So Strong

I have not underlined this much in a book since graduate school.

Bright Spirit, the spiritual book club that I co-host with Dina of Crystalicious NYC, studied Rising Strong by Brené Brown as our most recent pick.   This book quickly became a part of my soul.  I, too, struggle with vulnerability.  I was the girl who knew all of the answers in elementary school.  That girl became the young woman who never asked any questions because she didn’t want anyone to know that she didn’t know something.  That girl-turned-young-woman equated knowing and being right with being accepted and loved.  She may not have been able to do it all, but she sure knew her stuff.  And no one could peek behind that all-knowing curtain.

Rising Strong is the first of Brown’s works that I read, although I was already familiar with her through Her Royal Highness Ms. Oprah Winfrey.  I enjoyed Brown’s talks that I watched but didn’t really “get it” until I read the book.  It’s always about timing.

Here are just a few of the thousands of words I underlined…  literally picking these for you by opening to a random page and sharing.

On “reckoning with emotion,” Brown directs the reader to, “Give yourself permission to feel emotion, get curious about it, pay attention to it and practice… awkward, uncomfortable practice.”  For me, this was a clear reminder of what I teach but don’t always remember to implement myself.  We must attend to our feelings, emotions, joys and pains if we want to grow.  If we are good with sitting exactly where we are right now, then just ignore the tough stuff.  Stuff it down.  Keep busy and try not to feel.  But, when we are ready to thrive, we must examine those feelings, white, black and every stormy shade of gray, to work, heal and flourish.  That often takes help.  Remind me to ask for help when you see that I need it.

Brown writes, “…our silence about grief serves no one. We can’t heal if we can’t grieve; we can’t forgive if we can’t grieve. We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.”  When we lose someone or something, it’s like there’s this designated period we are supposed to be sad for—no longer and definitely no shorter.  At my day job, we get 5 bereavement days when a family member dies. I have a sinking suspicion that it will take me more than a week to get my head together after one of my parent’s passes.  In that same vein, if someone is back after 1 day, I’m not sitting in judgment.  I’m just hugging in support.  Face it on your own time.

Brown enforces from C.R. Snyder’s research that “Hope is not an emotion: It’s a cognitive process… Hope happens when we can set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our abilities to act.”  Hope carries varied connotations.  I’ve heard people instruct others not to hope because that’s giving an option for something not to happen—like I hope I get the promotion vs. I will get the promotion.  While I agree that we should manifest our desires with unwavering certainty, I feel like hope is a beautiful thing.  I hope for a beautiful future for everyone on the planet.  I hope everyone can find the peace that I feel right now.  It’s kind of mincing words… but that’s what we do, isn’t it?

After this… I’m jumping (albeit backwards) into Brown’s Daring Greatly.  Join me?  Much love.

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Ella and Monkey

The Catnip and Carrots waiting room is like Cheers for our rabbit rescue family.  Anytime you walk through those doors and sit on those benches, you are bound to meet someone who knows your name, even if it’s just from interaction in our incredibly supportive online community.

An afternoon in July of 2014, I sat on one of those benches.  Two women, a mother and a daughter, sat on an adjacent bench.  In their carrier was their elderly guinea pig.  From careful eavesdropping (teacher-hearing comes in handy outside of the classroom too), I learned that they take this beloved guinea pig to the vet weekly—sometimes several times in a week.  Considering that most guinea pigs don’t get any medical care, I judged this family to be super pet parents.  I was right.

The daughter looked at her phone and started to read an email to her mother.  The email was an apology for a delayed response.  I heard her mention a big rescue case in Mastic that was the excuse for the delayed response.  I realized that I wrote that email.  These are people that we are screening for adoption!

I’m not shy.  I said, “Excuse me.  That email is from me.  I’m Denise.”  They introduced themselves and we conducted the step in the screening process that is usually a phone interview, live in the waiting room.  Each answer confirmed the judgment I already made about them—these women are part of an exceptional pet family.  Home visit… adoption day… they brought their adorable Monkey Bun to “speed date” with several of our adoptable rabbits.  Monkey chose Elke on July 20, 2014.  Elke was renamed Ella.  They never bonded—it happens.  They live side-by-side in happiness now.

Ella is estimated to be around 10 years old… maybe 8… maybe 12.  With age often comes some health and mobility issues.  I was honored to visit Ella and Monkey this past week and share some Reiki with them.  In connecting with Ella’s energy, I felt a beautiful sense of patience.  Before I entered their pens, I poured several drops of Frankincense essential oil into my palms and called on our guides and angels to support and heal all who are open to the energy.  I stepped into Ella’s pen first.  She spent most of our session together in her cardboard hut.  She has a green light surrounding her metaphysically.  She “told” me that she doesn’t feel old, which put a big smile on her family’s faces in our post-session conversation.  When working on Ella’s chest area and heart chakra zone, I felt a big shift, like an obstruction began to dissolve.  She feels blocked physically so we “worked” on that through most of our session.  She “showed” me the numbers 10 and 11 and that she prays with the family, so whoever is praying or doing some spiritual work, keep it up!  Ella is working with you!

Ella

I hopped over to Monkey Bun’s pen next.  He’s much more curious than Ella is so we did more hands-on work together.  He “showed” me the number 3.  We worked to soften his heart chakra.  He “told” me that he knows he’s a little boy but he’s NOT the baby of the family!  He is solid and healthy.  His solar plexus chakra is very guarded (common in prey animals) and he “shared” a turtle shell energy with me, a hard exterior for protection.  Where Ella is blocked physically, Monkey is guarded or blocked emotionally.  They are in great balance of each other.  Although they never officially bonded, there’s a lot of love in that bunny room, just like there’s a lot of love in that entire house.

Monkey Bun

From our chance meeting in the waiting room at the vet’s office… Ella’s adopter has become one of our most dependable volunteers, which is not surprising.  They are a family of compassion and dedication.  They show that in the way they cared for their ailing guinea pig, the way they opened their home to Ella, who was a bit older when they adopted her, and the continued care every animal (and person, from what I gather) in that family receives.  It is my true honor to share Reiki with Ella and Monkey and to be around such a wonderful family.  Much love.