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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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Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Teacher Life

Stop. Pick One.

I woke up this morning and before both feet hit the ground, my mile-long To Do list starting scrolling in my mind. Within a minute of being awake, the overwhelm kicked in and I felt like I had just so much to do that I had to start now and not stop (probably forever). I felt like I needed to take action on 10 different things immediately. You’ve felt that, right? Maybe you’re even feeling it right now.

It wasn’t easy… but I stopped myself. I pulled the emergency break on the mind mess. I decided that, if I were to get anything done today with the excellence that each task deserves, I needed to stop and take a moment, take the time to open up my best self. Less doing, more growing. Less mania, more ease. Less overwhelm, more grace. Less how, more why.

Basically, I needed to take my own advice.

So I grabbed the iPad, popped on a Yoga with Adriene class and took my first half an hour awake for me and my practice. I guarantee that taking that 27 or so minutes this morning to open my heart and hips does not translate into me getting “nothing done” today. In fact, taking that 27 minutes translates into me approaching every task I do today with greater focus and poise, the excellence that each task deserves. Hey, if it doesn’t deserve excellence, why am I taking time to do it at all?

And another secret to squashing the overwhelming the mind mess: do one thing you’ve been avoiding or putting off. Here’s a list of suggestions, if one thing doesn’t come to mind for you on your own. Pick one and do it as soon as you’re done reading this. If you’re feeling called, share with me which you’ve picked and executed.

  • Empty your purse. Clean out the non-essentials.
  • Clean out your email inbox. Delete. Delete. Delete.
  • Unsubscribe to 5 emails that you never open anyway.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter (had to throw that in there).
  • Make that call or send that text to that one friend you’ve been missing.
  • Empty the dishwasher. If yours is already empty, come empty mine.
  • Close your eyes for 4 minutes and let your mind wander.
  • Grab a book or magazine and read for 15 minutes.
  • Is it “nice” out? Walk around the block without your phone.
  • Go get that pedicure, especially if it’s nice out.

Remember, you are just picking one. No need for more overwhelm in our days!

Much love.

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Believe Bunnies Healing Purpose Rescue

Paddington

For everyone celebrating something today, I wish you and yours a happy one.

I had the honor of spending yesterday with a very special boy, local celebunny Paddington.

 

In a town in central Nassau county, about two months ago, a woman found a domestic rabbit in her yard. She was able to pick him up and bring him inside. She bought him food and cared for him the best she could for a few weeks. In the interim, and completely unrelated to Paddington’s arrival, this kind woman lost her job. She reached out to us at the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group when she noticed she was running low on food for the rabbit she found. We coordinated a volunteer to bring food and other supplies she may need while she was fostering. We also planned to start the process of finding this rabbit a forever home.

Our volunteer went to the finder’s house that evening. She texted me shortly after she arrived there and said, “I’m taking him.” I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for sharing this… but she was crying. And this is a volunteer who works in animal rescue and rehabilitation professionally, someone who sees extremely tough stuff on a daily basis. One look at the rabbit we now know as Paddington brought her to tears… because of his ears.

Our volunteer remarked to the finder about the rabbit’s ears and the finder acknowledged that they are very short (I love and protect her innocence… she didn’t realize why). She found Paddington that way. By the time she found and saved him, his ears healed from being crudely chopped off. Sorry to hit you with such a stark reality on this Sunday, and for some holy, morning.

Paddington

In case you are wondering if this wasn’t a result of human cruelty… in Rescue we seeing plenty of ear injuries caused by other animals, endured before rescue and safety. Check out Shark, for example. Then compare his ear to Paddington’s ears. This is what moved our volunteer to tears and to take him with her. The finder was very grateful as she was struggling to care for the rabbit she found.

Despite the trauma he endured, Paddington settled in quickly and comfortably at his foster home. When I put out the call for a spokesbunny for an education and photo event at Pet Supplies Plus in Deer Park yesterday, Paddy’s foster mom volunteered him… and what a great choice he was! He was comfortable, even when three St. Bernard’s pounded into the store, and friendly with all of his fans. He enjoyed snuggles from store patrons and staff and even showed the Easter Bunny who is the boss!

Paddington 2

From her plans to drop off food and assess supply needs to becoming Paddington’s foster mom in a blink of time, my incredible colleague and her family have embraced this dear little one with pure love. I suspect, after Paddington’s neuter surgery tomorrow, that they just might make him an official part of their family.

LIRRG Family.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

We Won’t Stop

Around this time every year, I publish a story that I wrote in 2016… a reminder to some, new knowledge to others, about why Rescue exists.

We won’t stop until they are all safe and loved.

Found but still lost

I am the initial point of contact when someone emails information@longislandrabbitrescue.org.  This month, the number of “finder” emails we have received is more than double the number we receive in a typical month. We define a “finder” as someone who has either spotted a stray domestic rabbit or has rescued an abandoned domestic rabbit and is reaching out to our group for resources and recourses.  I have typed the following sentences an alarming number of times this month: “We don’t have a shelter facility; all of our rabbits are fostered in private homes. If you or someone you know can provide an indoor foster home, we can…”  And it’s not even Easter yet.

We get at least a hundred emails to the aforementioned address per month—only three times in my almost three years of being at the email helm has someone reached out because their rabbit had actually gone missing. So I can safely conclude that these “found” rabbits are abandoned, dumped, neglected.

Abandonment happens one of two ways, from my perspective.  There are the scarily misinformed, who think their rabbit, who no longer serves a purpose in their family, will survive in the woods or in a park because other rabbits live in the wild.  Yeah… those are wild rabbits.  Not domestic rabbits.  Domestic rabbits will not survive and will face the harsh elements of the seasons and starvation, and predators.  A horrible fate.

