Believe In Bunnies

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purpose

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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angels Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Purpose Reiki

Maddie and Teddy

I drove to Brooklyn and back, all by myself. I brought my passport, just in case they checked at the border and gave some cute stamp. But enough about me—this is about Maddie and Teddy.

Several weeks ago, Maddie developed an abscess on the bottom of her back paw. Maddie and Teddy’s mom sought immediate veterinary treatment at the incomparable Catnip and Carrots Veterinary Hospital and her foot has since healed well.  Over the course of the healing, Maddie and Teddy’s mom and I got to talking about the emotional and metaphysical connections to physical changes and injury. We talked about the connection to feminine energy and the side on which Maddie developed the abscess. I told their mom to read some of my past blog entries about Reiki and rabbits. We decided a Reiki treatment was in order.

I took my pilgrimage west. Upon my arrival to their home, Maddie and Teddy promptly hid behind furniture—stranger in the house! To start our session of sharing energy, I anointed myself with Frankincense and called on our guides to support all beings and objects who are open to the energy.  I started “working” on Maddie first. She “showed” me the color grey. Her third eye chakra is blocked and she has trouble believing in her own instincts so we worked together to shift that energy (and I knew it! There’s the connection to the abscessed feminine energy in her paw!). Maddie “told” me that she feels very secure and loved.

Her root chakra is very solid.  She did not want any hands-on work, which is incredibly interesting when compared to the ridiculously lavish snuggle session she and I had after the Reiki was over. Maddie flopped as soon as I started working with her husbun Teddy.

Teddy doesn’t want anyone to know his “secrets” or about his past, in a silly, playful way, so much so that he ran across the room and up the stairs! Teddy is very funny, like a cartoon character in his spirit. He “showed” me the numbers 2, 3 and 2 again. His sacral chakra is low or blocked so we worked to open up that energy. Overall he has a very chill energy. He loves music and the flow of water. It is likely that he is a water sign, but tough for us to do his astrological chart since we don’t know his exact birthdate!

Together, Maddie and Teddy love being a couple and they know they are with this family forever. I am very grateful to Maddie and Teddy’s mom for allowing me to share Reiki with her furbabies. Much love!

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Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

No.

In Rescue life, I find myself saying no very often.  And it’s not a struggle for me.  I attribute that to my logical, black-and-white, organized nature.  We don’t have a shelter facility; all of our rabbits are fostered in private homes.  Thus, we can’t do anything unless someone can offer a space in their own home.  Once we find a space, then things spring into motion, but before that, it’s just no.  No, we can’t help until someone steps up to foster.  No, we can’t take your rabbit that you’ve grown tired of.  No, you can’t house a domestic rabbit in an outdoor hutch.  No, we can’t give you hundreds of donated dollars to pay for the spay/neuter of a rabbit whom you decided to purchase from a breeder.

Do I sound cold?  Sorry.  But to me, these are just facts.  There’s a logical procedure to making all of this happen, to saving as many lives as we can and then providing a high quality of life for those we save.  If we just said yes to everyone, everybun, every request, we would be financially broke (we run solely on your donations, 100% of which go directly to the rabbits and are tax-deductible) and the rabbits we have in our care wouldn’t have exercise time, food and supplies, and the love they deserve.  So, no is my answer often.  Even when dealing with the cutest of cotton bottoms, you have to harden the F up sometimes… a lot of the time…

So take this sense into the rest of real life.  With some minor exception, I’ve never been a people-pleaser.  I’m loyal.  I’m honest.  I’m dependable.  But be damn sure that I won’t do anything I don’t want to do and I’ll never commit to something that I don’t plan on fulfilling.

