Believe In Bunnies

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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 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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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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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Year End 2018

Our little Rescue group closed 2017 with 54 adoptions. If that wasn’t a record for us, it was close for sure. The record-keeper, the scribe, the organizer… I excel in my self-appointed roles. I set the 2018 adoption goal to 55, 2017’s accomplishments plus one.

We hit 55 in mid-June.

Long exhale… and now what? On July 2nd, I set our new 2018 goal to 79. I picked that because 4 adoptions per month is a sustainable, manageable expectation.

I sit here, less than 2 days left in 2018. We are at 88 adoptions. 88. Eighty-Eight. Wild…

Long Island Rabbit Rescue Class of 2018.jpg

We accomplished such an incredible feat because of one word: Trust.

Trust from our leadership to empower those volunteers who have stepped up into leadership roles themselves. Trust in the team. Trust from me (finally!) to delegate and watch others shine. Trust from the abandoned, abused and neglected rabbits who allow us the honor of rescuing and caring for them.

Radical honesty: I, like many of you, have been let down by people in my past who have said they were going to do things that they just didn’t do. Maybe they intended to but a limitation or limiting belief got in the way. Maybe they were giving a lot of talk to placate me. Whatever the reason, past disappointments created a paradigm for me that I have to do everything on my own, that no one can help me, that no one will show up for me or the things that mean a lot to me.

This year, I’ve started to trust more and I have no doubt that my new-found trust is rooted in the support from our Rescue team. I’ve watched dozens of people step up selflessly, doing not only what they said they would do but beyond. We are soaring because we have each other. As we soar, we save more lives and complete more families than ever before.

In Angel Numbers 101, 88 is described as “a very auspicious and favorable sign… actions, prayers, visualizations, and manifestation work have resulted in a large inflow of abundance. Open your arms and receive!” I think our Rescue group has done just that in 2018.

As we look into the future, I’m inclined to say that I don’t know how we are going to top 88… but I don’t need to know how. I just need to know why. Why we rescue is so strong that the how figures itself out on an even bigger scale than we could have imagined.

Look out for our newly-updated Rescue website in 2019! I trust that you’ll love it.

 

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Do It Your Way

Surprise… it’s Tuesday. I slept in today (for me on a weekday). I woke up in my best friend’s apartment and, as much as I love my home and miss my Peanutty, I didn’t want to leave. There’s just something incredibly magical about spending time with someone who makes you feel nothing but good.
6 months ago, I called her and asked, “What are you doing on October 29th?” Knowing me for 18 years, she didn’t flinch at the thought of looking half a year ahead. She accepts my planning nature, much like I wouldn’t flinch if she called me and asked what I was doing in 29 minutes. She’s the free-spirit. She was the light even before I knew light existed.
I didn’t let the fact that it was a Monday night, a work night, a borderline winter night (I know it’s early in the season, but to us downstate people, you get a lot of winter up there!) hold me back. I saw the opportunity and seized it. I bought the tickets. Just like I dragged her to Mariah Carey in 2003, I was dragging Bestie to Metallica in 2018 (less of a dragging this time but she’s always down, no matter what). #MetInAlbany 🤘🏼

My message for you today: Do not someone else’s idea of what you should do when dictate your life!
We get messages all the time, based on other people’s thinking and patterns, their paradigms, of what we should and should not do. Very often, we follow those messages because that’s how society programs us. I could limit myself to those paradigms:

  • Teachers shouldn’t listen to metal.
  • You shouldn’t go out on a work night.
  • Don’t spend your money on _______.
  • You can’t like Metallica and Mariah equally (Bestie, stay ready. She’s touring again in the spring).
  • Don’t travel without your spouse.
  • Have a spouse.

