Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’

Full Moon

After I slipped down a muddy hillside, I sat in the mud and shot pictures of the moon. Some things are worth getting dirty for.

There is no doubt about it. Summer is winding down. Although the trees remain lush and green, an increasing number of dead leaves decorate my cottage deck. Sweeping them away this morning, I realized the days of denial are over. My intention to Create A Summer I Loved was fulfilled. Is it any wonder I’m dragging my feet a little? When must I officially declare summer over?

As a child, that happened on the first day of school. But here in Charleston, school started on August 11; I wasn’t even back from summer vacation yet! So, that doesn’t work. Labor Day? Well, that’s come and gone, and I’m still in a summer frame of mind. So, no, Labor Day isn’t the end of summer.

What about September 22, the official beginning of autumn? But I’ll be in San Antonio training with Brené Brown to become a Daring Way Facilitator. I can’t officially end summer while I’m still out of town. Nope. Can’t be done.

Yet, I know the leaves will turn and fall. The days will grow shorter. The nights will get cooler. Air conditioning will be turned off, and I’ll switch on the electric fireplace to combat the morning chill at the cottage. Perhaps I’ll be ready to say goodbye to summer when we set our clocks back to standard time.

It’s not really about summer being over. It’s a reluctance to release my “summer way of being.” I have enjoyed moving at a slower pace, skipping the morning make-up-and-hair routine, and being more spontaneous, adventurous, and fun. My summer has been a delightful balance of meaningful work and nurturing play.

But there are a lot of things that didn’t get done. I didn’t blog much; I didn’t write much. I haven’t put any effort at all into marketing my book. My website remains inadequate, and I have not yet cracked the owner’s manual of my new camera.

What did get done? Well, I worked 40 hours a week and completed all of my projects on time. Bills got paid. Grocery shopping done. Meals. Dishes. Dog walking. I watched the moon rise, hiked for hours in the woods, occasionally lounged in the sun in the middle of a workday, painted outdoors as the sun was rising, and sat talking on the deck late on a work night just because I didn’t want the time with my son to end.

If I’m going to move into fall and winter happily, I’ll need to take some of summer’s lessons with me. New priorities. New pleasures. More flexibility. A slower pace doesn’t mean nothing gets done. I want to continue to trust myself to get things done when they need to get done. Even blogging.

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Gift Card

I’ve heard a lot of people comment that gift cards are “just so impersonal”! Last week I received one from the fourth grade class where I’m a ReadAloud volunteer on Thursday mornings.

It reminds me of when my grandma would slip five dollars into my birthday card. Mom urged me to buy “something special,” something that Grandma herself might buy if she lived closer. After the purchase, I wrote a thank-you note. (Remember those?) I not only said thank you, but I told Grandma specifically how I spent the money as well as the pleasure I received from my gift.

The first year I received a check for Christmas from my dad, I was a little disappointed. He had always been a thoughtful gift giver, and I enjoyed the presents he chose. As he slowed with age, though, it was easier for him to just send a check. He slipped in a note telling me to buy myself something special. So, I began a tradition of carefully choosing a gift I could imagine him buying. That year, I picked out a beautiful pair of gold earrings, and I placed the wrapped present under the tree with a tag that read, “To: Barb … From: Dad.”

On Christmas Eve, I “forgot” what the box contained and opened it with great anticipation. A few days later I sent a thank you note: “Dear Dad, I adore the beautiful gold hoop earrings you sent! I have been wearing them every day since I opened the gift. Thank you so much. I Love You! Barb.”

After his initial confusion over that first thank-you note, Dad came to look forward to finding out what he bought me for Christmas via the thank you notes. And, even now, more than 20 years later, when someone admires those earrings, I say, “Thank you. They were a Christmas gift from my dad.”

Yesterday I used the gift card from the students to buy two books. The thank-you note says, “Thank you so much for the Christmas gift card. Because I enjoy reading to you so much, I used it to buy two books for myself. One is a travel guide to the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m going there this summer, and I want to get the most from my trip by reading about it before I go. The second book is a journal I’m using to write all my ideas about–and wishes for–the trip. Please know I’ll be thinking of you all when I celebrate my 60th Birthday bicycling through Volcanoes National Park on August 14! Books help big dreams come true!! Thanks again for your magical gift. Keep Dreaming! Keep Reading! Love, Ms. Dallmann”

On the inside flap of the books, I have written: “Merry Christmas 2013 from Mrs. Burdette’s Fourth Grade Class at Overbrook Elementary.”

Impersonal? I think not!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013

Making Memories


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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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"By the River" - Acrylic on canvas by Barbie Dallmann

“By the River” – Acrylic on canvas by Barbie Dallmann

I love taking my son’s dog with me in the mornings when I walk or run. She’s such a great companion, and I confess, I do love multitasking. It’s such a high when I’m getting a three-for-one bargain: exercising, walking the dog, and listening to a book on my iPod.

This morning, as I noticed Lucy wandering into a side yard, I yelled over my shoulder, “Hey! Lucy! It’s your job to keep of track of me … not the other way around!” As she quickly caught up, I found myself smiling, remembering how I used to say that same thing to Britain when he was a toddler. Wherever we went, I would always remind him: “It’s your job to keep track of me. So, pay attention, and try to keep up!” What a great memory!

The truth, of course, is that I always had an eye out for him, just like I’m always aware of what Lucy’s up to.

