Believe In Bunnies

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angels Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Teacher Life

My Wings

Sharing one of my most vulnerable and treasured stories, originally published by University of Wellness.

I am unafraid to talk about my struggles, probably because I don’t view them as struggles, problems, hurdles or even speedbumps. They are just factors of or moments in my journey.

Do you perceive a hurdle in the distance and just stop running, for fear that you won’t clear it?

Yes? Ah… that’s what those wings are for.

A surface view of my journey looks like a fairy tale, the only child with adoring parents who, after nearly 50 years together, still hold hands with each other. The girl with the solid upbringing in a safe, middle-class town, who attended a private university and soon after graduation landed a high school teaching job on Long Island, NY… cue the Happily Ever After music.

But that’s just the surface. Do you ever feel like what your life looks like on the outside doesn’t match how you feel on the inside?

A deeper dive into my journey reveals bouts of depression (common) and living someone else’s dream (even more common– am I right?!).  I’ve been working with my therapist since 2005, when I was student teaching. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem at the time– I was supposed to be so happy, so satisfied with how everything was falling into place in my life!– but my spirit was feeling the crush of living someone else’s dream. Even as I write this, the anxious lump in my throat is returning, the lump I lived with for decades.

I was tired all of the time. I was overwhelmed. I was unsure about what I was doing and why I was spending every waking hour doing it. I see you nodding along as you read this.

14 years later and I’m stepping into my greatness. I made the conscious choice to find a better way.

In therapy, the great and patient E. guides me as I work through the “stuff.” Because I’ve committed consistently to doing the work on myself, I feel better than I ever dreamed was possible.

Now I have energy. Now “stuff” feels manageable (and I know what to do and where to healthily turn when it doesn’t). Now I am sure. Now I know my dream.

I found my wings– they were back there the whole time! Are you ready to find your wings?

Enter coaching– a modality to help harness and implement my gifts. Just like my T-ball coach helped me learn to swing a bat at 5 years old, just like my senior English teacher taught me how to “show, don’t tell” in my writing, coaches I work with now help me align my gifts and my dreams. They help me set a plan for success and accountability. They help me clear a path to fly.

Now that I think about it, I am living a fairy tale– but for the fairy tale to feel “right,” I had to position myself as the hero. I am not a character in someone else’s story. And just like in the fairy tales of our youth, the hero soars when she lets others, in those stories talking squirrels or fairy godmothers, in my story, coaches, help her plan, execute and follow through.

Now I coach to pay forward the invaluable gift that was granted to me. I am committed to helping others find their true happiness.

Much love.

~Denise

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Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Teacher Life

Stop. Pick One.

I woke up this morning and before both feet hit the ground, my mile-long To Do list starting scrolling in my mind. Within a minute of being awake, the overwhelm kicked in and I felt like I had just so much to do that I had to start now and not stop (probably forever). I felt like I needed to take action on 10 different things immediately. You’ve felt that, right? Maybe you’re even feeling it right now.

It wasn’t easy… but I stopped myself. I pulled the emergency break on the mind mess. I decided that, if I were to get anything done today with the excellence that each task deserves, I needed to stop and take a moment, take the time to open up my best self. Less doing, more growing. Less mania, more ease. Less overwhelm, more grace. Less how, more why.

Basically, I needed to take my own advice.

So I grabbed the iPad, popped on a Yoga with Adriene class and took my first half an hour awake for me and my practice. I guarantee that taking that 27 or so minutes this morning to open my heart and hips does not translate into me getting “nothing done” today. In fact, taking that 27 minutes translates into me approaching every task I do today with greater focus and poise, the excellence that each task deserves. Hey, if it doesn’t deserve excellence, why am I taking time to do it at all?

And another secret to squashing the overwhelming the mind mess: do one thing you’ve been avoiding or putting off. Here’s a list of suggestions, if one thing doesn’t come to mind for you on your own. Pick one and do it as soon as you’re done reading this. If you’re feeling called, share with me which you’ve picked and executed.

  • Empty your purse. Clean out the non-essentials.
  • Clean out your email inbox. Delete. Delete. Delete.
  • Unsubscribe to 5 emails that you never open anyway.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter (had to throw that in there).
  • Make that call or send that text to that one friend you’ve been missing.
  • Empty the dishwasher. If yours is already empty, come empty mine.
  • Close your eyes for 4 minutes and let your mind wander.
  • Grab a book or magazine and read for 15 minutes.
  • Is it “nice” out? Walk around the block without your phone.
  • Go get that pedicure, especially if it’s nice out.

Remember, you are just picking one. No need for more overwhelm in our days!

Much love.

