Celebrating 41 Years

You would think that the little girl from the picture-perfect family would want to be a grown-up married woman. Marriage has never been a dream of mine, in the official sense. Yes, loyal readers, you know there’s a Bunny-Daddy and it’s a solid union… we just aren’t the paperwork type. That said, I attribute much of who I am and what I do to what I’ve learned from my parents’ marriage.

Tomorrow, my parents celebrate 41 years married. They “tied the knot” on my father’s 22nd birthday. 43 years together, 41 years married… they are the best of friends. I consider them my greatest teachers, as individuals and as a union.

The biggest lesson I take from my parents’ partnership is one of independence and support.  To my knowledge, one has never stopped the other from doing something or going somewhere or buying something. They enrich each other. They have each other’s back, always. I’m sure they’ve made sacrifices for each other and there have undoubtedly been compromises over the span of four decades.

Even in moments of discontent, there is always kindness and respect. I have never heard one call the other an unkind name. This is no “Brady Bunch” moment; it’s just what they’ve shown me is love. It’s the standard I learned to set for myself from watching and absorbing their example. I do acknowledge that I lack my mother’s patience and fairness, but she’s a Libra and the oldest of four children; I’m an Aries and an only child!

Last week, they came over to hang some art and a bulletin board in the room in which I sit as I write this to you. To watch them work together is kind of magical. They are a true team. They just make sense together. Like the kids say, they are relationship goals. Four decades and they still enjoy each other’s company. Four decades and they laugh more together than any other couple I know.

My mother will tell you that it takes work every single day. If you stop working, it’s over. If you ever have the honor to witness just how truly happy they are, how each other’s company truly uplifts them, I can tell you that the work has been worth it for them. The respect they have for themselves and for each other is what I attribute my independence to. I know that, with or without a partner, I am capable of absolutely anything. While they’ve had each other since they were practically children, my mother 2 months shy of 20 when they married, they are two individuals who make a pair, not two halves that create whole.

They lift each other up. They are a force when they’re together. Happy 41st Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

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Stall-Out?

Napoleon Hill wrote, “The whole world is undergoing a change of such stupendous proportions that millions of people have become panic-stricken with worry, doubt, indecision, and fear!” in 1938.  Nineteen-Thirty-Eight. One Nine Three Eight. Do we know people who are in that mode now in 2018? Two-Thousand-Eighteen? Two Zero One Eight?

So, have we not progressed? Not yet learned the lessons?

Or do we take comfort, knowing that we’ve made it another 80 years despite those despondent feelings?

This is what I was contemplating, sitting in the service department of the car dealership early this morning—not to worry, just an oil change.

Have we, the collective, stalled out in modes of worry, doubt, indecision and fear? If so, was the time Between the Acts when Hill wrote the first slip into that stall out? Or was it the Revolutionary War? Or perhaps some trauma programmed in our ancestral DNA from conflicts in Mesopotamia?

And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not sitting in the comfort of these uncomfortable feelings. I’m rising out. I suspect you are too, since the Universe has brought you here with me.

Just like I took my car in for service, we must maintain ourselves and, in turn, our maintenance will keep the world from stalling out.

From wherever it stems, you can say NO MORE to worry, doubt, indecision and/or fear in any aspect of your life, starting today, in this very moment. No need to wait for a new year, a program to start or even another type of sign. You are your sign. Your feelings are your guides. Trust them. It does not feel good to doubt or fear. It probably feels comfortable (meaning familiar, not comfy-cozy) because you’ve been there for decades. Are you ready to replace the worry with wonder, the doubt with delight, the indecision with determination and the fear with confidence?

The world needs you to be ready. Darkness will not prevail in the presence of your light. Shine brightly, so Hill’s message doesn’t have to ring as true in another 80 years.

And, if you need a hand turning on or turning up your light, follow me here.

Two Years Gone

On this, the eve of the two year anniversary of my dear friend’s passing, I’m re-posting the story I wrote about her, about us, the day after she left this mortal coil.

Before you read this, please call or text that one person you’ve been meaning to reach out to. Take that time. Even if it’s been a while and you think it will be awkward, use me as an excuse– tell them Denise, your favorite blogger, told you to call.

Then, come back and read this.

Goodbye, dear friend.

Maddie and Teddy

I drove to Brooklyn and back, all by myself. I brought my passport, just in case they checked at the border and gave some cute stamp. But enough about me—this is about Maddie and Teddy.

Several weeks ago, Maddie developed an abscess on the bottom of her back paw. Maddie and Teddy’s mom sought immediate veterinary treatment at the incomparable Catnip and Carrots Veterinary Hospital and her foot has since healed well.  Over the course of the healing, Maddie and Teddy’s mom and I got to talking about the emotional and metaphysical connections to physical changes and injury. We talked about the connection to feminine energy and the side on which Maddie developed the abscess. I told their mom to read some of my past blog entries about Reiki and rabbits. We decided a Reiki treatment was in order.

