Feel and Focus

On Friday evening, I sat amongst a diverse yet like-minded group at Yoga Journal Live to hear Gabby Bernstein’s talk entitled True Power.  When I explain who Gabby Bernstein is to people, I call her the Marianne Williamson of the younger set.  If none of this is resonating with you, stop reading this and go turn on Super Soul Sunday on OWN or make a quick trip to the library or to smile.amazon.com, pick Long Island Rabbit Rescue as your charity of choice, then treat yourself to some powerful nonfiction by either of the aforementioned ladies.

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Ms. Bernstein sharing her True Power

As in my nature, I took a lot of notes during Gabby’s talk (Metatron is my guide and he’s known as God’s scribe so it all comes naturally to me).  As I review my scribbled pages, the phrase “You can dictate what you feel based on what you focus on” is shining at me this morning.  You hear a lot of the same refrain from acquaintances, colleagues, and family members about being so busy, too busy, overwhelmed and overbooked.  But it’s all about choice and focus for me.

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Always prepared to take good notes

I work a traditional Monday to Friday job, I coordinate a non-profit organization (that logs far more hours than my “job” does) and I have responsibilities and appointments, social and non, that filter through the days as well.  At the day job, I can certainly feel busy, stressed, uncomfortable, drowning, fighting a losing battle at the most extreme of times.  Now shift the focus, make the choice…  Yesterday was a typical Saturday for me, as I handled a steady stream of Rescue emails, managed the group’s social media accounts (except Instagram, that one I’ve thankfully delegated out to the squad), handled phone calls and texts from volunteers who themselves are managing some complex rescue cases, completed two outstanding home visits for potential adopters, had lunch with a treasured friend, did three loads of laundry, food shopped… but guess what, loves?  I felt completely alive, blessed and happy through it all.  Not for a second did I choose to feel busy, stressed, or overbooked.

This is not a brag-post.  This is a message that you can do it all, have it all and be it all if you “embrace the light” as Gabby reminded the 700+ attendees at her talk on Friday.  As soon as I embraced my life’s purpose, the moment I found my truth, I left behind those crazed feelings of drowning through all the things I had to do.  I can now have a packed day of smiles and movement.  I shifted from my former refrain of “I have so much to do” to my divine inner monologue of “I feel completely alive and on my mission.”

Gabby told us to “reach for what we believe in right now.”  I believe that my work in rescue has saved my life as well as helped to save countless animal lives.  I believe that every cell in my body vibrates and functions at its full and glowing potential when I’m doing my rescue and Reiki work.  I feel the best I’ve ever felt because I’ve chosen to focus on what drives me instead of focusing on what society/family/whoever told me I should focus on.  I’ve magnified my purpose.  I choose what feels right and so much more of what is right has flowed my way.

Busy, lazy, productive, slow… these are all perceptions.  Perceive, feel, focus and be whatever you truly want.  Let that authentic purpose come to you.  Your truth is gorgeous, just like you.

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It’s a Celebration…

I love my birthday.  As cheesy as that may sound, I just love celebrating me.  And I always have.  I am proud of myself for embracing my gifts (meaning my abilities… not the adorable bracelets I got last night!).  I embrace getting older, too.  I never feel anything but great about the advancing numbers.  I have my mother to thank for that.  She turns 60 this year.  Her unpretentious confidence is an inspiration to women of all ages!

When I celebrate me, it just comes naturally that I celebrate those who are hopping this path with me.  I was born on March 30, 1982, my uncle’s 16th birthday.  I consider him my best friend, my guide, my brother.  Besides my parents, he and his other half spent more time with me than any other person growing up, so I credit them with raising me just as much as I do my parents.  We always celebrate our birthdays together.  Even this year, as Stephen turned 50, we shared a cake with both names on it.  In some ways, we feel like twins, 16 years removed.

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Happy 50th Stephen… Happy 34th me.

Every year, I coordinate some sort of celebration for my day with my friends– some years with more classic revelry than others but always uplifting.  Last night, I was blessed to sit at the head of a table, flanked by the most beautiful souls.  Thank you ladies, and the Chris’s who love them, for being there with me.  When I sat in meditative reflection this morning, I saw our table from last night.  My mind’s journey took me around the table where I handed each of my friends in attendance a yellow rose, that classic symbol of friendship.  I treasure you ladies, boundlessly.

