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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Even More from Masterclass

I’m glad I decided to break up these entries as it forces me to stop spinning and to bust out my nearly 40 pages of Masterclass notes… revisit the magic, with purpose.

Feelings… how often do we find ourselves forcing our feelings down or trying to make our feelings fit into some conventional box?  To paraphrase Gabby, have no agenda of what you’re supposed to be feeling.  Let it flow.  You don’t have to feel (or not feel) anything or experience life with the feelings and reactions that are thrust upon you by societal perceptions and “norms.”  Feel what you want!  Feel what is speaking to you, what is speaking from you.

I hear of more and more people identifying as empaths.  I am not one of them.  I, in fact, have a strong shut-off valve.  It comes naturally to me.  If I could box it up and sell it, I would.  Gabby talked about shifting toward compassion rather than empathy so we can heal, serve and not take on other’s energy.  My Rescue family, please print out the preceding sentence and tape it to your wall.  Read it every day.  Revisit it before opening your Rescue email, our volunteer FB group or going out on Rescue calls.  Compassion allows us to feel, heal and serve without the crushing moments that sometimes come with empathy.

On the first evening of Masterclass, Gabby urged us to write our stories and to call on our stories as our expertise and our wisdom.  Reading this line in my notebook is resonating strongly with me today, three-fold.  First, because I’m writing to you now.  Second, in business, we encourage each other to write our stories, to share why we use our products, the magic that these little brown bottles have brought into our lives in the areas of wellness, abundance and purpose.  People often hesitate to write or share their stories because they feel silly about it, they lack confidence in their writing or they don’t think anyone wants to hear their stories.  Culture and community is built on stories!  Write them, draw them, rap them—something!  Share your story; be proud of your journey.

Oh, and third… our Rescue newsletter would not exist without stories from our bunny families and volunteers.  Deadline for the next issue is rapidly approaching and I’ve been gently begging for stories.  Remember, sharing our stories will help save more rabbits and will continue to spread our mission.

The last line of the page of notes I’m reading and reliving says, “Lots of little right actions.”  Isn’t that what our journeys are?  Lots of little actions… some right, some wrong in the moment that eventually lead us to right.  Right being joy or purpose or learning or love.  The next page of my notes starts with me, my stream of consciousness flowing, “I feel perfect in this moment.”  And I do.  Much love.

Magnify

Masterclass

Where do I even begin?  Maybe this will be a 12-part miniseries…

I am a certified Spirit Junkie.  I completed the level one Spirit Junkie Masterclass training with Gabrielle Bernstein.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday surrounded with like-minded, amazing women and men.  On Sunday during the lunch break, I texted one of my dearest friends to tell her that although I was ready to come home, I never wanted to leave how I was feeling, never wanted to leave the place my heart, soul, spirit and mind were in.  Talk about pure bliss…

Masterclass cert

So I’ll grace you with some of the highlights from my 37 pages of notes.  Forgive me if some of my words and some of the speakers’ words blend together.  I tried to paraphrase and quote with accuracy, as my formal training dictates but in the flow of the weekend, some elements mushed together.  And believe that I feel a shift for which words will do no justice.

In her opening talk, Gabby circled around humility, love and transformation.  She, in certain terms, told us all that we have to do this work and must step in fully. She prompted us to lean into appreciation when we see ourselves comparing our journeys, our experiences and our concepts with those of others.  Powerfully and frequently throughout the weekend, Gabby urged us to be unapologetic about what we’re here to do.

Proudly, I introduced myself as an animal Reiki practitioner and rescuer to my new-found sisters—I didn’t hide behind the day job (but shout out to the Spirit Junkie who described herself on mic as a spiritual teacher disguised as a school teacher… because I’m so using that line!).  I’m fully stepping in.

And as I sit here, I realize that it is time to fully step out.  I am tired.  So there’s just a taste, a teaser of sorts, just the opening chapter… stay tuned for the next installment.  Much love.

The Business of Bonding

Alternate title: Lies My Rabbits Told Me

How do you best admit struggle when you’re the leader?  How do you exhale and admit, “It’s getting tough for us over here!” when you’re the one people turn to when the stuff gets tough for them?

Confession: bonding got tough this week, out of seemingly nowhere (but not actually nowhere when I stopped to think about it).  Quick catch-up for those of you who haven’t tuned in before: lived side-by-side for 5 years, moved to a new home one month ago, started official bonding the day we moved, all was going very well.  Then, I guess middle of this past week, the little bits of circling or chasing that would happen occasionally but diffuse quickly and on their own started to pop off into near-fights or actual fights.  And I couldn’t tell anyone, besides the Bunny-daddy of course.  I’m the one who gives bonding advice or at least connects you to the people who can give you the best advice—how could I admit that the relationship-building took a turn for the tough in my own living room?

