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Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Purpose Rescue

Why I Stopped Eating Meat…

and why I’ll never bug you to do the same.

You know those memories that are like movies in your head? This is one for me.

I was standing at the counter of the kitchen/living room/bunny room combo in our first house, sometimes referred to as The Little House. I was cutting a packaged chicken breast and I stopped. I looked over my right shoulder at our boy Tater Tot, our first born. The thought flashed through my mind: Why am I spending all of my free time saving one and now I’m slicing and eating another?

Taking meat out of my diet never, I mean never, occurred to me. Paradigm, our mental programming, has meat as a part of our diets. That’s just what we eat, right? I never thought about it beyond flavor and enjoyment before. It never had a face before.

At the time, I was volunteering for maybe a year or two with the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group. At this point, I was spending 7 or more hours per week volunteering, between answering emails and phone calls, covering shifts at foster homes and other various tasks. In addition to working full-time, 7 hours is a big chunk of “free time”—that’s more time than I was watching shows on Bravo in a week! So, there I was at the counter, one hand on the chicken breast, one hand on the knife, one heart and one mind at a turning point.

From that day, I gradually removed animal products from my diet. First went the white meat, anything remotely resembling the little loves we rescue. Then, everything else started to go. I just didn’t want it anymore—just didn’t make sense for me anymore. I could no longer make a value distinction between a dog and a cow, between a rabbit and a chicken, between a cat and a pig. I value them all the same now.

And that’s just the thing. I value them… my values. And my values do not have to be yours. I will never bug you to eat the way I do. I would have never made this change and definitely would not have stuck with it so faithfully if I didn’t have a meaningful reason, a true “why” behind it all. Please, do what feels right for you. Eat foods and make choices that take you to the best version of you, that make you feel happy and energized. If you are eating something that causes you physical pain afterward, it might be time to put that down and make a different choice. And that applies to what it is and to quantity!

Making the change to a plant-based diet was far less difficult than the paradigm will have you believe. And I’m happy I made my transition before this influx of processed “vegan junk food” hitting the mainstream shelves now. Delicious, sure… but not necessarily nutritious. My label-reading-ninja skills come into play with food as much as they do with personal care and household products.

Living my life my way… and always respecting your choice to live your life your way. That’s really all it is. That’s simply why I’ll never bug you to stop eating meat, to foster an animal, to do anything that you’re not necessarily interested in doing. Trust, I am nothing but delighted when I hear that someone is making a choice that honors the life of a living thing, but I know darn well that if anyone tried to force this way of eating and thinking on to me, it would have been repulsive. To paraphrase my coach Melissa, people don’t dislike change but people do not like to be changed. And to quote the guru James Hetfield, “Life is ours… we live it our way.”

Much love.

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Believe Coaching Energy Purpose Teacher Life Young Living

Eternal Summer

A teacher friend once said to me that July is like a month of Saturdays and August is like a month of Sundays. Now, that way of thinking only fits if you subscribe to the paradigm that Sundays are days that should be part relaxation and part dread for Monday and the week to come. I get it. I don’t completely relate but I get it. It’s easy to slip into the anxiety of watching the summer days dwindle off of the calendar, pressuring yourself to make the days count, having your own version of Costanza’s “Summer of George” (I can’t remember how that turned out for him, but judging by most of those Seinfeld follies, it was probably a fail and thus a poor example… but you get me).

Behold: 3 Ways to Convert your August into an Eternal Summer

  1. Get outside

Duh… sounds so basic but you know you’re not doing it enough! Depending on your climate, summer is the traditional time of beautiful weather and more sunshine. Science tells us that sunshine makes us happy! If you don’t believe science, try it for yourself. Get off of the couch. Leave the phone on the couch. Get outside. Walk around the block. Sit outside. Fine… take your phone with you and make your calls from outside. Take every chance you can to get out there and change up the same places you do your “stuff.”

If you’re objecting because of bugs or other outdoor annoyances, I have you covered. Go ahead… click this.

