Betsy’s Battle

Betsy has a battle ahead of her.  The story of her rescue and subsequent cancer diagnosis will appear in the next issue of “Thump” so you’ll get all the details there.  Betsy is living at our foster home for special needs and sanctuary rabbits, where I volunteer weekly.  A few days after she settled in there, into her “hospice foster home,” I gave Betsy a Reiki treatment.

Betsy stayed inside her hideout box while I did my typical chores, tending to the rabbits of varying needs and speeds.  After chores were done, I cleansed the space with my Thieves spray, anointed my third-eye chakra with a drop of lavender oil and rubbed a few drops of lavender oil between my palms.  I sat in front of Betsy’s enclosure– she lives in a multi-level condo.  Her upstairs neighbor is the legendary Maurice, a big white bunny boy who has more personality than most humans you encounter on the daily.

I began our healing session with the door to her enclosure open, my hands outstretched but still outside, calling upon my guides, Betsy’s guides and welcoming all energies of healing and comfort.  Almost immediately, Betsy bounded from her hideout and started eating pellets from the crock in her enclosure.  She ate for the duration of our session, even when I transitioned to hands-on healing.  She ate with an even pace, not gobbling too fast but not quite taking breaks either.  One pellet at a time, taking in the nutrition as a sign for me that she was also allowing the healing energies to flow.

Betsy shared some gems with me while we worked together.  She described the veterinarian who operated on her, Dr. George, as gentle and said that she knew Dr. George helped her.  Betsy shared that her foster mom is “cool” and they have a sisterly bond.  Betsy likes where she is.  She is receptive to and grateful for all the care she’s receiving.  She reported no current pain beyond the typical pain or discomfort that she feels—she’s used to how she feels now.  Betsy also told me that her neighbor Maurice is funny.  Maurice snorted in acknowledgement (I don’t think I ever heard him snort before!).

Maurice

As we closed the session, I called on Daphne II, a LIRRG-alum who has crossed over, to help heal Betsy.  Daphne II lived in the same foster home for the final months of her time in this dimension.  She and Betsy share a similar aesthetic so I found it fitting to link the two.  As soon as I closed out our session, Betsy retreated to her hideout box.

Betsy might be with us for a few years… but more than likely her time will be less than that.  Speaking of time, this is the perfect moment to remind myself that when I visit her foster home tomorrow to cover my weekly shift of chores that I must take some extra special time with her, with all of the darling rabbits.  Because we have all the time we need, no matter what perceptions we have of time or confines we force upon it.  Sending Betsy an abundance of love and light as she hops her battle.

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Healthy and Hoppy!

Our boys had their annual check-ups at Catnip and Carrots Veterinary Hospital today.  They only go on car rides for this annual occasion so they aren’t used to car at all.  Plus the trip from our home to Catnip is a rather long one—but worth it.  Open 7 days a week, 24 hr. emergency service, kind staff, super experienced… there’s just no other choice of vets in my mind.

My bunny-daddy and I scooted Peanut and Tater Tot in their respective carriers and made sure the car was started and AC was appropriately pumping before we buckled the boys in for our journey.  Peanut was digging at his towel a bit.  Rabbit travel tip: Plastic cat carrier.  Large/extra-large bath towel inside to anchor the rabbit.  Sections of newspaper to anchor the towel.  Keeps your bun secure and comfy.

We arrived and let the darling receptionists know we were there.  I had a few minutes to visit with Finley, adoptable and adorable, who holds court in the waiting room as he awaits a forever home.  He even did a binky in his cage! He’s such a great spokesbunny.

Dr. Miller called us into the exam room.  I asked her if she wanted the easy one or the difficult one first.  She selected easy.  I don’t know about you, but I rather get the tough stuff out of the way first!  But it’s her office, her decision!  I handed over Peanut, our 4.5 year old double-maned Lionhead.  Dr. Miller brought in a very skilled tech Danielle (I think that’s what her name tag said…) to help wrangle the boys.  Peanut weighed in at 4.06 lbs., up just a few ounces from last year’s visit.  Dr. Miller clipped his nails and shaved his butt!  With all that long hair, Nutty has trouble sometimes getting himself totally clean.  She also did his incisor and moral check; he has perfect teeth!  He was sweet and didn’t grump once at the tech or the doctor.

Now, the difficult boy, Tater Tot, our 4.5 year old dwarf Hotot.  He’s the sweeter of the two when it comes to snuggling, but he does NOT like to be groomed or examined by anyone, anywhere.  Tater weighed in at 3.15 lbs., also up a few ounces from last year’s visit.  Tater had his nails clipped, which is usually a struggle for us at home.  He was shaking a bit on the table at this point, but that wriggling amped up for sure when the buzzer came out!  Tater Tot needed a butt shaving too.  I really think these dwarf breeds have trouble getting themselves as clean as the bigger buns keep themselves.  But that said, we will be doing some diet modification (switching around some veggies, getting hay with less clover) to combat the dirty bottoms.  No, I don’t like admitting that the smelly kid in class is my kid, but we learn better as rabbit parents by sharing the truth.  So I’ll let my desire to share and help educate trump my shame over the messy tails.  At this point, Tater was squirming a lot but Danielle was wonderful with him.  Shaving time over; time for the dental check.  Dr. Miller noticed that one of Tater Tot’s teeth is a little bit long—nothing to worry about now, just something to monitor in future.