I carry my Kindle with me almost everywhere and I often glide through the electronic pages of Doreen Virtue’s Angel Numbers 101, the reference book for numbers we see and numbers that resonate with us.  So before I sat to write this morning, I looked up Virtue’s “translation” of the number 34, the age number that I earned last Wednesday and celebrated thoroughly for the last 8 days:  “34 Your prayers are heard and answered by the angels and ascended masters, who are with you right now.”

Damn right.  Cheers to my 34th and to my earth angels, those with furry tails and those without!

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Found but still Lost

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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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Release your feelings, not your animals.

Abundance & Gratitude

You have resources for whatever is important to you, whatever has value to you. Whether those resources are time, money, love, listening, supplies… when something truly has value to you, you find a way (or the Universe helps you find a way) to give and to make it happen.

I give freely and often: time, money, whatever I have. I’m grateful that I can and I’m ever so grateful for all those who came out to our annual fundraiser for Long Island Rabbit Rescue at Still Partners yesterday. We raised a fantastic amount of money during a fun afternoon. Still Partners has the most delicious veggie burger I have ever eaten, so I was content enough to be there for that! Beyond the deliciousness, my soul felt the bliss emanating from the dedicated volunteers and generous community members in attendance.

Big bunny boy Maurice and special needs bunny Edith played on the bar’s stage throughout the event, while our directors and volunteer team educated about rabbit care and about the outstanding work our group does. People made beautifully generous donations—yes, the monetary factor is what helps us rescue and care for abandoned and neglected rabbits across Long Island, but the gesture of giving… that’s what created this abundance of gratitude.

Events like this reignite our passion. Rescue work is difficult. We are often faced with people who aren’t supportive, who don’t honor and respect the furry lives we work tirelessly to save. Yesterday’s event reminds us that we have support, renews our purpose and brings us more comfortably into our “busy season” of post-Easter… but that’s a topic for another day. Right now, I want to bask in the abundance of the love and support we collected at Still Partners yesterday.

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Speaking of Abundance… one of my favorite scents!

Boundless gratitude to our benefactor Mark, to the staff at Still Partners, to our volunteer team and of course to the community for supporting our cause.  Long Island Rabbit Rescue is run solely on donations, 100% of which go directly to the rabbits.

And while I have you, check out my article on One Green Planet… give it a “like” and let One Green Planet know that you want to hear more from me and the rabbit rescue community!

Captain

One week ago Saturday, I covered a “bunny chores” shift at our main foster home, changing litter boxes, vacuuming, feeding and the like. This foster home houses most of our adoptable rabbits and volunteers visit daily to tend the rabbits. Captain, a Dutch mix, has been on our roster of adoptable rabbits for about six months. He was rescued from a neglected outdoor hutch, where he and multiple other rabbits were left in the extreme heat of the summer with no water and no food. When found, the rabbits were eating “wee wee pads” (is there a technical name for that product?). Some of the rabbits in the hutch did not survive the heat and neglect. Captain, along with Beaux, who was adopted a few months ago, and Lola, who is still waiting for her forever home, were brought to safety.

Captain quickly earned the reputation of being “tough” to handle amongst the volunteers. Rabbits are never aggressive—any behavior they exhibit that people interpret as aggressive is a rabbit doing all he can to survive. These prey animals are only aggressive toward Romaine lettuce, not toward human beings. Captain typically lunges and even bites sometimes; his behavior precipitates from his past neglect and trauma. While he has made progress over the past six months, he was still holding the title for feistiest bunny…

I reached into his pen slowly to take his litter box which was in need of changing. Despite employing my best techniques (I am the mother of a Lionhead rabbit who thinks he’s a lion!), Captain still perceived a threat in my approach and bit my right hand something fierce. The result of the bite looked much worse than it felt! I posted a picture of my hand on Facebook, playfully asking my fellow volunteers to guess who caused these marks. It didn’t take many guesses to reach the right answer. Then, a message appeared in my inbox that has quickly proven to be life-changing for our Captain.

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My hand 3/5/16

Volunteer and epic bunny mom Lisa messaged me, asking if she could take Captain home to foster for a month. She expressed determination to make more progress with him. As aforementioned, his previous and current foster families have helped Captain become more comfortable with human interaction but there is definite room for growth! I checked with the directors of our group, got the approval and let Lisa know that after her shift of bunny chores on Thursday, Captain was hers to foster.