  1. Slow down

Stop trying to cram in so many errands, appointments, social events, family things, friend things… stop. Just stop. You know you can’t do it all in any other season—why are you putting this kind of stress on Summer You?! Make a list; then Triple D that list: Do it. Ditch it. Delegate it.

Commit to doing less so you can enjoy and be present with what you are doing. I catch myself often leaving the present to think about all of the stuff I should be, could be, need to be doing… and I miss out on so much of this precious season with that stinkin’ thinkin’!

Take one thing off of the calendar. Schedule some of those appointments for September or October (yes, schedule it now so it’s done and off of your mind—but don’t force yourself to do it all in August). And remember it’s okay to do nothing… just try to do nothing outside if you can!

  1. Do what you loved as a kid in summer!

You were a kid once. I might not have known you then, but I know you were. Close those beautiful eyes for a moment and think back to what brought you the most joy as kid in the summer. Watch those movies of Summer Little You play in your head. Let the emotions flow, if they come up. Feel the feelings of doing those treasured summertime things. Feel the warm breeze. Hear the giggles. Taste the treats.

Now flutter those gorgeous lashes open and smile. This week, or at least before August is over, recreate that beautiful memory! Maybe you can’t go to the exact place. Maybe the same people aren’t around anymore. But you absolutely can get into that spirit.

If you have human children, make them a part of it. Don’t get sad or frustrated if they don’t love whatever it is in the same way that you did as a child. Even if they aren’t into it, they will catch the spirit from you. They will, either now or in the future, appreciate the moment, the joy they see from you.

Yes… you can run through a sprinkler. I don’t care how old you are. If you don’t have a sprinkler, you better pull the car over next time you drive past sprinklers that are turned on. Toss a towel in the car today, just in case the opportunity arises.

 

Summertime vibes are a feeling, like all vibes are. Feeling, vibration, frequency is accessible to us wherever, whenever. Make August eternal… if that’s what you’d like. If you get outside, slow down and revisit at least the mindset if not the activity of something that made summer special to you in the past, you will reap the benefits of the sunny season long after the calendar changes.

Much love.

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angels Believe Bunnies Rescue

Some Rabbit Stories

I feel like I haven’t told you a rabbit story in a while…

That’s probably because I don’t feel like I own the stories as much as I used to. I feel very behind-the-scenes in Rescue… and I am NOT complaining. In fact, I prayed for this. I set very clear intentions with the Universe that the core group of volunteers, who were doing everything when I started helping out, would be matched by a team equal in passion, dedication and purpose and bigger in size.

Dreams come true. Intentions, with consistent work behind them, manifest.

Wednesday night, I sat in front of the computer screen, broadcasting to our group of volunteers and supporters about the various events of the day. I’m a fan of sharing as much of what’s going on as possible—clear communication is the foundation of making it work!

On Wednesday, on top of the day-to-day business of feeding and caring for foster rabbits, veterinary appointments and the like, we had a particularly active day. All at once:

-an adopter who lives well over an hour from the vet’s office needed a ride to said vet’s office, as her rabbit stopped eating. She doesn’t drive. Within minutes of asking for help, a volunteer arranged to drive her to and from an emergency appointment.

-we rescued a bunny who had been living outside for 3 years!! Outside for even 3 minutes in our climate/environment is dangerous. This rabbit had, of late, become the chew toy of the family’s new dog when the dog went outside to poop or play. That’s the short version of the story, as you can imagine. The rabbit is safe now.

-a rabbit who has been in our foster care for a bit over a year was diagnosed with cancer. Angel’s foster mother noticed that she hasn’t been finishing her food and hasn’t been very active. A volunteer took Angel in for a checkup and the doctor diagnosed Angel with cancer. X-rays show that it has metastasized in her chest. Now, we do everything we can to keep her comfortable… and dream of some angel of a person to show up and give her a forever home for whatever time she has left.

