“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to let it blossom.” Anais Nin
Today’s post is still about writing, but at its core, it’s about stepping through fear to become who you’re really meant to be. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a writer, an engineer or a mail carrier – we all have dreams in our hearts that yearn to come true. It’s fun thinking, wishing, hoping, but sometimes, actually acting on those dreams can create a lurching fear, holding us back.
That’s why I’d like to you meet Barbara Techel. She’s known mainly for her children’s books, authoring the “Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog,” series, along with “For the Love of Animals: A Collection of Short Stories,” but it’s the work she’s done promoting animals with disabilities that’s nothing short of inspirational.
And she never dreamed of being an author. Reaching her 40s brought “a restlessness,” a seeking for something more. Barbara always loved animals, having a passion and sensitivity towards her furry friends that ran deep.
To know Barbara, you have to know about Frankie, her late dachshund with liquid chocolate eyes and a spirit that invigorated every inch of her being. A fall left Frankie paralyzed, right at about the same time that Barbara herself was feeling paralyzed in her career.
Frankie was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease and eventually fitted for a custom dog wheelchair. Overnight, her needs became immediate, paramount, taking the spotlight off Barbara’s life situation, forcing her to make a move.
“I never considered having, or adopting, an animal with a disability before,” Barbara said. “But Frankie changed all that. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, and honestly, I questioned whether or not I wanted the responsibility, or if it was even the right thing to do. Would she have a quality life?”
Frankie, however, didn’t seem to notice. Fitted with wheels, the spunky little dachshund carried on as only dogs can, oblivious of her wheelchair or her disability. She was mobile again, and that’s what mattered.
And so was Barbara. Motivated by Frankie’s spirit in the face of adversity, Barbara found herself set free to pursue a career she had never dreamed of. Frankie became a registered therapy dog, and the pair appeared regularly at nursing homes and schools, where they urged children to “stay positive” in the face of challenges.
“I’ve always loved animals, especially dogs, so deeply,” Barbara said. “I wondered how I could share that with the world. Well, just by starting small with writing for a local column, led me to where I am today, still writing and writing about the human-animal bond.”
If you ask, Barbara will tell you that the indecision and second-guessing didn’t evaporate overnight; she still struggled, but taking the first steps toward a career focused on service and acceptance gave her the wings she needed for liftoff.
“I couldn’t live like that any longer. Once you break away from that, it is so gratifying and freeing,” Barbara said. “We think there is so much risk in following our passion that we stay stuck in a place that seems somewhat comfortable, but also comes with much pain at times.”
Her advice to others yearning to follow their passion? Start small and surround yourself with those who will support and nurture you along the way.
“I gravitate towards animal-loving people, as well as positive people,” she said. “The more I do, the more my world has opened up in a way I could have never imagined.”