In many cases, saying no is a gift to yourself, a gift you deserve.  No, I don’t want to _______ because I really need to rest, handle my own business, do something that fulfills my spirit.  Put yourself first.  I always do.  Always.  I don’t care if that sounds selfish or crass.  Putting myself first, saying no to some people and things along the way has enabled me to create the life of my dreams.  I’ve written here before that the life of my dreams is probably far from the one of your dreams—how great that we can all have it all, in whatever way we want it?!  Anyway, saying no in Rescue life and in real life is really just a yes to something else, something that we choose to give priority.

So when I say no to having lunch on a Sunday with you, I’m really saying yes to myself, my family and my home—I need that day to get shit together!  When I say no to an abandoned rabbit, I’m really saying let’s get the best possible scenario arranged first to truly save this life, all while saying yes to keeping the safe and loved quality of life for our foster and sanctuary rabbits.  No keeps me grounded.  No keeps the quality of yeses super high and wonderful.

grounding

Stay grounded.

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Bunnies Energy Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

What it takes… and gives.

Two more wake-ups until I return to the day job so you’d think my mind would be there… but in my endless quest to be present and be mindful, I’m just here now.  In deciding what to share with you all today, I was searching for some sort of “Summer’s over…” moment, but I don’t actually feel like anything is ending.  I’m not feeling a loss, per se, and that’s probably because I gained a lot this summer.  Everything I gained came from Rescue life.

Yes, I had something like nine weeks of vacation (I didn’t count the days) but there was not one day where I did nothing.  It’s not in my DNA to do nothing, as much as I’ve tried to force it.  Don’t get me wrong—I can relax with the best of them.  I took a juicy 3 hour nap today.  I’ve felt tortured in my past, without an outlet for the energies swirling.  So freakin’ lucky that Rescue has given me purpose, with tangible tasks as well as spiritual fulfillment.

To run this show, it takes patience, compassion and determination.  It takes a strong memory and compulsive organization.  It takes some moments of shutting off the emotions (otherwise, some of the cases would crush—Rescue is not for the faint of heart).  It takes an absurd amount of time—communicating, transporting, cleaning, and the list goes on.  But above all that, it takes a stellar team.  The moments that Rescue feels insurmountable are only the moments when I feel team-less.  When the Squad is present, we make magic happen.  Jack Welch in his best-seller Winning states, “Leaders relentlessly upgrade their teams,” and sometimes it feels like a full-time job to manage this team.  It takes a lot, but it sure does give a lot.

Rescue gives… and not just to the rabbits we save.  Rescue has given me a support system of like-minded angels.  Rescue has given me some of the strongest relationships in my life right now.  Rescue gives me a platform to use my talents and powers.  Rescue gives me heartwarming moments of awe, like when adopters and supporters donate their hard-earned money and devote their treasured time to helping clean or fundraise or spread the good word about what we do.  This summer, Rescue took me into the offices of powerful local politicians as an advocate for abandoned, abused and neglected domestic rabbits—some groundbreaking stuff coming in that arena!  None of this would be possible without that aforementioned glorious team.

So, it takes a lot… for me, it’s mostly time and spiritual effort.  But it gives so much value.  My heart is warm just thinking about it.  Who would have ever thought that cleaning litter boxes would be a part of my life’s purpose?!  I have gained so much through this work, far more than I feel I could ever give.  Here’s to boundless hoppiness.

Sun

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Believe Energy Healing Reiki Uncategorized

Be Open… or Not.

One of my classic B-isms: Not everything is for everybody.  Reiki is such a strong example of that.  It’s subjective.  It’s situational.  It’s suited for some, or from some and not for others, from others or between others.  Like a massage—what feels good for me might not be what you need.  Or choosing a meal from a menu—you and I probably don’t order the same thing(s).  And it’s all good.  You don’t have to like what I like.  I don’t have to find peace on the same path where you wade through yours.

I met with a first-time client this week.  When I tell you that animals pick up on and respond to our energies, this family could be the textbook case.  The matriarch of the family presented some specific questions and issues she wanted me to address with her companion animal.  Before I could explain to her that Animal Reiki doesn’t necessarily work that way (your animal is not filling out a questionnaire or being hooked up to a lie detector), she then changed all of her questions and purposes.  Her energy was like a bouncing rubber ball, pinging off of every surface, sometimes with grace and sometimes with force, trying to communicate what she thought we needed to attain from our time together… I wonder why your cat is an anxious little guy?!