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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 Coaching Purpose

Moving into Balance

I’ve been disloyal to my yoga mat. I attend classes in spurts. Maybe yesterday was the beginning of another spurt, perhaps even the beginning of a more consistent practice—that story will unfold. What I know for sure is that I went back to yoga for the first time in a month yesterday. (Pause for applause)

Even with an inconsistent practice, I shine with balance poses (disclaimer: upright balance only. I have yet to headstand or even crow… but I’ll get there). My teacher yesterday, in a class packed as January classes can get, brought us into several balance poses. I marveled in my head at the balance I was able to produce… and then I realized my “secret”: move into the poses slowly. The slower I move into the pose, the more fully I can express it and the longer I can hold it.

As someone who barrels into most tasks, projects and endeavors, there I was on my aqua blue mat, folding and unfolding slowly, balancing beyond what my mind thought my body would be able to do. I credit that to the measured approached and:

  • the guidance of a teacher
  • openness to that guidance
  • gentleness with myself
  • acceptance of whatever product or result happens.

Let’s take it off of the mat. Whatever your goals, intentions, dreams are move into them unhurriedly and deliberately and keep taking action! I wouldn’t have left Child’s Pose without action.

Get yourself a teacher, a coach, a mentor or an accountability partner. Be clear with your goals and let them guide you. Important: Find the coach that works for YOU. My coach isn’t the right one for everyone. In turn, I’m not the right coach for everyone. Whomever you choose to work with, be open to the guidance.

Allow yourself to grow and adapt. Don’t expect to be zero to headstand in one class, one quarter or maybe even one decade. Keep your practice on your mat. Keep your goals and progress tailored to you and those you are helping with your work, should that apply. And know firmly, whether you rocked a standing split, flipped it and reversed it or you hovered your toes half an inch off of the ground, your progress is beautiful. You’re only defeated if you stop trying, if you never unroll your mat. Much love.

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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 Energy Healing Purpose Young Living

Why. My Young Living Story.

Why… because I can’t not.

Ooooooooo the English teacher just rocked a double negative!

Because I don’t define myself as an English teacher. I am not my job. But society will try to force you into labeling and identifying as what you do.

That never sat right with me and, for years, I wouldn’t tell people my profession. It felt like one of those Halloween masks from the early 80s, the plastic ones with the uncomfortable, thin elastic band around the back and the barely-there cutouts for breathing. They don’t make those masks anymore… for a reason.

Like those masks, the school system feels stifling to me. The prospect of working at this job for 30+ years as is, following everyone else’s way, put a literal lump in my throat and a clawing in my stomach. Try feeling like that every day. Maybe you already do…

I needed something else, something different. But I didn’t have a clue what or how.

I could resign myself to keep at what I was doing and consequently feeling how I was feeling or I could make a change. I didn’t think I could or should change my job. I decided I could and would change myself.

I remembered how much better I felt physically and mentally when I practiced yoga after graduating from college so I found a yoga studio near our house. There, I met my acupuncturist. During our sessions, she used Young Living oils. I was feeling more and more peace with every healing I experienced.

I couldn’t take those needles home but I could take those little brown bottles with the colorful labels home. I ordered a Premium Starter Kit. I enrolled in Essential Rewards the next day. I ordered a kit for my father the next day. I was all in.

The more at peace I felt, the more energy I had, the more people began to ask what changed. There was no missing and no denying that I’d shifted.

I shared about the oils and products just like I would share about a delicious new restaurant I found or a hilarious new show I stumbled across. Some friends wanted what I had. I was in business.

From this business, I’ve found community. I found people who are authentic. I can say, without hesitation, that I am happy. Happy… a simple word for a multi-faceted concept. If I, a woman who was in physical pain from emotional conditions, could feel happy, vibrant, powerful… how could I keep that from people?

I share Young Living because it led me to feeling free, free from the pressures placed on me by a system that doesn’t serve me, from pressures that I placed upon myself to be the best to have the best and to never take off the mask of achievement. Like I mentioned earlier, those stifling plastic Halloween masks have been banned and are long-forgotten. Through the community of wellness, purpose and abundance that I found in Young Living, I learned to take off my metaphorical mask and to breathe in the real me, a real space in this world to grow and flourish. Today, my mask is off and I face the world, and myself, with authentic happiness.

I want to see you with a smile on your face that rivals the one on mine right now. Believe in your happiness.

Come with us.

You are worthy.

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angels Believe Energy Healing Purpose

Eight Arms

Half of my back is covered with an octopus tattoo. He’s reaching up at an anchor that is donned with a crown. I had the anchor and crown done in November 2011. The octopus came to life over several sessions spanning from February to August 2018. It was only today when I realized what it means to me.

