Believe In Bunnies

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

We Won’t Stop

Around this time every year, I publish a story that I wrote in 2016… a reminder to some, new knowledge to others, about why Rescue exists.

We won’t stop until they are all safe and loved.

Found but still lost

I am the initial point of contact when someone emails information@longislandrabbitrescue.org.  This month, the number of “finder” emails we have received is more than double the number we receive in a typical month. We define a “finder” as someone who has either spotted a stray domestic rabbit or has rescued an abandoned domestic rabbit and is reaching out to our group for resources and recourses.  I have typed the following sentences an alarming number of times this month: “We don’t have a shelter facility; all of our rabbits are fostered in private homes. If you or someone you know can provide an indoor foster home, we can…”  And it’s not even Easter yet.

We get at least a hundred emails to the aforementioned address per month—only three times in my almost three years of being at the email helm has someone reached out because their rabbit had actually gone missing. So I can safely conclude that these “found” rabbits are abandoned, dumped, neglected.

Abandonment happens one of two ways, from my perspective.  There are the scarily misinformed, who think their rabbit, who no longer serves a purpose in their family, will survive in the woods or in a park because other rabbits live in the wild.  Yeah… those are wild rabbits.  Not domestic rabbits.  Domestic rabbits will not survive and will face the harsh elements of the seasons and starvation, and predators.  A horrible fate.

Then, there are the heartless, who just don’t care, who need this “thing” out of their house.  Sometimes these people try to seek help before abandoning their rabbit, but most town shelters aren’t equipped to handle rabbits and most rescue groups are overloaded, no matter the animal on which they focus.  For these, about whom “careless” is the nicest word I can muster, the living being they once chose to care for has passed his/her expiration date and must be tossed out.  Just a note—if caught abandoning an animal, one faces $1,000 fine and other legal consequences.  If you see something, take pictures. Send them to me.  I’ll turn them in for you.  I’m not shy.

We need:

  • Stores and breeders to stop selling rabbits.
  • People to make more informed decisions before adding any living being into their families.
  • Foster homes, donations and volunteers to save the abandoned animals.
  • You to speak up, if you know someone has dumped an animal.
  • Compassion for all things living.

As a rescue group, our resources are limited but trust that we use them to their maximum potential!  Thank you for being one of our resources.  Spread the reality about rabbits as pets—10-12 year commitment, specialized veterinary care, bunny-proofing (As I hear my chief destruction worker bunny Tater Tot tearing in to what I hope is his cardboard tunnel in the next room…).  As awareness is heightened, I hope there are far fewer rabbits out there to save.  But for now, many rabbits are found but still lost, as the number abandoned far surpasses the number of foster homes and adopters.

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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 Energy Healing meditation

She’s In There

For years, I’ve heard great things about psychic medium Paul Saladino. Yesterday, I had the honor of attending his Inner Child workshop. So. Darn. Good.

Paul started the workshop asking us to rate our childhood happiness and to assign it a color. He talked us through the different numbers and colors, “translating” numerology to inner child work and connecting the colors as symbols (the English teacher in me swoons).

I was able to pick a number right away… but oddly, the color was eluding me.

Paul talked to us about emotional ages and how blocked energies create illness. He encouraged us to be playful and nurture out inner child. How often do we get caught up in the obligations and routines, forgetting to play, even when we have little people asking us to play with them? Loosen up. Step out of the realm of acceptance.

Paul talked us through visualizing and connecting to our inner child. He shared about fears that we carry into adulthood and their origins in our childhood. He reminded us that what you had as a child will follow you your whole life until you do the work to release it. And that’s what we were there to do, or at least start doing.  Time to recognize and embrace the inner child.

Paul guided us through a meditation. When it was over, I grabbed my notebook and wrote, “I no longer seek acceptance from people who do not reciprocate love. I share love and friendship with those who align with my light. I surround myself with love.” I’m breaking the pattern. Growing up with so much unconditional love… I labeled my childhood at home a 10 in the beginning of the workshop (Paul said 10s are pretty much impossible, and I get that). Growing up in a 10 family made me expect 10s everywhere… and I sure didn’t get that outside of the happy little family unit. I’m working now to heal her disappointment.

I rely on being in control in most situations. When I’m in control, I set the number. The last thing I wrote in my notebook yesterday is a paraphrase of something Paul said toward the end of our 2 hours together: Control is often a deterrent to vulnerability.

Helen Keller wrote, “A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” Taking part in workshops like I did yesterday helps me do just that. I am grateful for people like Paul who share their gifts and wisdom and for Bella who encouraged me to join her there.

Little Denise… you’re in there. And I’m working to nurture you as much as you deserve… and you deserve it all. Much love.

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Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Rescue Teacher Life

Mr. Denise

Get ready for one of the most ridiculous anecdotes I’ve ever shared with you.