I share this anecdote as a lesson: Be open.  Or not.  Reiki, like anything else, doesn’t suit every being or every situation.  But if you do want to try giving or receiving energy work in Reiki or in another capacity, please exhale and let it flow.  Energy work is not to be micro-managed (and this is coming from the queen of micro-management!).  There’s an openness, an exchange, a flow that needs to be accessible for the energy to work its magic.  It’s not for everyone.  There are some days that I, as a practitioner, am not in the best head-space to give or receive either.  Like I said before, it’s subjective.  But it’s damn powerful.  So don’t focus on feeling “ready” or looking for the right time, place, set and setting—just be open.  Be open to the magic, to the possibilities.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Uncategorized

What’s Important…

2016 has been cleaning house (in the metaphorical sense. Literally, however, my house is a mess and my desk is back to its disastrous state).  We (the collective We) lost Bowie, Prince, Chyna, Eli Weisel (potential the first time they’ve been listed in sequence anywhere)… I’m so parenthetical today.  We (the rabbit We) have lost far too many fur-babies, celebunnies and local loves, most recently Sylvia, beloved diva-bun and one of my first Reiki clients.

So here I am, contemplating what is really important, in my classic Type-A ways, organizing what matters and what doesn’t into definitive categories in my overly-active brain.  I keep telling myself that social media and the phone, other than for calls and texts, don’t matter… but then I continue to check them constantly (unless I lock the phone away in a drawer. Seriously).  So it must matter.  It must be important to some seeking part of my existence, checking for updates, change, news or something.  Searching for something, I guess.  Every minute I spend with the screen I think I should be doing something else, usually something simple like snuggling the boys, but definitely something else.  Important or not, I think about it like this: if this were my last moment, my last breath, I doubt I’d think or say, “I wish I checked Instagram one more time.”  So it’s time to get focused.

And why all this searching for substance?  I can’t seem to let myself be. Be present.  Be here now.  Just be.  My meditation coach and dear friend Debbie says, “Start where you are.”  And that’s a powerful message for me in this moment.  There’s no use beating myself up for checking Facebook 74 times today.  There’s no good to come out of wishing I visited Sylvia more often.  There is power is remembering the magical visits we did have though.  And there’s even more purposeful power in:

  • Doing what’s important to you (not by someone else’s definition, definitely not by society’s definition).
  • Allowing yourself to change which things/people/ideas/etc. are important to you as often as you need to.
  • Being as present as you can be, but not beating yourself up when you drift, or worry or obsesses. Just come back to now.

So what’s important?  What’s important is whatever you want it to be, in that moment.  It can change, flex, bounce back, reshape, flip, disappear, whatever.  For me, today, in this moment, it’s family.  I spent the afternoon with the extended family, the Originals as we call ourselves, two of my very best friends, celebrating family.  I’m spending the rest of the day and night with boys and their father.  I’ll try to stay off the phone.  I’ll read my book (loving Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist.).  And no matter what, what’s important is my inner peace, so I can, in turn, spread that peace around.

Peanut

And a random baby picture of Peanut for your enjoyment!

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Bunnies Reiki Uncategorized

Rituals

I describe myself as highly routinized. For my own good, I’ve loosened up a bit over the past few years and more markedly, over the past few months.  I do attribute my massive success (and I define success as happiness and daily bliss) to my habits and patterns.  This way of life, as rigid as it can be sometimes, just comes naturally to me.  It’s the way my system was programmed.  Even my downtime, my free time has rules to it.