But I decided, incrementally over the years and fully recently, that I do not have to seek the opinions and validations of others. Keep your paradigm if it works for you— I’m traveling 3.5 hours, seeing a metal show on a Monday night and taking a personal day from work to travel home. Don’t fret. You don’t have to follow my way. I already have a +1 (but there’s always room for more if you want to join!).
As I watched Mr. Hetfield raise his arms in the air after closing the show with “Master of Puppets,” I soaked in the moment with gratitude. Gratitude for being at a show of such magnitude. Gratitude for having my soul sister at my side. Gratitude to watch legends, together for longer than I’ve been alive, bring it with full force. Gratitude for the crowd— without fail, the kindest people are at metal shows. Don’t believe me? Come with tomorrow night. 
Do not be a passive observer. Say yes to the opportunities that excite you. Seek them out. Say yes. And smile… “Life is ours; we live it our way.”

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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.

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Father’s Day Pivot

60,000 thoughts per day.  60-80% of those thoughts (depending on which research you follow) are negative.  That’s part of the negativity bias.  And hey, the negativity bias does protect us.  It plays a needed role in our days, but maybe we don’t need it as often as it shows up, like it did for me this morning.

It’s Father’s Day.  My father is awesome.  I count him (and mom) in my top 5 best friends of all time.  We are a triumvirate.  But, thank you negativity bias, when I started to think about Father’s Day and father-stuff, I started beating myself up about all of the times I wasn’t nice to my dad… thinking about the countless times I was impatient, rude, defiant to the bad-ass who raised me.  Thinking about the moments that I wish I could go back and repair.  Thankfully, nothing horrendous happened, nothing so irreparable that I should be thinking about that today.  But that’s the negativity bias, the same part of our conscious mind that replays the one time we flubbed a word reading out loud in class rather than the thousands of words we read out loud with perfect pronunciation.

I’m not letting the negativity bias win.  Instead, I’m letting it work for me on this sunny, warm Father’s Day.  Rather than ruminate on past cringe-worthy moments, I’ll step into my loving light and make beautiful memories for today.  At any point, we can pivot and choose again, choose differently.  When those thoughts of a rougher nature crop back up today, as they likely will, I will lean into the lesson and the love.  My pivot will cultivate positive moments and memories.  When Dad has the Mets game on louder than I would like, I can choose to accept the volume, curb the eye rolls, let the man have the volume he wants in his own home on the day we designate to celebrate him.  That small right action will keep the negativity bias away for that moment.

And I’m just enjoying this Father’s Day, moment to happy, silly moment.  That man makes me laugh, but not as much as he makes himself laugh.  It’s endearing.  See, I sat down anxious and angry at myself for being occasionally imperfect as a daughter over the past 36 years yet I took this time to process, to share with you and now I’m smiling, choosing some of my 60,000 thoughts to be of those moments where Dad cracked himself up to happy tears.  In classic Leo fashion, his self-esteem is solid.  I’m grateful to have inherited that from him.

Pivot.  Choose again.  Smile.  Happy Father’s Day.

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Believe Bunnies Energy Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

The Great Slow Down

Alternate title: How We are Crushing Our Goals

As I write this, the Rescue group with which I volunteer is processing its 40th adoption in 2018.  40. 4-0.  In 2016, we completed 51 adoptions.  For 2017, we set a goal of 52 adoptions; we completed 55.  For 2018, we set a goal of 56.  Here we are, less than 4 months into the year, and we are CRUSHING our goal.  Every adoption is another life saved.  Every adoption is another family made complete.  Here’s how we are making it happen, from my perspective.

We, the collective of volunteers, supporters, adopters and foster families, believe so deeply in our mission.  Just above my desk is my vision board.  At the center of my vision board: Domestic rabbits are safe and protected.  That is the center of all of the action that I take.  Our group is rich with like-minded people who will stop at nothing to carry out this mission.  Belief and inspiration in action.