-a team of volunteers went out to rescue what was reported as two abandoned rabbits in a residential neighborhood in Suffolk County. Upon arrival, our team found out that these rabbits belonged to someone on the block who was not caring for them and letting them run in the street. The “owner” grabbed both rabbits in one hand and tossed them to our volunteers. Our group is unable to accept owner surrenders… but this wasn’t a typical surrender. These two rabbits, both male, are in rough shape, underweight, covered in bite marks and dirt. Their foster family is caring for them, teaching them to trust and making sure they have lots of delicious greens and hay to eat.

Those four situations, on top of the everyday operations, made for an energetically overwhelming day. But we’ve curated such a phenomenal team of volunteers and supporters… everything worked out the best it possibly could. I was able to focus and “call the plays,” capitalizing on my innate organizational skills. The team was able to execute and do the best we could for the greatest good. Then, I got to hop onto a Facebook Live and recap the day to our group of volunteers and supporters.

I am honored and humbled to work alongside such loving and dedicated people. Much love!

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Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose

Now Read This!

My dream life, which I live from time to time and will live full-time some day, consists of coffee, quiet, sunshine and reading. I’m often asked for book recommendations and am known to ask people what they are reading.

“What are you reading?” will be a standard question on the talk show I’ll have some day.

As Summer Denise gets extra time to turn the page, I thought this is the perfect time to share three must-reads from my mental list of approximately 6 million books that I think everyone should read!

  1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Have I gifted you a copy? If we are close in real life, I probably have. This little book is such a life-changer. The content, the agreements, are so straightforward that you almost feel like you must be missing something when you first read it. You are not missing anything—these truly are four simple agreements that, when you hold them with yourself, your life just feels lighter and better. The people around you will notice it too.

If you’re not super-spiritual, fret not. I think of this book as entry-level spirituality. And I’ll be surprised if you only read it once.

  1. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

Loyal readers, you knew Gabby would make an appearance on this list. She’s my teacher, my friend-in-my-head… I have the honor of working with her in person again next month and I’m beyond inspired. Her work has set me on this beautiful path of living in my authenticity and becoming one of the happiest people I know.

Recently, someone asked me how I first “found” Gabby and, while I pride myself on having an exceptional memory, this I cannot remember. I guess the universe just put her work in my path. I’m glad I listened.

  1. The Hours by Michael Cunningham

I had to get a work of fiction on here and this is one that has both literary merit and accessibility to the non-English major. It is also the only work for which I can say without hesitation that the movie is as good as the book. For real. So treat yourself to both.

 

Once you get through those three, let me know; I have 5,000,097 more books to recommend to you. Oh, and while I have you… what are you reading?

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angels Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Teacher Life

My Wings

Sharing one of my most vulnerable and treasured stories, originally published by University of Wellness.

I am unafraid to talk about my struggles, probably because I don’t view them as struggles, problems, hurdles or even speedbumps. They are just factors of or moments in my journey.

Do you perceive a hurdle in the distance and just stop running, for fear that you won’t clear it?

Yes? Ah… that’s what those wings are for.

A surface view of my journey looks like a fairy tale, the only child with adoring parents who, after nearly 50 years together, still hold hands with each other. The girl with the solid upbringing in a safe, middle-class town, who attended a private university and soon after graduation landed a high school teaching job on Long Island, NY… cue the Happily Ever After music.

But that’s just the surface. Do you ever feel like what your life looks like on the outside doesn’t match how you feel on the inside?

A deeper dive into my journey reveals bouts of depression (common) and living someone else’s dream (even more common– am I right?!).  I’ve been working with my therapist since 2005, when I was student teaching. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem at the time– I was supposed to be so happy, so satisfied with how everything was falling into place in my life!– but my spirit was feeling the crush of living someone else’s dream. Even as I write this, the anxious lump in my throat is returning, the lump I lived with for decades.

I was tired all of the time. I was overwhelmed. I was unsure about what I was doing and why I was spending every waking hour doing it. I see you nodding along as you read this.

14 years later and I’m stepping into my greatness. I made the conscious choice to find a better way.

