Believe In Bunnies

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Believe Coaching Energy Purpose

We Need You.

Imagine if a flower decided not to bloom because there were so many other flowers in bloom already?

That doesn’t even make any sense, right?

So why are you holding back on your dream because someone else is “already doing it”?

Tell that to the four yoga studios in a two-block radius in the town just west of here. Tell that to the two dollar stores in one shopping center in the town just east of here.

Tell that to the four tattoo shops within a nine-minute drive or the over 25 nail salons (I stopped counting) in the town in which I grew up.

The world needs your gift.

The rest of this post is a Choose Your Own Adventure. If you know your gift/dream, keep reading. If you don’t know your gift/dream, scroll down to the next paragraph.

You know your gift/dream: I already told you that we need you. I believe in you (even if I don’t know you yet). But you have to believe in you. If you aren’t rocking that gift or living that dream, it is likely that there is fear holding you back. Yes, fear, even if it doesn’t feel like your typical definition of fear. I held back for so long (and still hold back in many ways) because I was afraid to leave what’s viewed as security, afraid of judgment, afraid no one would care. I got over that when I realized that judgment will happen and that helping even one being live a happier, safer, more purpose-drive life is worth the risks. Identifying those fears and finding courage through them takes daily work. Start by getting quiet with yourself and thinking about your “why nots.” If you need to talk through it, you know how to reach me.

You don’t know your gift/dream: Been there. We’ve all been there. I remember, clear as this beautiful June day, sitting on the living room floor in our previous house, feeling so empty because I didn’t know what I wanted or even, to some degree, what I liked. I asked the Universe for an answer. I listened for the answer and took action. If you would have told me then that I’d be doing any of the projects I’m rocking now… I would have insisted you were talking about another person, perhaps from another world. Oh, but this isn’t about me. Sorry. Only child syndrome. Your gift. Your dream. It’s in there. It’s just being bound and gagged by paradigm, by other people’s thinking, by what you think you should be doing. Time to break free. If you need to talk through it, you know how to reach me.

 

And here, my dear readers, the adventure does not end; we’ve only just begun. Go bloom. We need you.

 

 

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Believe Coaching Energy Purpose

You say you want it…

We do a lot of talking and thinking about our goals, our “gets”, our dreams and wishes… and we say these are things we want, conditions we want to experience, situations we want to manifest.

But do you even remotely put in the work? You might think you do. But let’s break it down. Let’s dig deep.

The depth or perceived difficulty of the work will almost always be in direct relation to the size of the goal. If I say my goal is to make a cup of coffee (not quite a goal but follow me here), the work isn’t too arduous. I live in a first-world country, blessed with modern conveniences. I walk into the kitchen, water magically spouts from the front of my refrigerator, I plug in the coffee pot, press two buttons and the goal is achieved. If, say, tragedy strikes and the power is out or I’m out of K-cups, Dunkin’ Donuts is a 4-minute walk from my house.

Now, think about your actual goal… not just your “gets”, your cup of coffee, your next weekend-get-away. A goal. Something that scares and excites you at the same time. Something you are obsessed with. Something you don’t know how it will be yours, but you just know it will be. Get that in your mind. Toss those “yeah, buts” and other noise away. Sit in that goal.

You say you want it. You think you want it. But what are you doing about it?

This morning, I was listening to a replay of The Jason Ellis Show. Ellis and the guys were talking with professional MMA fighter Michelle Waterson. I was half-listening, half-making that cup of coffee, and I heard Waterson talk about living in the gym while training. I paused, rewound and sat down. This was not a metaphorical living in the gym she was talking about. She literally LIVED in the gym when training and starting her professional career. She had a living space upstairs. She would awaken to the sound of fight bells.

She didn’t sit home in the town where she grew up, doing the same thing as everyone else, wistfully thinking of a pro career. She moved and lived in the darn gym. Ellis, former professional skateboarder, shared about living at the skate ramp at a point in his career, sleeping under the ramp.

So, you say you want it. You pine away for it. Maybe you catch feelings in a cycle of excitement, frustration, feeling invigorated, then feeling deflated. But what are you doing about it?