Then, there are the heartless, who just don’t care, who need this “thing” out of their house.  Sometimes these people try to seek help before abandoning their rabbit, but most town shelters aren’t equipped to handle rabbits and most rescue groups are overloaded, no matter the animal on which they focus.  For these, about whom “careless” is the nicest word I can muster, the living being they once chose to care for has passed his/her expiration date and must be tossed out.  Just a note—if caught abandoning an animal, one faces $1,000 fine and other legal consequences.  If you see something, take pictures. Send them to me.  I’ll turn them in for you.  I’m not shy.

We need:

  • Stores and breeders to stop selling rabbits.
  • People to make more informed decisions before adding any living being into their families.
  • Foster homes, donations and volunteers to save the abandoned animals.
  • You to speak up, if you know someone has dumped an animal.
  • Compassion for all things living.

As a rescue group, our resources are limited but trust that we use them to their maximum potential!  Thank you for being one of our resources.  Spread the reality about rabbits as pets—10-12 year commitment, specialized veterinary care, bunny-proofing (As I hear my chief destruction worker bunny Tater Tot tearing in to what I hope is his cardboard tunnel in the next room…).  As awareness is heightened, I hope there are far fewer rabbits out there to save.  But for now, many rabbits are found but still lost, as the number abandoned far surpasses the number of foster homes and adopters.

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Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Purpose Reiki Rescue Uncategorized

Friends? Friends.

It wasn’t that long ago when I had no friends. I can remember the first time I said it out loud. It felt… shameful. It felt embarrassing, even though I was saying it to the Bunny Daddy, a man I can say anything to, without judgment.

Yeah, there were people around… but I felt alone. That theme wove itself through my story over the years. I would do anything to pull in anyone, nice and close, trying to fight the feeling of loneliness… desperately trying to find acceptance.

I can look back and realize that there was no way I was going to find authentic friendships when I wasn’t being authentic with myself.

The turning point came right around the time when I said it out loud: I have no friends. That also came in a tornado of being miserable at work and having no hobbies, pastimes or things to do that brought me joy. At all. I was a literal ball of tears on our living room floor.

I cracked open and let the light flood in. I took steps, small at first, to find a sense of peace in my head. I started volunteering, not to fill the time, not even for a second considering that I would make friends that way—just volunteering to help a little rescue group with a big mission. I found that my weekly volunteer hours were times where my anxious feelings were non-existent. I found a place to let my gifts (organization being one) shine.

I started listening to myself more, giving myself that permission and honing that skill through holistic and “alternative” routes like Reiki, yoga, therapy… getting down to it. Facing and embracing what made me feel good, great and beyond. Dropping the need to fit in, to live someone else’s dream, to fit an image that felt suffocating.

As I listened to and “found” me, some darn wonderful people started to show up. I often say to them, when they compliment my growth and my courage, that I am merely a reflection of them. And I mean that they can only see and love this light in me because it is a light that shines in them too.

Last night, I celebrated by 37th birthday. The girl who had no friends is now the woman who was surrounded by 16 women, each blazing their own gorgeous, inspiring trail. I know they love me. Despite the size of the group surrounding me over the years or the length of time we were “friends,” I never knew that for sure before. But these women… they love me. And I love me.

A big cheers to the rest of the crew who couldn’t join us last night… I am utterly amazed by the quantity and the quality of friends that are in my life—all because I took (and still take) the time to find my joy and purpose. Much love.

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Believe Energy Healing meditation

She’s In There

For years, I’ve heard great things about psychic medium Paul Saladino. Yesterday, I had the honor of attending his Inner Child workshop. So. Darn. Good.

Paul started the workshop asking us to rate our childhood happiness and to assign it a color. He talked us through the different numbers and colors, “translating” numerology to inner child work and connecting the colors as symbols (the English teacher in me swoons).

I was able to pick a number right away… but oddly, the color was eluding me.

Paul talked to us about emotional ages and how blocked energies create illness. He encouraged us to be playful and nurture out inner child. How often do we get caught up in the obligations and routines, forgetting to play, even when we have little people asking us to play with them? Loosen up. Step out of the realm of acceptance.

Paul talked us through visualizing and connecting to our inner child. He shared about fears that we carry into adulthood and their origins in our childhood. He reminded us that what you had as a child will follow you your whole life until you do the work to release it. And that’s what we were there to do, or at least start doing.  Time to recognize and embrace the inner child.

Paul guided us through a meditation. When it was over, I grabbed my notebook and wrote, “I no longer seek acceptance from people who do not reciprocate love. I share love and friendship with those who align with my light. I surround myself with love.” I’m breaking the pattern. Growing up with so much unconditional love… I labeled my childhood at home a 10 in the beginning of the workshop (Paul said 10s are pretty much impossible, and I get that). Growing up in a 10 family made me expect 10s everywhere… and I sure didn’t get that outside of the happy little family unit. I’m working now to heal her disappointment.

I rely on being in control in most situations. When I’m in control, I set the number. The last thing I wrote in my notebook yesterday is a paraphrase of something Paul said toward the end of our 2 hours together: Control is often a deterrent to vulnerability.

Helen Keller wrote, “A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” Taking part in workshops like I did yesterday helps me do just that. I am grateful for people like Paul who share their gifts and wisdom and for Bella who encouraged me to join her there.

Little Denise… you’re in there. And I’m working to nurture you as much as you deserve… and you deserve it all. Much love.

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