I wonder if it’s that way with the Divine. I can just hear God saying, “It’s your job to keep track of me!” And off I go, thinking I’m all independent and in charge of every last detail. My truth, though, is that there has always been a bigger picture, one I’ll never be able to totally comprehend. And those times when I’ve strayed off course, there were whispers urging me to “pay attention!” Sometimes, too, my resistance causes me to run in the opposite direction. I’m grateful that even during those times when I think I’ve lost track of the Divine, she never loses track of me.

I guess this morning’s outing was actually a FOUR-for one: exercise, dog walking, iPod, and a bit of spiritual insight. Now I really am feeling a powerful urge to smile!

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Handwritten "Acceptance"

A simple reminder

On January 1, I chose my year’s intention: Acceptance. It came to me during meditation and wasn’t what my ego had planned at all (I wanted appreciation!)

It’s no wonder my ego was squirming. When I set an intention, things tend to happen. And this past week I’ve felt like a high school freshman sitting in on a master’s level class. Oh, I have so much to learn!!

I immediately became keenly aware of my addiction to resistance. I want to be accepting. I say I want to be “in flow.” But what I see is myself consistently choosing to resist what is: “My internet service should not have been out for 4 days” … “Client emergencies should not clump together in a single week (particularly during a week without internet service!)” … “The dog should not be barking at 3 a.m.” … “I should be over this cough by now; two weeks is enough!”

Oh, I could go on, but I want to stop. Oh, how I want to stop!

Meditating Frog

My Guru

The next morning on my way to a doctor’s appointment, I observed myself thinking what bad timing it was during such a busy week. And then I asked myself, “What would it be like to be in acceptance?” I took a moment after I parked the car to center myself with a little deep breathing. I allowed myself to become totally present. Then I began my two block walk to the doctor’s office.

It was such an amazing experience. I felt like I was seeing my city for the first time. I connected with people on the street. And I heard birds singing! Birds singing in January when it was 33° outside!  It felt like a shot of pure joy. I was happy, excited, eager to share my smile with others. And the day continued to flow so much more easily.

This morning in the cottage I was reflecting on my soul’s choice for my 2013 intention. My soul knew what I needed most to get to a place of appreciation.

First Comes Acceptance!

It’s going to be an interesting year.

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Hand written: Read this when you are feeling sickI’ve been suffering from influenza. Totally missed celebrating New Year’s Eve. I’m much better, but still not 100%.

On the second day of my infirmity, I found the following letter dated December 19, 2010.

Dear Sick Barbie,

Today, as I write this, I’m feeling well again after three weeks of illness. It strikes me today just how little compassion and patience I have for myself and others when I am sick. I hate being sick. I hate the slow pace. I hate the exhaustion. I hate the lack of creativity. I go into survival mode. Nothing is fun. Nothing is satisfying. Most of the time I’m grouchy, nitpicky, and angry. I feel overwhelmed, and I don’t ask for help.

Right now, I want you to realize that getting well is not something you do in your spare time. It’s the most important thing. Stop exercising! Use your energy carefully! Cancel all of your extracurricular activities. Right now! Just do it! Sleep late. Take naps. Lounge in the tub. Read a book. Television makes you restless. It’s so unsatisfying. Keep it to a minimum. Download some good books and just listen if you need to be entertained.

Most important is this: ASK FOR HELP! Ask first in prayer. Ask your guides and angels to support you in taking care of yourself. Look at all your tasks and delegate. Don’t just let everything pile up until you feel better. Every day ask for what you need.

I don’t think this horrible cough needed to last three weeks. Maybe it did. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that when I woke up this morning, I KNEW, without a doubt, that I was better. You will KNOW. Until then, practice faith, patience, self-love, compassion, and kindness … to yourself and all those around you.

Sincerely, A part of you that cares deeply and wants you to heal quickly

Thanks to my two-year-younger self for that great advice. I did as she directed and canceled everything on my calendar and stayed in bed for four days. I am continuing to go to bed early and sleep late. I’m so glad I wrote that letter!

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Handwritten entry from journal on 10-22-09

These past three years have gone by quickly. Sometimes I still go into Mom’s old room to share a bit of news. “Hey, Mama, guess who just called to say hi?” Of course, I don’t expect a response. The room has been quiet for a long time now. The nebulizer and oxygen machine are long gone. The television, too.  But the bed, table, and chairs remain. It was her room for the last four and a half years of her life. I brought her breakfast, lunch, and dinner to that room. I sat with her there and watched bits of TV shows, chatted, and read to her. I painted her toenails, administered her medicine, and checked her blood pressure. Even as I did my best to hold on tightly, I watched her slip away, slowly, slowly, slowly.

This morning I had a conversation with her ashes, as if they were a conduit to the afterlife. I told her how much I miss her and how much I love her. I closed my eyes and remembered what it felt like to be hugged by her. I remembered the way her startlingly blue eyes sparkled every time she smiled at me. I could count on that smile as I set her breakfast tray on the table. “Oh, my!” she would say, “That’s beautiful! But how will I ever eat it all?” But she always did; her appetite was good in the mornings, and so I made sure breakfast was the best meal of the day.

I have honored her last wish to, “just stay close to my little kid,” by creating a special place for her ashes at the cottage. She always called me her angel, but she’s my angel now. My heart hurts  today as I remember the pain of letting her go. I am simultaneously sad and joyful. My life is full, and I am so very grateful for having been raised by a mother like her: optimistic, funny, compassionate, and loving. I am grateful, too, for the opportunity to have been there when she needed me and for the grace to lovingly release her when the time came.

Rest in peace, Mama, and know you will live in my heart forever.

Mom's ashes on a shelf in the cottage

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