Posted on Aug 04, 2015
I first started following The Gentle Barn in 2012. I had devoted the last 12 years of my adult life to a job and company that slipped away almost over night. I was lost, confused and scared. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Most of all, I had no idea how I was going to pay for everything I had afforded myself over the last 12 years. After several days of prayers, tears, and following The Gentle Barn Posts to keep me smiling, I came to a decision. My life was not going to be about money and things anymore. It was going to be about giving back. I had nothing to show for the last 12 years of my life except for some dusty old sales awards on a shelf, and I wasn't going to let the next decade of my life end the same way. I swallowed my pride, sold my house, my fancy car and pretty much everything else I owned and moved back in with my parents. I became obsessed with animal sanctuaries! I was searching for any opportunity I might be able to make work, but with most of the sanctuaries being so far away, I couldn't afford to move and live off what I was able to make. I started looking for other ways to give back and began volunteering with several dog rescues and a therapeutic riding facility close to my parents home. As much as I loved helping in the ways that I was, my heart was still with farm animal sanctuaries, and more specifically The Gentle Barn. After 3 years my prayers were heard, and I found out that The Gentle Barn was going to be putting a location 15 minutes from my house for the one and only Dudley. I knew from that moment that my life would be forever changed. I went to visit the first weekend I got a chance and was so overwhelmed by emotion that when I finally got my chance to talk to Ellie, I busted out in tears and couldn't even talk. I turned in my volunteer application the next day and started volunteering almost immediately. I quickly found that when my 4 hour volunteer shift on my day off wasn't enough for me. The Gentle Barn TN and all of the animals there had completely captured my heart. I couldn't think about anything else. Every conversation, every Facebook post, everything I did I found a way to bring up The Gentle Barn. I started sticking around after my shift to see if there was anything else I could do. I started stopping by after work just to talk to all the animals. My 4 hour volunteer shifts quickly turned in to 13 hour shifts on my days off, and I still couldn't get enough. I wanted to be there all the time. I don't even know how to put in to words what The Gentle Barn has done for me, but I can say that my life is forever changed. Having the opportunity to give back to these animals and these people who are so loving and so amazing is the greatest opportunity of my lifetime. The Gentle Barn has shown me that there is still so much good in this world. It has given me a support system in my vegan lifestyle and my compassion for animals that I was missing for a long time. It has given me a second family who I love as much as I love my own. Most importantly, it has given my life purpose again. My heart has never been so full.