Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Talk with Barbara Techel--Wisdom Found in the Pause

I'm delighted to host today a wonderful writer friend and talented lady, who is as true and genuine as they come. She's releasing her new book, Wisdom Found in the Pause. You may know Barbara from Joyful Paws blog. Barbara was nice enough to stop by today and answer some questions and tell us more about her book.

The book is about dogs, and self-discovery. Through love and loss, and joy and grief, a little dachshund named Joie helps Barbara better understand herself. And ultimately, she discovers when we truly devote ourselves to another, we learn that those we love will always be a part of us.
In Wisdom Found in the Pause, Barbara Techel explores both the real-time beauty and long-term benefits of life’s transitional periods. Her first book, Through Frankie's Eyes: One Woman's Journey to Her Authentic Self, and the Dog on Wheels Who Led the Way, told the story of how a paralyzed dachshund named Frankie led Barbara to groundbreaking work with children, persons with disabilities, and the elderly. After Frankie’s death, Barbara often felt called to embark on another direction, yet she was reluctant to let go of the purpose and identity she had so closely tied herself to.

Wisdom Found in the Pause is the story of Joie, another paralyzed dachshund, who would serve as Barbara’s teacher, friend, and ultimately angel. Joie’s unexpected death would remind Barbara that the only way to really change our lives is from within. Along the way she received spiritual signposts - some subtle, some profound – that convinced her she was on the right path. Through this journey she realized the most valuable gift we can give ourselves is the time to slow down, hear and heed our inner thoughts, for this is how we will welcome that sweet stillness of being, that wisdom found in the pause.

The Writer's Dog: What inspired you to write Wisdom Found in the Pause?

BT:  I really had no idea I was going to write another book after my first memoir, Through Frankie’s Eyes. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I’d ever write anything again after my dear Joie passed away in late summer 2013.  All I knew was that I was feeling empty, sad, and without a sense of direction, and for a while all I wanted to do was wallow in it. This felt incredibly odd after having been riding high on a purpose that had been so integral to my life for many years.

What transpired during a sabbatical I hesitantly took was a deeper wisdom that I gained about what purpose really is. I think many spend a great amount of time throughout their lives wondering what their calling or purpose is (and I did too!), but the truth of it was revealed to me during a time of transition – that we are here to be happy – that this is the purpose – and that it’s really not attached to some achievement or material possession.

Animals have served as some pretty amazing teachers for me. But little did I know I’d be profoundly affected like I was after the death of Joie.  I learned the value of slowing down and by allowing my inner voice, and what I call heart whispers, to feel safe my thoughts I’d been struggling with were able to rise to the surface. And by doing so, I was granted a deeper level of peace and nuggets of wisdom I don’t know if I’d have found otherwise.

I was inspired to write Wisdom Found in the Pause because one, it was a way in which I could honor the gift Joie gave me, and two, I continue to enjoy encouraging others to search for what it is that matters to them, and to hone in on their own inner voice, so that they too can walk the path that is right for them, and not necessarily what society deems as so.

The Writer's Dog: What is the greatest thing you learned from Joie?
BT: Because Joie was only five years old when she passed away, and I only had her for ten months, I didn’t understand at the time why I wasn’t allowed to have her longer in my life – I felt very cheated. This sent me into a time of transition, which ultimately lasted three years. It was a time when I wasn’t sure what it was I was supposed to be doing next in my life and questioning if we have more than one purpose.

What I came to realize is that slowing down, sitting in contemplation, listening to the silence, and opening to the whispers in one’s heart that answers will come if we just get out of our own way and allow them to.
While I fought being in transition with everything I had at the beginning of it, I came to realize the many gifts it has to offer. If Joie had not left her physical body when she did, I don’t know as if I’d have understood what transition could teach me– or perhaps it may have just come to me later in life.

Joie’s gift to me helped me to understand that I am worthy no matter what I may do and that I didn’t need to prove myself anymore. I came to understand that I could enjoy life at a more deliberate, slower pace that is in alignment with who I authentically am at this time while still setting intentions that are important to me in living a fulfilled and meaningful life.

The Writer's Dog: You had another dachshund with IVDD before Joie. What is the greatest thing you learned from Frankie?

BT:  Oh yes, Frankie! She was the dog that started it all for me in the many blessings of living with, and caring for, a special needs pet. I credit her for helping me to begin giving voice to my truth. She helped me to stand tall in being who I am and accept myself. For many years I had struggled with shame around certain issues, and also almost constantly worried about what others thought about my choices for my life.
Frankie taught me to see that when we are faced with challenges, if we look hard enough, there is always a blessing in a challenge. We learn and grow from our challenges if we are willing to be open to the lessons.

The Writer's Dog: What advice do you have for pet parents whose pet is diagnosed with IVDD?

BT:  There is hope.
·         Don’t give up.
·         Seek out help from others that have gone through this with their own pet. Reach out to a wonderful organization with a wealth of article and information on IVDD,
·         There are many blessings that come from having a pet with IVDD, or any special needs for that matter. They are no different than any other animal in that they just want to be loved. And what you give in love to them, you will get back ten-fold!

     The Writer's Dog: Why do you think we learn so much from our pets?
BT: I think in part because they live in the moment, if you take the time to just sit and be with your pet, you will automatically be filled with a sense of peace.

I also think because they are so accepting and nonjudgmental we can’t help but want to strive for the same thing just by having them in our lives.