Bunny families: make your check-up appointments.  As prey animals, rabbits will hide illness until it’s sometimes too late to get help.  Regular check-ups by rabbit-savvy vets are so important.  The boys are settled back in at home and are awaiting their evening salad.

Until next year, Dr. Miller and staff!

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Tater Tot, exploring his carrier

On Purpose

I thought I was going to write about something completely different today… But as I sat down, clicked the diffuser on and powered up the laptop, I realized I hadn’t tore off today’s calendar page.  I have a Dr. Wayne Dyer page-a-day calendar on the mess I call a desk.  I usually tear the page in the morning, but I didn’t today.  I did it just now.  And it says: “Purpose is about giving to yourself unconditionally and accepting what comes back with love, even if what comes back is not what you anticipated.”

Purpose

Yesterday, I spent part of my afternoon covering an extra shift of “bunny chores” at our main foster home.  Clean, vacuum, feed, love, repeat. Another volunteer, Nicole, who is beyond generous with her time on a regular basis, joined me for some extra help.  We both have typical “day jobs” with the standard Saturday and Sunday off.  We both have significant others, significant families and significant relaxing to do.  Now, I can’t speak for Nicole, but I felt more alive, more in my truth for those 2 hours yesterday than in most moments I have at “work.”  Tending the rabbits is my Purpose.  Sometimes I get gentle bunny kisses out of it and of course, I relish in the amazing feeling when we help make a family complete through adoptions, but what I really “get” out of what I do through Rescue isn’t in this dimension.  At all.  Nicole and I haven’t talked about it, but I can sense that she “gets” it too.  She’s an Earth Angel, whether she knows it yet or not.

After those chores wrapped up, I headed over to set up an education visit.  A family contacted us about their rabbit, whom they perceived to be “aggressive.”  Note: unless you are Romaine lettuce, a rabbit is not aggressive toward you.  The family thought they needed to rehome him, but I sensed from their email that they were open to trying to make things work—this wasn’t the typical “We don’t want this thing in our house anymore” dumper email.  I offered to have volunteers visit the family, check out their set up and offer some care and handling advice.  When I put out the call for help on our end, Lisa and Jo were amongst the ones who offered.  Lisa and Jo successfully rehabbed the “aggressive” Captain so I knew they were the right volunteers for this visit.  I am ever so grateful that I was able to get this education visit started and leave Lisa and Jo to do their magic.  Sometimes, Rescue can feel like a one-woman-show (with NO disrespect to my fellow volunteers!  You know there are far more tasks to do than there are volunteers to accomplish them!).  From what I hear, the visit went well; the family is relieved and armed with techniques to care for their bunny boy.

If you would have told me that this is what I would do with my free time in my adult life, I would have recommended you seek help for your crazy thoughts.  But even just writing about this stuff awakens my heart, uplifts my energies, makes every cell in this 5’4’’ frame shake with power.  I feel so blessed to have found my Purpose.  I’m proud of myself for being open to it, for taking the opportunities afforded to me, for saying yes whenever I can.  Yours is out there, I promise.  I didn’t invent mine; I didn’t seek it out.  It found me and I let it fill my soul.  Hop your path, binky into your truth… on Purpose.

And I just realized, that’s Magnify Your Purpose wafting from the diffuser.  Powerfully delicious.  Have a fulfilling week, darlings.

Magnify

Dear Mom…

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.

Hop the Hop

I advise everyone, yes everyone, who asks for coaching, mentorship or just plain advice from me to meditate.  And yet, my practice of meditation is less than consistent!  Since I was on vacation from my “day job” this week, I took the opportunity to talk the talk AND walk the walk… or should we say hop the hop!

My meditation coach and treasured friend Debbie describes meditation and mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally” using the body and all sensory systems.  Start as simply as her directive of “Just Sit.”  That’s where the magic happens.  Believe in the potential or not… you know it’s worth a try!

Debbie trained at The University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness under the direct guidance of the incredible Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, so there’s plenty of legit science behind all of this spiritual practice.  Accompanied by fellow Rabbit Rescue volunteer Nicole, I attended a talk Debbie gave this week at Turn of the Corkscrew in Rockville Centre.  Armed with my notebook and my renewed commitment to my own practice, I soaked in all of the goodies from Debbie’s wise words and guided meditations.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and its approach to a mediation practice fits well into my human experience.  It’s not the type of practice where you have to run off into the woods with no shoes on and clear you mind completely for hours to reap benefits—quite the opposite.  Debbie reminded the attendees throughout her talk that mindfulness meditation is an exercise to strengthen our brain.  And just like any other muscle or body system, the brain needs work to see progress or change.  You aren’t going to lose weight by eating differently for one day.  You aren’t going to get sick abs by exercising for one week.  It’s all a practice.  In this case, it’s a practice of “lifting emotional weights.”