In therapy, the great and patient E. guides me as I work through the “stuff.” Because I’ve committed consistently to doing the work on myself, I feel better than I ever dreamed was possible.

Now I have energy. Now “stuff” feels manageable (and I know what to do and where to healthily turn when it doesn’t). Now I am sure. Now I know my dream.

I found my wings– they were back there the whole time! Are you ready to find your wings?

Enter coaching– a modality to help harness and implement my gifts. Just like my T-ball coach helped me learn to swing a bat at 5 years old, just like my senior English teacher taught me how to “show, don’t tell” in my writing, coaches I work with now help me align my gifts and my dreams. They help me set a plan for success and accountability. They help me clear a path to fly.

Now that I think about it, I am living a fairy tale– but for the fairy tale to feel “right,” I had to position myself as the hero. I am not a character in someone else’s story. And just like in the fairy tales of our youth, the hero soars when she lets others, in those stories talking squirrels or fairy godmothers, in my story, coaches, help her plan, execute and follow through.

Now I coach to pay forward the invaluable gift that was granted to me. I am committed to helping others find their true happiness.

Much love.

~Denise

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Believe Purpose

Hoppy Father’s Day!

In honor of my amazing father and uncles, enjoy this Father’s Day story that I wrote for you (and them) in 2016.

I am named after my father.  I joke that he wanted a boy… or that he’s narcissistic (baby me was going to be Dennis or Denise).  We had the typical ups and downs that a young girl, an only child at that, and her protective father would have at all of the appropriate times.  Now, we are definitely buddies.  I know how he’s going to react, down to the expletive punctuation to his sentences.  Our connection is strong and I treasure that.  We do have our moments—he’s a Leo and I’m an Aries, both fire signs—but I have never doubted for a split-second that that man has my back 100%.   And I’m damn lucky.

And funny enough, he used to call me “bunny” when I was little.  It’s like my story was already written…

 

My uncle, with whom I share a birthday, and his other half have always been big brother/father figures to me as well.  So many great men who raised me, it’s no wonder that the bunny-daddy is a damn good guy.  I couldn’t have ended up with any other kind of person.  Much like my father and uncles, the bunny-daddy is giving and respectful.  The bunny-daddy puts his children first, as my father and uncles continue to put me first, even after 34 years (helps that I have no competition in the form of siblings or cousins).

Once I did “the work” on myself and got my self-worth in line, I ready for that higher-level of love and care to come into my life.  And I fully thank the men who raised me for showing me, never just telling me, how truly precious, deserving and worthy I was and always will be.  With their support, their example, I’ve welcomed and embraced true bliss into my life.

Like begets like.  Love begets love.  Hoppy Father’s Day.

If you didn’t/don’t have role-model-worthy men in your life, you can borrow mine.  But give them back.  I need them.

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Believe Coaching Energy Purpose

We Need You.

Imagine if a flower decided not to bloom because there were so many other flowers in bloom already?

That doesn’t even make any sense, right?

So why are you holding back on your dream because someone else is “already doing it”?

Tell that to the four yoga studios in a two-block radius in the town just west of here. Tell that to the two dollar stores in one shopping center in the town just east of here.

Tell that to the four tattoo shops within a nine-minute drive or the over 25 nail salons (I stopped counting) in the town in which I grew up.

The world needs your gift.

The rest of this post is a Choose Your Own Adventure. If you know your gift/dream, keep reading. If you don’t know your gift/dream, scroll down to the next paragraph.

You know your gift/dream: I already told you that we need you. I believe in you (even if I don’t know you yet). But you have to believe in you. If you aren’t rocking that gift or living that dream, it is likely that there is fear holding you back. Yes, fear, even if it doesn’t feel like your typical definition of fear. I held back for so long (and still hold back in many ways) because I was afraid to leave what’s viewed as security, afraid of judgment, afraid no one would care. I got over that when I realized that judgment will happen and that helping even one being live a happier, safer, more purpose-drive life is worth the risks. Identifying those fears and finding courage through them takes daily work. Start by getting quiet with yourself and thinking about your “why nots.” If you need to talk through it, you know how to reach me.

