A major life and career change is a risk most people never take, but former corporate planner Leanne Lauricella left behind a fast-paced city career, to follow her dream of running a goat sanctuary in New Jersey. Exhausted of life in the fast lane, Leanne grew easily tired of the high-stress environment and unshakeable feeling of meaningless work, and gave it all up to build a small rescue farm, despite having no real farming experience.
“I was feeling so unfulfilled with my career and knew I needed to make a change so I took a leap of faith and quit my job to explore other ideas," says Lauricella. “I started volunteering at a farm animal sanctuary and was instantly hooked. It wasn't long before I took in my first two rescue baby goats with special needs."
Motivated by a strong love for helping animals in need, the sanctuary soon evolved naturally and quickly, as Lauricella now has 40 goats, two pigs, chickens, a mini horse, and a mini donkey to care for. But what's equally impressive is the sanctuary's strong social media presence, as the Goats Of Anarchy Instagram account has become an overnight viral sensation. Lauricella states the account (which even has won a Webby award) acquired over 30K followers in just one day if its creation.
“I was feeling so unfulfilled with my career and knew I needed to make a change so I took a leap of faith and quit my job to explore other ideas" - Lauricella
“On my very first day of unemployment, as I began my search for the next phase of my life, Instagram featured one of my photos on their homepage, and I acquired over 30K followers in one day," says Lauricella. “Since then, the goats have captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people across the world. Our Instagram followers are emotionally invested in the day to day lives of the goats, and many are faithful financial supporters."
Although Goats of Anarchy is currently registered as a 501c3 non profit organization, Lauricella states that relying on public donations to fund the rescue has been quite scary. To help sustain the business, she's launched Go Fund Me initiatives as well as a coming book to stay afloat. She hopes through these ventures, she can successfully continue to grow her second sanctuary location which can hold up to 50 special needs goats.
“I'm so excited about our first book Goats of Anarchy: Goats Just Wanna Have Fun coming out in March of this year from Quarto Publishing," says Lauricella. “This book tells a brief story about each of our goats and how they came to the sanctuary. The rest of the book is filled with adorable and hilarious photos of their day to day mischief and goat antics. We are also launching a children's book series called The Animal Tales. Polly and Her Duck Costume, The Goat with Many Coats, and Piney the Goat Nanny which will all be out in the next year."
But despite the sanctuary's growing popularity, Lauricella is really aiming to change how the world sees goats, especially since she sees them as loveable and entertaining animals.
“I had no idea how many special needs baby goats there actually are," says Lauricella. “Unfortunately, many of these babies are euthanized because of the cost and time associated with their conditions. However, goats are just as loving as dogs. When raised in a loving home, they are affectionate, loyal and very entertaining."
The Quick 10
1. What app do you most use?
2. Briefly describe your morning routine.
Right now I have different five alarm clocks. Five baby goats are currently living in my house, and as soon as the sun comes up, they are all crying for their bottle. I feed each one, change their diapers, and put on their temporary prosthetics. Once they are all settled and happy, I head outside to the barn to feed the other goats, pigs, chickens, and our miniature horse and donkey. After feeding all of those guys, I put Angel in her wheelchair cart and put the prosthetics on four of our adult goats. Then I give out lots of hugs and kisses before I go back inside to start the bottle and diaper routine all over again.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
Sara Blakely, the inventor of Spanx.
4. What product do you wish you had invented?
Disposable diapers. I would have saved myself a ton of money!
5. What is your spirit animal?
Obviously a goat.
6. What is your life motto?
“If you spend too much time thinking about doing something, you'll never do it. Just listen to your heart and go for it!"
7. Name your favorite work day snack.
Hummus! I can eat it all day, every day!
8. Every entrepreneur must be...to be successful.
“You aren't successful if you aren't happy"
9. What's the most inspiring place you've traveled to?
I have done a bit of traveling, but I have no desire to travel anywhere else. The most inspiring place I've been to is my own back yard, as there is nothing more inspiring than watching special needs baby goats thrive in spite of their disabilities.
10. Desert Island. Three things, go.
Goats, hummus and cruelty free lip gloss!
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.