Believe In Bunnies

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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 Purpose

Splash On…

On Long Island, there’s a water park called Splish Splash. It opened in 1991. It’s way out east. You can see the tallest slides from the highway as you drive by. During elementary school years, we went to Splish Splash on field trips through the Summer Recreation program, a day camp through our school district. Bust through those gates, toss your stuff in a locker, don those less-than-stylish water shoes and run through concrete paths to find the shortest lines, the fastest ways to hit the water.

I’ve never considered myself a thrill-seeker. I’m the safe one, the organizer, the monitor. I’ll hold your wallet while you’re on the ride. As bold as I seem in communication, I’m equally conservative in physical challenges. Even 9-year-old Denise had her limits. I stuck to the smaller rides and, of course, the Lazy River.

In the mid-2000s, I revisited Splish Splash. I was hanging with a group of people who made the pilgrimage to the water park as a summer tradition. I tagged along. The park was bigger than my last visit, more attractions, bigger, faster rides, longer lines. 26-year-old Denise was even more reticent to climb the wooden stairs and rocket down a plastic slide than 9-year-old Denise was… but this group of friends was not letting me get away with hanging by the fences, waiting for them to hit the pool at the end of the ride.

Every single step up the stairs of every single ride was mental torture for me. I didn’t want to do it. I was scared, plain and simple. I was a bit more confident for the rides with the tubes than for the ones where it was skin on slide but it was a struggle to get me on any line for any ride. Yet this group was a relentless bunch. Thinking back, I can feel the anxiety that rose with each rising step of those long lines (the wait didn’t help!). I wanted to turn around and head back down every time. They wouldn’t let me.

I screamed in terror for every twist down and around the hard-plastic slides. At the end of each ride, we rocketed into a pool of blue water (ew… don’t even think about it). Without fail, as we waded out of the pools, I said, “Can we go again?!” I loved it. But, next new ride, same mental pattern.

That day, I went on every ride, except the one you can see from the highway. I have my boundaries. And ten years later, as I learn about terror barriers from my coach and my coach’s coach, I realize that each attraction at Splish Splash was a literal terror barrier for me. With coercion (from people who are lovely in their own right but I don’t associate with anymore), I blasted through each terror barrier that day. I was scared, I was anxious but I was exhilarated and empowered at the end every time.

So I’m channeling that bravery as I step into my light. Rather than hold everyone else’s stuff while they climb the stairs and take the adventures, I’m stepping up too, this time with myself as coercer. If I could hit the pool and want to go on every ride again, I can step up and share my work without fear. No more playing small—we have big work to do. 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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angels Believe Energy Healing Purpose

Two Years Gone

On this, the eve of the two year anniversary of my dear friend’s passing, I’m re-posting the story I wrote about her, about us, the day after she left this mortal coil.

Before you read this, please call or text that one person you’ve been meaning to reach out to. Take that time. Even if it’s been a while and you think it will be awkward, use me as an excuse– tell them Denise, your favorite blogger, told you to call.

Then, come back and read this.

Goodbye, dear friend.

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angels Believe Energy Purpose

Vortex of Appreciation

Sunday morning.  I’ve been out as a morning person for quite some time now.  Even the word morning sends a tingle through me.  Know thyself and embrace those strengths.

Just before these manicured fingers began to dance across the keyboard, I was listening to a podcast recorded by my teacher Gabrielle Bernstein, available through her Miracle Membership program.  The podcast was on in the background as I was organizing some of the piles of work on my desk and my conscious mind heard my teacher say the phrase “vortex of appreciation.”  I put down the pile, paused the podcast and began writing to you.  As per usual, these love letters come from divine inspiration—rarely do I have a plan.

Now, I have an idea for you.  Close those beautiful eyes.  Visualize yourself in a cup, a beautiful container large enough for you to feel comfortable and cozy enough for you to feel safe… surrounding you, cushioning you, pouring all over you are the things you love and appreciate… the people, places, things and ideas for which you feel gratitude… the elements of your day that light you up.  Sit there.  Soak it in.  Splash around in it.  Pick it up and toss it like some glittery confetti.  Feel the appreciation surrounding you.  Bask in it.

Flutter those beautiful eyes back open.  Do you feel that?  That glow of everything you love all around you?  You can access that feeling anytime and anywhere.  It is within you.

What’s in my cup?  (And no, I don’t know where the cup idea came from.  I heard Gabby say “vortex of appreciation” and I got a visual of myself in what I can best describe as a stemless wine glass.  We just roll with these things).  My cup overfloweth with you, dear readers, with my furbabies, with my family and my famOILy, with abundance, with mornings and sunshine, with beautiful things.  If your cup feels empty or if it has sprung a leak, I’m down to pour some of mine into yours or you can even dive into my vortex— plenty of space in my cup for you.  Plenty of gratitude to share.

So take a moment to feel it, emotionalize with the vortex of appreciation.  And anytime today you feel yourself slipping out of appreciation and gratitude, know that you can visualize and dive back in.  Some days, I stay there with ease and other days I have to dive back in many, many times.  Big smiles.  Much love.

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Believe Energy Purpose

I’m Telling

I’m telling on myself today.  A friend who is relatively new to the DB Fam called me yesterday.  For every ounce Out There, Open and Tell It Like It Is that I am, she is Reserved, Private and Keep It to Yourself in counterbalance.  I take our new-found friendship not only as a treasure but as lessons for me to learn to protect and preserve myself and my energies.

While we were on the phone, New Friend asked me a question about someone we both know.  Not a gossipy question or even a judgmental question—just a question.  And there I went, shady as all get out in my answer.  The words felt icky coming out of my mouth… yet there they tumbled.

