Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Way Of Thinking: Destiny

It is beyond my comprehension that so many people feel that destiny is something that is thrust upon them. Destiny is made up of choices that we make every single day.I realize that oftentimes we come to crossroads in life and that sometimes we have very difficult decisions to make. But these decisions are not impossible to make. We choose what path we want to take. And while many of you disagree with me I'm sure already, I feel like I have to speak my mind on the subject. 

Just today I got into an argument on Facebook. It was about a dog who was being offered for adoption because the owner had to move and could no longer take care of the animal. I don't understand the difference between having an animal who depends upon you or a child who also depends upon you. Evidently this person was being forced to move to a new home, or something like that. These things happen and I can understand that. But, leaving a living being behind because you have to move just doesn't seem reasonable as an excuse to me. There's so many things that you can do. They start for one thing you can find a landlord that will accept animals or children or whatever. Or you can get the animal certified as a service dog, service animal, or emotional support animal. This can apply to a cat or bird as well. I just had a problem with getting rid of the seven year old dog, who has been a part of the family for that length of time as being a rather absurd choice. I think that I would choose to live behind the dumpster before ever giving up one of my beloved animals. They are children. Would you put a child in foster care because your landlord would no longer accept children? Of course not.

I sometimes think that people see destiny as something that they have thrown upon them by no fault of their own. That is simply not true, not to me or any thinking individual. Our destiny is made up by a series of choices that we ourselves make. Nobody else makes them for us. We give up certain amount of responsibility when we choose to think that others make our decisions for us. I can honestly say that everything good or bad that has happened in my life has been a direct result of my own decisions. If you really think about it, I think that you will have to agree that you always had choices and those were choices that you made yourself. When you take on responsibilities those responsibilities are yours and yours alone. I cannot imagine a situation where you give up your own ability to make choices. Giving up a child, or a pet, or a loved one because life became a little bit inconvenient, or even a lot inconvenient, doesn't seem like a reasonable choice to me.

This may seem a little bit harsh to some of you, because it forces you to take on responsibility for your own life. But if you don't take on that responsibility, you are, in a way forcing somebody to take that responsibility on for you. And why the hell should they? I deal with people every single day of my life who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and their own choices. Should I pat them on the back and tell them everything will be okay if they just wish it hard enough? That somehow seems stupid to me.

I suppose this must seem like a rant to some of you. Maybe it is. But I hope that this will get you thinking about the responsibilities and the choices that you make when you take on those responsibilities. Moving on does not mean moving everything in your path behind you. Moving on means taking those responsibilities that you already have along with you. You can leave possessions behind, but an animal or child is not a possession. It is a responsibility that you made the choice to take on in the first place. Responsibility cannot be left behind. Believe me, it will still be there to bite you in the ass later on down the road.

I do recognize that there are some people who believe in predestination. I believe that that is a crock of shit. If everything were preordained, then why the heck would I bother to make any choices at all? Food for thought my friends. Is my opinion and I'm sticking to it. You can agree or disagree, that would be your choice. And ultimately, I leave all your choices up to you.

                                           Peace and Love,



Friday, December 28, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Reflections on 2012

Here we are, the end of another year.  Did we end 2012 with hope?  Did we survive the challenges that every year brings?  If you are reading this, I am confident that you survived.  But, I know it was not an easy year for some of us.  Some had to say goodbye to loved ones.  Some had to end relationships that seemed so hopeful.  Some suffered through illnesses and disabilities.  Yet, here we are.  We have survived to fight another day.
2012 was good to me and my family.  We even added a new member, Bella our kitty.  2011 was full of drama for us.  My being hit by a car, and Jon nearly dying from a bleeding ulcer that required two emergency surgeries.  We tried three times to bring another animal into our home, but something always got in our way.
But, 2012 was the opposite.  It seems that nearly everything went our way.  We got 110 adoptions for shelter dogs this year.  I went back to school for my Master's in Psychology.  I got to counsel a lot of people in need through Well in the Desert (a remarkable organization that helps those in need).  I saw people's lives transformed.  I saw MY life transformed through the lives of people I was blessed to know.  I watched people's lives change through the love of a four legged friend.  I saw love in it's purest form.
One of my greatest blessings was my ongoing relationship with friends on Facebook.  Say what you will about social media, Facebook has been a blessing to me.  I have met some fb friends in the flesh, but most I will only know through writing.  That's okay.  I believe that sometimes we are at our most honest when we share our feelings through the written word.  I love the phone calls too.  Hearing the voice of a pen pal is wonderful.
2012 was a fabulous year for me and my family, Jon, Roxy, Charlie, and Bella.  I thank you all for being a part of it.  Through this blog I have made friends all over the world.  I stand in awe.  I pray there will be many more posts to come.
Happy New Year!  May 2013 be a year of peace and joy.  And when challenges come your way, may you have the strength to face them and grow.
                                       Peace and Love.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Pet Responsibilities

It has been on my mind for quite some time that we have some big responsibilities when it comes to our beloved furry family members.  Not only are we responsible for their daily care, like food, water, walks, etc.  We are also responsible for making sure of their well being in the event that anything should happen to us.  Here are a few things to think about.