You know how there’s always one kid who accidentally calls the teacher “mom” and then gets teased about it for at least the rest of the school year? In 14 years of teaching, I’ve never been called mom. But about 6 or 7 times, I’ve accidentally been called “dad” (and once this year “King” but that was just cute). The second day of school this year, a senior, whom I taught when he was a freshman and a sophomore, passed me in the hallway and said, “Hi dad.” He then stopped, walked back a few steps and said, “I just called you dad.” To that I replied, “Yes, it happens” and we both went about our days.

From that encounter, I started thinking about these verbal slips as more than just a misspoken word.

I am a cisgender female. I wear high heels every day (except on Pajama Day when I don my work slippers). I wear makeup. I have long, layered hair. I don’t have the most soprano of voices but I’ve never been mistaken for a man on the phone. So… what gives?

It’s energy.

In a class, one of my mentors Kerissa Kuis, founder of the University of Wellness, taught us a bit about feminine and masculine energies. As the lesson unfolded, I was immediately reminded of the anecdote I opened with. As much as I look, sound and identify feminine, my masculine energies are overpowering. I lead with my masculine, the assertive, the dominant, because that’s what’s keeps me safe and successful. It’s not a conscious choice, but bringing in the feminine and balancing the two needs to be.

It’s yin and yang, but the classic black and white symbol is balanced… and I’m not yet.

There are benefits to my energies as they are currently. I can handle the toughest animal rescue situations with discernment and detach from the emotional aspect. I can put these personal stories out to the world without (too much) trepidation of judgment. My current energetic state is goal-oriented and gets stuff done.

In doing a little research before writing today, I found a great article, appropriately titled “Balancing Your Feminine and Masculine Energies” by Deganit Nuur. If you know me, you’ll read the Greater Yang section, nodding, thinking, “This is so Denise.” I love reading that a way to balance for my energy type is to delegate. I’ve been doing more delegating in my Rescue and business endeavors and I feel great… now that I’ve surrounded myself with incredibly passionate and capable people.

While I have gel French nails and Hello Kitty merch, I might get called dad tomorrow. And I’m not mad at that. My dad is awesome.

In effort to bring some balance in, I’m reading Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell. Drop me a comment or an email about what you do to bring balance… Much love.

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Believe Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Goal-Getter

I met Jill Velasco several years ago through Rabbit Rescue. She and her husband are two of the most giving, dedicated volunteers on the team.

I treasure my friendship with Jill. She’s creative, giving, smart…

We are in a book club together. Her art hangs on my wall. Her words about goals and authenticity that I’m sharing below are just magic. Thank you for writing for us Jill!

As many of our friends know, my husband and I are big fans of the TV series, “The Office.”  I’ve re-watched this one show many times but the other night, one part stood out to me.  Having a Graphic Design background myself, it is fairly often that I am compared to Pam Beasley, the Dunder Mifflin receptionist.  In this one particular episode from season 2, the women in the office are invited to partake in a Women in the Workplace meeting. It’s in this meeting that Pam is provided with information on a program offered by her company to take graphic design training courses in New York and fulfill a dream of hers.  Filled with excitement at this opportunity, Pam is suddenly deflated and discouraged to pursue this by her then-fiancé, Roy.  It was what her officemate and friend, Jim said to her at the end of the episode when he hears of this sudden change of heart that hit me.  “You gotta take a chance on something, sometime…”

Regardless of how excited Pam was at this prospect, she let someone else decide her path and choices, making her talk herself out of an opportunity due to the negative thinking that it may never lead to anything or it being impractical.  While we may not all be in Pam’s shoes with a fiancé like Roy, how many of us have talked ourselves out of doing or working towards something we really desire?  Now don’t get me wrong. There is no such thing as a “sure thing,” not every idea will be a great one and more than likely you’ll not strike it rich overnight. But, if you have something in your heart that means the world to you, isn’t it at least worth a chance at exploring?  If you set out a plan and decide on the path that you need to take to get you there, while putting in the work necessary to see it through, it could be more realistic than you think.  There are always going to be hurdles, people who may not believe in you, financial and time constraints but you never know unless you try.  Surround yourself with those who cheer you on and support your goals, walking beside you when things are tough while learning to separate yourself from those who just wish to discourage you and keep you down.  We all only get one chance in life and no one knows exactly how much time they have or where they are in line.  Why should we always keep waiting for the “right time” to come around?  There is no better time or investment spent than on yourself in pursuit of your dreams.

 

Jill Velasco is an Artist and Educator specializing in graphic design and colored pencil portraits and botanicals.  To see more of her artwork and writing, visit jillvelasco.com or follow “Jill Velasco Art” on Facebook and Instagram.