When people I ask, I just mumble something about liking octopuses. My memory flashes back to the Veruca Salt album cover for Eight Arms to Hold You, the golden octopus with the crown, and the album cover (actual vinyl album that my parents had) for Jefferson Starship’s Red Octopus, the red heart with the octopus arms… I’ve been drawn to the imagery for decades.

I got the anchor and crown done as a tribute in a way. My dad bought his first boat when I was 11. He worked so damn hard for his money and having such a luxury was a big source of pride for him—a symbol of back-breaking work and commitment. The anchor for that piece of my life and the crown for me, the princess turned queen. I got a massage shortly after that tattoo healed and the massage therapist taught me about chakras, the root and the crown, as she thought my tattoo was symbolism for that. At the time I didn’t know anything about chakras. My subconscious sure did.

Last winter, when it was time to continue the tattoo journey on my back, I told my master artist to wrap an octopus around the anchor, to go as big as he wanted. I gave some color input and left the rest up to his mastery. I thought it was just thematically correct and in line with my connection to octopuses. This morning, as I sat at my nearly-clear (finally!) desk, day four of a four day weekend, ready to take on lesson plans, rescue emails, prep for Cyber Monday in my wellness business and catch up on course work for my University of Wellness certification, I got a lump in my throat and realized: I’m trying to be the octopus… but I’m six arms short.

A sneak peek

I can do it all, but I can’t do it alone. I’ve tried to go it alone, resting on adages like, “If you want something done right, do it yourself” and expecting little to nothing from others. It’s time for me to open my two arms and welcome the support that’s around me. I’ve been cracking open, just a bit here and there, to let the help in. Today, I surrender. Universe, I’m welcoming the support with open arms.

I can have the strength of eight arms, if I’m open to the help. I’ll let the big guy on my back remind me of that. Much love.

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Believe Energy Healing Purpose Reiki

Radical Trust

On Saturday, I woke up without a clenched jaw for the first time in decades. Hot, right?

Grinding one’s teeth is hereditary in the B. family. I recall my mother saying my father and I would keep her up at night, he next to her and me a flight of stairs away, grinding our teeth “in stereo.” It didn’t bother me when I was younger though.

Sometime during my first year of teaching, the teeth grinding got worse. I saw my primary care doctor, a specialist and my dentist. My dentist, whom I adore, said this behavior was all stress-related, so I asked him when it would stop. He said, “When you’re not stressed anymore.” He took a mold and had a fancy night guard made custom night guard for me (sorry to be so alluring again). I wore it maybe twice. None of the three professionals I saw suggested tackling the stress, as if the only option was to stay stressed forever. With that stress came a tightness and clenching of my jaw and the possible ruination of my teeth. But this was just the way it was, so I was led to believe. We work, we live on a busy island, so we must be stressed. Some people drink. Some people hike. I clench and bear it.

7 or 8 years ago, I started wearing the night guard more consistently. Judging by how quickly I wore through one (again, really glamorizing my existence), the grind was still in full effect, even though I don’t consciously feel as stressed as I did at the beginning of my career. Some holistic treatments offer some relief but not fully. I resigned myself to thinking that I would forever have some form of this tension, clenching, sometimes sprinkled with a festive clicking.

Night guard

Just the case… I’ll spare you the actual guard.

I receive a Reiki treatment once a month from my healer. As this month’s appointment approached, my intuition told me to text her and ask to change the appointment to a hypnotherapy session. I wasn’t sure why or even what we would be working on but I went with it. The Universe has my back. Friday after work, I arrived at Lisa’s office. We talked; we got down to it. Intuition told me to talk about the jaw pain and the teeth grinding. Lisa worked her magic. Through our session, I got to another level of understanding of myself, my habits, and my paradigms. I can barely put words to it but Friday afternoon was definitely a mark on the timeline of my life.

One thing I can share with you about my discovery through this session: I finally made the connection as to why I have a hard time counting on people. In our post-session conversation, Lisa used the phrase “radical trust.” I’m pretty sure she used in it reference to a trust I need to have in myself and in the universe, but I know that the third piece to that is having radical trust in the people around me… as long as I surround myself with “right” people. It’s all coming together.

I woke up on Saturday without jaw pain and without my tongue forced to the roof of my mouth (Check in on yours and peel it free now. Relax, breathe. You’re just reading a blog). I know that the strides I made, facilitated by my healer, freed me. It’s a step, not the whole journey, but an important step nonetheless. I will not resign myself to subconscious stress, just because that’s the way most people choose to live. I have radical trust in myself, in my work… and I’m working on having radical trust in all of you, too. Much love.

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Believe Energy Purpose

Wellness, Always.

My coach says, “You will never outperform your self-image.” Her coach says that too. He probably got that wisdom from his coach. Now, I’m passing it down to you. You will never outperform your self-image.

