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Keeping it Light

I was on the phone with my dear friend D the other night and she passed a comment marveling about how much television I manage to watch, all while working a full-time job, managing a non-profit, running two businesses and sleeping 8-12 hours a night.

I laughed… but it’s true. The secret is that I rarely sit and just watch TV. There’s just always a television show, radio show, podcast or music playing in the background of all I do. The background noise keeps me focused. It’s not a technique I recommend for anyone—in fact it would be incredible distracting and counterproductive for most people.

The only time it’s silent in our house is when I’m writing (like right now), when I’m reading or when I’m not home. Even the musician in the family can handle silence better than I can. I only need or even want silence when I’m focusing or channeling. Otherwise, I’ve conditioned myself to need to tune out the background. Ironic because I grew up in a house with only 2 other people (my parents) and even my dorm life in college wasn’t the rockin’ scene of an 80’s movie, set on a big campus.

In honor of keeping it light… and hey, sometimes a distraction is welcome… I’ll share with you today what’s making all the noise around here!

Music: I’m in love with the new Slipknot album. And then I’ll spin some disco classics. Is eclectic the correct term… or just random?

Radio/Podcasts: I’m an avid listener of The Jason Ellis Show on Sirius but PLEASE… it’s not for everyone and definitely not rated PG. Just skip it. If you like this blog, you probably won’t like Ellis. Podcast-wise, I cannot get enough of What’s the Tee? with RuPaul and Michelle Visage and The Tully Show.

Television: Ahhhh the guiltiest pleasure, the greatest source of distraction for humankind until the advent of multiplayer video games and social media… The Office and Schitt’s Creek are basically on a loop in this house, like Sex and the City and My So-Called Life were back in my dorm room. I’m also background-watching classic Dynasty (although it was hard to get through some of the early episodes for me; the Stephen/Blake dynamic broke my heart), The Good Place and Cougar Town. I wasn’t kidding that I keep it light. Oh… and that’s an Amazon Prime, a Netflix and a Hulu. Look at me keeping it balanced!

 

But seriously, go read a book, outside if you can. It’s so much better for you. Much love.

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Coaching Healing Purpose Teacher Life

Back to Ms. B

Summer Denise is a legend in her own mind.

I go back to work Tuesday and by Wednesday afternoon, it will feel like we never left… but for the first time in my recollection, I really feel restored, renewed and rested. Yes, it is possible to have two months off from the day job and feel like you haven’t had a break (I’m sure those with human children are nodding emphatically). For me, achieving this restored feeling is all about mindset—deciding in July that I had to slow down, committing to myself to be here now and not barreling into the next project, launch or endeavor! I spent a lot of this summer glued to the couch and more time on the yoga mat than I expected… pleasantly surprised with myself.

In the spirit of transitioning from Summer Denise to Ms. Bertolotti, I want to share with you some of the ways I keep it festive through the school year.

  • Seasons & Episodes: Yeah, it’s weird, but follow me here. You know I love a good metaphor. I count the years and days of school as seasons and episodes. This silly tradition started when I was working towards tenure, as a way to cope with the pressure. I thought of myself as a guest star on a show, probably a long-running soap opera. I had a contract for 183 episodes each season and it was my job to rock the role so well that my character would become a series regular and star. It worked. I’m entering into Season 15 this week!

 

  • It’s not a classroom; it’s a disco: There is always music playing in my classroom, just like there is always music playing in our house. In the morning before the first bell, I listen to whatever I’m in the mood for, usually something heavy. Once the din of 7:28 am sounds, every day has a theme, as follows:
    • Hair Metal Mondays
    • 80s Tuesdays
    • 90s Wednesdays
    • Guilty Pleasures Thursdays
    • Disco Fridays

I’m revamping the playlists, so please share your song suggestions. And yes, I dance in the hallways. Judge all you want… or join in the fun.

 

  • First Day Massage: I book a massage for 4 pm on the first day of classes. I started this tradition in Season 1. If I have a tough day, I know there’s relaxation coming. If I have a great day, this is the perfect cherry on top.