And lastly, I truly believe that our pets act as mirrors to us and our emotions. The key is being open to what they are trying to convey to us, even when it’s hard to look at those parts of ourselves. But to remember that our animal friends truly want what is best for us and are only trying to help and guide us.

The Writer's Dog: What do you want people to take away from reading Wisdom Found in the Pause?

       BT:  While I love spreading a positive message about IVDD and that there is hope (which I always will!) there are a few other things I hope people will take away.

One, while it is always difficult to say goodbye to our animal friends, I hope that just like we are doing more and more in our human world, we can find beauty in death, too. To know that just because an animal leaves their physical body does not mean you can’t connect with them at any time you want. It’s just in a new way in which you do so and one in which causes you to sit and be still and feel into that connection.  That in itself is a gift all its own in many ways.

In our busy world, always striving toward something, Joie truly helped me appreciate that no matter what else I may do, I am worthy just as I am.  I will admit that this one I continue to still practice, and likely always will, but learning to be more in a state of being I’ve found a new peace within, and it’s been so rewarding – so much so, I know I will continue to make a conscious effort to do so.

And lastly, I really came to understand that one animal friend moves on, our hearts can expand again – which I did experience with the loss of Frankie, too. But I believe what I gained differently in perspective this time on a deeper level is that each animal comes into our life at just the right time – and leaves when their work is done. And when they do, they then open the door for another to enter our life when the time is right again. They truly are our guides and teachers if we stay open to what they bring to this  world and our lives.

Thank you Barbara for sharing these thoughts with us today!

* You can get Wisdom Found in the Pause on Amazon starting in mid October. Also, Barbara is accepting pre-orders for a special edition with a free gift through September 23rd!

To connect with Barbara visit her website,
Find her active on these social media avenues:

*Full Disclosure:  I was provided with a free electronic advanced copy of this book for my review, but this in no way influenced my opinions. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ike's Dream- Wordless Wednesday

What do you think Ike is dreaming about? (sorry about the vertical video!)

Join the Blog Paws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Help Spread Awareness about National Guide Dog Month this September

September is National Guide Dog Month, so I decided to learn more about how guide dogs help people who are blind or visually impaired.

Melissa Hudson and Camry, courtesy Guide Dogs for the Blind.

I'm partnering with Natural Balance premium-quality pet food and Guide Dogs for the Blind, a non-profit charitable organization that raises and trains exceptional guide dogs, to recognize the 'Top Human-Canine Teams Who Make Us Believe.'

These nine teams are outstanding examples of the amazing partnerships possible between humans and canines. I was particularly inspired by Ashleigh and her guide dog Yuri. Here's their story:
 Ashleigh Hertzig lives in New York City. Visually impaired since birth, Ashleigh used a cane to get around for years—but found that it became increasingly difficult to be mobile during the wintertime due to dangerous patches of ice on the pavement. These harsh winter conditions—combined with encouragement from her family—got her to consider the possibility of a guide dog. 

Ashleigh Hertzig and Yuri, courtesy Guide Dogs for the Blind

Ashleigh grew up terrified of dogs, but as she began researching Guide Dogs for the Blind, she felt that their positive reinforcement philosophy matched her personal beliefs and values. So she took a leap of faith. When Yuri—a Guide Dogs for the Blind-trained yellow Lab—first walked into her life, Ashleigh remembers he was so excited that he couldn’t stop sneezing. Now, over two years later, they’re so connected that she can’t imagine life without him.

“Being paired with Yuri has changed my life in so many ways. In addition to being my eyes, keeping me safe, and giving me independence, he has also become my best friend—and is constantly by my side,” says Ashleigh. Without Yuri, Ashleigh may have never developed the confidence and independence needed to fulfill her dream of living and working in New York City. She is now able to navigate the city’s fast-paced subway system every day, feeling fully safe and cared for. 

As Ashleigh's story shows, in addition to providing enhanced mobility, guide dogs can also be a social bridge, opening a world of possibilities for friendship and human connection. 

You can check out Guide Dogs to the Blind to read about other amazing human-canine teams. While you're there, consider donating to Guide Dogs for the Blind--there's no better time than National Guide Dog Month to show your support for these incredible people and their four-legged superheroes.

Bruce Gilmour and Marley, courtesy Guide Dogs for the Blind

Guide dogs are just one example of how we have special bonds with our dogs. My dogs Ike and Kelly show me how important they are to my life every day. Natural Balance even sent us this cool swag to help us celebrate National Guide Dog Month!

Do you have a special bond with your pet too? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Quartet of Goldens --Wordless Wednesday

We recently attended a therapy dog event at a local university, and 4 out of 5 dogs working there were goldens! Ike was very happy to meet his fellow golden pals! And the students found that patting and hugging the dogs helped make their transition into their freshman year away from home a little less stressful.

Wordless Wednesday blog Hop!

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Brook Hike

When I was a young girl, I used to spend my summers at a camp in the mountains of Vermont. There was a lovely, shallow brook there, and my beagle-lab mix Happy and I would spend warm summer days hiking along the meandering path of the brook. I'd usually wear sneakers to protect my feet. In some places the water was dried up and I'd just walked on rocks. But most of the way it was a few inches deep, cool and clean.

Recently I went back to the place and spent the most beautiful afternoon, brook hiking with Ike. He took to it immediately and seemed to be having as much fun as I was that day.

 I was delighted when he plopped down and basked in the cool water--something he's never done in the little plastic kiddie pool I have for him at home.

I'll never forget reliving my childhood and spending a beautiful day in Vermont with Ike.