I start my days by stepping outside and taking a few moments to be present.  Up until very recently, I would start my days by grabbing my phone, starting the cycle of checking and obsessing.  I’ve worked to replace that habit with taking myself out to the deck and listening.  Some days, I do find myself on the screen before I’m on the grass but this part of the routine is a work in progress.  Starting the day by taking a few moments to just breathe and be outside sets a different tone—the intensity to do, to go, to be somewhere else drifts away.  Try it.  A gift I got from my meditation coach and friend.

I come in from outside and flick on the diffusers, usually Thieves in the bathroom and today it’s a combination of tangerine and orange in the kitchen/living room.  The oils have become just as integral to my routine as coffee.  On work days, I hop in the shower; on non-work days, I feed boys, then fed myself.  Breakfast is a piece of Ezekiel toast with peanut butter and a dark roast coffee with sugar and MCT oil. Work days: I eat, ready, dress and leave.  Non-work days: I eat and shuffle between housework, Rescue work and catching up on completely junk television.  I check my phone too often (working on it!) and I beat myself up for not reading more.  I always say: the more you read, the better looking you get.

I’m profoundly a morning person, so whether it’s formal work or not, the best of it happens early.  The day flows methodically.  Accomplishments abound.  Even the downtime is structured.  But it works for me.  Example: I don’t leave the house on Sundays.  The bunny-daddy started that tradition.  If there’s an absolutely unavoidable exit of the house on a Sunday, another day of house-arrest is substituted.  Adding this to the rituals has made me carve out time for self-care and a clear boundary that I can’t overload myself with more “stuff” for anyone or any institution.  It’s my day around the Manor.

My days round out with a short Reiki session for each of the boys and I’m always in bed early.  I need a lot of sleep.  It’s just a fact of who I am and I’m grateful to know myself and meet those needs.  And yes, even the extended vacation on the horizon from the day job will be filled with structure, routines… the rituals that make this success continue to flow.  It’s difficult for me to “do nothing,” sometimes to the point of torturous, but that’s something I’m working on for sure.  I need to give myself permission to just be, to restore.

Adding to the routine this summer: more outside time, more books, more quiet.

Subtracting from the machine: checking my phone as much as I do, negative self-talk when I do “nothing.”

Now, go do something for you.  Get outside.  Or come wash my dishes so I can…

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Take some time to relax!

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Bunnies Energy Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

On Purpose

I thought I was going to write about something completely different today… But as I sat down, clicked the diffuser on and powered up the laptop, I realized I hadn’t tore off today’s calendar page.  I have a Dr. Wayne Dyer page-a-day calendar on the mess I call a desk.  I usually tear the page in the morning, but I didn’t today.  I did it just now.  And it says: “Purpose is about giving to yourself unconditionally and accepting what comes back with love, even if what comes back is not what you anticipated.”

Purpose

Yesterday, I spent part of my afternoon covering an extra shift of “bunny chores” at our main foster home.  Clean, vacuum, feed, love, repeat. Another volunteer, Nicole, who is beyond generous with her time on a regular basis, joined me for some extra help.  We both have typical “day jobs” with the standard Saturday and Sunday off.  We both have significant others, significant families and significant relaxing to do.  Now, I can’t speak for Nicole, but I felt more alive, more in my truth for those 2 hours yesterday than in most moments I have at “work.”  Tending the rabbits is my Purpose.  Sometimes I get gentle bunny kisses out of it and of course, I relish in the amazing feeling when we help make a family complete through adoptions, but what I really “get” out of what I do through Rescue isn’t in this dimension.  At all.  Nicole and I haven’t talked about it, but I can sense that she “gets” it too.  She’s an Earth Angel, whether she knows it yet or not.