Drop the ego.  Get it together.  But in the thick of it all, I wasn’t paying attention fully.  I wasn’t using my “toolbox” of mindfulness and personal development that I teach about!  If I was, I would have realized that Tater stopped grooming Peanut, a loving and lengthy ritual that Peanut began to expect at the beginning of and periodically throughout the exercise time/bonding sessions.  Of late, Peanut had even begun to reciprocate the grooming—it was a freakin’ miracle in this house.  Maybe that milestone distracted me.  I can see clearly now that last Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever this mayhem started, that the lack of the grooming ritual was causing the conflicts.  But I wasn’t fully present.  I was coasting on last Sunday’s amazing 14+ hour bonding session.  I was coasting on the Nothing In The World That I Can’t Do mentality that all too often leaves me with blinders on to the indicators of change or of changing needs.  I was getting ready for bestie to visit, I was getting ready for a holiday that I celebrate for tradition, I was still trying to unpack and settle, all while cruising through bonding.

The realization of the root of the issue came when I finally sat with the bunnies and was fully present.  I sat with the intention to sit there, not with the intention to make sure they were ok then throw in laundry, wash dishes, finish Christmas cards, unpack a box, answer Rescue emails, etc., etc., etc… it was ONLY when I sat there with the intention of being there and there only, that I realized the grooming had stopped, thus the course of their relationship-building shifted.  Duh.  But in running the house, one day job, two small businesses, one non-profit organization and a beautiful family group, I let my true presence be absent.  I really thought they were good, that they were bonded!  Look at how they were behaving!  Yes, I had been pouring on the Stress Away when the fights started—now I knew what else I needed to add.

So, this morning, after bestie left, I dripped Peace & Calming into the diffuser, I sprayed myself and the living room with White Angelica, I put Valor II over my heart and some drops of Surrender and Highest Potential in my hands.  Yes, I know, one drop of one oil would have been enough but in typical B-fashion I had to go over the top to ensure success.  Being fully present, I sat with the boys for 30ish minutes this morning.  There were some scuffles, but I get it now.  And when I’m fully present, the sessions may be shorter but they are more purposeful.  I tell my colleagues in business and Rescue and my learners at the day job that my success comes from my laser-sharp focus.  And here I was, not using it, one of my greatest tools.

Lies my rabbits told me—more like lies I tell myself!  I let their progress delude me.  I let it fuel my tendency to take on too much at once.  Now, my options are clear: I am where I am, fully present or I am shut off.  I cannot ensure their progress (or safety, for that matter) while simultaneously working on three other things.  Or one other thing.  See how even my diction reveals the pressure I put on myself… get it together.

I’ve often toyed with idea of having “Be Here Now” tattooed on my wrist.  I think I’ve hesitated because it rocks my Type-A intense achiever personality to admit that I need such a reminder, especially for something that seems so basic.  Also, I need to donate blood again before I get my text tattoo.  But anyway, the lesson here: Bonding is a business.  And just like one of my mentors-in-my-head Bethenny Frankel (love her or hate her, I don’t care!) says, “Everything is your business” and when you treat every task you take on like it’s your business, the care cultivated and the success sustained is remarkable.

Be here now.  Do one thing at a time.  Pay attention on purpose to what’s going on in front of your face and in your heart.  Much love.

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Budgie

Budgie probably doesn’t remember it, but he’s the first LIRRG rabbit I ever met.  It was February 2012.  Budgie and his mom and his aunt were representing LIRRG at a local Petco for an education event.  Bunny-daddy and I had just brought our boys into our home a month and a half prior.  (We found out that a local rescue existed after that… but we’ve more than made up for it since!  When you know better, you do better.)  I went to Petco with my mom and the uncles to meet the Rescue people.  We met Budgie there that day and I exchanged contact information with Budgie’s mom, hoping to find out more about volunteering.  And the rest is history-ish.

I visited Budgie this week to share some Reiki and check in with some out-of-his-ordinary behavior that his mom is concerned about.  I’ve treated him and his brother Snoopy before.  I started my session with a drop of lavender oil on my third-eye chakra and 3 drops of T-Away (the Animal Scents equivalent to Stress Away) in my palms.  I don’t typically put the oils directly on my bunny-clients; I rub the oils between my palms and do hands-on treatments, sharing the frequency of the oils.

I started Budgie’s treatment from outside of his pen, giving him some time to acclimate and invite me in.  I soon joined him on his play rug and worked hands-on for the majority of our session.  I connected strongly with his solar plexus chakra and the desire to assert power… which aligns well with the behaviors his mom is concerned about.  I sent lots of calming and peace to Budgie there, reassuring him that his power in this realm is recognized and strong.

He licked my right hand about 5 or 6 times during his treatment, each time in a series of 8 licks and the final time, 16 licks.  In our discussion after the treatment, I asked Budgie’s mom if the number 8 has any significance to her.  Nothing jumped out at her—but we did talk about 8 as the infinite energies and love.  We rounded out our treatment with an exchange of loving energies and I focused my Reiki on reassuring Budgie of his strength and power in his loving family.  All in all, Budgie thinks he’s the boss… and I’m not arguing with that face!

Much gratitude to Budgie’s mom for inviting me to share my love and light with her sweet boys.