Posts Tagged ‘Debbie Ford’

Watercolor painting - Life in the 50s

“Life in the 50s” – Watercolor, ink, and press-on letters (by Barbie Dallmann)

Yesterday I turned 59. The “nine” birthdays are always a big deal for me. I experience a strong need to finish the decade on a high note. There’s also a touch of anxiety about how I will process the “new numbers” a year from now. It seems I’m one to watch out for my future self, thinking she may somehow become weaker or more vulnerable than I am today.

When I was 9, I wondered what it would be like to have two numbers in my age and thought ahead to 11 when I would no longer be able to hold up my age in fingers.

At 19 I grieved the loss of my teen years as 20 was the threshold to Adulthood. So, to prepare myself, I quit school, got a full-time job, moved out of my parents’ house, and got married—all between 19 and 20!

At 29 I remembered my promise to myself to “have my ducks in a row by the time I turned 30.” AARGH! I wasn’t even close! No goals; only wishes and someday fantasies. So, that was the year I got serious about my career, obtained a loan from the SBA and opened the doors of Happy Fingers for business just 10 weeks before my 30th birthday. Ducks lined up and marching by 30!

At 39 I was restless again, and so before I turned 40, we had packed up and moved to a much bigger house in a much nicer neighborhood. Another step up the ladder of success.

At 49 I watched Oprah turn 50 a full seven months before me. I heard her talk about the 50’s being the decade when you become who you were meant to be. I wanted that, but I didn’t know how to get it. And it seemed the harder I tried, the worse things became. Little did I know that as bad as 49 was, 50 would be even worse, and by 51, I had hit bottom. In a state of complete resignation, I signed up for the scariest thing I’d ever heard of: “The Shadow Process Workshop” with Debbie Ford.

Yesterday, I opened my birthday journal and began to write, fully expecting some fearful tirade about turning 60. I was fully prepared to devote a good part of the day to creating an action plan of things I needed to do that would make turning 60 bearable. Instead, I found myself overwhelmed with peace and contentment. What’s this? I wondered. Serenity on my 59th birthday? Really? How did that happen?

But, of course, I know how it happened. During my 50’s I’ve been doing a lot of deep work. I’ve learned about purposeful living. I’ve taken 100% responsibility (no excuses!) for creating more of what I want and releasing the things that no longer serve me. So, this is the reward, huh? A HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I’ve always wondered what that would be like.

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Acrylic on Tile by Barbie Dallmann (July 2013)

“The only limits are your imagination and your willingness to explore your own inner psyche.” –Sue St. John

You might think I pulled that quote from a coach training manual. Actually, it would be the perfect thing to say to clients as they envision the possibilities of purposeful change. I’ve probably said a variation on it dozens of times. But that’s not where I found the quote. I read it just this morning in a book entitled, Journeys to Abstraction … 100 contemporary paintings and their secrets revealed.

It just goes to prove once again that my art-life is a reflection of my life-life. I find new insights every time I pick up a paint brush, or, like Tuesday, when I skipped the brush completely and just used my fingers (see the results above.) Sometimes in life, you just have to get your hands dirty to get the results you’re looking for!

But last night, on a different painting, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. Half of it was pretty good, but the other half was frustrating me. I began smearing paint all over the place, but I just made a big mess. It sort of reminds me of those times when part of my life was working and part wasn’t. In desperation, I just wanted to do something different to make things better, but that’s not usually what happened. Most times I just ended up with a big mess!

Never Give Up

This used to be my   Life Motto.

What I’ve learned to appreciate about myself, though, is that I don’t give up easily. I used to have this bird/frog picture on a t-shirt. I claimed it as my life motto. My pattern is to take a stab at solving things and then follow up with some research. That’s why I was reading about abstract art this morning.

I have a smile on my face now as I remember how bad things were for me the day I bought Debbie Ford’s Book, The Best Year of Your Life. As the clerk accepted my payment, I quipped, “Seems like a pretty lofty goal. I think I would be satisfied with a year that didn’t suck. But maybe that’s not such a great book title.”

As it turned out, that following year WAS the best year of my life (up until then). It was the year I finally stopped being so afraid. It was the year I woke up and started making purposeful changes in my life. It was the year I became a coach.

So, with some helpful tips from this latest art book, I think I’ll apply life-life lessons learned to my art-life and start experimenting with a few PURPOSEFUL changes.

(P.S. My new life motto is this, “Trust the Process” … After all, there’s a reasonably good chance that God really does know what she’s doing!)

