Retreat Yourself

In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer.  Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time.  At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements.  I typed:

I am

-reading.

-practicing yoga.

-mindful.

I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen.  I am mindful… ok.  Let that sit.

I found a yoga studio near to where we were living.  I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited.  I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer.  I am practicing yoga…  finally.  For months before that, I was thinking about it.  And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga.  But I never seemed to quite get around to it.  I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time.  All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga.  Like magic, I was.

I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes.  I dove all in, as I’m prone to do.  One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed.  I stayed.  She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices.  She had something here.  I hung on every word.

A friendship blossomed.  At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements.  But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why.  My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading.  We started to hang out.  We shared this glorious spark of brilliance.  I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie.  Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful.  I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words.  Don’t question the process.  Be open to being guided.  Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.

This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory.  They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness.  They are the real-deal.  I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm.  That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.

We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on.  I took 17 pages of notes.  But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity.  Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.

Debbie, I bow to you.  I am mindful.

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Authenticity

Authenticity truly makes me tick (in a good way… not like a nervous tic or an incessant ticking of a clock).  In a culture where we share all the highlights of our lives, the way we want our lives to be perceived, in a running pictorial accessible to all, I find myself frustrated with the disingenuous.  That’s my stuff, my problem to release.  But why are you celebrating something that you don’t truly believe in?  Why did you say you would never _________ (fill in story-line here) but there you are doing it again?!  I can’t seem to let the inauthentic float by without wanting to grab it and shake it!  I’ll get there; I just need to do the work.

Let me take my own advice this morning—stop scrolling and judging; get back to focusing on what I want to see blossom and flourish in my authentic existence.  So here’s what’s real:

-Rescue had TWO successful education events yesterday.

-I spent the afternoon with a team of beautiful women who could have been anywhere in the world but chose to spend their day connecting with the community about rabbit care, fostering, volunteering and adopting.  No pretense, no selfish agendas, just pure bunny love.

-While I did that, the team at the other education event was doing the same.  Synergy.

-Some other members of our team opened a case and began working with local authorities on a situation where domestic rabbits are not being provided with appropriate shelter.  This may be a complicated one…

I found Rescue life and I chose to commit my “free time” to this cause.  Nothing awakens my soul like Rescue and Reiki do.  People may comment that I never stop, that the phone is always going, that something is always in the works.  Damn right… because this is my reality.  This is what I’m called to do and I will bask in that reality, even when it goes against conventional taste.

And I’m not here to say or even imply that the only “things” that are authentic are such great feats or have to be in line with my realm of real.  Just do what you say you’re going to do.  Just live what makes you feel fired up inside.  Stop trudging along the path that everyone else is marching—be you.  First you have to find you and accept you.  Authenticity.

Take a moment of silence to all the “Easter bunnies and chicks” who will not see their first birthdays.

Find your Tribe

Every personal development book, lecture, course or coaching session deals with relationships in some form: the relationship with have with ourselves, with our environment and with other people.  Even the supreme introverts have interaction with others in some capacity.  JD Salinger had to walk to the Post Office to collect his mail in Cornish, N.H.  Now I’m wondering why he even cared what was in the mail, if he disconnected so thoroughly from relationships with his environment and with others… Digression!

Yesterday, I co-hosted my first Make & Take party.  18 women gathered in our Great Room and spent a few hours creating.  We made roller ball essential oil blends that smell delicious and either offer relief from temporary head tension or help support happy, uplifting feelings (some chose to make both!) and lava stone and gem stone essential oil diffuser bracelets.  My friend and colleague Jill, a talented art professor at a local college, lead the jewelry making.  We also talked oils, supporting the health of our family members, and seeking out safe and natural cleaning methods—a truly fun and grown-up afternoon.

happy

I realized, with 2 exceptions, that I was able to introduce each woman as “Eddie & Bailey’s mom” or “Callie’s aunt” and so on.  My 2 exceptions are straight from the YL essential oil family.  Talk about a gathering of like-minded people, a room filled with women who love their fur babies and who are making positive choices for their health and the health of their family members.

“They” say that you become the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  “They” say, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.”  “They” say there’s guilt by association, that you are judged by the company you keep.  Caroline Manzo, in an early season of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” said, “If you hang around with garbage, you start to stink.”  Now I’ll remix that and say, “If you hang around with oilers and bunny moms, you’ll stink of positivity.”  Ok… it’s a work in progress.  Don’t embroider it on a pillow yet.

I’m inspired and invigorated by the relationships I’ve built through Rescue and now through Young Living Essential Oils.  I’m even more pumped that the worlds have merged for me.  I knew our bunny boys changed my life; they opened my journey to Rescue and to Animal Reiki.  My personal development and wellness journey brought me to Young Living and to incorporating oils into Reiki.  The paths merged and now I spend my time sharing and supporting the wellness journeys of those around me, my tribe, people by whom and alongside whom I’d gladly be judged.  Find your Tribe—just do what you love, open your heart and they will appear.  Much Love.

Together

People show you who they are.  Time after time.  If you pay attention, their truth is there.  If you choose to ignore it, that’s on you.

Yesterday, we took part in an education event at a local public library.  Two summers ago, our team, a fledging version of the current incarnation, rescued three rabbits in the dirt and grass behind this library so it’s especially important to me to take part in this event, to give back to the place who helped us save Bambi, Mickey and Storm.  We don’t bring a spokesbunny to events like these where many other groups are present, as there are often dogs and many children.  We did bring lots of smiles and positive energy.  And it paid off.

I poured on my Abundance oil before leaving the house and tossed the bottle into my bag.  As we were setting up, one of our parrot rescue colleagues remarked on how lovely I smelled—the oil was already bringing an abundance of happiness to those around us!  I anointed our donation box with the oil as well and our total at the end of the event was triple what we raised last year!  Beside monetary donations, yesterday yielded an abundance of something even more valuable for our mission and purpose.  That invaluable abundance came in the form of people.

I treasure my Rescue family, as I’ve written about here many times before.  Yesterday was a reaffirmation of that and perhaps an amplification of that.  A young woman came to the event specifically to meet us, to tell us about her dear rabbit who recently crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and to inquire about adopting a rabbit through our group, as advised by her veterinarian (the very same veterinarian whom we recommend to any and all small animal families!).  She answered every screening question with earnest, with knowledge and with a refreshing openness to learning even more about rabbit care (not every experienced owner is open to new or different ideas!).  By the grace of the Universe (and some technological assistance) we did a home visit and she will come to adopt this afternoon.  She said her home feels empty without four paws and a cotton tail.  In a few hours, it won’t feel empty any longer.

As magical as meeting and screening our newest adopter was, it was even more magical to sit amongst the dedicated team members who came out to support and to educate.  We sat, we laughed, and we ate a lot of candy.  We networked with other rescue groups and traded stories of our own furry family members.  There’s just something so affirming about spending time with like-minded, like-purposed people, people who are kind to each other, people who give without expecting anything in return.  Every single angel with whom I sat or stood yesterday reminds me that together, we are unstoppable.  Together, we hop the hop of compassion for ourselves and for others, all species and breeds.  Together, we show up, we can be counted on and we can count on each other.  That’s the kind of abundance I treasure.

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