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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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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 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 Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Rescue Teacher Life

Mr. Denise

Get ready for one of the most ridiculous anecdotes I’ve ever shared with you.

You know how there’s always one kid who accidentally calls the teacher “mom” and then gets teased about it for at least the rest of the school year? In 14 years of teaching, I’ve never been called mom. But about 6 or 7 times, I’ve accidentally been called “dad” (and once this year “King” but that was just cute). The second day of school this year, a senior, whom I taught when he was a freshman and a sophomore, passed me in the hallway and said, “Hi dad.” He then stopped, walked back a few steps and said, “I just called you dad.” To that I replied, “Yes, it happens” and we both went about our days.

From that encounter, I started thinking about these verbal slips as more than just a misspoken word.

I am a cisgender female. I wear high heels every day (except on Pajama Day when I don my work slippers). I wear makeup. I have long, layered hair. I don’t have the most soprano of voices but I’ve never been mistaken for a man on the phone. So… what gives?

It’s energy.

In a class, one of my mentors Kerissa Kuis, founder of the University of Wellness, taught us a bit about feminine and masculine energies. As the lesson unfolded, I was immediately reminded of the anecdote I opened with. As much as I look, sound and identify feminine, my masculine energies are overpowering. I lead with my masculine, the assertive, the dominant, because that’s what’s keeps me safe and successful. It’s not a conscious choice, but bringing in the feminine and balancing the two needs to be.

It’s yin and yang, but the classic black and white symbol is balanced… and I’m not yet.

There are benefits to my energies as they are currently. I can handle the toughest animal rescue situations with discernment and detach from the emotional aspect. I can put these personal stories out to the world without (too much) trepidation of judgment. My current energetic state is goal-oriented and gets stuff done.

In doing a little research before writing today, I found a great article, appropriately titled “Balancing Your Feminine and Masculine Energies” by Deganit Nuur. If you know me, you’ll read the Greater Yang section, nodding, thinking, “This is so Denise.” I love reading that a way to balance for my energy type is to delegate. I’ve been doing more delegating in my Rescue and business endeavors and I feel great… now that I’ve surrounded myself with incredibly passionate and capable people.

While I have gel French nails and Hello Kitty merch, I might get called dad tomorrow. And I’m not mad at that. My dad is awesome.

In effort to bring some balance in, I’m reading Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell. Drop me a comment or an email about what you do to bring balance… Much love.

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Believe Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Goal-Getter

I met Jill Velasco several years ago through Rabbit Rescue. She and her husband are two of the most giving, dedicated volunteers on the team.

I treasure my friendship with Jill. She’s creative, giving, smart…

We are in a book club together. Her art hangs on my wall. Her words about goals and authenticity that I’m sharing below are just magic. Thank you for writing for us Jill!

As many of our friends know, my husband and I are big fans of the TV series, “The Office.”  I’ve re-watched this one show many times but the other night, one part stood out to me.  Having a Graphic Design background myself, it is fairly often that I am compared to Pam Beasley, the Dunder Mifflin receptionist.  In this one particular episode from season 2, the women in the office are invited to partake in a Women in the Workplace meeting. It’s in this meeting that Pam is provided with information on a program offered by her company to take graphic design training courses in New York and fulfill a dream of hers.  Filled with excitement at this opportunity, Pam is suddenly deflated and discouraged to pursue this by her then-fiancé, Roy.  It was what her officemate and friend, Jim said to her at the end of the episode when he hears of this sudden change of heart that hit me.  “You gotta take a chance on something, sometime…”

Regardless of how excited Pam was at this prospect, she let someone else decide her path and choices, making her talk herself out of an opportunity due to the negative thinking that it may never lead to anything or it being impractical.  While we may not all be in Pam’s shoes with a fiancé like Roy, how many of us have talked ourselves out of doing or working towards something we really desire?  Now don’t get me wrong. There is no such thing as a “sure thing,” not every idea will be a great one and more than likely you’ll not strike it rich overnight. But, if you have something in your heart that means the world to you, isn’t it at least worth a chance at exploring?  If you set out a plan and decide on the path that you need to take to get you there, while putting in the work necessary to see it through, it could be more realistic than you think.  There are always going to be hurdles, people who may not believe in you, financial and time constraints but you never know unless you try.  Surround yourself with those who cheer you on and support your goals, walking beside you when things are tough while learning to separate yourself from those who just wish to discourage you and keep you down.  We all only get one chance in life and no one knows exactly how much time they have or where they are in line.  Why should we always keep waiting for the “right time” to come around?  There is no better time or investment spent than on yourself in pursuit of your dreams.

 

Jill Velasco is an Artist and Educator specializing in graphic design and colored pencil portraits and botanicals.  To see more of her artwork and writing, visit jillvelasco.com or follow “Jill Velasco Art” on Facebook and Instagram.

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Bunnies Energy Healing Reiki Rescue Young Living

Eric & Ariel

Eric and Ariel’s mom is a dear friend of mine. She and her husband opened their home to this adorable pair of bunnies. While there’s nothing cuter than seeing two bunnies snuggle, pairs are notoriously hard to find homes for through our group (and as I write this, I realize that’s a paradigm we need to shift!). Two years ago this week, Eric and Ariel found their forever. They were dumped in a local cemetery along with several other rabbits. They survived out there for weeks before a compassionate was able to bring them to safety.

Eric and Ariel survived together. That dynamic runs strong through their relationship, even though they will never have to worry about survival again. Their mom and dad will love them forever. Of that, I have no doubt. Their mom asked me to come over and share some Reiki with the pair, particularly with Eric, to energetically reinforce their safety.

