Lessons Learned

I’ve learned so much about rabbits in my nearly four years as a volunteer for the Long Island Rabbit Rescue… but I’ve learned even more about people.

I’ve observed volunteers of all ages and walks of life care for rabbits that we’ve saved from brutal neglect situations with inspiring love, yet neglect their own selves—“burning out” from taking on too much or simply not feeding and caring for themselves the way they do our foster and sanctuary rabbits. These women and men would never let a rabbit go hungry or feed a rabbit a less than balanced, nutritious diet, but they don’t take the time to nurture themselves. They make sure every foster and sanctuary rabbit gets daily exercise time to run, hop and play—but they don’t seem to prioritize themselves. As dedicated volunteers, we recognize how much these gentle creatures need us. If only we remembered that we are gentle creatures too. Sometimes we need a little treat or a softer rug to rest our paws too. For my fellow volunteers, I wish you would “cover a shift” in caring for yourself. I am so blessed to work with each of you. Please take care of you, too.

I’ve talked with hundreds of people, almost always parents of young children, who are looking to rehome their rabbit, in whom their children lost interest or for whom the family feels they can’t (or don’t want to) care anymore. These people are often ashamed to ask for help. They perceive a failure in what they were wrongly told was a simple task—to care for a prey animal like a rabbit. So many times, if people are open to our support, we are able to make life better for the rabbit and manageable for the family. It’s important to see our commitments through, for our own strength and for our pet’s existence. For these people, I wish them faith in themselves and the strength to ask for support. Making positive changes in the current home or finding a new home will take work, for sure, but these innocent rabbits deserve the dedication!

And for all considering bringing an animal in their lives, do your research. If you want something that’s easy to care for and something that won’t suffer when your children move on to the next interest, please buy a stuffed toy. Please don’t use a living being to teach a lesson, unless you yourself are completely committed yourself to seeing that lesson through.

That said, I’ve learned so much in these four years of giving to the abandoned and neglected rabbits of Long Island. From these fragile creatures, I’ve learned that I need space, too. Sometimes there’s nothing more blissful than tossing the task at hand to this side (for me, returning some emails, for the bunnies, a woven grass toy or cardboard tube) and flopping out for a nap.

Advertisements

Directions

46953_430087433667_8180602_n

My healer and Reiki master Lisa Lotus Blossom Journeys hosted a workshop and meditation yesterday about Archangel Metatron (he’s the 11:11 guy, to keep it simple). Much of Lisa’s shared wisdom was about expanding our “spiritual GPS” so I’m left today thinking about how I got “here” in this spiritual space. I’m not conventionally religious at all and I don’t think we need to label ourselves or limit ourselves. Maybe today I don’t believe in a “man upstairs” concept of a god but maybe tomorrow I will—I’m all about the fluidity there. As I’ve been getting in touch with and opening up my gifts (we all have them—stop depriving the world of yours!), my “spiritual GPS” has rerouted quite a bit. And not just in the concepts of beliefs or morals or rules but in my purpose and path and daily moves.

I can’t think about my spirit or spiritual connections without the animals, of course. Up until we brought Peanut and Tater Tot home, I was NOT an animal person—talk about rerouting that life GPS. Over the four years those boys have been hopping around our living room, the shifts and turns have emerged—rescue and Reiki being the main two, for now. I was conditioned, as many of us are, to go to school, start a career that provides benefits and a potential pension and live very much within society’s conventions. While that never felt right, (and sometimes felt literally painful), I followed that path and did some amazing work on the way.

Lisa said yesterday: “I believe in the direction I’m getting.” We talked a lot about shifts, changes and departures, about letting go of what you thought something would look like or should be. Yes, it’s scary to deviate from convention. It’s intimidating to take a risk, regardless of the perceived weight or potential impact of the risk. But I’m open to turn, to curve or to even blaze a trail at this point. I may not know what it looks like yet, but I do know that I’m walking away (walking… not yet sprinting…) from what “everyone” says “you should do” more briskly than I ever have before.

Listen to your guides. I’m blessed that Metatron is my main guide—he “means business,” like Lisa says about him and he’s behind our transformations in life. Engage in the transformation.