 

Okay, loyal readers, it’s back to my book and my lounge chair for two more days. May the spirit of Summer Denise flourish… see you in 10 months! Cheers to Season 15!

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Believe Coaching Energy Purpose Teacher Life Young Living

Eternal Summer

A teacher friend once said to me that July is like a month of Saturdays and August is like a month of Sundays. Now, that way of thinking only fits if you subscribe to the paradigm that Sundays are days that should be part relaxation and part dread for Monday and the week to come. I get it. I don’t completely relate but I get it. It’s easy to slip into the anxiety of watching the summer days dwindle off of the calendar, pressuring yourself to make the days count, having your own version of Costanza’s “Summer of George” (I can’t remember how that turned out for him, but judging by most of those Seinfeld follies, it was probably a fail and thus a poor example… but you get me).

Behold: 3 Ways to Convert your August into an Eternal Summer

  1. Get outside

Duh… sounds so basic but you know you’re not doing it enough! Depending on your climate, summer is the traditional time of beautiful weather and more sunshine. Science tells us that sunshine makes us happy! If you don’t believe science, try it for yourself. Get off of the couch. Leave the phone on the couch. Get outside. Walk around the block. Sit outside. Fine… take your phone with you and make your calls from outside. Take every chance you can to get out there and change up the same places you do your “stuff.”

If you’re objecting because of bugs or other outdoor annoyances, I have you covered. Go ahead… click this.

  1. Slow down

Stop trying to cram in so many errands, appointments, social events, family things, friend things… stop. Just stop. You know you can’t do it all in any other season—why are you putting this kind of stress on Summer You?! Make a list; then Triple D that list: Do it. Ditch it. Delegate it.

Commit to doing less so you can enjoy and be present with what you are doing. I catch myself often leaving the present to think about all of the stuff I should be, could be, need to be doing… and I miss out on so much of this precious season with that stinkin’ thinkin’!

Take one thing off of the calendar. Schedule some of those appointments for September or October (yes, schedule it now so it’s done and off of your mind—but don’t force yourself to do it all in August). And remember it’s okay to do nothing… just try to do nothing outside if you can!

  1. Do what you loved as a kid in summer!

You were a kid once. I might not have known you then, but I know you were. Close those beautiful eyes for a moment and think back to what brought you the most joy as kid in the summer. Watch those movies of Summer Little You play in your head. Let the emotions flow, if they come up. Feel the feelings of doing those treasured summertime things. Feel the warm breeze. Hear the giggles. Taste the treats.

Now flutter those gorgeous lashes open and smile. This week, or at least before August is over, recreate that beautiful memory! Maybe you can’t go to the exact place. Maybe the same people aren’t around anymore. But you absolutely can get into that spirit.

If you have human children, make them a part of it. Don’t get sad or frustrated if they don’t love whatever it is in the same way that you did as a child. Even if they aren’t into it, they will catch the spirit from you. They will, either now or in the future, appreciate the moment, the joy they see from you.

Yes… you can run through a sprinkler. I don’t care how old you are. If you don’t have a sprinkler, you better pull the car over next time you drive past sprinklers that are turned on. Toss a towel in the car today, just in case the opportunity arises.

 

Summertime vibes are a feeling, like all vibes are. Feeling, vibration, frequency is accessible to us wherever, whenever. Make August eternal… if that’s what you’d like. If you get outside, slow down and revisit at least the mindset if not the activity of something that made summer special to you in the past, you will reap the benefits of the sunny season long after the calendar changes.

Much love.

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Coaching Purpose

Adulting: Insurance?!

Adulting… you probably saw 10 memes about adulting already today. We laugh about it, sometimes lament about it… but adulting is what we are “supposed to” be doing (I write this just feet away from my guinea pigs, so at least we can say we have our own brands of adulting).