That maxim does not just apply to professional success; it applies to how you feel on a daily basis.

A colleague walked into my classroom on Thursday morning and said, “Stay away from ____ today. She’s sick, had a 102* fever yesterday.” Without blinking I said, “That’s okay. I don’t get sick.” Her response, “I’m not surprised that you don’t get sick.”

Roll your eyes. Feel annoyed. That’s a typical reaction from people when I affirm with confidence that I don’t get sick. (This colleague did not react that way, hence why she gets to hang around. Positive vibes only.) I absolutely acknowledge that there are thousands of circumstances and possibly millions of people who aren’t able to “not get sick” and I do not mean to offend or alienate anyone. I’m talking to the Average Janes today.

Follow me here, Average Janes, and you’ll be using your “sick days” as restorative mental health days.

  1. Believe in your wellness, in positive terms.

I should even kick the word sick out of this conversation. Keep the affirmation “I feel well, always.” Repeat it, believe it, pin it to your vision board. If you allow your mind to worry about getting sick, the worry can wear down defenses.

  1. Sleep. Sleep some more.

The body wants to be in balance. The body wants to heal and be vibrant. Sleep is when the restoration and healing take place. If you tell yourself “I can’t sleep,” your wish will be fulfilled. The subconscious mind cannot reject any thought or idea—it is a yes for everything. So, as you curl up under the blankets tonight, believe in your ability to rest.

  1. Get your food right.

If you put soap in your car’s gas tank, it’s not going to run. You know this. And you don’t do this. Then why, oh why, do you eat food that doesn’t make you feel great and run well?! Do you like your car better than you like yourself? I eat a plant-based diet but I totally acknowledge that it’s not right for everyone (allegedly it can be and the planet would benefit as well but that’s another conversation). If you feel your absolute best every time you eat ____ and your absolute worst every time you eat ____, eat more of the former and less of the latter. It can be that simple.

  1. Feed your spirit with positivity.

Now, many of us can’t or don’t choose to spend our days running through sun-kissed meadows with butterflies and baby goats… but we can replicate those feelings (or whatever lights you up) every single day. Maybe not in every single moment but definitely every day. If you don’t believe me, scroll back to the opening lines of this story. If you don’t think you can feel happy, you won’t. And if you don’t feel well spiritually, physically will follow suit. Read, watch and listen to things that make you feel good. Get comfortable with silence. Surround yourself with people who make you feel comfortable. You know when it feels right. Be bold enough to shut it off and walk away when it feels wrong.

And that, my readers, is how I stay well… and my daily NingXia Red too. Much Love.

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Believe Bunnies Energy Purpose

Hungry?

I call Peanut my son but it’s no secret that we aren’t the same species. In being different species, we have different needs. His diet should be 80% grass hay; mine should be 0% hay. He should have unlimited access to hay. I also have unlimited access to hay, but it’s mostly in my shoes or tousled in my hair.

We both drink lots of water. His treats are an occasional bite of apple, banana or a “doodle,” our code word for a particular type of food pellet that is sweeter than most. You can equate it to a Lucky Charms type cereal as opposed to, say, Grape Nuts. He gets very few “doodles.” My treats vary and are often excessive in quantity.

If he misses a meal, we have a massive emergency on our hands. If I miss a meal, I’ll be just fine.

Thankfully, and despite his excessive fur and dwarf stature, Peanut has only gone into stasis once in 7 years. Knock on every available hard surface…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own food consumption lately. It’s been a struggle for most of my life—I don’t know when to stop, just as Peanut would likely feel if we left him alone with the jar of “doodles.”

Peanut's jar of Doodles

Our relationship to food as a culture is interesting… How often do we use food to cope? To celebrate? To mask?

Are you hungry or are you eating just because it’s “lunchtime”? What are you feeding yourself? Maybe if you get sick, bloated, uncomfortable every time you eat _____, it’s time to give it up? Replace it with something that makes you energized? Just a thought…

And speaking of feeding… what are you feeding your mind and soul with? If things you are consuming on television or social media make you feel anxious, angry or sad consistently, it just might be time to change the channel or close the app. If you’re like me, you may not even realize the feelings that the content you are consuming stirs in you. Take today to be conscious of it. It’s absolutely okay, and sometimes necessary, to indulge. But why waste time with food, content, people, anything that doesn’t make you feel and perform your best?

Peanut, catching up on RHOC

It’s okay to indulge sometimes!

Here’s your homework: Contemplate and journal about the following questions.

What are you hungry for? And why are you hungry for that?

Pay attention to the “food noise” and how what you are consuming, on and off the plate, is making you feel. Reach for the greatest feeling. It’s always possible.

And never forget to eat your hay. Much love.

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