It's 12 days until summer vacation and we are prepping for what I believe will be the best summer ever. Just like last summer was. Like the summer before was. Full of new favorite days. Full of time with our favorite people.
A taste of what I'm looking forward to this summer:
1) Animal Science: Welcoming Lizzy Larson to our staff. She just graduated with her Bachelors degree in Animal Science. I've known her through 4H since 3rd grade, and now she's working here for the summer, helping with RHDV2 preparations at the Peacebunny Cottage & mass vaccine clinic protocols, with animal husbandry, and with our research on the efficacy of comfort rabbits while preventing zoonotic transfer between patients and between patients and rabbits. SUPER exciting about our pilot study at several Presbyterian homes. We could be completely changing how comfort animals engage at senior homes.
2) Island Treks: Love love love summer time with boats and bunnies. Jacob and Kaden are now on staff part time for the summer. They will be handling boat and island logistics as we take the bunnies out the islands for training. We also are going to re-start our pilot program for inviting some guests to the islands with us. Hammocks. Bunnies. Nibbling vegetation. Training to be comfort rabbits and training more youth bunny guardians. Time along the river. Priceless. 3) Peacebunny Cottage: Always wonderful to relax at the Cottage in the summer. Gardening. Mowing & bringing in the fresh grasses. Bunnies in the pasture on Sunday evenings with good friends, new friends. Dr. Bonnie Laabs is running three weeks of STEM camps with a variety of animals. A visiting artist from Chicago is teaching drawing classes in July. Working on invites for other artists in residence. Music. Just a calm, peaceful oasis in the Twin Cities. I'm hopeful that we get to stay here long term.
4) Telling our Story: The process of writing my memoir really woke up a part of me: storytelling. I'm excited for book readings/book signings locally, for reconnecting and lots of times around the campfire. For working on a children's book. For creative ways to bring others into our journey. "Peacebunny Island" has been getting solid reviews and I'm blown away by the calls and emails coming in, sharing how our story has blessed them, encouraged them. That means so much.
5) Friendship Time: I am truly blessed to have great friends, some of the core group you've met in my book. Markus just turned 22 and starting his senior year in college. Noah is WAY taller now and finishing 9th grade. Jacob will be around most of the summer before he starts college full time in the fall PSEO while co-enrolled in high school. Kaden is racking up advance placement hours and focusing on business. Maggie and Nick aren't moving out of state and I know that we'll have time on the river soon. And the adults in our program are more than mentors or volunteers -- they are true friends too. Somehow time stands still at the Cottage and the Islands. I can hardly wait to just BE TOGETHER. Noah & I are headed up north to serve at church camp together for a week too, and that will be a highlight for sure.
6) New volunteers and followers: We have a new batch of volunteers getting trained and I'm excited to see them at Bunny Boot Camp. With the book launch, more people are finding us and supporting this mission with us. It's like our world opened up this spring with the national press and then people reading my memoir. We've added a whole new ring to our community and our social media network -- it's amazing.
7) Slowing Down: We say that Peacebunny Island is a place that even snails come to relax. Although there is a lot of busy-ness behind the scenes and lots of chores, there is also this silent invitation to slow down, be together. The book launch was AMAZING --but I'm looking forward to a different pace. Plus in transparency, online school was brutally hard for me and I had to work much harder than ever before. My brain is feeling pretty mushy from the cumulative push and I desperately need a break. I had a lot of support but I'm eager to set down this huge weight. And delegate a lot of things that we've been doing ourselves.
Without any paid events in 15 months it's amazing we were able to weather this extended time without events, yet the book royalties and unexpected gifts from donors has made everything possible. God has been so good to us, to provide Dad a new job, the book deal, the Kruses to help at the farm through the summer months. Now it's nearly summer 2021. We're at go-big or go-home moment for the business & that's why I've committed 100% of the book royalties in 2021 straight into the business. Thanks for participating in our fund raiser and writing reviews to keep the book visible to online buyers! The book money is how we're hiring staff too: we can't stay the same. We either need to grow OR just provide a home for the rabbits for ten more years. So rather than saving the book money for myself, I've invested the book money into the business and opted for go-big. And frankly, we need to buy a farm and it takes money to make money. Challenges, yes. But my optimism is on hyper drive.
Ironically, this challenging year+ has also been a huge huge blessing to me. Time to write, think, process. I think I've actually gotten stronger overall. Definitely more focused and determined and resilient. Just gotta finish school. I think it woke up a lot of us to think more about what really matters. Faith. Family. Friendships. And for me, furry friends too!
Great Grandma who's 101 reminds me often: "God made us human beings, not human doings." I turn 17 this year on July 4 and I'm excited for what's next, but holding onto 16 as long as I can... Changes come around real soon. Trying to work on who I am as much as what I do.
Because of COVID, my family has rallied in ways that none of us thought possible. I thought we were strong and connected before! The challenges have made me stronger, more focused and even more grateful. And so excited to move from window visits to IN PERSON visits!!! And to see many of you in person too. Soon. Blessed to have you along on the journey. -- Caleb