As our session started, I anointed myself with lavender essential oil to soothe Eric’s energy. They “showed” me the number 224. Eric almost immediately retreated into his bunny castle (not to worry—Reiki flows through cardboard). I spent our time together infusing his energy with the word trust. He “told” me that he feels unable to express his needs, which is where is bond with Ariel is so important.

For Ariel, her word was understanding. She is the only one who can understand Eric. She’s his protector and was when they had to survive in the cemetery. She gets sick often and the extra care she needs comes from taking on Eric’s energy and needs. I worked to help them balance that aspect of their connection. Ariel “showed” me that she was a women right’s activist in the 1920s. Her root chakra is strong. I’m not surprised, as she’s a spunky little thing!

I moved back to Eric at this point in our session. It’s like a storm in his head. He had the most trauma before rescue so it may take his entire lifetime to fully release that… but we made progress. He “showed” me the number 7. He has a very heavy heart and chest. Eric is still learning to feel safe but all the love he gets from Ariel and their incredible parents helps him tremendously.

I just love what I get to do with these sweet creatures. Thank you, Eric & Ariel’s mom, for allowing me to share Reiki with your babies. Much love!

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Equivalent Advantage

Members of our Rescue team were on two missions today: one squad was out on a catch and another squad was conducting adoptions.

The catch was unsuccessful and the adoption didn’t happen. The abandoned rabbit was super scared and elusive. The environment in which he’s been abandoned is complicated. The adopter came to meet adoptable rabbits but decided to wait before making a decision. She left with an empty carrier. It would be easy to feel defeated, to feel like we lost today. We didn’t lose. We are experiencing temporary defeat.

The only way we lose is if we stop.

In Outwitting the Devil, Napoleon Hill asks and the “Devil” answers:

Q: Is failure ever a benefit to man?

A: Yes. Indeed, learning from adversity is the third of the seven principles. But few people know that every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage. Still fewer people know the difference between temporary defeat and failure… If they knew the difference between temporary defeat and failure, they would not quit when they meet with opposition from life. If they knew that every form of defeat and all failures, bring with them the seed of unborn opportunity, they would keep on fighting and win. Success usually is but one short step beyond the point where one quits fighting.

My fellow volunteers are the most persistent people you’ll ever meet because they work with purpose. They experience emotional and physical hardships in our work. They push through heartbreak, through thorny bushes, through dismissive comments, through bitter winds.

They lean on each other, they regroup and they plant the seed of equivalent advantage acquired through each temporary defeat. Conversations tonight have not been ones of frustration. They’ve been about fresh approaches to catching this terrified little rabbit and about best practices for communicating with potential adopters.

When you need inspiration to persist against all odds, look to our team. I am honored to work with them, to organize and communicate while they are on the frontlines, impressing the stuff out of me seven days a week.

Our work is rarely easy, but always rewarding—the reward is saving and protecting animals and building character and community beyond expectations.

Local? Join us: Volunteer with LIRRG

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Believe Healing Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Who am I to…

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on a blue and teal seat, facing forward (although facing backward doesn’t bother me) on the Long Island Railroad. I was Manhattan-bound to see one of my spiritual advisors, psychic medium Calise Simone. On my journey, I read from The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene’ Brown. This is the book we’ll be discussing at book club at the end of this month. If you’re local, you should join us.

Somewhere between the Merrick and Freeport stops, I read this passage. Then I re-read it, highlighted it and wished my Kindle had a print feature. Taking a picture of the screen would have to suffice. Dr. Brown writes:

Squandering our gifts brings distress to our lives. As it turns out it’s not merely benign or “too bad” if we don’t use the gifts that we’ve been given; we pay for it with our emotional and physical well-being. When we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighed down by feeling of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear, and even grief.

There it is, in a block quotation—me, before Rescue rescued me. The years of feeling directionless, of feeling purposeless in a career that felt like I was squeezing my foot into a shoe two sizes too small. The annoyance and resentment that manifested as anger, as buckets of tears because I felt stifled, like those walls were somehow crushing my insides.  The moments of disappointment in myself for playing small, for holding back to fit in with the rest of them. The days on end where I slept, masking depression.

What I was doing every day, the same stuff I was told I would be doing for 30 or so years, just didn’t feel like enough for me. I felt empty because the system does not allow me to use or grow my gifts. I felt frustrated and resentful because I was told, down to the literal shoes I was wearing, how I should best try to conform with the system and the rest of them. I was disappointed in myself for squashing the little girl with big dreams, afraid that this was it for me forever and grieving the contributions I wasn’t going to make to the world.

Tears are coming now, but they aren’t sad tears. I am no longer squandering my gifts. I’m still in the same career but I rock it differently. Don’t worry—I teach to the state standards, but I’m unafraid now to season the work heavily with texts and activities that will foster confidence and empowerment in my students. I take the time, when appropriate, to have purposeful conversations, to address their world and their experience, rather than just stay on the curriculum schedule for that prescriptive schedule’s sake. I teach people.

At school, I lead young people to find their joy. In Rescue, I work alongside incredible volunteers to protect and care for those who need it. In my wellness business, I coach people to live their healthiest, happiest, safest lives. I am no longer squandering my gifts!

I don’t just have to be a teacher and like it. I can flourish, in multiple areas. I spent so many years holding that back, playing small. Thank you, Dr. Brene’ Brown and your colleagues whom I study, for putting on paper what I’ve been feeling since I was a little Denise, walking around the house with a notebook, a pen and big dreams. Thank you for affirming in black and white that my struggles were very real and that I absolutely must cultivate my gifts. Much love.

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