Month: August 2013

Adopt a Cat Month Musings

Glancing at my Humane Society calendar I was pleased to see that June was “Adopt a Shelter Cat Month.” The picture is of a little orange tabby kitten chewing on a blanket and looking adorable. This kitty looks ‘for all the world’ like one of those kitties who makes you laugh, gets into everything and ends the day napping on your lap. What could be better?
As we know, homeless animals are a tragic reality throughout the world as are homeless people. As a volunteer with Golden Retriever Rescue I have housed and cared for dozens of homeless dogs and have seen first-hand the kind of problems that result. Food aggression, separation anxiety and resource guarding are just a few of the problems homeless abused or neglected dogs can present. As a social worker I have seen the result of homelessness, poverty and financial insecurity with people as well as animals and its impact is devastating. Physical and emotional problems abound resulting in increased social problems like communicable disease, crime, child abuse, domestic violence and teen pregnancy to name just a few.

Fortunately most of us have never had to face being homeless but think just for a minute how it would feel not to have a home. What would that be like? There would be no place to go where you can close the door on the outside world,  where you can keep your things and eat and sleep and feel safe.  Just think for a moment how that would feel. Don’t go to what you would do to avoid it or how you would get out of it but just what it would feel like. Now let those feelings guide your actions in whatever way you think is right. Homelessness for people and animals is a crisis in this country with no easy social, political or financial solutions.

If you were a raccoon in the forest, a lizard in the desert or a beaver in lake you would make or find a home for yourself. Home is just that basic. Whether it’s a hole in a tree, a den. a cave. a nest or a dam it would be what you think of as home. Homeless domesticated animals don’t have those options; they don’t have that instinctive drive to hunt and nest and do all the things wild animals do to survive. To a large extent that’s because we humans bred it out of them. We domesticated them, made them depend on us for food and shelter and then we abandoned them.

Somewhere along the line, if you look at homeless people, much of the time you will see that something similar occurred. Through no fault of their own, as a result of mental illness, addiction, immigration or social misfortune, these people became unable to care for themselves, live with a family, remain gainfully employed.

Abandonment is not the answer in any case, so getting back to kitties and calendars… if there’s room in your home and your heart for a homeless animal, why not go get one?

And if we’re talking about homeless people and the broader social issues that confront us as a country, the first step would be to learn more about the problem and the second step would be to find a way to get constructively involved. The more we get involved the more likely  these problems will begin to be resolved.



Lessons from Daisy

The storms passed and it was a beautiful clear day. Low 70’s with lots of sun and a slight breeze. Daisy was ready for her run and like any normal Golden Retriever nothing made her happier!  One of the city’s open space areas presently clear of ball games, bike riders and skateboarders allowed us the perfect opportunity. I unhooked her leash and threw her ball. Off she ran pure joy emanating from her flowing golden coat, tongue lolling, ears flapping, feet flying. It’s at times like these that I can most fully appreciate the natural order of things. She was created to be the dog she is and as a dog she is fully in the moment, fully alive doing what she loves to do: chase, retrieve and jump, track down interesting smells, roll in the occasional poop, dunk in the occasional mud puddle and race headlong into the occasional flock of geese! And at the end of her wonderful run she loves to get a cookie and a big bowl of fresh water! What could be better?
Ah the life of a well-loved dog! There is much we can learn from our canine friends, but perhaps chief among those lessons are:

  1. Stay in the moment
  2. Be who you are
  3. Live life to its fullest
  4. Enjoy being with your ‘best friend’
  5. Appreciate the simple things of life: a sunny day and drink of cold water
  6. Oh, and always listen to whoever is holding your leash!


I have always been fascinated by twins. When I was in grade school there was a set of twins in my class. They were identical but slight differences could be detected. I remember watching them interact and wondering how they thought and felt about one another. I thought it would be amazing to be a twin. To have one other person in the whole world who was just like you. Who looked like you and thought as you did. How neat would be to be able to communicate without words, to just know that someone else felt as you did.
When I was a young woman just beginning my family, I often wished for twins.  There is something about two people being genetically identical but unique and separate individuals that is compelling. I never had twins but my interest in them is  the reason I included twins in my mystery series.. The family of the main character, Elizabeth Reinhardt, who first appears in Razor’s Edge contains a set of twins and later in Seeing Double, a second set of identical twins appears and their potential for psychological contentedness becomes a compelling variable in the story’s plot.

Some psychological literature on emotional attachment talks how as human beings we strive for intense bonding and closeness to one other human being. Sometimes I think of that process as seeking ‘twin-ship.’ For some of the people who I’ve worked with there is compelling hunger for symbiosis or ego fusion in which even the tiniest differences are difficult to tolerate. Some relationships function best when those differences are almost eliminated. You may have met couples who present themselves almost as if they are one. “We’ve been together for so long we think alike, we complete one another’s sentences, it’s almost as if we are one person,” they might say. For some this is the definition of true love. For others it represents the ideal romantic love and for others it may apply to parent-child relationships. People ordering for one another in restaurants, answering questions for one another, making clothing choices might be everyday examples of this process of ‘ego-fusion’ or ‘lack of differentiation” as another way of saying it.

Existential thinkers talk about each of us coming into this world alone and leaving it in the same way. Many people resist the idea of existential ‘aloneness’ and spend their whole lives looking for that perfect relationship that will defeat this fearful state. Some people turn to G-d for that perfect sense of union, others believe that finding one’s soul-mate contains the possibility that separateness can be reversed, still others seek  fusion, twin-ship or replication of self with their children . ‘Twin-ship’ whether biologically or emotionally created embodies some of these needs and issues.  I find this subject thought provoking and exploring it may help challenge some deeply held but unexplored beliefs which would benefit from closer examination and while I do not claim to have  a exhaustive mastery this subject, perhaps I have posed a question or tweaked your interest in these ideas enough to start us having an interesting discussion… if so let me hear from you!



Trust the Process

Putting words to paper is a joy! It’s a challenge and it’s interesting. It also takes some level of trust, like stepping off a cliff into the unknown with just a glimmer of trust that a solid pathway will appear before me. OK good, you get the Indiana Jones reference!  It’s just how the creative process is for me; it meanders apparently effortlessly, taking shape and form as if autonomously and before I know it pages are written. The most amazing part about it all is those pages make sense; they are interesting, they are exciting, they  have a rhythm and a purpose that is uniquely their own.

As a psychotherapist for many years I have learned to respect the process, to let people tell their stories in their own way, to allow trains of thought to unravel in an often meandering pattern knowing that form, clarity and substance will follow.  Formulations and insights will present themselves pointing out directions and resolutions. For me writing is something like that… it requires a willingness to tolerate the unknown, to follow paths wherever they are going to lead and to patiently work with the material presented as the process unfolds and transforms into a coherent whole.