Compassion

Precepts

One of the five Reiki precepts is “Be compassionate to yourself and others.” For someone who loves herself a whole damn lot, I struggle with being compassionate to myself. I am really tough on myself—I haven’t accomplished this much by being lazy! I’m not one of those self-described perfectionists; I don’t need every line to be straight nor do I need everything to be polished at all times. There are always dirty dishes in our sink and that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me. This absence of compassion exists in a realm where I expect myself to go, to do, to create, to produce at full blast during every waking moment.

A benefit of this self-inflicted regime is that “bored” isn’t a feeling I know—ever. I remember my uncle saying when I was little, “If you’re bored, you’re boring” and that’s a rule of life to which I completely subscribe. There are mountains of books to read, plenty of people to connect or reconnect with, countless tasks to accomplish. Boredom isn’t a choice I ever make.

But on the flip side, I expect myself to never shut off. Sometimes to sit down and stop hurts.

Yet, I know compassion. I feel it in every cell. Animal rescue and Reiki (and even my “day job”…) are centralized on compassion for other living things, for our environments, for our community now and moving forward. But in all of this compassion-spreading, we can’t forget to spread it on ourselves too. And I am compassionate to myself sometimes—I take luxurious naps, I get regular massages, I indulge in material things. But I guess the feeling of not being compassionate enough to myself is sickly cyclical to the toughness I impose on myself.

Bottom line: I’m seeking a sense of compassion within myself that allows me to just be, that extracts the self-inflicted pressure to do, to go, to achieve. I want to share the joy with myself too. And I will.

 

Priscilla

I still remember the email our rescue group received when Priscilla was found. She was hopping through a residential backyard and the homeowner was able to approach her and bring her to safety indoors with ease—not surprising, as she turned out to be one of the more affectionate rabbits I’ve met in my rescue life! The striking thing about this initial email was that her finder thought he found an injured bunny; he was concerned about her “broken ear.” I get dozens of emails per month about injured and abandoned rabbits—but this was no injury, thankfully! Yes, rabbit friends, have a giggle… this unicorn-lop certainly doesn’t have a broken ear.

Priscilla was adopted a few months after her rescue and her forever-mom Katie has since become a volunteer with our group and a dear friend of mine. As affectionate as “Princess P” can be (her freely-given kisses rival those of our sanctuary bun Wednesday, who has been dubbed “the make-out queen”), she has taken to some intensely possessive behavior toward Katie when she returns home from a shift volunteering at our foster homes. I offered to share some Reiki with the Princess, foremost to soothe any anxiety or issues that might be affecting her behavior but also to get some of those legendary kisses!

Priscilla’s set up is perfect—a “puppy pen” filled with toys and plenty of carpeted space to play when mom is home. Before I began our session, I anointed myself with a few drops of Magnify Your Purpose oil on my wrists and third eye chakra. This oil blend helps me focus on the energies and open my communication channels with my furry clients. I rubbed 4 drops of lavender oil between my palms, inhaled deeply and got to work with the pretty little unicorn.

The first message that Priscilla shared with me is that she feels very strong and healthy! While I was treating her hands-on, she shared the color yellow with me. Yellow is often associated with the solar plexus chakra and with personal power. That makes a lot of sense as Priscilla has been asserting herself when her mom smells like other rabbits! I reassured her through touch and through thoughts that she is Katie’s one and only.

I then turned the focus of our session to letting go of anxieties associated with or manifesting in her behaviors. Like many rabbits that our group rescues, Priscilla’s specific origin is unknown. She gave me the sense that she “ran away” from her previous life, like she knew she would find better, which she absolutely did. I continued to tell her that her relationship with Katie is forever, that no running away would be necessary. Priscilla shared a feeling of sisterly energy with me, like she was saying she knows that Katie is her mom but she feels like they are bonded in more of a sisterly way (how freakin’ cute!).

When I was treating her lower body and focusing on her root chakra, Priscilla shared that she doesn’t mind when Katie goes to work or school for a few hours, that she’s comfortable with the solo time. She also told me that her favorite time of day is early morning and she likes laid-back energy, not a rush through the morning routine feeling!

She didn’t bring up the issue of post-volunteer shift Katie—I guess another session is in order! Magnify Your Purpose… this is my Purpose. I feel electrified even reflecting on our hour together.

Katie, thank you for letting me share some Reiki energy with Princess P and for the beautiful flowers.