You don’t know your gift/dream: Been there. We’ve all been there. I remember, clear as this beautiful June day, sitting on the living room floor in our previous house, feeling so empty because I didn’t know what I wanted or even, to some degree, what I liked. I asked the Universe for an answer. I listened for the answer and took action. If you would have told me then that I’d be doing any of the projects I’m rocking now… I would have insisted you were talking about another person, perhaps from another world. Oh, but this isn’t about me. Sorry. Only child syndrome. Your gift. Your dream. It’s in there. It’s just being bound and gagged by paradigm, by other people’s thinking, by what you think you should be doing. Time to break free. If you need to talk through it, you know how to reach me.

 

And here, my dear readers, the adventure does not end; we’ve only just begun. Go bloom. We need you.

 

 

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Believe Coaching Energy Purpose

You say you want it…

We do a lot of talking and thinking about our goals, our “gets”, our dreams and wishes… and we say these are things we want, conditions we want to experience, situations we want to manifest.

But do you even remotely put in the work? You might think you do. But let’s break it down. Let’s dig deep.

The depth or perceived difficulty of the work will almost always be in direct relation to the size of the goal. If I say my goal is to make a cup of coffee (not quite a goal but follow me here), the work isn’t too arduous. I live in a first-world country, blessed with modern conveniences. I walk into the kitchen, water magically spouts from the front of my refrigerator, I plug in the coffee pot, press two buttons and the goal is achieved. If, say, tragedy strikes and the power is out or I’m out of K-cups, Dunkin’ Donuts is a 4-minute walk from my house.

Now, think about your actual goal… not just your “gets”, your cup of coffee, your next weekend-get-away. A goal. Something that scares and excites you at the same time. Something you are obsessed with. Something you don’t know how it will be yours, but you just know it will be. Get that in your mind. Toss those “yeah, buts” and other noise away. Sit in that goal.

You say you want it. You think you want it. But what are you doing about it?

This morning, I was listening to a replay of The Jason Ellis Show. Ellis and the guys were talking with professional MMA fighter Michelle Waterson. I was half-listening, half-making that cup of coffee, and I heard Waterson talk about living in the gym while training. I paused, rewound and sat down. This was not a metaphorical living in the gym she was talking about. She literally LIVED in the gym when training and starting her professional career. She had a living space upstairs. She would awaken to the sound of fight bells.

She didn’t sit home in the town where she grew up, doing the same thing as everyone else, wistfully thinking of a pro career. She moved and lived in the darn gym. Ellis, former professional skateboarder, shared about living at the skate ramp at a point in his career, sleeping under the ramp.

So, you say you want it. You pine away for it. Maybe you catch feelings in a cycle of excitement, frustration, feeling invigorated, then feeling deflated. But what are you doing about it?

I’m not suggesting you go sleep in a gym or under a skateboard ramp. But I am demanding of myself to take a clear look at my goals and what it truly takes to get there. If you do the same and your first instinct is to sigh and think you’ll never get there, you’re right. But if you write those dreams down on a fresh piece of paper, then close those beautiful eyes and envision your life as it will be when you are in possession of the goal, you will be shown the way. Exhale, flutter those lashes open and take action!

 

I must thank the incomparable Melissa Poepping and the legendary BASi6 program for opening the door for me. But it was up to me to walk through the door and onto the path.

What path are you stepping down today?

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Believe Bunnies Coaching Energy Purpose

Instinct & Acceptance

My coach’s coach says, “Your spiritual DNA is perfect.” He’s talking about you. And you. And every being.

On that note, I’m thinking about instinct and acceptance.

