Believe In Bunnies

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Believe Bunnies Healing Purpose Rescue

Paddington

For everyone celebrating something today, I wish you and yours a happy one.

I had the honor of spending yesterday with a very special boy, local celebunny Paddington.

 

In a town in central Nassau county, about two months ago, a woman found a domestic rabbit in her yard. She was able to pick him up and bring him inside. She bought him food and cared for him the best she could for a few weeks. In the interim, and completely unrelated to Paddington’s arrival, this kind woman lost her job. She reached out to us at the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group when she noticed she was running low on food for the rabbit she found. We coordinated a volunteer to bring food and other supplies she may need while she was fostering. We also planned to start the process of finding this rabbit a forever home.

Our volunteer went to the finder’s house that evening. She texted me shortly after she arrived there and said, “I’m taking him.” I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for sharing this… but she was crying. And this is a volunteer who works in animal rescue and rehabilitation professionally, someone who sees extremely tough stuff on a daily basis. One look at the rabbit we now know as Paddington brought her to tears… because of his ears.

Our volunteer remarked to the finder about the rabbit’s ears and the finder acknowledged that they are very short (I love and protect her innocence… she didn’t realize why). She found Paddington that way. By the time she found and saved him, his ears healed from being crudely chopped off. Sorry to hit you with such a stark reality on this Sunday, and for some holy, morning.

Paddington

In case you are wondering if this wasn’t a result of human cruelty… in Rescue we seeing plenty of ear injuries caused by other animals, endured before rescue and safety. Check out Shark, for example. Then compare his ear to Paddington’s ears. This is what moved our volunteer to tears and to take him with her. The finder was very grateful as she was struggling to care for the rabbit she found.

Despite the trauma he endured, Paddington settled in quickly and comfortably at his foster home. When I put out the call for a spokesbunny for an education and photo event at Pet Supplies Plus in Deer Park yesterday, Paddy’s foster mom volunteered him… and what a great choice he was! He was comfortable, even when three St. Bernard’s pounded into the store, and friendly with all of his fans. He enjoyed snuggles from store patrons and staff and even showed the Easter Bunny who is the boss!

Paddington 2

From her plans to drop off food and assess supply needs to becoming Paddington’s foster mom in a blink of time, my incredible colleague and her family have embraced this dear little one with pure love. I suspect, after Paddington’s neuter surgery tomorrow, that they just might make him an official part of their family.

LIRRG Family.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Equivalent Advantage

Members of our Rescue team were on two missions today: one squad was out on a catch and another squad was conducting adoptions.

The catch was unsuccessful and the adoption didn’t happen. The abandoned rabbit was super scared and elusive. The environment in which he’s been abandoned is complicated. The adopter came to meet adoptable rabbits but decided to wait before making a decision. She left with an empty carrier. It would be easy to feel defeated, to feel like we lost today. We didn’t lose. We are experiencing temporary defeat.

The only way we lose is if we stop.

In Outwitting the Devil, Napoleon Hill asks and the “Devil” answers:

Q: Is failure ever a benefit to man?

A: Yes. Indeed, learning from adversity is the third of the seven principles. But few people know that every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage. Still fewer people know the difference between temporary defeat and failure… If they knew the difference between temporary defeat and failure, they would not quit when they meet with opposition from life. If they knew that every form of defeat and all failures, bring with them the seed of unborn opportunity, they would keep on fighting and win. Success usually is but one short step beyond the point where one quits fighting.

My fellow volunteers are the most persistent people you’ll ever meet because they work with purpose. They experience emotional and physical hardships in our work. They push through heartbreak, through thorny bushes, through dismissive comments, through bitter winds.

They lean on each other, they regroup and they plant the seed of equivalent advantage acquired through each temporary defeat. Conversations tonight have not been ones of frustration. They’ve been about fresh approaches to catching this terrified little rabbit and about best practices for communicating with potential adopters.

When you need inspiration to persist against all odds, look to our team. I am honored to work with them, to organize and communicate while they are on the frontlines, impressing the stuff out of me seven days a week.

Our work is rarely easy, but always rewarding—the reward is saving and protecting animals and building character and community beyond expectations.

Local? Join us: Volunteer with LIRRG

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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 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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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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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 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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Believe Healing Purpose

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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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

Going Back In

In four days, I’m going back.  I’ll sit in a blue and teal chair on an hour long trip to the greatest city in the world (arguably, of course, but that’s what we’ve told to call it).  I’ll walk several blocks, check in to my hotel, and head to the SVA Theater. There, I’ll sit in a red upholstered chair and soak it all in, taking copious notes over the course of our three days together.  Yes, this weekend is Spirit Junkie Masterclass.

As I look over my nearly 40 pages of notes from last year’s class, I see a beautiful parallel between my teacher’s “Steps to Stepping into the Fear” and the experience with and lessons from our rescued rabbits.  I’ll list Gabrielle’s steps below and annotate my rescue musings.  My rescue colleagues reading this can nod along…

  1. Honor your wounds.

These abandoned, neglected and abused rabbits did NOTHING to deserve the treatment they got (or didn’t get) before they came into our care.  We celebrate, love and care for their backgrounds.  We work tirelessly to ensure they will never be wounded again.

  1. Stop trying to outrun fear.

Dear ones, let us bring you to safety.  We are the good ones.  I promise.  The only thing you have to fear now is the Shop Vac cleaning your enclosure.

  1. Show up for your assignment.

Once they are “ours,” these rescued rabbits have a big job.  They are tasked with completing families.  That said, it is NEVER their assignment to teach children responsibility–that’s the job of human adults.  But it is their job to soak in all the love.   I’m smiling so big, thinking of all the ways my boys have been there for me over the past 6.5 years, showing up for their assignment.

  1. Build new momentum to create confidence.

With this step, I’m thinking of the shy ones.  The scared ones.  I’m thinking right now of Aspen.  She was rescued last year, and shortly after, gave birth to 8 babies.  Aspen is the softest and was the shiest rabbit I’ve ever met.  In a series of foster homes she wanted nothing but to hide.  And then… she moved in with a new foster family, where she’s an only rabbit, and her personality is shining!  She’s flopping, she’s running and she’s posing for pictures with sass!  She’s come into her own, created that confidence.  It’s incredible what a change of surroundings can do.

  1. Affirm what you want to feel and who you really are.

Oh, these rabbits have personality.  I have a 4-pound lion with the attitude of a 420-pound King of the Jungle.  He’s the King of the Living Room.  When we pay attention to what they are “showing” us, our rescued rabbits are all sorts of perfect and loving.  Some, like Aspen, need to be solo buns to shine.  Some, like my Peanut, need to come to you on their own terms and not be approached quickly.  Trust, they always affirm what they feel; sometimes, we need to listen better!

  1. Be more you.

Here’s where rabbits (and any animal for that matter) can really show us the path.  They know no other way than to be themselves.  Just like little kids, they show and share how they feel.  Take a lesson from the furry ones.  Be silly when the mood strikes you.  Take multiple naps a day, if that’s what you’re craving.  Chew the molding in my living room… wait.  Scratch that.  But seriously, use those instincts—don’t squash them!

 

Spiritual Running Buddies:  I’ll see you on Friday.  Rescue Fam:  You inspire me.  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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