After those chores wrapped up, I headed over to set up an education visit.  A family contacted us about their rabbit, whom they perceived to be “aggressive.”  Note: unless you are Romaine lettuce, a rabbit is not aggressive toward you.  The family thought they needed to rehome him, but I sensed from their email that they were open to trying to make things work—this wasn’t the typical “We don’t want this thing in our house anymore” dumper email.  I offered to have volunteers visit the family, check out their set up and offer some care and handling advice.  When I put out the call for help on our end, Lisa and Jo were amongst the ones who offered.  Lisa and Jo successfully rehabbed the “aggressive” Captain so I knew they were the right volunteers for this visit.  I am ever so grateful that I was able to get this education visit started and leave Lisa and Jo to do their magic.  Sometimes, Rescue can feel like a one-woman-show (with NO disrespect to my fellow volunteers!  You know there are far more tasks to do than there are volunteers to accomplish them!).  From what I hear, the visit went well; the family is relieved and armed with techniques to care for their bunny boy.

If you would have told me that this is what I would do with my free time in my adult life, I would have recommended you seek help for your crazy thoughts.  But even just writing about this stuff awakens my heart, uplifts my energies, makes every cell in this 5’4’’ frame shake with power.  I feel so blessed to have found my Purpose.  I’m proud of myself for being open to it, for taking the opportunities afforded to me, for saying yes whenever I can.  Yours is out there, I promise.  I didn’t invent mine; I didn’t seek it out.  It found me and I let it fill my soul.  Hop your path, binky into your truth… on Purpose.

And I just realized, that’s Magnify Your Purpose wafting from the diffuser.  Powerfully delicious.  Have a fulfilling week, darlings.

Magnify

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Believe Bunnies Rescue Uncategorized

Dear Mom…

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 Bunnies meditation Purpose Uncategorized

Hop the Hop

I advise everyone, yes everyone, who asks for coaching, mentorship or just plain advice from me to meditate.  And yet, my practice of meditation is less than consistent!  Since I was on vacation from my “day job” this week, I took the opportunity to talk the talk AND walk the walk… or should we say hop the hop!

My meditation coach and treasured friend Debbie describes meditation and mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally” using the body and all sensory systems.  Start as simply as her directive of “Just Sit.”  That’s where the magic happens.  Believe in the potential or not… you know it’s worth a try!

Debbie trained at The University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness under the direct guidance of the incredible Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, so there’s plenty of legit science behind all of this spiritual practice.  Accompanied by fellow Rabbit Rescue volunteer Nicole, I attended a talk Debbie gave this week at Turn of the Corkscrew in Rockville Centre.  Armed with my notebook and my renewed commitment to my own practice, I soaked in all of the goodies from Debbie’s wise words and guided meditations.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and its approach to a mediation practice fits well into my human experience.  It’s not the type of practice where you have to run off into the woods with no shoes on and clear you mind completely for hours to reap benefits—quite the opposite.  Debbie reminded the attendees throughout her talk that mindfulness meditation is an exercise to strengthen our brain.  And just like any other muscle or body system, the brain needs work to see progress or change.  You aren’t going to lose weight by eating differently for one day.  You aren’t going to get sick abs by exercising for one week.  It’s all a practice.  In this case, it’s a practice of “lifting emotional weights.”

And this practice is one that helps us to “respond skillfully rather than react,” which is an invaluable skill for me in both my day job and in Rescue.  I receive emails, many of which seem or are urgent, and calls about cases that are literally life or death situations for abandoned rabbits.  If I react, I’m in an ineffective panic.  When I remember to breathe, then respond skillfully, cases are appropriately prioritized and more lives get saved.

Toward the end of her talk, Debbie said, “It’s not about getting rid of stress—it’s developing a new relationship to it.”  And that’s a refreshing truth that I think will resonate with a lot of you reading this.  No matter what passion and path you are hopping, walking, trotting, whatever, stressors are real.  Obstacles appear and sometimes persist.  A meditation practice, even 2 minutes a day, can be the key to surmounting those stressors.  And since I advocate so heavily for the practice, I will hop the hop with you.  Just sit.  And as Debbie says, “Trust in the wisdom.”

“Like” Debbie’s page on Facebook, please.

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Tater Tot meditates too!

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