Posted on Apr 08, 2021
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Many empaths, caregivers, and healers are so great at giving but have a hard time receiving. Many of us feel uncomfortable when even given a compliment. Many of us who have had struggles or challenges in our childhood even believe that we are undeserving of love. Receiving definitely did not come naturally to me and over the years, desperately wanting The Gentle Barn to be successful and dreaming of saving thousands of animals, opening the hearts of millions, and expanding nationally, I had to learn to receive so I could give even more to others. It was very uncomfortable at first, but it is something I work on every day. The animals we rescue can have a hard time receiving as well, shying away from our affections, treats, and care. But some know who they are, know that the way they had been treated was unacceptable, and take all the love we have to give.
Hiroka was loved at some point in her life, but when we found her, she was covered in mud and feces, emaciated, wounded, and lonely. She was a victim of a cruelty case and was suffering terribly. But she knew that she was not worthy of the way she was treated and was always waiting for something better. When animal control brought her to The Gentle Barn and she was led out of the trailer, she looked to me like a shell of who she once was, but her big brown eyes looked at me and immediately asked for help. She ate our food gratefully, enjoyed her baths and grooming sessions, and held still as we treated and bandaged her wounds. She wanted a better life and accepted them fully when she finally found us. We call her Hero because she is always joyful and appreciative, counts her blessings, and always living in gratitude and positivity. She does not complain, doesn’t speak of her past, and never takes her life with us for granted. I want to be just like her when I grow up!
Rick Springfield was abandoned at The Nashville International airport. With no family or friends, no shelter or home, and no food of any kind, he patiently awaited help. He knew he deserved better. When he finally caught a flight to The Gentle Barn he looked around and knew that these were far better accommodations. He moved into our barn right away, claimed the ladies as his own, and ate the fresh, organic food by the mouthfuls. He accepted all our love and has never looked back. Unlike most roosters, Rick will allow us to hold and pet him, and will even run alongside us as we play in the barnyard. When we are left by a loved one, we question if there might be something wrong with us or feel unlovable, but Rick Springfield knew that it was no reflection on him. He has always known that he is handsome, loveable, and deserving of love, affection, good care, and fame!
Chico was taken from his mom while still a baby and sent to a slaughterhouse. But he did not accept his fate and knew he was more than “meat”. He broke through three fences and led himself and five others to freedom, searching for family and home. Had he accepted how others saw him, he might have succumbed to his end and he and the others would not be here now. But he knew better, believed in himself and in the goodness of humanity, and found his way to a better life. He ate our cookies, dined on the best hay and the cleanest water, has forgiven humanity, and has chosen love. He is indeed as important as he had thought and will spend the rest of his life opening hearts, changing minds, and using his story to revolutionize the way we see all animals!
Animals have so very much to teach us about animals and ourselves. Our childhoods, our losses, and failed relationships don’t necessarily have to be a reflection of who we are or what we deserve. And we can learn to maintain our self-love and our ability to receive good things and a good life in the face of any challenge. According to Hiroka, Rick Springfield, and Chico, it is simply a choice; a choice that they have made, and we can as well.