I’m not suggesting you go sleep in a gym or under a skateboard ramp. But I am demanding of myself to take a clear look at my goals and what it truly takes to get there. If you do the same and your first instinct is to sigh and think you’ll never get there, you’re right. But if you write those dreams down on a fresh piece of paper, then close those beautiful eyes and envision your life as it will be when you are in possession of the goal, you will be shown the way. Exhale, flutter those lashes open and take action!

 

I must thank the incomparable Melissa Poepping and the legendary BASi6 program for opening the door for me. But it was up to me to walk through the door and onto the path.

What path are you stepping down today?

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Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Teacher Life

Stop. Pick One.

I woke up this morning and before both feet hit the ground, my mile-long To Do list starting scrolling in my mind. Within a minute of being awake, the overwhelm kicked in and I felt like I had just so much to do that I had to start now and not stop (probably forever). I felt like I needed to take action on 10 different things immediately. You’ve felt that, right? Maybe you’re even feeling it right now.

It wasn’t easy… but I stopped myself. I pulled the emergency break on the mind mess. I decided that, if I were to get anything done today with the excellence that each task deserves, I needed to stop and take a moment, take the time to open up my best self. Less doing, more growing. Less mania, more ease. Less overwhelm, more grace. Less how, more why.

Basically, I needed to take my own advice.

So I grabbed the iPad, popped on a Yoga with Adriene class and took my first half an hour awake for me and my practice. I guarantee that taking that 27 or so minutes this morning to open my heart and hips does not translate into me getting “nothing done” today. In fact, taking that 27 minutes translates into me approaching every task I do today with greater focus and poise, the excellence that each task deserves. Hey, if it doesn’t deserve excellence, why am I taking time to do it at all?

And another secret to squashing the overwhelming the mind mess: do one thing you’ve been avoiding or putting off. Here’s a list of suggestions, if one thing doesn’t come to mind for you on your own. Pick one and do it as soon as you’re done reading this. If you’re feeling called, share with me which you’ve picked and executed.

  • Empty your purse. Clean out the non-essentials.
  • Clean out your email inbox. Delete. Delete. Delete.
  • Unsubscribe to 5 emails that you never open anyway.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter (had to throw that in there).
  • Make that call or send that text to that one friend you’ve been missing.
  • Empty the dishwasher. If yours is already empty, come empty mine.
  • Close your eyes for 4 minutes and let your mind wander.
  • Grab a book or magazine and read for 15 minutes.
  • Is it “nice” out? Walk around the block without your phone.
  • Go get that pedicure, especially if it’s nice out.

Remember, you are just picking one. No need for more overwhelm in our days!

Much love.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

We Won’t Stop

Around this time every year, I publish a story that I wrote in 2016… a reminder to some, new knowledge to others, about why Rescue exists.

We won’t stop until they are all safe and loved.

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.

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Believe Coaching Energy Healing Purpose Rescue Teacher Life

Mr. Denise

Get ready for one of the most ridiculous anecdotes I’ve ever shared with you.

You know how there’s always one kid who accidentally calls the teacher “mom” and then gets teased about it for at least the rest of the school year? In 14 years of teaching, I’ve never been called mom. But about 6 or 7 times, I’ve accidentally been called “dad” (and once this year “King” but that was just cute). The second day of school this year, a senior, whom I taught when he was a freshman and a sophomore, passed me in the hallway and said, “Hi dad.” He then stopped, walked back a few steps and said, “I just called you dad.” To that I replied, “Yes, it happens” and we both went about our days.

From that encounter, I started thinking about these verbal slips as more than just a misspoken word.

I am a cisgender female. I wear high heels every day (except on Pajama Day when I don my work slippers). I wear makeup. I have long, layered hair. I don’t have the most soprano of voices but I’ve never been mistaken for a man on the phone. So… what gives?

It’s energy.

In a class, one of my mentors Kerissa Kuis, founder of the University of Wellness, taught us a bit about feminine and masculine energies. As the lesson unfolded, I was immediately reminded of the anecdote I opened with. As much as I look, sound and identify feminine, my masculine energies are overpowering. I lead with my masculine, the assertive, the dominant, because that’s what’s keeps me safe and successful. It’s not a conscious choice, but bringing in the feminine and balancing the two needs to be.

