “Call to Artists” email, asking for donations of art to be auctioned at a fundraiser for a West Virginia non-profit, I excitedly began thinking about making a contribution. Yesterday I awoke at 4 a.m. having just finished the painting in my dreams.

I picked my way through the dark woods to the cottage and happily assembled my supplies, all the while trying to recall the details of the dream painting. I sketched it out quickly on the back of a things-to-do list, made a few notes, and then started painting. This morning I declared it finished because it brought a smile to my face.

Last year’s agony of creation is gone; today I was so absorbed in the joy of painting, I completely forgot to drink my coffee! Now, that’s seriously absorbed!

In this moment, I’m feeling happy and proud of myself. This past year, I’ve willingly worked through a lot of painful memories and purposefully healed those wounds. I’ve butted up against some major barriers, including “I don’t know what I’m doing!” and “I’m not good enough.” Patience, kindness and self-compassion have gradually reduced the size of the barriers. Although, still big enough to be recognizable, they have gradually become small enough to step over. Finally I find myself in a valley of contentment with feelings of satisfaction, freedom, delight, and whimsy. There is a sacred flow that happens now when I paint. It has become a time of communion with my higher self–a peaceful meditation. Lost in time and space, I become childlike, curious and delighted with the colors and shapes. It isn’t about getting certain results, it’s just about the fun of dabbling.

I long to more regularly feel that sense of freedom that comes from releasing attachment to outcome. I wonder what it would be like to approach every task in my life with playful curiosity and delight. When I think about where I was artistically just five years ago (couldn’t even draw a stick man) to where I am today, it makes me believe anything is possible. Yes, it does require a conscious desire to create something new as well as focused effort, but if it results in more connection, freedom, and joy, then count me in!

Read Full Post »

Houseplants

Poinsettias stay long past Christmas at our house!

It’s -5° this morning, and I’m feeling warmer than one might imagine because I know what it’s like to live without central heating. The furnace quit working last Saturday, and repair parts weren’t available until Monday. As the temperatures plunged, Adventure Barbie was called up for active duty once again.

The task wasn’t merely to keep ourselves warm but to protect my husband’s extensive collection of tropical plants, or as I like to call them, “The Window Hogs.” We don’t need curtains; we have plants! We can’t even use one of the sliding glass doors, so surrounded is it with greenery.

The plants are varied, huge, and longstanding residents of our home; many have been with us for more than 30 years; some came from Nebraska. In freezing February 1978, we made the 1,000 mile move, navigating a 24′ U-Haul with all our worldly belongings except the plants. For the seasonally sensitive flora we found temporary homes and then drove all the way back in the spring, rented a trailer just for the plants, and brought them to West Virginia. Are you getting an idea of the status “houseplants” hold in our family?

Keeping the home fires burning

Keeping the home fires burning

So there we were, in plant preservation mode, setting up heaters and building a fire in the fireplace. We closed off three rooms, cleverly constructing a double-decker curtain reaching to the cathedral ceiling, and we used a fan to circulate warm air from the fireplace. Dannie chopped, split, and carried wood. He also regularly scooped ashes from the fireplace. I slept on the couch with the kitchen timer chirping every 90 minutes so I could add more wood to the fire. Laboring together, we kept the home fires burning and achieved a balmy 60° in our three-room botanical garden, while the rest of the house dipped below 40°.

Double-decker curtains

Double-decker curtains

As happened during the “water crisis,” I found myself appreciatively connected to those of another time and place. My mother never had central heat nor running water in the Indiana farmhouse where she grew up. Every morning, year round, the first order of business was to get the fire going–for heat, for cooking, for washing. Even in the summer when the heat was a problem, the fire was essential.

In those days every member of the family was engaged in the chores of keeping a home operating: pumping water, chopping wood, collecting eggs, feeding livestock, cooking, cleaning, farming. So much work! So much hard work! Yet through it all, each person had an opportunity to feel a deep sense of contribution and usefulness. I got a small taste of that as I lovingly stoked the fire throughout the long night.

And more plants

Now, with our furnace restored, I settle back into my routine, employing my mind far more than my physical stamina and feeling just a little less essential to the operation of the household. Certainly each age has its challenges, not the least of which has always been to accept gratefully the challenges of life and to engage wholeheartedly in the Experience of Being Human.

Adventure Barbie Rides Again!

And More Plants!

More plants

Read Full Post »

Water in tub

This is what 16 gallons of rain water looks like in the bathtub. See my Facebook page if you’d like to see a video of the trip from the house to the rain barrel.

Five days ago a chemical spill contaminated drinking water in a nine-county area of West Virginia. We were the number two story on national news, right behind the Target credit card debacle.

Warned to neither drink nor touch the water, I had no problem keeping my distance as just the fumes were enough to give me a headache. While many shifted into panic mode, fighting over the limited supplies of bottled water on grocery store shelves, I donned a familiar persona: Adventure Barbie. I instantly shifted into problem solving mode, dipping rainwater from bird baths to heat on the stove for a Friday morning sponge bath. I inventoried the containers of water we had on hand and was thrilled to discover five gallons in the storage room, left over from the Y2K scare. My friend Elizabeth Heiser called it “Vintage,” which made the 14-year-old water seem even more precious.