On November 30, 2017, I went to hear my mentor Gabrielle Bernstein speak at her “SuperAttractor Workshop.”  In talking about her principle of taking spiritually-aligned action, Gabby said, “You speed up by slowing down.”  That struck me—and not just the juxtaposition of words.  Do you mean to tell me that I can accomplish even more if I just slow down?  Even me, who needs to go-go-go (and maybe go some more) so I don’t feel like time is precariously wasting away?  Ok… I’ll give it a shot.  I’ll breathe.  I’ll stop working with a sense of frenzy and choose a peaceful mood.  And I’ve made it part of my practice to work on one task at a time, to use my laser-sharp focus with more grace.

In early 2018, I started reading You2 by Price Pritchett.  I wrote to you about it.  Plain and simple: it works.  It was recommended to me by my business mentors and the Universe started showing me its power immediately through the Quantum Leaps in Rescue.  I even wrote on the bottom of page 1 of my copy: “Slow & steady is not necessary!  Rescue had a leap in January 2018 to show me the possibilities.”  Now, I am in no way taking full credit for 40 (any minute now!) adoptions in 107 days.  But I sit at the hub of this incredible group and we energize each other.  We made a committed decision to save as many lives as we possibly can.  Radical honesty: some of the team wanted to set the 2018 adoption goal much bigger than 56.  Fear-based, I thought, let’s just add one more to last year’s record.  I was playing small.  The Universe has shown me that we can add more than +1 in a year.  I may be going slower, but the Universe is not.

So, here’s to slowing down.  When I slow down, I get even more done.  When I slow down, I receive clarity about what needs to get done.  When I slow down, the Universe speeds up and brings my vision to me.  We are crushing our goals with ease, belief and inspired action.  I am beyond proud to be a part of this team.  Much love.

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angels Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Purpose Reiki Rescue Uncategorized

Cameron

On the last Monday in March, I paid a special visit to a special little boy.  Quick backstory: Cameron was rescued with four other rabbits right before Halloween.  He was adopted shortly after the New Year and returned right before Valentine’s Day.  We don’t get many returns (thankfully).  Cameron had fallen ill and his adopters decided to return him.  Volunteers rushed to get him back into our care.  Cameron developed neurological “issues”—could be genetic, could be a result of trauma sustained when he was trying to survive post-abandonment/pre-rescue.  His adopters gave up on him.  His foster family never will.

Cameron has been making great strides.  He’s a bit wobbly at times.  He needs an enclosure specially designed for his mobility needs.  Other than that, he is a perfectly happy and hoppy boy.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to share Reiki with him.

He had a lot to “say” compared to most of my clients.  He “told” me that the “rolling” his body experienced when he first showed symptoms of illness really scared him.  When working on his throat chakra, he “showed” me that he was weeping happy, grateful tears for being safe.  He asked about Lil’ B, a bun with whom he was rescued.  He showed me the number four—well, he was rescued with four others.  He lives with four humans.  In Angel Numbers, four means “the angels are with you.  They send you the number 4 to reassure you that they’ve heard your prayers and are helping you.”  I quite like that number for Cameron and his foster family.

He’s a young soul.  He’s on his first pass through this mortal coil and he really trusts people now because of his foster family.  Being a young soul, he can let go of his abandonment (twice now, that we know of) easier than others can.  No resentment present in that furry little body!  Cameron knows he’s “different” but feels confident and secure, which he confirmed by licking his paw.  Throughout most of our session together, he stayed flopped under his bench.  When I was working on his spine, however, he came toward me then ran away quickly to show he’s strong.  He started eating immediately after to confirm that physical and emotional strength.

Cameron feel clenched in his hips and lower body.  I told his foster family to give him some gentle hip massages.  He told me that he likes to be around one person at a time, rather than a crowd.  His favorite color is blue (which his foster mom guessed correctly in our post-session conversation).  As I closed our session, Cameron stood up very strongly, like Mountain Pose in yoga, to show me that he feels very loved and safe.

It was a honor to work with Cameron and I am grateful to his foster family for welcoming me and Reiki in their loving home.  Cameron is looking for a forever home, preferably with an experienced family who knows that different is so very beautiful.

You can follow Cameron’s foster family’s blog here.

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