Jon and I each keep a card in our wallets from the ASPCA that says we have pets at home.  On the card we have listed the number of a close friend and our apartment manager.  That way they would be alerted that we are unable to attend to our "kids" needs and they would step in and offer temporary assistance.  We also have a sign in our window to let fire or police personnel know that there are animals inside.

In 2011, after I was hit by a car and Jon came very close to death and spent a month in the hospital, we realized how tenuous life can be.  We modified our wills to, not only provide for our kids financially, but to designate someone who will see to it that the finances will be used in the way we specified.  It ended up being a full extra page added to our existing Wills.  But we now have the peace of mind knowing that, should catastrophe strike, the animals would be taken care of.

One other very important responsibility is to always maintain an emergency fund for veterinary costs.  You just never know and if disaster strikes you don't want to be caught unprepared.  Especially in these uncertain economic times, it is important to insure that we have something set aside that we hold sacred.  Even if we were starving, we would never touch this fund.  We have it in a separate account so we aren't tempted to use it for anything else.

Lastly, you need to be prepared for the eventual passing of your dear ones.  We have chosen cremation, but regardless of your personal choice in that regard, it is a good idea to know what service you will be using and to make prearrangement just as you would for yourself.  A time of grief is not a good time to make those decisions.  All we will have to do is make that dreaded phone call.

This is all just food for thought but I wanted to share my thoughts on these matters.

                                     Peace and Love,



Monday, October 22, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Miss Parker

In 1997 we were living in Key West,Florida.  Jon had suffered a major seizure and had lost his short term memory.  After nearly a month in the hospital, he came home to me and Mommee the cat.  I was working and he desperately needed someone to take care of him and occupy his mind.  Being me, I thought a dog might just be the therapy the doctors failed to order.

It was pouring down buckets of rain the one day I had to take the trip to the animal shelter on Stock Island.  I got a cab and forged ahead.  Once at the shelter I was admitted to the kennel area.  There was a handsome male dalmatian in the first cage but he didn't seem to love me so I moved on to cage number two.  There I saw a sign that read, "I only have three days to live.  Please take me home."  Inside was another dalmatian.  This time it was a spayed female, 2 years old.  I could hardly breathe.  She was beautiful.  I put my fingers through the chain link and she licked them.  I looked no further.  I paid the money, signed the papers,  promised to get her a rabies shot immediately, bought a collar and a leash, and met a nice lady who offered us a ride home.  I named her Miss Parker after a TV character on a show called "The Pretender".  She rode home in my lap knowing she was safe at last.

Jon loved her on sight.  Mommee didn't quite feel the same and left the house in a kitty huff.  After three days Mommee decided to come home and put up with her new big sister.  They became best friends after only a few days.  Such was the magic of Miss Parker.  Jon fed her, walked her, bathed her, and gave her all his love.  Funny thing was, she was always MY dog.  The bond had been established with that lick through chain link.  When Jon asked her if she wanted to go for a walk she would be excited.  When he said," Do you want to go see Austin?" she went crazy.  I worked across the street and they visited often.  Occasionally she escaped and came to visit me at the restaurant where I was waiting tables at the most inopportune times, like in the middle of dinner rush.  I would excuse myself and run her back across the street.  It was a very happy and fun time.

1998 came and by September we were a very solid family.  Jon, Mommee, Miss Parker, and me.  But then Hurricane Georges decided to come our way.  Jon and I were forced to flee to Daytona (a story in itself) but our next door neighbor refused to leave.  He offered to check in on our animals so we left them in our mobile home.  While we were away, the hurricane made a direct hit on Key West.  A giant tree fell into our home and literally cut it in half.  Miss Parker was killed.  Mommee survived.  We came back home to find everything destroyed but the only thing that mattered was our girl.  I grieve for her to this day.