It’s yin and yang, but the classic black and white symbol is balanced… and I’m not yet.

There are benefits to my energies as they are currently. I can handle the toughest animal rescue situations with discernment and detach from the emotional aspect. I can put these personal stories out to the world without (too much) trepidation of judgment. My current energetic state is goal-oriented and gets stuff done.

In doing a little research before writing today, I found a great article, appropriately titled “Balancing Your Feminine and Masculine Energies” by Deganit Nuur. If you know me, you’ll read the Greater Yang section, nodding, thinking, “This is so Denise.” I love reading that a way to balance for my energy type is to delegate. I’ve been doing more delegating in my Rescue and business endeavors and I feel great… now that I’ve surrounded myself with incredibly passionate and capable people.

While I have gel French nails and Hello Kitty merch, I might get called dad tomorrow. And I’m not mad at that. My dad is awesome.

In effort to bring some balance in, I’m reading Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell. Drop me a comment or an email about what you do to bring balance… Much love.

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Believe Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Goal-Getter

I met Jill Velasco several years ago through Rabbit Rescue. She and her husband are two of the most giving, dedicated volunteers on the team.

I treasure my friendship with Jill. She’s creative, giving, smart…

We are in a book club together. Her art hangs on my wall. Her words about goals and authenticity that I’m sharing below are just magic. Thank you for writing for us Jill!

As many of our friends know, my husband and I are big fans of the TV series, “The Office.”  I’ve re-watched this one show many times but the other night, one part stood out to me.  Having a Graphic Design background myself, it is fairly often that I am compared to Pam Beasley, the Dunder Mifflin receptionist.  In this one particular episode from season 2, the women in the office are invited to partake in a Women in the Workplace meeting. It’s in this meeting that Pam is provided with information on a program offered by her company to take graphic design training courses in New York and fulfill a dream of hers.  Filled with excitement at this opportunity, Pam is suddenly deflated and discouraged to pursue this by her then-fiancé, Roy.  It was what her officemate and friend, Jim said to her at the end of the episode when he hears of this sudden change of heart that hit me.  “You gotta take a chance on something, sometime…”

Regardless of how excited Pam was at this prospect, she let someone else decide her path and choices, making her talk herself out of an opportunity due to the negative thinking that it may never lead to anything or it being impractical.  While we may not all be in Pam’s shoes with a fiancé like Roy, how many of us have talked ourselves out of doing or working towards something we really desire?  Now don’t get me wrong. There is no such thing as a “sure thing,” not every idea will be a great one and more than likely you’ll not strike it rich overnight. But, if you have something in your heart that means the world to you, isn’t it at least worth a chance at exploring?  If you set out a plan and decide on the path that you need to take to get you there, while putting in the work necessary to see it through, it could be more realistic than you think.  There are always going to be hurdles, people who may not believe in you, financial and time constraints but you never know unless you try.  Surround yourself with those who cheer you on and support your goals, walking beside you when things are tough while learning to separate yourself from those who just wish to discourage you and keep you down.  We all only get one chance in life and no one knows exactly how much time they have or where they are in line.  Why should we always keep waiting for the “right time” to come around?  There is no better time or investment spent than on yourself in pursuit of your dreams.

 

Jill Velasco is an Artist and Educator specializing in graphic design and colored pencil portraits and botanicals.  To see more of her artwork and writing, visit jillvelasco.com or follow “Jill Velasco Art” on Facebook and Instagram.

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Believe Coaching Teacher Life

Power & Respect

I’ve nicknamed the school at which I teach “Happy High School,” not to be derisive—it’s truly a happy little place. I’ve been there 11 years. On average there is one fight a year, sometimes in the cafeteria, sometimes in the hallway. Just a one-on-one exchange, not some sort of organized rumble. That one fight usually isn’t so bad and then peace resumes for the rest of the year at Happy High School.

Last year’s fight was a rough one in the standards of our typical altercations. It took place in the cafeteria. The antagonist, a freshman in one of my classes at the time, was suspended for several weeks. Quiet, grew up in a different place, likely not vibing with the ways of Happy High School. We didn’t connect much because the course in which he was enrolled with me was only a quarter long, just 10 weeks, and he was home-bound for a chunk of our time together.