And this practice is one that helps us to “respond skillfully rather than react,” which is an invaluable skill for me in both my day job and in Rescue.  I receive emails, many of which seem or are urgent, and calls about cases that are literally life or death situations for abandoned rabbits.  If I react, I’m in an ineffective panic.  When I remember to breathe, then respond skillfully, cases are appropriately prioritized and more lives get saved.

Toward the end of her talk, Debbie said, “It’s not about getting rid of stress—it’s developing a new relationship to it.”  And that’s a refreshing truth that I think will resonate with a lot of you reading this.  No matter what passion and path you are hopping, walking, trotting, whatever, stressors are real.  Obstacles appear and sometimes persist.  A meditation practice, even 2 minutes a day, can be the key to surmounting those stressors.  And since I advocate so heavily for the practice, I will hop the hop with you.  Just sit.  And as Debbie says, “Trust in the wisdom.”

“Like” Debbie’s page on Facebook, please.

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Tater Tot meditates too!

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

The celebrity world isn’t the only one rocked by loss in 2016.  This weekend alone, 2 beautiful bunny girls made their journey over the Rainbow Bridge (the favored euphemism for passing away… another euphemism, just more common), 2 very different girls, both fitting of a tribute here as they taught me to believe in bunnies and magic within.

Olivia

You may remember Olivia from some of my previous Reiki tales.  Olivia hopped from this mortal coil on Friday evening.  While still sweet as pure sugar and a sponge for snuggles and love, Olivia lost her ability to move over the preceding week.  She even lost the ability to urinate on her own.  She spent her last few days with her adoring mother gobbling treats and sharing gentle moments.  Olivia lived at least 12 years, maybe 13 (we often don’t know exact ages, due to the nature of rescue cases).  She’s the third senior citiz-bun/special needs bun from the LIRRG roster to journey over the Bridge in 2016.  She joins feisty Belle and kissy Wednesday.  These three angels allowed me to bring Reiki into their lives and I believe they have joined my Reiki guides.  In our time together, Belle taught me to believe in building trust.  Wednesday embodied my belief in unconditional love.  And Olivia helps me to believe that we can all grow old gracefully.  Despite her mobility issues in her last few weeks, Olivia never grumped, nipped or fussed.  I thank Olivia’s mom deeply for sharing the love.

Olivia 416

Suzy

I covered a shift of “bunny chores” at our main foster home today.  When I checked my phone after chores were done, I had a message from my dear friend Renee.  The message simply said “Suzy” followed by 3 broken heart emojis.  I responded simply “No.”  But, yes, Suzy made her journey over the Bridge this afternoon.  Far too young.  Suzy was born with the most unique case of splayed legs anyone in my rabbit realm has ever seen.  She ran, flopped, played, binkied like the happiest little seal-bunny.  Suzy is a celeb-bunny, the legacy of the Different is Beautiful movement.  Suzy’s pictures and videos exude pure love of life and love of family.  Becoming acquainted with Suzy reminded me to believe in myself and those around me with complete faith.  Suzy didn’t let her physical differences negatively affect her life for one second—from her, I believe that no perceived obstacle in insurmountable.

Suzy

Binky free, sweet angels.

Run Bun

Invoking my encyclopedic memory to tell you the beginning of this story…

2013:

A normal night at one of our main foster homes.  Owner of said foster home completed her own evening routine and shut the lights to head to bed.  Then the doorbell rang.  With trepidation, she opened the door.  On the porch, a small plastic carrier and a note.  Inside the carrier, two small rabbits, one black and white, one brown and white.  As our addresses are not made public in any capacity, this was no coincidental abandonment.

These two rabbits were aptly named Ring (black and white) and Run (brown and white).  Both small and super lovable.

Later that year, Run was adopted.  Ring found his forever home in 2014.

2016:

We received a heartbreaking email from Run’s mom earlier this weekend.  Being an attentive, loving mom, she noticed that he was having some trouble with one of his paws and his balance.  She immediately brought him to his veterinarian, where he had recently been for a check-up and blood work (all was fine at that previous appointment).  X-rays and tests illuminated the shocking news—Run has developed cancer, including a large mass that is pushing on his spine, causing the mobility and balance issues.

The size and intensity of the mass leave few western medicine alternatives that are safe for dear Run.  And his family is devastated.  Without a second thought, I brought Run Bun, as his mom affectionately calls him, into my distance Reiki meditation.

Distance Reiki and the Distant Healing Symbol is used to send Reiki energy over distance and time to anyone and to anything.  This morning, before sitting down to write, I sat with a picture of Run that Debbie shared with me, put my most powerful mediation oil, Idaho Balsam Fir, on my palms and called on my angels, my guides and all healing energies to encircle Run with love, light and peace.

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I’m sharing Run’s story with you today so you can send him healing vibes too.  Send peace to his family.  Send all the health and hoppiness in the world to dear little Run Bun.