Recently, I read Barbara Techel's new book Through Frankie’s Eyes and loved it! I had the opportunity to interview Barbara a few weeks ago. We talked about the book, her writing process, and more. I hope you enjoy the conversation . . .
Tammy: Can you tell us about your new book Through Frankie’s Eyesand why you decided to write it?
Barbara:Through Frankie’s Eyes is about my journey with my dachshund, Frankie, who was in a dog wheelchair do to a disc disease. After having written two children’s books about Frankie and taking her on over 350 school and library visits, as well as work with her as a therapy dog visiting local facilities, I wanted to share our story to inspire others.
The reason for writing my book is three-fold. My journey with Frankie being disabled was not a welcome one. I was devastated when she became paralyzed and had to be fitted for a custom-made wheelchair. But I realized one day that I had an amazing opportunity to help children see their challenges in a positive way.
Second, I wanted to bring more positive awareness to dogs diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), like Frankie had. Still, far too often, dogs with this disease are put to sleep because owners do not know their options. IVDD is not a death sentence. Dogs with this disease can actually live full lives.
Third, I want to encourage others to follow their heart's desires. I think too often we worry about what others may think of us and our choices for life and this stops us from living our best lives. Having a dog in a wheelchair is not a common sight in my town of 950 people, so I worried that others would think it mean or weird.
This led me to thinking differently about myself and finally standing tall in my own truth and what I believe in. I had many insecurities about myself, as well as some things I carried shame about. Frankie melted that all away for me just by watching her live a full, happy life despite having to be in a wheelchair.
Tammy: What was it like writing a book? Can you share your experience with us.
Barbara: It was a mix of emotions! It was actually very therapeutic, but at times it was hard to write about things that were painful. It was also scary to write about issues that I felt insecure about, but Frankie was always my writing companion. Every time I felt stuck or didn’t think I could do it, I’d look at her and it reminded me that I can do anything I set my mind to do.
Tammy: As I was reading your book, I wrote down a few quotes that I loved. This was one of my favorites:
". . . there were many things about my life that I loved. Yet there was an undeniable void that I couldn't explain. I kept wondering 'what is my purpose?' I knew there had to be something more and I wanted to discover it before my life passed me by."
This quote made me think about the importance of cultivating a sense of joy and purpose in everyday life. Can you tell us about how you have cultivated a sense of purpose in your life?
Barbara: When I was in my late thirties I began to wonder what more there was to life. It was then I first began experiencing what I called a void. Something was missing, though I wasn’t sure what it was that was missing.
As I talk about in my book, I was unhappy with a business I was involved with which led me to hiring a life coach. I thought I was hiring her to help me with marketing efforts for the company I represented. But as the weeks unfolded she was actually helping me search my soul for what would truly bring me happiness and bring more meaning to my life.
This is what makes a good life coach! We can all learn to market what we do or change jobs if we are unhappy. But if we don’t take the time to really cultivate what it is that truly makes our hearts sing, we will likely just end up unhappy again, or never feel like we are truly living from our hearts calling.
Tammy: Who or what inspires you?
Barbara: Dogs absolutely inspire me, as well as all animals! I try to make a conscious effort every day to live more like they do. To live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow or what is past. They have also taught me to not only to be more compassionate about animals, but for people as well.
People who are living their dreams also inspire me! I have a friend who is a very talented artist. Being around her makes me want to be the best me that I can be. She exudes living from her heart center.
Writer’s that inspire me are Jon Katz and Greg Kincaid. Motivational speakers that inspire me are Dr. Wayne Dyer and Life Coach Cheryl Richardson.
Tammy: What's your next big project?
Barbara: Right now my focus is continuing Frankie’s legacy, as well as encouraging others to find their own passion and authenticity which I am doing through my new book. Coming up in September will be the second annual National Walk ‘N Roll Dog Day that I founded. I plan to do another fundraiser to help raise money for dogs who are in need of wheelchairs. Often times families in financial stress can’t afford this for their dog who may be in need. I also want to help more dogs in rescue that may need one to help them become more adoptable.
Tammy: Your blog, Joyful Paws, is very thoughtful and I think everyone should head over and take a look at your content. What articles should first-time readers check out first?
Barbara: Thank you, Tammy. Well, I’m very passionate about pets with Intervertebral Disc Disease and dogs in wheelchairs so I first encourage your readers to check out my resource page. Though this disease is more common in Dachshunds, smaller, short legged dogs are prone to it also. Education is key to knowing your options.
I would also encourage readers to check out National Walk ‘N Roll Dog Day. At times I’ve faced others not understanding that a dog can live a quality life in a wheelchair. It is why I founded this day in honor of Frankie, and in honor of all dogs in wheelchairs. I believe your readers will be inspired by the quality lives dogs in wheelchairs can truly live.
I invite your readers to check out past blog posts I’ve done such as “How a Life Coach Helped Change Me for the Better,” “What Brings You Joy? Stop. Think. Make a List,” and last but not least, meet my new “walk ‘n roll” dog Joie who is carrying on Frankie’s legacy and reminding me to live my best life.
Tammy: Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with us?
Barbara: I think we all have within us something that really speaks to us and can lead us to our own true self. Tapping into that may take time, but once you discover it, I believe it can help you live a fuller life, and one with more meaning.
My passion is dogs and especially those with IVDD and dogs in wheelchairs. I never imagined that would lead me to living with more purpose and finally accepting myself for who I am. It wasn’t always easy, and at times I still have fear or doubt. But I also believe if you can be open to taking the time to really look inside yourself that the answer is there.
Tammy: Thank you, Barbara!