I took my pilgrimage west. Upon my arrival to their home, Maddie and Teddy promptly hid behind furniture—stranger in the house! To start our session of sharing energy, I anointed myself with Frankincense and called on our guides to support all beings and objects who are open to the energy.  I started “working” on Maddie first. She “showed” me the color grey. Her third eye chakra is blocked and she has trouble believing in her own instincts so we worked together to shift that energy (and I knew it! There’s the connection to the abscessed feminine energy in her paw!). Maddie “told” me that she feels very secure and loved.

Her root chakra is very solid.  She did not want any hands-on work, which is incredibly interesting when compared to the ridiculously lavish snuggle session she and I had after the Reiki was over. Maddie flopped as soon as I started working with her husbun Teddy.

Teddy doesn’t want anyone to know his “secrets” or about his past, in a silly, playful way, so much so that he ran across the room and up the stairs! Teddy is very funny, like a cartoon character in his spirit. He “showed” me the numbers 2, 3 and 2 again. His sacral chakra is low or blocked so we worked to open up that energy. Overall he has a very chill energy. He loves music and the flow of water. It is likely that he is a water sign, but tough for us to do his astrological chart since we don’t know his exact birthdate!

Together, Maddie and Teddy love being a couple and they know they are with this family forever. I am very grateful to Maddie and Teddy’s mom for allowing me to share Reiki with her furbabies. Much love!

So Strong

I have not underlined this much in a book since graduate school.

Bright Spirit, the spiritual book club that I co-host with Dina of Crystalicious NYC, studied Rising Strong by Brené Brown as our most recent pick.   This book quickly became a part of my soul.  I, too, struggle with vulnerability.  I was the girl who knew all of the answers in elementary school.  That girl became the young woman who never asked any questions because she didn’t want anyone to know that she didn’t know something.  That girl-turned-young-woman equated knowing and being right with being accepted and loved.  She may not have been able to do it all, but she sure knew her stuff.  And no one could peek behind that all-knowing curtain.

Rising Strong is the first of Brown’s works that I read, although I was already familiar with her through Her Royal Highness Ms. Oprah Winfrey.  I enjoyed Brown’s talks that I watched but didn’t really “get it” until I read the book.  It’s always about timing.

Here are just a few of the thousands of words I underlined…  literally picking these for you by opening to a random page and sharing.

On “reckoning with emotion,” Brown directs the reader to, “Give yourself permission to feel emotion, get curious about it, pay attention to it and practice… awkward, uncomfortable practice.”  For me, this was a clear reminder of what I teach but don’t always remember to implement myself.  We must attend to our feelings, emotions, joys and pains if we want to grow.  If we are good with sitting exactly where we are right now, then just ignore the tough stuff.  Stuff it down.  Keep busy and try not to feel.  But, when we are ready to thrive, we must examine those feelings, white, black and every stormy shade of gray, to work, heal and flourish.  That often takes help.  Remind me to ask for help when you see that I need it.

Brown writes, “…our silence about grief serves no one. We can’t heal if we can’t grieve; we can’t forgive if we can’t grieve. We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.”  When we lose someone or something, it’s like there’s this designated period we are supposed to be sad for—no longer and definitely no shorter.  At my day job, we get 5 bereavement days when a family member dies. I have a sinking suspicion that it will take me more than a week to get my head together after one of my parent’s passes.  In that same vein, if someone is back after 1 day, I’m not sitting in judgment.  I’m just hugging in support.  Face it on your own time.

Brown enforces from C.R. Snyder’s research that “Hope is not an emotion: It’s a cognitive process… Hope happens when we can set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our abilities to act.”  Hope carries varied connotations.  I’ve heard people instruct others not to hope because that’s giving an option for something not to happen—like I hope I get the promotion vs. I will get the promotion.  While I agree that we should manifest our desires with unwavering certainty, I feel like hope is a beautiful thing.  I hope for a beautiful future for everyone on the planet.  I hope everyone can find the peace that I feel right now.  It’s kind of mincing words… but that’s what we do, isn’t it?

After this… I’m jumping (albeit backwards) into Brown’s Daring Greatly.  Join me?  Much love.

Let’s Get Together 

For some glorious reason, I listened to the travel agent when she recommended the upgraded airport lounge prior to my departure home from my dear friend’s wedding in Jamaica. For $30, I get to spend the next 2.5 hours before boarding (the company determined the pickup time— not I) in a comfy chair with fewer screaming children (but there’s always one), a small buffet and, gratefully, plenty of outlets to charge my phone that loses battery faster than you lose your $20 in a slot machine.
But anyway… a funny thing happened when we arrived at the reception last night. The following is in NO way a criticism of anyone or anything— just an observation. 