Of the many things that people feel confused about when it comes to adulting is insurance: what to get, how to get it, even what it truly is! So, my loyal readers, I present to you some insights from one of the leading insurance executives on Long Island, Ashley Smit of Borg Insurance Group. Take it away, Ashley:

Someone once asked what I did for a living and I replied I am an insurance broker, and they said they were so sorry for me. In turn I was taken back because I love what I do. The thrill of helping someone save a ton of money while securing the right coverage is a thrill for me. Or helping someone understand the complexities of insurance while purchasing their first home.

When it comes to insurance, everyone is always an expert at the price. Generally, all customers care about is getting the cheapest policy possible. However, price is not something you should base your whole decision on. You want to make sure you have the right coverage. I always recommend purchasing an umbrella policy. This is one of the most overlooked policies. This policy protects your assets. An umbrella policy provides additional liability coverage beyond your underlying home, auto, or boat policies. For example, let’s say someone trips and falls at your home and sues you for $1 million. Your homeowner’s policy most likely has a $500,000 limit. Once that is exhausted the umbrella policy steps in to provide an additional $1M in liability.

Another commonly overlooked coverage is flood insurance. Flooding is the number one natural disaster in the U.S. Everyone is in a flood zone no matter where your home is located. It just depends whether your home is in a low risk or a high-risk zone. Flood insurance is NOT covered on a homeowner’s policy. It is a separate policy. A flood policy covers damage to your building and contents from overflow of water, but also damage from heavy rainfall. For low risk zones, an average policy costs around $500 for the year.

Have you ever filed a claim without really understanding the process? While a homeowner’s policy may cover relatively minor expenses, it is really intended for catastrophic losses. So while a claim may be filed, it may not always be wise to file it. Also, it does not make sense to file a claim if the deductible is more than the cost of simply making the repair. Insurance carriers review the CLUE report (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) which keeps a record of all claims made against a property. Always call your broker first to seek their advice whether or not to put the claim in. Anytime you call the company direct, you are filing the claim.

Feel free to contact me with any questions! AshleyS@borgborg.com

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Believe Bunnies Coaching Energy Purpose

Instinct & Acceptance

My coach’s coach says, “Your spiritual DNA is perfect.” He’s talking about you. And you. And every being.

On that note, I’m thinking about instinct and acceptance.

When Tater Tot was alive, he loved to snuggle, to dill eat and to rip up the living room carpet. He would tear out the fibers one by one, leaving a neat pile of carpet adjacent to a hole, like his wild relatives must do to grass and plants. Thankfully, Tater did not ingest those fibers. Thankfully, our landlord did not charge us to replace the carpet when we moved out, although it certainly needed to be ripped up (finish Tater’s job!) and replaced.

One of his smaller projects

Our little Tater Tot did not tear holes of various shapes and sizes in our brown and tan carpet to misbehave. He wasn’t trying to ruin or even redecorate our living room. He was operating on instinct, flowing from his perfect spiritual DNA.

Occasionally frustrated and always amazed at how he would find the one place we didn’t cover with cardboard or at just how much he could dig and tear in the 15 seconds I left the room, I found acceptance at our little guy’s instinct. He was operating in the way he was programmed. I’m sure he would have preferred some herbs to tear and eat. He accepted the carpet as the best his environment would provide for him. I accepted that his instinct was perfect. Sure, we tried to recondition him with lots of toys, a dig box, blankets… but little man just needed to rip up carpet.

And so it goes.

Interestingly, when we moved to our current home, Tater Tot did not rip one fiber out of the new rug. The couch, however, became the target. He began to chew a hole in the back corner of the couch, a legacy project his brother Peanut has continued.

Legacy Project

Our companion animals are unapologetically themselves. Their design, although different from ours, is still perfect. They are driven by instinct. How many times have you ignored “your gut” when it turns out that you knew what to do all along? How many times have you changed an answer on a test, hesitated at an opportunity, sensed that you shouldn’t make a turn… then ignored that knowing, that urge, that nagging? And now you look back…

You can’t change your past decisions but you can decide today to accept your instinct as truth. Channel your inner Tater Tot… just be prepared to replace the rug.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose

Mother’s Day Tribute

Hoppy Mother’s Day! Enjoy this classic Mother’s Day story from the Believe In Bunnies archives…

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.