This school year, our same antagonist got into another particularly brutal fight in the hallway. I’m going to call him M from here on because calling him an antagonist, although he technically threw the first punch (and several dozen more), feels like a label he doesn’t deserve. The altercation took place in the English wing (my English classroom is one of the few that is not located in that wing). An English teacher broke up the fight. She’s braver than I am when it comes to things like this.

Both M and his opponent, sophomores now, were suspended from school for 6 weeks. When students are suspended for more than a handful of days, they receive homebound instruction—either their main subject teacher or a tutor from an agency our district hires meets them at the public library for 2 hours per subject each week. M’s English teacher couldn’t take the job, as she works a second job in the evenings. None of the agency tutors were able to work with M either. The boss asked if I would be able to take on the hours. Although the thought of adding another two hours of work into my slammed schedule caused me to hesitate, I said yes.

Our sessions at the local public library were quiet. M did his work with skill and focus. Of course, the life coach in me comes out sometimes… so during our second session, I asked M who his best friend is. His response: “I don’t have friends here.” He said it very matter-of-fact, like he didn’t want friends in this corny little town. I replied that he “could have fooled me,” as he’s often flocked with other boys as they travel from class to class. But I understood him—he doesn’t feel like he belongs. I dropped the conversation right there, got back to the work his teacher assigned.

If only M knew that he had a lot more in common with his colleagues at Happy High School, that so many feel like they don’t belong for various reasons… some just teenage worry and some with more depth.

During our last session, while M was completing some work assigned by his teacher, I scribbled down something I wanted to tell him. At the close of our session, I collected the work to submit to his teacher and took a deep breath. Then I said some version of what I had written down:

When you remember that the only respect you need is your own, then you’ll have all the power you need.

I ripped that scribbled section off of the manila folder, because I knew I’d share this with you. M doesn’t have to fight anymore to prove he deserves respect. And you, my dear ones, don’t need to seek approval or validation from anyone or anything outside of yourself. Respect yourself, empower yourself and there you will find your truth, your happiness.

And if you need help getting started, I’m here for you. Much love.

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Believe Coaching Purpose

Moving into Balance

I’ve been disloyal to my yoga mat. I attend classes in spurts. Maybe yesterday was the beginning of another spurt, perhaps even the beginning of a more consistent practice—that story will unfold. What I know for sure is that I went back to yoga for the first time in a month yesterday. (Pause for applause)

Even with an inconsistent practice, I shine with balance poses (disclaimer: upright balance only. I have yet to headstand or even crow… but I’ll get there). My teacher yesterday, in a class packed as January classes can get, brought us into several balance poses. I marveled in my head at the balance I was able to produce… and then I realized my “secret”: move into the poses slowly. The slower I move into the pose, the more fully I can express it and the longer I can hold it.

As someone who barrels into most tasks, projects and endeavors, there I was on my aqua blue mat, folding and unfolding slowly, balancing beyond what my mind thought my body would be able to do. I credit that to the measured approached and:

  • the guidance of a teacher
  • openness to that guidance
  • gentleness with myself
  • acceptance of whatever product or result happens.

Let’s take it off of the mat. Whatever your goals, intentions, dreams are move into them unhurriedly and deliberately and keep taking action! I wouldn’t have left Child’s Pose without action.

Get yourself a teacher, a coach, a mentor or an accountability partner. Be clear with your goals and let them guide you. Important: Find the coach that works for YOU. My coach isn’t the right one for everyone. In turn, I’m not the right coach for everyone. Whomever you choose to work with, be open to the guidance.

Allow yourself to grow and adapt. Don’t expect to be zero to headstand in one class, one quarter or maybe even one decade. Keep your practice on your mat. Keep your goals and progress tailored to you and those you are helping with your work, should that apply. And know firmly, whether you rocked a standing split, flipped it and reversed it or you hovered your toes half an inch off of the ground, your progress is beautiful. You’re only defeated if you stop trying, if you never unroll your mat. Much love.

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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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