There were no assigned seats. I traveled alone to this destination wedding and only casually know maybe 7 of the 60 attendees. The bride is one of my very closest friends. We met through business, became friends quickly and most days are in contact from eyes open to lights out— we just vibe like that. I latched on to one of the bride’s very good friends whom I met twice before and her cousin with whom she was traveling. Sweet women. We picked a table at the reception that wasn’t on top of the speaker and wasn’t too close to the dais— leave that for family! 

As the rest of the guests filtered in, they chose their tables around the dance floor. No one sat with us. Then came the awkward “Is anyone sitting here?” moments as, one by one, the 7 empty seats at our table were dragged through the sand to other tables. The table diagonal from us now sat 15. To our left, another crowd. I eyed the buffet with fervor until it opened.

We laughed, we danced… I stayed out way, way past my bedtime, even with a looming 5am wake up call. I had a truly great time. But the table thing got me thinking about separation and about comfort zones. Most people stick to what they know, who they know and what feels safe. Most people stay in that comfort zone, even when uncomfortable in it. Maybe today, say hello to someone fresh. Take a different spot in yoga class (just don’t take THAT lady’s spot). Angle yourself on a new perch. Join that group you’ve been considering, even though none of your current friends are involved… yet.  

Now, a large yet sparse table at a wedding is not a bad thing— but separation in life can be. Separation can lead to judgment, fear and a host of other elements I’m prepared to rage against. Someone has to. Our separation last night was momentary; we all joined on the same dance floor and I wouldn’t be surprised if some are still there dancing as I watch the sunrise from this airport lounge.  

Embrace another perspective. Dare to leave the chair there and sit in it, rather than drag it over to your comfort zone. Much love.

Ella and Monkey

The Catnip and Carrots waiting room is like Cheers for our rabbit rescue family.  Anytime you walk through those doors and sit on those benches, you are bound to meet someone who knows your name, even if it’s just from interaction in our incredibly supportive online community.

An afternoon in July of 2014, I sat on one of those benches.  Two women, a mother and a daughter, sat on an adjacent bench.  In their carrier was their elderly guinea pig.  From careful eavesdropping (teacher-hearing comes in handy outside of the classroom too), I learned that they take this beloved guinea pig to the vet weekly—sometimes several times in a week.  Considering that most guinea pigs don’t get any medical care, I judged this family to be super pet parents.  I was right.

The daughter looked at her phone and started to read an email to her mother.  The email was an apology for a delayed response.  I heard her mention a big rescue case in Mastic that was the excuse for the delayed response.  I realized that I wrote that email.  These are people that we are screening for adoption!

I’m not shy.  I said, “Excuse me.  That email is from me.  I’m Denise.”  They introduced themselves and we conducted the step in the screening process that is usually a phone interview, live in the waiting room.  Each answer confirmed the judgment I already made about them—these women are part of an exceptional pet family.  Home visit… adoption day… they brought their adorable Monkey Bun to “speed date” with several of our adoptable rabbits.  Monkey chose Elke on July 20, 2014.  Elke was renamed Ella.  They never bonded—it happens.  They live side-by-side in happiness now.

Ella is estimated to be around 10 years old… maybe 8… maybe 12.  With age often comes some health and mobility issues.  I was honored to visit Ella and Monkey this past week and share some Reiki with them.  In connecting with Ella’s energy, I felt a beautiful sense of patience.  Before I entered their pens, I poured several drops of Frankincense essential oil into my palms and called on our guides and angels to support and heal all who are open to the energy.  I stepped into Ella’s pen first.  She spent most of our session together in her cardboard hut.  She has a green light surrounding her metaphysically.  She “told” me that she doesn’t feel old, which put a big smile on her family’s faces in our post-session conversation.  When working on Ella’s chest area and heart chakra zone, I felt a big shift, like an obstruction began to dissolve.  She feels blocked physically so we “worked” on that through most of our session.  She “showed” me the numbers 10 and 11 and that she prays with the family, so whoever is praying or doing some spiritual work, keep it up!  Ella is working with you!

Ella

I hopped over to Monkey Bun’s pen next.  He’s much more curious than Ella is so we did more hands-on work together.  He “showed” me the number 3.  We worked to soften his heart chakra.  He “told” me that he knows he’s a little boy but he’s NOT the baby of the family!  He is solid and healthy.  His solar plexus chakra is very guarded (common in prey animals) and he “shared” a turtle shell energy with me, a hard exterior for protection.  Where Ella is blocked physically, Monkey is guarded or blocked emotionally.  They are in great balance of each other.  Although they never officially bonded, there’s a lot of love in that bunny room, just like there’s a lot of love in that entire house.

Monkey Bun

From our chance meeting in the waiting room at the vet’s office… Ella’s adopter has become one of our most dependable volunteers, which is not surprising.  They are a family of compassion and dedication.  They show that in the way they cared for their ailing guinea pig, the way they opened their home to Ella, who was a bit older when they adopted her, and the continued care every animal (and person, from what I gather) in that family receives.  It is my true honor to share Reiki with Ella and Monkey and to be around such a wonderful family.  Much love.