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Yesterday was an awful day. I had a case of “morning brain” that lasted all day long. I’m talking about brain fog so dense, I couldn’t see my way through the simplest mental challenge. It didn’t help that yesterday held a demanding workload. It took me three times longer than usual to get through my tasks. It was an uphill battle, and I finally surrendered around 4:30, thinking I’d get an early start in the morning.

But I woke up with a massive headache, so I quietly made my way to the cottage, hoping meditation, solitude, and coffee might help. Two hours later I returned to the house with the startling realization that the headache was the result of not breathing!

Through journaling and a willingness to look at the truth, I saw clearly just how stressed I’ve been lately, not just the last couple of months, but all the way back to late last summer when Britain first talked to an Air Force recruiter. Since then, life has been a series of well-meaning assurances, like “we’ll know something for sure next week.” I remember deciding to wait to send Christmas cards until we knew something for sure. They never got sent.

Then the uncertainties really started piling up. What will happen to the Ford Institute for Transformational Training now that Debbie Ford is no longer with us? Today was Dannie’s Radiation Treatment #16. Will he have a bad reaction today? Tomorrow Britain is supposed to go to Beckley for the Army physical exam. Will he be signing papers before the weekend?

It’s no wonder I’ve been holding my breath! What’s gonna happen? What’s next? When will I know something for sure? I’ve been waiting for months!

This morning I decided it was time to stop waiting and start breathing. I removed every single non-essential activity from my calendar and spent the day deeply breathing my way through a series of spontaneous activities. I went for a ride in the convertible, singing along with Jimmy Buffett. I grilled steaks and invited my family to an impromptu picnic lunch on the back deck. I watched a training video and then tried my hand at clipping the dog, followed by a bath, where we both got soaking wet.

Yes, I know it was a “work day,” and as soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to carefully schedule my priorities for tomorrow. No missed deadlines.  No one will suffer because I found some BREATHING SPACE. I knew those words were on my Vision Map for a reason!

And just so you know … headache’s gone, brain is clear, and I’ve decided to make some permanent changes to my Things To Do List.


Breathing Space

Just a little piece of my 2005 Vision Map. I’m still working on it!

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One of my paintings that was inspired by a guided meditation. It’s entitled, “Source.”

One week ago today, an important person in my life died. I met Debbie Ford in January of 2006 at the Shadow Process Workshop in San Diego. It was the first step of an incredible, transformational journey that proved the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I was ready, and Debbie taught. She taught me so much and so well, it’s hard to remember how resistant I was at first, how terrified, how uncertain. Debbie taught me to trust my heart, to believe in my own inner wisdom, and to trust the process. After a lifetime of holding myself to impossibly high standards (i.e., perfection), it was Debbie who taught me how to accept and love every part of my humanly flawed self. The last seven years have evolved my soul and transformed my spirit.

This past week has been a roller coaster of emotion for me. I will openly admit I’m no good at dealing with death–with anyone’s death. My parents modeled nothing but avoidance for me. Death has claimed my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, cousins, and both of my parents. I have not attended one funeral of a family member. We don’t “do funerals.” I guess in my family, it is expected that people have the consideration to die with as little disruption to the world around them as possible. We are to disappear quietly, leaving behind as many good memories as possible along with adequate instructions for the distribution of our belongings. Death in our family is treated sort of like the person moved to another country. We talk about them, remember the good times, but they’re so far away that we never quite get around to visiting or calling.

So, this week I’ve been bouncing off the stages of grief like a pinball being flipped around inside a supercharged arcade game. On a daily basis I may decide that Debbie’s death doesn’t affect me (denial), followed by the urge to go back to bed (depression). Then I find myself raging in an email about something she said four months ago (anger). Soon I am painting in the cottage and feeling as though I am one with the universe (acceptance). Before you know it I’m telling God that it was her time, but it’s not my time; her work was complete, mine is just beginning (bargaining), only to be interrupted by more tears and an angry declaration that she just wasn’t that big a deal to me in the scheme of things.

See, I told you I was no good at this! And that’s okay. I love that I’m no good at this! Because I’m not a bit worried that I’m not “doing it right,” that I am somehow “less than” because I don’t grieve like everyone else, or that I won’t find a way out of my sorrow. I learned from Debbie Ford that whatever I choose as a way to process my grief is perfect for me, and if I just allow my heart to guide the way, the process will lead to the evolution of my soul.

Goodbye, Debbie. I love you, and I will miss you.

Debbie Ford and Barbie Dallmann

Debbie Ford and me in San Diego, 2009

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