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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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

Cameron

On the last Monday in March, I paid a special visit to a special little boy.  Quick backstory: Cameron was rescued with four other rabbits right before Halloween.  He was adopted shortly after the New Year and returned right before Valentine’s Day.  We don’t get many returns (thankfully).  Cameron had fallen ill and his adopters decided to return him.  Volunteers rushed to get him back into our care.  Cameron developed neurological “issues”—could be genetic, could be a result of trauma sustained when he was trying to survive post-abandonment/pre-rescue.  His adopters gave up on him.  His foster family never will.

Cameron has been making great strides.  He’s a bit wobbly at times.  He needs an enclosure specially designed for his mobility needs.  Other than that, he is a perfectly happy and hoppy boy.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to share Reiki with him.

He had a lot to “say” compared to most of my clients.  He “told” me that the “rolling” his body experienced when he first showed symptoms of illness really scared him.  When working on his throat chakra, he “showed” me that he was weeping happy, grateful tears for being safe.  He asked about Lil’ B, a bun with whom he was rescued.  He showed me the number four—well, he was rescued with four others.  He lives with four humans.  In Angel Numbers, four means “the angels are with you.  They send you the number 4 to reassure you that they’ve heard your prayers and are helping you.”  I quite like that number for Cameron and his foster family.

He’s a young soul.  He’s on his first pass through this mortal coil and he really trusts people now because of his foster family.  Being a young soul, he can let go of his abandonment (twice now, that we know of) easier than others can.  No resentment present in that furry little body!  Cameron knows he’s “different” but feels confident and secure, which he confirmed by licking his paw.  Throughout most of our session together, he stayed flopped under his bench.  When I was working on his spine, however, he came toward me then ran away quickly to show he’s strong.  He started eating immediately after to confirm that physical and emotional strength.

Cameron feel clenched in his hips and lower body.  I told his foster family to give him some gentle hip massages.  He told me that he likes to be around one person at a time, rather than a crowd.  His favorite color is blue (which his foster mom guessed correctly in our post-session conversation).  As I closed our session, Cameron stood up very strongly, like Mountain Pose in yoga, to show me that he feels very loved and safe.

It was a honor to work with Cameron and I am grateful to his foster family for welcoming me and Reiki in their loving home.  Cameron is looking for a forever home, preferably with an experienced family who knows that different is so very beautiful.

You can follow Cameron’s foster family’s blog here.

Revisit

It has become tradition for me to re-post this story at this time of year.  It will remain tradition until all domestic rabbits are safe and protected.

Found, but still Lost

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

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

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

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

We need:

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

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

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.

Vows

They say it’s hard to make friends in your 30s.  I say they’re not looking in the right places.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on a remarkably comfortable blue couch and an incredible friend that I made in my 30s sat on the matching loveseat to my right.  She’s getting married in July.  If you know me, you know that I’m not a marriage/traditions kind of person for myself, but I get it.  I’m along for the party.

After her fiancé came back from 7-11 (thanks for the seltzer!), at some point, the topic of wedding vows came up.  Spoiler alert:  They are not writing their own.  Intuitive secret alert: I think my friend wants to write her own.  But I’m not one to meddle…

I joked that I would write them some vows.  I joked that I would include specific video game playing and watching etiquette in said vows.  Jokes aside (are jokes ever aside for me?), I’m laying down some vows for love in general here.  Feel free to use them but always give me credit.  Plagiarism causes wrinkles.

…to be weird, silly or sad as the moment strikes and to feel supported in each striking moment.

…to recognize that it’s damn near impossible to get everything from one person.  There are over 7 billion people on the planet and probably billions more with us in spirit.  It’s ok to connect with others (see next vow).

…to communicate openly, clearly and reasonably about connecting with others.  Straight talk makes for straight understanding.  The trust is in the communication and the action.

…to balance needs, to support desires, to hold space for the dreams, goals, and projects of the other, even if said needs, goals, etc. seem weird.  As long as no one is harmed in the process, let him/her shine.

…to find strength in each other, to be even better together without abandoning everything you are as an individual, if that’s something you value (not that you asked me, but you should value yourself as an individual).

…to honor that growth, change and evolution are likely and should be celebrated.

 

This vow stuff is easier than I thought— perhaps because I have clearly-defined views on my sense of self and myself in a relationship.  Bunny-daddy and I just celebrated our 8th Valentine’s Day.  Our relationship certainly isn’t for everyone.  But it’s for me.  I’ve changed a lot over the course of 8 Valentine’s Day.  I feel 100% supported in each change… and that’s a vow I treasure.

Follow-Up

When I first started volunteering, I would often ask, “What happened to (fill in name of rabbit here)?”  I became obsessed with knowing the next chapter for the rabbits that I helped care for after they were adopted out.  While records were kept from the beginning of the group’s existence, there wasn’t much follow-up that happened, unless initiated by the adopter themselves.  It was not a matter of disinterest or indifference; it was simply impossible for the number of consistent volunteers to keep in touch with over a decade’s worth of adopters.

I took the database that was kept at the time and pieced together what I could, reaching out to past adopters to check in, see how rabbit-family life was going and make sure all were current on veterinary check-ups.  I heard back from many and said prayers for the rest.  Not long after, an adopter suggested we create a Facebook group where adopters, foster families and volunteers could connect.  I believe she was looking for a bunny-sitter at the time of her idea.  After some careful imploring, I got the go-ahead from the directors to create such a group.

In some ways, I think of the group selfishly.  I was once obsessed with finding a way to follow up with the lives of our former foster rabbits.  The group fills that need.  Just about every family who adopts joins.  I can get updates on just about any-bunny and smile so big when I see how great they are doing.  But even better than that, the group has become a beautiful place for encouragement and support.   It’s like 24/7 customer service swirled with the loving care of people who choose to spend their free time saving and caring for these abandoned buns who need us.

I’m glad this crossed my mind today because I’m sitting here smiling with pride—I belong to a group filled with outstanding support, like-minded people who’ve hopped together for the greater good of our hoppy little friends.  And while we’re on the subject, are your babies up-to-date on their check-ups?  Just following up!  Much love.