Our conversation ended shortly after.  I felt unsettled with myself, as I spoke from a place of spiritual misalignment.  There was nothing in my response that was constructive, helpful or even that answered her originally question.  I caught myself falling off of the Judgment Detox wagon.  Old me would have relished in the negativity.  Current me corrected course with humility.

I texted New Friend and said, “I feel like I was super negative. I apologize.”  I then answered her original question with a more appropriate, yet still honest answer (all of this personal development has not taken away my honesty!).  I started to justify and judge myself in reaction.  I even wrote, “Insecure low moment.”  All of my Spiritual Running Buddies who are reading this are yelling at the screen for me to witness my judgment without judgment.  I hear you.

It’s a work in progress.  It’s a practice.  I’m proud of myself for sharing the missteps with you, dear readers.  I teach this work.  I live this work.  And foundationally, I do this work… so it’s not a perfect dance for me where I slay every step.  It might not ever be.  I decided to tell on myself to you today because I grow when I share the journey and because I’m so grateful for the lessons that New Friend imparts on me through her kindness and the way she protects her own energy with ease.  Much love.

JD humility

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Big Picture Master

A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a talk on organization to a group of entrepreneurs in the wellness lifestyle industry.  In pure irony, the notes I prepared for this talk look like a scrambled ramble of ideas.  The organizer appears messy but gets it all done.  Here are some gems from my notes for you, dear readers:

The key to my success: I know exactly what I want and I let NOTHING get in my way.

I’m a Big Picture Master, a Results-Driven Red (see The Four Color Personalities for MLM by “Big Al”).

I know nothing about running a non-profit organization, but I make a non-profit run.

Take an honest look at yourself and your habits or get a coach to assist you in doing that— it is from here that you get organized.

It’s really cute when people tell you to follow your dream or your vision if you don’t know yet what that is—it’s like telling kids in school to pay attention without ever teaching them to pay attention.  Check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic for more about this.

Play to your strengths.  Not mine.

I’m never going to be a runner but I run s…

You don’t get organized from a book or from anyone else’s system, if you want to lead.  I don’t know how to get your organized until you know your vision.

Once you have your vision, your dream, your goal, then (and not a moment before) you need:

-executable steps.

-consistency and routines.

-to stop doing stuff that doesn’t work.

For me, it’s committing one hour per day to my business, regardless of how active the day job and/or Rescue was that day, it’s keeping a consistent schedule and it’s TONS of personal development.  That’s how I stay organized.  That’s how I’m the Big Picture Master.  That’s how wellness, abundance and purpose continue to flow freely to me and my family.  Much love.

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Believe Uncategorized

An Interesting Benchmark

When I was an undergraduate student, I watched “Sex & The City” on a perpetual loop.  No matter what I was reading or writing, no matter who was visiting my dorm room or apartment, those DVDs were on repeat.  I, of course, had my favorite seasons (2 and 3) and my favorite episodes (“Are We Sluts?” to name but one).  When the seasons premiered, we had parties.  Friends would bring NYC-themed foods, like hot pretzels, and we’d hang on every scene.  When the series ended, we gathered at M.’s apartment (she was the only one with HBO that year!) and gasped as Carrie’s pink-crystaled phone lit up “John.”  We were early 20-something girls watching these 30-something women tear through the city that lay just 45 minutes away from my childhood home and from my college home, just from different directions.  We all identified with different characters, with at least a little bit of Carrie in each of us.  No one wanted to be Miranda.  Radical honesty: we grew up to be Mirandas.  And I’m totally good with that.  While we’re on the subject, do not be surprised that I was never a Charlotte.

Mid-December this past year, I started re-watching the episodes that were the backdrop to my college years.  At bedtime (because I have to have the television on to fall asleep), I flick on Amazon Prime and, starting at season one (the awkward season in my opinion), I’ve been falling asleep to my past.  Through an entirely different lens, nearly 2 decades later (yes, that kind of time has passed), I marvel at my different take on the relationships.  Where I once thought Mr. Big was cold, I now see Carrie as narrow-sighted.  Where I once thought Steve was kinda icky, I now see his charm.  Fear not, I still think Charlotte is… I’ll just say lost, to keep it nice and keep it moving.

As I cooked this morning, I streamed the season 2 premiere of “Divorce.”  As it loaded on my I-pad, I couldn’t help but wonder (see what I did there?) when I rolled from “SATC” to “Divorce.”  Talk about SJP speaking to me.  Fear not, all is well in the Land of the Bunnies.  I just mean, this is the stage at which we’ve arrived.  I am the “Divorce” audience.  Frances is a 40-something to my 30-something, like Carrie was a 30-something to my 20-something.  What an interesting benchmark as we grow, evolve, stretch and learn.  Much love.

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Believe Healing meditation Purpose Uncategorized

Retreat Yourself

In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer.  Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time.  At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements.  I typed:

I am

-reading.

-practicing yoga.

-mindful.

I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen.  I am mindful… ok.  Let that sit.

I found a yoga studio near to where we were living.  I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited.  I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer.  I am practicing yoga…  finally.  For months before that, I was thinking about it.  And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga.  But I never seemed to quite get around to it.  I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time.  All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga.  Like magic, I was.

I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes.  I dove all in, as I’m prone to do.  One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed.  I stayed.  She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices.  She had something here.  I hung on every word.

A friendship blossomed.  At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements.  But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why.  My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading.  We started to hang out.  We shared this glorious spark of brilliance.  I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie.  Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful.  I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words.  Don’t question the process.  Be open to being guided.  Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.

This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory.  They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness.  They are the real-deal.  I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm.  That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.

We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on.  I took 17 pages of notes.  But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity.  Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.

Debbie, I bow to you.  I am mindful.

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