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Believe Coaching Teacher Life

Power & Respect

I’ve nicknamed the school at which I teach “Happy High School,” not to be derisive—it’s truly a happy little place. I’ve been there 11 years. On average there is one fight a year, sometimes in the cafeteria, sometimes in the hallway. Just a one-on-one exchange, not some sort of organized rumble. That one fight usually isn’t so bad and then peace resumes for the rest of the year at Happy High School.

Last year’s fight was a rough one in the standards of our typical altercations. It took place in the cafeteria. The antagonist, a freshman in one of my classes at the time, was suspended for several weeks. Quiet, grew up in a different place, likely not vibing with the ways of Happy High School. We didn’t connect much because the course in which he was enrolled with me was only a quarter long, just 10 weeks, and he was home-bound for a chunk of our time together.

This school year, our same antagonist got into another particularly brutal fight in the hallway. I’m going to call him M from here on because calling him an antagonist, although he technically threw the first punch (and several dozen more), feels like a label he doesn’t deserve. The altercation took place in the English wing (my English classroom is one of the few that is not located in that wing). An English teacher broke up the fight. She’s braver than I am when it comes to things like this.

Both M and his opponent, sophomores now, were suspended from school for 6 weeks. When students are suspended for more than a handful of days, they receive homebound instruction—either their main subject teacher or a tutor from an agency our district hires meets them at the public library for 2 hours per subject each week. M’s English teacher couldn’t take the job, as she works a second job in the evenings. None of the agency tutors were able to work with M either. The boss asked if I would be able to take on the hours. Although the thought of adding another two hours of work into my slammed schedule caused me to hesitate, I said yes.

Our sessions at the local public library were quiet. M did his work with skill and focus. Of course, the life coach in me comes out sometimes… so during our second session, I asked M who his best friend is. His response: “I don’t have friends here.” He said it very matter-of-fact, like he didn’t want friends in this corny little town. I replied that he “could have fooled me,” as he’s often flocked with other boys as they travel from class to class. But I understood him—he doesn’t feel like he belongs. I dropped the conversation right there, got back to the work his teacher assigned.

If only M knew that he had a lot more in common with his colleagues at Happy High School, that so many feel like they don’t belong for various reasons… some just teenage worry and some with more depth.

During our last session, while M was completing some work assigned by his teacher, I scribbled down something I wanted to tell him. At the close of our session, I collected the work to submit to his teacher and took a deep breath. Then I said some version of what I had written down:

When you remember that the only respect you need is your own, then you’ll have all the power you need.

I ripped that scribbled section off of the manila folder, because I knew I’d share this with you. M doesn’t have to fight anymore to prove he deserves respect. And you, my dear ones, don’t need to seek approval or validation from anyone or anything outside of yourself. Respect yourself, empower yourself and there you will find your truth, your happiness.

And if you need help getting started, I’m here for you. 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 Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Year End 2018

Our little Rescue group closed 2017 with 54 adoptions. If that wasn’t a record for us, it was close for sure. The record-keeper, the scribe, the organizer… I excel in my self-appointed roles. I set the 2018 adoption goal to 55, 2017’s accomplishments plus one.

We hit 55 in mid-June.

Long exhale… and now what? On July 2nd, I set our new 2018 goal to 79. I picked that because 4 adoptions per month is a sustainable, manageable expectation.

I sit here, less than 2 days left in 2018. We are at 88 adoptions. 88. Eighty-Eight. Wild…

Long Island Rabbit Rescue Class of 2018.jpg

We accomplished such an incredible feat because of one word: Trust.

Trust from our leadership to empower those volunteers who have stepped up into leadership roles themselves. Trust in the team. Trust from me (finally!) to delegate and watch others shine. Trust from the abandoned, abused and neglected rabbits who allow us the honor of rescuing and caring for them.

Radical honesty: I, like many of you, have been let down by people in my past who have said they were going to do things that they just didn’t do. Maybe they intended to but a limitation or limiting belief got in the way. Maybe they were giving a lot of talk to placate me. Whatever the reason, past disappointments created a paradigm for me that I have to do everything on my own, that no one can help me, that no one will show up for me or the things that mean a lot to me.

This year, I’ve started to trust more and I have no doubt that my new-found trust is rooted in the support from our Rescue team. I’ve watched dozens of people step up selflessly, doing not only what they said they would do but beyond. We are soaring because we have each other. As we soar, we save more lives and complete more families than ever before.

In Angel Numbers 101, 88 is described as “a very auspicious and favorable sign… actions, prayers, visualizations, and manifestation work have resulted in a large inflow of abundance. Open your arms and receive!” I think our Rescue group has done just that in 2018.

As we look into the future, I’m inclined to say that I don’t know how we are going to top 88… but I don’t need to know how. I just need to know why. Why we rescue is so strong that the how figures itself out on an even bigger scale than we could have imagined.

Look out for our newly-updated Rescue website in 2019! I trust that you’ll love it.

 

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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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