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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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angels Energy Purpose

My Chosen Godmother

I call her my godmother but she didn’t hold me as a baby while a priest blessed me. There’s just no better term that I’m familiar with to explain who she is to me. So, almost 10 years ago, I asked Kathy to be my godmother (with all due respect to the one my parents chose for me in 1982) and Kathy immediately said yes—makes sense, because she’d been assuming the role for a while and will be forever.

I met Kathy’s oldest son when I was in 7th grade. He was one of the cool, older boys that was friends with my temporary best friend’s older brother. We hung out in similar circles throughout junior high and high school, peripherally acquainted. After I graduated college and moved back to New York, he and I started hanging out a lot. I met his mom and his younger brother. The bond those three have… it’s hard to put words to. They are love. They are family. And they scoop you right into the family.

I’ve spent many, many hours sitting at their kitchen table. We have inside jokes that have been running for almost two decades, clipped from little moments of joy, often with cards or Scrabble tiles in our hands.

When I was betrayed by a “friend,” I ran to her. When my heart was stomped on, I leaned on her. And I know there are dozens of people who can share similar stories about Kathy. As special as she makes me feel, I’m not “special”—she cares for everyone she meets this deeply. Just don’t do wrong by one of her sons!

Last night, we sat around that white and light wood kitchen table and laughed until our bellies hurt. That’s pretty much a guarantee when we get together. Outside of my immediate blood-related family, I can’t think of any other people as loving and loyal as Kathy and her sons. I’m glad they inherited that from her. I’m grateful for all of the love she continues to pour into our connection and, of course, to the universe for sending my godmother (and her family) to me.

Who’s your Kathy? Call her/him today or connect with them in some way. Share your gratitude. Much love.

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angels Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Purpose Reiki Rescue

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.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Before

Before having two rabbits of my own, I did not consider myself an “animal person.”  You may have heard clippings from this yarn before.  Here’s some of my companion animal history…

When I was born, my parents had a rescue dog Bonzo, named after John Bonham.  I don’t remember her but I hear she was my big sister and protector.  She passed when I was maybe two or three years old.  I texted mom for a more precise date but she hasn’t answered me as of time of publication.

Shortly after Bonzo passed, Midnight, a female German Shepard puppy joined our family.  I remember her.  She knocked me over and, thankfully gently/playfully, bit my head.  I hesitate to say “bit” because she didn’t break skin or injure me physically but biting is technically what it was.  There started my fear of dogs that stayed with me for nearly three decades.  Midnight was rehomed for my safety with a colleague of my father.

My only cousin growing up was a cat named Sammy.  Sammy didn’t like me. Sammy belongs to my uncle who taught me the true responsibility of caring for an animal.  I credit this uncle for my perfect balance of compassion and no-nonsense.  His example is the foundation for what I do, for my life purpose and work.  Direct all complaints his way (pause for laughter).

Various fish, a turtle and a container of Sea Monkeys filled my younger years.  I can still see, like a short film playing in my head, when my uncle (not the same guy from the previous paragraph) was returning the Sea Monkeys to their spot on the table in the basement (I just had to bring them upstairs and show them off!) and accidentally dumped them over, the red lid of their container rocketing off and monkey-water cascading out.  Rest in Peace, Sea Monkeys.  And while we’re on the topic, what the heck are Sea Monkeys?  Pause for a Googling.

Ok then… Bonus was my longest-lived Beta Fish.  She went away to college with me and she accompanied me on many Connecticut to Long Island and back road trips. She was a cool chick.  When I met the Bunny-Daddy, I was sharing my apartment with a Beta Fish named Ham that my grandmother brought home for me from a bridal shower.  Ham was the centerpiece… really people?!

Shortly after moving in together, the Bunny-Daddy and I got Tater Tot and Peanut… the rest is history, chronicled here.

I’d say I’m an animal person now. Much Love.

 

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