When Tater Tot was alive, he loved to snuggle, to dill eat and to rip up the living room carpet. He would tear out the fibers one by one, leaving a neat pile of carpet adjacent to a hole, like his wild relatives must do to grass and plants. Thankfully, Tater did not ingest those fibers. Thankfully, our landlord did not charge us to replace the carpet when we moved out, although it certainly needed to be ripped up (finish Tater’s job!) and replaced.

One of his smaller projects

Our little Tater Tot did not tear holes of various shapes and sizes in our brown and tan carpet to misbehave. He wasn’t trying to ruin or even redecorate our living room. He was operating on instinct, flowing from his perfect spiritual DNA.

Occasionally frustrated and always amazed at how he would find the one place we didn’t cover with cardboard or at just how much he could dig and tear in the 15 seconds I left the room, I found acceptance at our little guy’s instinct. He was operating in the way he was programmed. I’m sure he would have preferred some herbs to tear and eat. He accepted the carpet as the best his environment would provide for him. I accepted that his instinct was perfect. Sure, we tried to recondition him with lots of toys, a dig box, blankets… but little man just needed to rip up carpet.

And so it goes.

Interestingly, when we moved to our current home, Tater Tot did not rip one fiber out of the new rug. The couch, however, became the target. He began to chew a hole in the back corner of the couch, a legacy project his brother Peanut has continued.

Legacy Project

Our companion animals are unapologetically themselves. Their design, although different from ours, is still perfect. They are driven by instinct. How many times have you ignored “your gut” when it turns out that you knew what to do all along? How many times have you changed an answer on a test, hesitated at an opportunity, sensed that you shouldn’t make a turn… then ignored that knowing, that urge, that nagging? And now you look back…

You can’t change your past decisions but you can decide today to accept your instinct as truth. Channel your inner Tater Tot… just be prepared to replace the rug.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose

Mother’s Day Tribute

Hoppy Mother’s Day! Enjoy this classic Mother’s Day story from the Believe In Bunnies archives…

My mother never let me have pets other than betta fish.  My betta Bonus lived 5 or 6 years and traveled back and forth from Connecticut to home on every college break.  I was never much of an animal person anyway.  After college, but still living home, I asked if I could get a rabbit.  For no known reason, I decided I wanted one.  Mom said no.  She said, when you have your own house, you can have whatever you want.

I never, and I mean never, have wanted human children.  When certain people hear that, they flick back with trite retorts like, “You will someday” and “You’ll change your mind when you’re with the right person.”  Mmm hmmmm.  Socrates said, “Know thyself” and I always have when it comes to this topic.  And I know human children are not for me.  When I met my “right person,” it was maybe our second or third date when the topic of pet rabbits came up.  We both wanted one yet never had one.  So, in my own way I guess, I did become a mother when I met the right person.

To me, being a mom or serving in any loving role is about spiritual connection.  The labels of mother, father, grandchild, uncle, what-have-you are all human constructs.  On the level of the soul, in our truth, the labels don’t exist.  Love is love.  Care is care.  Compassion is compassion.  Connection is connection.

Judge all you want, but my love for my boys Peanut and Tater Tot and the love I see my fellow bunny moms, dads and volunteers give to these four-legged angels is the truth.  If you need to label it, the connection is as maternal or paternal as a human-human relationship.  Just like I don’t have the desire for human children, not everyone with a pet wants or will reach or can reach the connection.  Those are the people who indiscriminately or circumstantially give up their pets.  But that’s a topic for another day.

So Mom, thank you for not letting me have a rabbit when I wasn’t ready.  You are a phenomenal mother (obviously, look at what you made!) and you knew yourself and knew me enough to know that pet-parenting was not appropriate at that time.  When the time was right and I became a bunny-mom, you embraced your grandbunnies more than I even expected, since you aren’t necessarily an animal person.  But I know you admire and respect the love I have for my boys and the compassion I channel for all of Long Island’s domestic rabbits through rescue work.

Happy Mother’s Day, whether your children hop, bark, talk… whether they live with you, live with another family, live in a rescue or shelter… they are your children, if you feel the love and connection in your soul.

Special shout out to the foster moms out there—you are love.

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