With warming temperatures and rain in the forecast, we awakened the rain barrels from winter hibernation. We enacted home-wide water conservation procedures, and Dannie, as well as all affected employees, received a case of drinking water from The Home Depot before they sold the rest to the public.

Sunday found me foregoing my usual treadmill workout in favor of toting rainwater from the cottage to the house. I made eight trips, carrying two gallons (16 pounds) each time. I covered 1.7 miles in just under an hour. It was quite a workout, including two flights of steps each trip to get to the third floor bathtub. I’ll never look at a full bathtub the same, that’s for sure.

Sunday night we traveled 15 miles to St. Albans, where our friends Linda and Matt Higgs allowed us to use their shower. They also generously offered glasses of wine, some wonderful conversation, and fresh water for our empty containers.

Yesterday I contemplated how two-thirds of the people in the world do not have running water. Many spend hours every single day locating and carrying water for their families. Each time I walked the cottage path to the rain barrel, I sent love and compassion around the world, feeling connected in a way I never had before. I also lifted up enormous amounts of gratitude for my many blessings.

A couple of hours ago I received a call from the water company notifying me that our zone had been cleared. It took about 30 minutes to perform the pipe flushing procedures, and now life can return to normal.

Even as I acknowledge the many who suffered tremendous financial loss as a result of this water crisis, I send appreciation to my Adventurous Problem Solving Self for eschewing victim mode, adopting a good attitude, and keeping myself and our dishes clean.

Long Live Adventure Barbie!!! I think I need a red cape … but first, a hot shower!

Read Full Post »

Gifts of Imperfection

Yesterday I began an e-course with Brené Brown, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and the first reading shined a light into a dark corner of my life. When I was a kid, I suffered horribly from homesickness. I rarely made it through a neighborhood sleepover. As my friends fell asleep, I would grow increasingly nauseated until I’d scoop up my pillow, sprint across two or three back yards, and burst through my own front door, breathless but safe. I would crawl shamefully into my bed and fall sleep without ever waking my parents.

As I grew older and my friends lived blocks away instead of one or two doors down, I usually gutted it out. But as the nausea set in, I would cease having fun and go to bed early. After they thought I was asleep, my friends discussed what was wrong with me.

Memories of visits to Grandma’s house include the coffee can by my bed for when I got sick in the night. I never went to overnight camps nor on vacation with my friends. In high school I passed up a French Club trip to Paris and worried constantly about going away to college. I was apprehensive about marriage, sure that I wouldn’t survive that first night away from home without throwing up.

I never did go away to college. I somehow averted disaster by redefining “home” when I got married. I continued to suffer from “travel anxiety” (my grown up term for homesickness) well into my 40s and still experience significant twinges of discomfort the week before any travel that involves an overnight stay.

As an adult, I’ve done a good job of overcoming the problem, but this morning I realized I still have the lingering belief that “there’s something wrong with me.” I still find myself feeling the shame of the 10-year-old who pretended to be asleep as her playmates attempted to diagnose her malady.

As my “Year of Acceptance” moves into its final quarter, I find myself wondering if I can develop some understanding and compassion for my Homesick Self. I think I may be ready to release half a century of judgment, disgust, and impatience. Instead of berating the trait, I wonder if I can find The Gift in this particular Imperfection.

I’ll be carrying that intention with me during the next six weeks as I work my way through Brené Brown’s e-course.

As of September 2017, this class is still available through the link below. It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken online! The cost is $69.99. Click this link for more information: http://www.oprah.com/brenebrown

Read Full Post »

White Kitty

As I closed the cottage door behind me this morning, I heard a noise inside. When I looked, I was stunned. Oh, no! White Kitty on the floor in a hundred pieces!

A very young part of me began to cry. The three-year-old who had received it as a gift from her Daddy, was in shock and overwhelmed with raw grief.

As I swept the floor, I remembered the many shelves upon which White Kitty had been displayed over the decades. Never packed away for safe keeping, she went from my childhood dresser, to my teenage desk, to my newlywed hutch. She watched over Baby Britain from the changing table, spent several years on the living room fireplace mantle, and did a stint in Mom’s sick room.

After Mom passed, I took White Kitty to the cottage to join several other memory-filled treasures. The grown-up part of me knows nothing lasts forever. She is sad but ready to move on. The three-year-old, though, is really struggling.

So I allowed that part of me to dig through the trash and put White Kitty’s head and the tip of her tail back on the shelf. Later, I got the urge to retrieve the rest of the big pieces and put them in a box. It just didn’t seem right to throw Kitty away like that. She needed to be honored, to be acknowledged for the 56 years of faithful service. A nice box, a few words, and a friend or two to help say goodbye.

Good grief! The three-year-old wants a funeral! I want to say, “Get real, girl! It’s just a ceramic figure!” But I would never say that to an actual three-year-old in pain. So, I am choosing not to say it to myself either. The fragile part of me deserves compassion, understanding, and most of all, some time to let go of a lifelong treasure.

So, I’ll leave the head on the shelf for a while and the rest of the pieces in the box. Showing compassion, tenderness, and love toward myself is a new practice for me. I’m not sure how this will unfold, but I do know, there’s no hurry. I will trust my heart to lead the way.

White Kitty's Head

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: