Welcome back to Dry Gables, Sparklers! It’s so nice to return to a familiar place with our good friends the Denkens, the Herz Family, and the Bauers as they teach us how to be our best selves — and how to navigate even when we’re not our best selves. In short, our Dry Gables friends show us how to live in community with compassion, gratitude, and love.
This post is a special one for us as we bring our Dry Gables series to a close with this story. If there is “gold in them thar hills,” there is gold in these stories — and we are so pleased that you are mining them with us! In this story, “Weathering the Storm: Our Final Story Together,” all of our Dry Gables characters come together collectively to face a conflict, and then because of their differences — not in spite of them — they come to a workable solution. We all bring something of value to our interpersonal relationships. If we learn to work with — rather than resist — our different approaches and needs when faced with a challenge, imagine the doors that could open in our relationships! Below, you will see how the main characters and Dry Gables community members illustrate three primary ways that we might respond when faced with adversity — and how they “weather the storm” together.
Each time we go to Dry Gables together, we explore a different facet of how our children’s various personalities express themselves and how we as their guardians can celebrate, honor, and best support them. Our Dry Gables folks are lucky to have each other — and we are fortunate to have them, as well as the Enneagram, to guide us.
The Enneagram is a complex and meaningful model of human personality. It offers us a road map which can be very useful in helping us to identify who we are at our best and what blocks us from being able to access the natural gifts that bring us to a place of happiness and greater ease.
The stories in this collection, Dry Gables: Good Neighbors, give us insights into how we resolve conflict and strive to get our needs met — and what we do when they are not met.
In Dry Gables: Good Neighbors, we ask the question:
How do our children try to get their needs met in relationships? And when their needs go unmet, how do they cope with difficulty?
In the story “Weathering the Storm: Our Final Story Together,” we group our friends by the way they cope with conflict when their needs are not met and when they are challenged by others or in social situations. The three unique ways that our friends react to conflict are 1) adopting a positive attitude, 2) solving the problem logically, or 3) expressing themselves emotionally.
Liesl Herz, Marta Bauer, and Jane Meyer are folks who cope by adopting a positive attitude and by redefining challenge into opportunity. The caution for these three is that sometimes they deny that they have problems.
Liesl will care for and emphasize the needs of others — sometimes over her own needs.
Jane will bring a sense of adventure and levity to a challenge. She may even keep herself very busy to avoid feeling discomfort.
Marta will bring a steady calm and peaceful demeanor to a challenge. Sometimes she can feel overwhelmed by feeling her own needs, so she might just carry on without a care.
Wilhelm Bauer, EB Herz, and Max Denken might deal with difficulty by putting their personal feelings aside and trying to be objective and logical.
Wilhelm will tend to all of the details and bring cool-headed objectivity to the situation. He may channel his own feelings into action done perfectly.
EB will bring out the best in others and encourage people to work to be their best in a challenge. He may keep his attention on achievement, being pragmatic, and on goals.
Max will bring expertise to a difficult situation, amassing data and information. He may avoid his own feelings by staying preoccupied in thought.
Seamus O’Connor, Franz and Lena Denken, and Johann Bauer will react emotionally, sometimes strongly — driven by passion, care, and concern.
Seamus experiences things deeply and he brings true empathy to a situation. He may, however, become melancholic or broody, blaming himself for the situation or fearing that that no one will care for him.
Franz and Lena will want to prepare for all of the nuances of the dilemma and challenge, wanting to be ready for all possibilities in order to be safe. This can bring a certain anxiety to a situation.
Johann is a fierce and loyal protector who will not be controlled by others. He may be passionately strong or even domineering when he feels threatened.
Our story is about a sudden Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888 that swept through the plains and took all residents by surprise. We begin with a calm, warm January day that quite suddenly changes when the wind and snow take over for three straight days. How did our friends cope with this challenge, get their needs met, and ultimately care for each other’s safety? How did they “weather the storm”?
Positive Outlook Style
Liesl made sure that the needs of others were tended to while assuring everyone that things were fine.
Liesl Herz entered the office wrapped in a thick shawl. She closed the door, flapped the shawl, and announced:
“We are fine. Everything is fine at the clinic – plenty of wood and my patients have extra blankets. I’m thinking that I should see what is happening at the schoolhouse. Oh, J.B. — is everything alright there? What do you all need there – blankets? Tea?”
Jane met every obstacle as a great adventure and used her positivity to rally her companions as well as gather necessary provisions.
Just then Jane Meyer burst into the room covered in snow and smiling brightly.
“Now that’s a storm!” she called. “Anything else I can do? That was exciting!”
Marta was calm and composed and comforted those around her.
Martha took a slow breath in and after a moment said, “We have … what we have … and all your figuring is not going to increase that … so how about you sit down and have a rye roll and we can wait on this last batch together?”
EB blinked a few times and then smiled. “You’re right,” he said, “but I think I’ll check with the Denkens to see what sort of supplies we have there. Thanks for keeping cool-headed.”
“It’s not so much the cool head as the warm heart,” said Martha with a wink. “But if we all do our best, then I’m sure all will be well.”
Logical Outlook Style
Wilhelm, EB, and Max gathered necessary information, analyzed the situation, and came up with a plan that would assure the safety of their community:
“...Now what we need is a plan,” [said EB]
“I’m thinking about Franz’s concern about the weight,” said Max. “Wilhelm, how much do you think the floor here can bear?”
“Easily 3000 pounds,” he answered.
“Okay,” said Max, who then worked out some calculations. “That will give us room for around 28 people safely in this building. We’ll need more space.”
“EB’s office and Max’s press were both built with a double-jointed timber frame,” said Wilhelm confidently. “They can take the weight and the force of the wind.”
Expressive Outlook Style
Seamus, being sensitive and intuitive, took care of the emotional needs of the children.
Seamus was in the back of the schoolhouse calmly talking to all the children who were now sitting on the floor around the stove.
Franz and Lena took care of gathering equipment to tend to the survival needs of their friends.
Franz and Lena then advised everyone which food to grab. They considered the worst-case scenario that the entire store would fall down and advised which items would be the most useful for the long haul. In addition to food, they encouraged people to get medical supplies, rope, and blankets.
“The rope is in case we need to get out of town,” said Franz, “and we can all hold onto it so we don’t get lost.”
Johann took action to make sure that everyone was safe.
And Johann was telling a group of adults to stay put while he went out to gather more.
Together they found solutions. Had they each brought only their own personal approaches, the situation may have resolved very differently. And not only did they take care of each other, but they were also able to garner attention and care from the Lakota tribes people. Working together, they became more than who they were as individuals.
Then everyone mobilized. EB sent Max to the press and Wilhelm to EB’s office. There they received people as they were gathered by Johann and Liesl. Marta arrived with loaves of bread for everyone and Lena helped pass them out. I helped Seamus with the worried children and Franz made sure everyone was warm. It was a good system – so good that by the time the snow stopped and we could go outside to see the results of the storm, we realized that we had escaped one of the most damaging and dangerous blizzards anyone had ever experienced … and no one had been hurt.
My mother Jane arrived soon after with a dozen Lakota tribespeople in several long canoes ready to help however they could. And it was clear we needed help.
The primary thing to keep in mind in this is that our characters, collectively, bring BALANCE. To solve problems among the different styles, you need to make room for all of the styles to express their strengths as they need to. There needs to be a place for positivity, rationale, and emotion. None are wrong, and all are needed.
Perhaps you will recognize certain tendencies in your own child to be more easygoing, perhaps denying their feelings, like Liesl, Jane, or Marta. Perhaps you have a little problem-solver on your hands who may also come at a conflict seeking solutions rather than having an interest in exploring how they feel about it. Or perhaps your child needs to express themselves in the full range of their emotions before they can even begin to process a challenge. We encourage you to make room for any of these approaches with your children, and perhaps to offer one that is missing to bring a needed balance when it’s hard to find our way to the other side. A slight shift in focus can unstick us when we are stuck!
We all have needs and desires. We all face challenges in unique ways.
The trick is to understanding those needs, desires, and approaches to facing conflict and meeting challenges — and then discovering who we authentically are in the midst of them — and then living with others in community! This is the task of being fully human. This is the task of being a good neighbor.
Our Dry Gables characters know how to listen to each other. They see each other and they celebrate the gifts that each brings to the world. John Bernard Bauer, the narrator of our series, sees this too. In adulthood, he carried his community’s legacy with him as he found his way beyond the embrace of Dry Gables, South Dakota, and the people who made him who he had become.
From my father, Wilhelm, I was given the ability to plan and the striving to always do better. From Liesl, I learned the strength of a giving heart and how service is truly the highest honor. From EB, I learned the power of focused purpose in achieving my goals and from Seamus, my schoolteacher, I learned the value of honoring my feelings and letting them guide my vision. From Max, I learned that gathering the facts and doing due diligence will get you closer to the truth – and from both Franz and Lena Denken, I learned that worry can be a great strength, not something to avoid. From my mother Jane, I got my sense of adventure and optimism and from my Great Uncle Johann, I learned how to best feel anger and then use it to help others. And then, from my Grandmother Marta, I learned to slow down, to do what was before me – and not get swept up in all the drama of life.
~ respect each other ~ love each other amidst differences ~ have compassion for each other’s vulnerability
* You also might like to read a little more about the previous story in this series.
*DRY GABLES’ CHARACTERS and the ENNEAGRAM
In our Dry Gables Series, the Enneagram Personality Types are represented in the following story characters:
The Bauers: Dry Gables’ Crafters
Type 8 Blacksmith Johann Bauer
Type 9 Baker Marta Bauer (Johann’s sister)
Type 1 Carpenter Wilhelm Bauer (Johann’s nephew)
The Herz Family: Dry Gables’ Service Leaders
Type 2 Nurse Liesl Herz
Type 3 Businessman/ Mayor Ernst Bernard (EB) Herz (Liesl’s nephew)
Type 4 Teacher Seamus O’Connor (Liesl’s husband)
The Denkens: Dry Gables’ Connectors
Type 5 Typesetter/ Newspaperman Max Denken (son of Franz and Lena Denken)
Type 6 General Store Owners Merchants Franz and Lena Denken
Type 7 Pony Express Driver Jenka (Jane) Meyer (Maiden name: Denken)
To learn more about the Enneagram, click HERE.
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About the Author
Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.