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!

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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.

Directions

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My healer and Reiki master Lisa Lotus Blossom Journeys hosted a workshop and meditation yesterday about Archangel Metatron (he’s the 11:11 guy, to keep it simple). Much of Lisa’s shared wisdom was about expanding our “spiritual GPS” so I’m left today thinking about how I got “here” in this spiritual space. I’m not conventionally religious at all and I don’t think we need to label ourselves or limit ourselves. Maybe today I don’t believe in a “man upstairs” concept of a god but maybe tomorrow I will—I’m all about the fluidity there. As I’ve been getting in touch with and opening up my gifts (we all have them—stop depriving the world of yours!), my “spiritual GPS” has rerouted quite a bit. And not just in the concepts of beliefs or morals or rules but in my purpose and path and daily moves.

I can’t think about my spirit or spiritual connections without the animals, of course. Up until we brought Peanut and Tater Tot home, I was NOT an animal person—talk about rerouting that life GPS. Over the four years those boys have been hopping around our living room, the shifts and turns have emerged—rescue and Reiki being the main two, for now. I was conditioned, as many of us are, to go to school, start a career that provides benefits and a potential pension and live very much within society’s conventions. While that never felt right, (and sometimes felt literally painful), I followed that path and did some amazing work on the way.

Lisa said yesterday: “I believe in the direction I’m getting.” We talked a lot about shifts, changes and departures, about letting go of what you thought something would look like or should be. Yes, it’s scary to deviate from convention. It’s intimidating to take a risk, regardless of the perceived weight or potential impact of the risk. But I’m open to turn, to curve or to even blaze a trail at this point. I may not know what it looks like yet, but I do know that I’m walking away (walking… not yet sprinting…) from what “everyone” says “you should do” more briskly than I ever have before.

Listen to your guides. I’m blessed that Metatron is my main guide—he “means business,” like Lisa says about him and he’s behind our transformations in life. Engage in the transformation.

Compassion

Precepts

One of the five Reiki precepts is “Be compassionate to yourself and others.” For someone who loves herself a whole damn lot, I struggle with being compassionate to myself. I am really tough on myself—I haven’t accomplished this much by being lazy! I’m not one of those self-described perfectionists; I don’t need every line to be straight nor do I need everything to be polished at all times. There are always dirty dishes in our sink and that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me. This absence of compassion exists in a realm where I expect myself to go, to do, to create, to produce at full blast during every waking moment.

A benefit of this self-inflicted regime is that “bored” isn’t a feeling I know—ever. I remember my uncle saying when I was little, “If you’re bored, you’re boring” and that’s a rule of life to which I completely subscribe. There are mountains of books to read, plenty of people to connect or reconnect with, countless tasks to accomplish. Boredom isn’t a choice I ever make.

But on the flip side, I expect myself to never shut off. Sometimes to sit down and stop hurts.

Yet, I know compassion. I feel it in every cell. Animal rescue and Reiki (and even my “day job”…) are centralized on compassion for other living things, for our environments, for our community now and moving forward. But in all of this compassion-spreading, we can’t forget to spread it on ourselves too. And I am compassionate to myself sometimes—I take luxurious naps, I get regular massages, I indulge in material things. But I guess the feeling of not being compassionate enough to myself is sickly cyclical to the toughness I impose on myself.

Bottom line: I’m seeking a sense of compassion within myself that allows me to just be, that extracts the self-inflicted pressure to do, to go, to achieve. I want to share the joy with myself too. And I will.

 

Priscilla

I still remember the email our rescue group received when Priscilla was found. She was hopping through a residential backyard and the homeowner was able to approach her and bring her to safety indoors with ease—not surprising, as she turned out to be one of the more affectionate rabbits I’ve met in my rescue life! The striking thing about this initial email was that her finder thought he found an injured bunny; he was concerned about her “broken ear.” I get dozens of emails per month about injured and abandoned rabbits—but this was no injury, thankfully! Yes, rabbit friends, have a giggle… this unicorn-lop certainly doesn’t have a broken ear.

Priscilla was adopted a few months after her rescue and her forever-mom Katie has since become a volunteer with our group and a dear friend of mine. As affectionate as “Princess P” can be (her freely-given kisses rival those of our sanctuary bun Wednesday, who has been dubbed “the make-out queen”), she has taken to some intensely possessive behavior toward Katie when she returns home from a shift volunteering at our foster homes. I offered to share some Reiki with the Princess, foremost to soothe any anxiety or issues that might be affecting her behavior but also to get some of those legendary kisses!

Priscilla’s set up is perfect—a “puppy pen” filled with toys and plenty of carpeted space to play when mom is home. Before I began our session, I anointed myself with a few drops of Magnify Your Purpose oil on my wrists and third eye chakra. This oil blend helps me focus on the energies and open my communication channels with my furry clients. I rubbed 4 drops of lavender oil between my palms, inhaled deeply and got to work with the pretty little unicorn.

The first message that Priscilla shared with me is that she feels very strong and healthy! While I was treating her hands-on, she shared the color yellow with me. Yellow is often associated with the solar plexus chakra and with personal power. That makes a lot of sense as Priscilla has been asserting herself when her mom smells like other rabbits! I reassured her through touch and through thoughts that she is Katie’s one and only.

I then turned the focus of our session to letting go of anxieties associated with or manifesting in her behaviors. Like many rabbits that our group rescues, Priscilla’s specific origin is unknown. She gave me the sense that she “ran away” from her previous life, like she knew she would find better, which she absolutely did. I continued to tell her that her relationship with Katie is forever, that no running away would be necessary. Priscilla shared a feeling of sisterly energy with me, like she was saying she knows that Katie is her mom but she feels like they are bonded in more of a sisterly way (how freakin’ cute!).

When I was treating her lower body and focusing on her root chakra, Priscilla shared that she doesn’t mind when Katie goes to work or school for a few hours, that she’s comfortable with the solo time. She also told me that her favorite time of day is early morning and she likes laid-back energy, not a rush through the morning routine feeling!

She didn’t bring up the issue of post-volunteer shift Katie—I guess another session is in order! Magnify Your Purpose… this is my Purpose. I feel electrified even reflecting on our hour together.

Katie, thank you for letting me share some Reiki energy with Princess P and for the beautiful flowers.