Within hours of being in Lisa’s home, Captain seemed to shift personalities. My inbox exploded with videos and pictures of Captain sitting on Lisa’s shoulder and accepting loving snuggles from Lisa’s nine year old daughter. The change of scenery, the change of energies… whatever it is, Captain is letting down his guard and letting his true bunny-self blossom. I and the rest of the team are so grateful for Lisa’s caring efforts and determination to help Captain trust and love. After only a weekend, he’s a totally different rabbit. Paws crossed that, after his month-long visit with Lisa’s family, Captain will be truly ready for the love of a forever home.

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Captain, showing the softer side we all knew was there!!

Olivia and Gretchen

Arthritis (noun): painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints.

My paternal grandmother had some serious arthritis in her hands—could barely grab or touch at some points. I had the opportunity to share some Reiki energy and love with four-legged arthritis sufferers this week (and they don’t complain like grandma used to!).

I worked on big, beautiful Olivia first during this session. Her frustration with her mobility issues is increasing so I spent the majority of our time together sending peace and healing as well as incorporating some Young Living lavender oil for relaxation and connection. Olivia was on high-alert while I shared energy with her head, front legs and spine. Her white ears stood straight up and I felt a tightness in my own crown—a message from her that the energy is needed to soothe her frustration and combat her longing for the days when she hopped with less difficulty! I worked on her back legs and hips for the remainder of our session, sending the aforementioned peace and healing to those aching joints. Olivia signaled to me that she was appreciative but done for this session by hopping away into her litter box and munching on some hay.

On to Miss Gretchen… Gretchen, an American Bulldog, also suffers from arthritis. We sat on the living room couch together for our session. She soaks up the love, light and attention like a puppy! When I worked on the back of her neck, connecting to the throat chakra, she “showed me” (see previous posts for more on how I receive and interpret messages) waves of light blue fabric. Gretchen craves more conversation and loves when people talk to her. She enjoys the activity and variety that comes with living in a busy household and she feels like the manager of the place—makes sense, since she’s the biggest animal of the many in the house! When I worked on her hind legs and hips, she wagged her tail against the couch in a pattern of three-three-five, which repeated for the duration of our session. I’ll have to ask Gretchen’s mom Mary Ann if those numbers have any significance!

I closed our session with some sweeping pats and some cleansing Thieves spray on my hands. Sending love, light and comfort to Olivia, Gretchen and all who deal with arthritis, today and always!

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Lavender oil and Thieves spray

Lessons Learned

I’ve learned so much about rabbits in my nearly four years as a volunteer for the Long Island Rabbit Rescue… but I’ve learned even more about people.

I’ve observed volunteers of all ages and walks of life care for rabbits that we’ve saved from brutal neglect situations with inspiring love, yet neglect their own selves—“burning out” from taking on too much or simply not feeding and caring for themselves the way they do our foster and sanctuary rabbits. These women and men would never let a rabbit go hungry or feed a rabbit a less than balanced, nutritious diet, but they don’t take the time to nurture themselves. They make sure every foster and sanctuary rabbit gets daily exercise time to run, hop and play—but they don’t seem to prioritize themselves. As dedicated volunteers, we recognize how much these gentle creatures need us. If only we remembered that we are gentle creatures too. Sometimes we need a little treat or a softer rug to rest our paws too. For my fellow volunteers, I wish you would “cover a shift” in caring for yourself. I am so blessed to work with each of you. Please take care of you, too.

I’ve talked with hundreds of people, almost always parents of young children, who are looking to rehome their rabbit, in whom their children lost interest or for whom the family feels they can’t (or don’t want to) care anymore. These people are often ashamed to ask for help. They perceive a failure in what they were wrongly told was a simple task—to care for a prey animal like a rabbit. So many times, if people are open to our support, we are able to make life better for the rabbit and manageable for the family. It’s important to see our commitments through, for our own strength and for our pet’s existence. For these people, I wish them faith in themselves and the strength to ask for support. Making positive changes in the current home or finding a new home will take work, for sure, but these innocent rabbits deserve the dedication!

And for all considering bringing an animal in their lives, do your research. If you want something that’s easy to care for and something that won’t suffer when your children move on to the next interest, please buy a stuffed toy. Please don’t use a living being to teach a lesson, unless you yourself are completely committed yourself to seeing that lesson through.

That said, I’ve learned so much in these four years of giving to the abandoned and neglected rabbits of Long Island. From these fragile creatures, I’ve learned that I need space, too. Sometimes there’s nothing more blissful than tossing the task at hand to this side (for me, returning some emails, for the bunnies, a woven grass toy or cardboard tube) and flopping out for a nap.