We left Key West and returned to California.  It took us a long time to come to terms with our loss.  But, eventually, we did.  We are stronger because of that tragedy.  I suppose that is the cliche I wish to leave you with is, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  There is wisdom in those often repeated words.  Jon and I do not take anything for granted.  We try very hard to make each day count.  We love our little family a little bit extra because we know how quickly it can be gone.

                                       Peace and Love,



Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Animal Cruelty

Nala and Bruno (pictured) were cruelly poisoned with antifreeze.  Someone did this horrific thing just as they were about to be adopted into forever homes, making it all the more tragic.

I wish I could say that this was some kind of isolated event, but sadly these kinds of abuses take place every day.  We all wonder what kind of monster would harm an innocent animal.  I'm afraid we wonder in vain.  It is the same mindset of the child abuser, or the wife beater, or the murderer.  Thankfully, the vast majority of us cannot comprehend this kind of madness.

As many of you know, I have spent many years studying psychology in order to gain insight into the workings of the human mind.  I have also put in a lot of time studying animal behavior.  I am currently working on my Masters in Psychology, yet I am as confounded as anyone when it comes to understanding the aberration of cruelty for cruelty's sake.  I can list the known factors that can bring this kind of behavior to an individual's pathology, but truly understand it?  Well, not so far.  I honestly understand the workings of a dog's mind better than a human's.

I feel that, because abuse is incomprehensible, it is better to look for positive actions that can be taken to prevent or stop it, than to try to fully understand it's complexities.  For the time being, we can write, call, or petition our elected officials asking for stronger laws to punish animal abusers.  Right now in most places punishment is a slap on the wrist and a fine.  Keeping in mind that the majority of serial killers started off torturing animals, it makes sense to deter this behavior with the promise of real and severe punishment along with compulsory therapy.

In three weeks I begin an advanced class in criminal psychology.  Maybe that will finally give me more insight.  If it does, I will fill you all in.  Meanwhile, I will concentrate on positive actions like the ones I mentioned.  I find that to be the best therapy.  It helps alleviate that feeling of impotence.  Knowing that we can make a difference is comforting in the face of something that is so egregiously wrong.  And taking action with a loving and caring heart is that much more satisfying.

                                           Peace and Love,



Monday, August 20, 2012

Austin's Thoughts: My Way of Thinking: Perhaps a Rant

Austin's Thoughts: My Way of Thinking: Perhaps a Rant: Elephants outside a hotel in Africa.  This was their home among the Mango trees that sustain their mighty hunger.  They continue to come her...

My Way of Thinking: Perhaps a Rant

Elephants outside a hotel in Africa.  This was their home among the Mango trees that sustain their mighty hunger.  They continue to come here every year to feed because this is their home.  This is their birthright and the hotel accommodates them by giving them passage to exercise their freedom.  They even walk through the lobby to the delight of staff and guests alike.  Bravo hotel!  Cheers to you for recognizing that we can't just put up fences to keep creatures out.  It is a good thing to be inclusive.

I have a thing against the concept of gated communities.  The exclusivity of it all annoys me no end.  As people lock the rest of the world out, are they not also locking themselves in?  Other than the lavish homes, the security systems, the manicured lawns etc., what makes this all that different from a prison?  The people who live in this kind of environment have separated themselves from society as it exists in reality.  What possible benefit does that have for the real world.

I discern that many of these people identify themselves as being Christians.  Interesting, since Jesus never separated himself from the poor.  Maybe I read it wrong, but wasn't Jesus the supreme advocate for those in poverty.  No gated community for him.  The hypocrisies do not escape me.  The "let them eat cake" attitudes got Marie Antoinette beheaded as I recall.

We live under a system that feels that health care is something for the people who can afford it.  We call social interventions entitlements, ignoring the fact that the majority has paid for these things for everyone, not just the "entitled" few.  These things were conceived as a safety net for all.  Do some take undo advantage of this system?  You bet.  But should those who deserve to benefit from the promise of a secure old age, or help if they become disabled, or the right to take advantage of all that medical science has to offer suffer because of the machinations of the few?  Personally, I don't think so.

I firmly believe that we are here on this planet to work as a team.  It is our obligation to help those in need.  In so doing, we help ourselves as well.  Locking ourselves up in gilded cages seems to be only self centered.  Can't see a way around that assesment. 

Ok.  This was a rant from the heart.  The fortunate few will disagree, no doubt.  But if we aren't helping one another, then we are hurting one another.

MY WAY OF THINKING!  And I'm sticking to it.

                                    Peace and Love,