Category Archives: Integrity

Freedom – What Does It Mean?

There has been so much said about freedom during the week following events at Charlottesville, VA.

As a writer, the First Amendment has always been something I hold particularly dear. The right to free speech and the right to assemble peacefully make the United States a special place. These rights make me feel proud to be an American citizen.

Free speech is powerful and there are groups like the alt-right whose right to free speech brings up discomfort for me. But they, nonetheless, have the right to share their views however repellant I and others may find those views.

But where do we draw the line? When do we say, “No?”

It has occurred to me that the concept of freedom has to apply to all of us or it applies to none of us. Whenever we say “Others must not be free in order for us to be free” we are in reality denying freedom to all.
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Time and Space: Reviewing a Room

In It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond, writer Julia Cameron describes how to gain a greater sense of creative freedom…by looking at our surroundings with fresh eyes.

“Allow yourself a few minutes to sit in a place in your home where you may have been “too busy” to sit before.
Look around this spot and really see your home with a fresh perspective.

  • What do you appreciate?
  • What do you wish to change?

“If you see many things you wish to change or feel overwhelmed with emotion when doing this exercise, don’t worry: your morning pages will help you prioritize and process these insights.”

The space I sat in is my home office which at the moment is a mess…so clutter I dread going up there. Still, I’ve decided it’s time to begin making this room a place I love. One that supports me and my work.



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When Success Doesn’t Feel Authentic


There are a lot of “recipes” for being successful. The recipe most endorsed in our culture is: get a good job, make lots of money, do what makes other people happy (because if they’re happy, you’ll be happy too), and in general, do what other successful people do because they know what’s best for you.

At least that’s what I used to think..

I wrote this little story because although I don’t yet know exactly what my recipe is, at least I know what my recipe is not.


The Cat Who Tried to Be a Dog: A Little Fable About Success

Once upon a time there was a cat named Inky.

Inky was a really awesome cat. He was very handsome with shiny jet black fur and big green eyes. Inky was strong and graceful. When he jumped he would land so lightly that you wouldn’t even know he was there. He was also very sweet and he loved nothing more than to curl up in the lap of a favorite human and take a nap.



One day saw his neighbor, Tigger. Tigger looked very strange. Tigger was a big, orange, striped cat with yellow eyes. Today Tigger was wearing a costume that kind of looked like a Black West Highland Terrier but mostly it looked like a big orange tabby cat trying to look like a West Highland Terrier.


“Hi Tigger,” said Inky (actually if you heard Inky it would have sounded like “meow meow” but that’s how you say “Hi, Tigger” in cat language.

“Woof woof” said Tigger.

“Why are you talking in dog language, Tigger?” asked Inky, “And why are you wearing that dog

“Oh darn,” said Tgiger (in cat language) “How did you know it was me?”

“Because I can see your orange tail,” said Inky “West Highland terriers have stubby little tails and you have a long orange tail. But why would you try to be a West Highland terrier? You’re a cat!”

“You don’t pay any attention to what’s going on,” said Tigger. “Don’t you know? People don’t want cats as pets anymore. People want to have dogs. Cats are out and dogs are in, especially West Highland terriers. So I thought if I look like a West Highland terrier, my humans will want to keep me around.”

“Your humans like having a cat. They like you,” said inky.

“Maybe,” said Tigger. “But they want a dog even more. I heard Dylan ask his mom for a dog yesterday.” “Maybe they want a dog and they want a cat, too,” said Inky.

“I don’t know,” said Tigger. “But I’m going to be a dog just to make sure.” “OK,” said Inky. “Have fun being a dog, then.”
But what Tigger said about dogs being more popular made Inky a little worried. Was that true? Would his humans like him more if he was a dog instead of a cat?

So Inky did some research. He watched what other cats in the neighborhood were doing and many of the cats were walking around in dog costumes. They were trying to bark like dogs and even do tricks like dogs.

“This is really hard work,” said the Kitty Johnson, who lived across the street and was in a Golden Doodle costume. Have you ever tried to walk like a dog walks? It’s not easy!

“Is it really worth it?” asked Inky.

“Oh yeah,” said Kitty Johnson. “Are you kidding? My humans are taking me on their next camping trip! And you should see how much more food I get!”

“But you hate car rides and they’re feeding you dog food,” said Inky.

“Yeah, that’s true” Kitty Johnson admitted, “But I’m getting a lot of great exposure going out to the camp grounds and I’m getting way more food than all the other dogs,”

“Why is it good to get more stuff that you don’t really like anyway?” asked Inky

“Because I’m better than a lot of other cats and dogs!” said Kitty Johnson who was clearly getting annoyed with Inky’s questions. “Look, if you want to keep being a cat, fine. I’m just telling you how great things are being a dog.”

“Bye the way,” added Kitty Johnson, “I’m Doggy Johnson now, remember that for now on.”

Inky couldn’t help wondering if Tigger and Kitty Johnson were right. He liked being a cat but he felt like he was missing out on even better things. Things that dogs got.

So Inky decided he would be a dog and get all the great things that he could get as a dog. He even decided to hire a real dog to help him be the dog he wanted to be.

His new coach, Scout, was a big black lab who lived down the block. Scout told Inky “You’re very lucky I have time to work with you. I have a waiting list of cats who want to hire me.”

Inky felt he was very lucky, too.

Scout was very expensive but Scout promised Inky that he could help Inky become an amazing dog and do that very quickly.

“I’ve done lots of research,” said Scout, “I know what works and what doesn’t work.”

Scout instructed Inky to buy an expensive dog costume and hire a special barking coach so that Inky could bark in a way that really sounded like a dog bark.

Scout also told Inky to go to the doggy parks at least three times a week. “You should also leave your humans,” said Scout.
“I like my humans,” said Inky.

“Yes, but you want to find even better humans,” said Scout. “Humans who want dogs are better than humans who think cats are good enough. Humans who want dogs will feed you more and do all kinds of cool things with you like take you on car rides, feed you treats, and buy you clothes.”

“Wow,” said Inky, “that sounds really great”.

The truth was that big portions of dog food, car rides, and doggie jackets weren’t things Inky wanted but if Scout thought these were valuable things to have and his other kitty friends agreed, then he should appreciate these things as well.

One day at the doggie park, a human boy saw Inky and asked his mother if he could take Inky home So Inky was now the family dog!
“Wow,” said Tigger, “You are SO lucky!”

Inky felt lucky and he felt he should appreciate his good fortune. But the truth was life as a dog wasn’t so great and he didn’t like his new human owners very much.

“Roscoe, sit” said Billy, the human boy who brought Inky home. Billy and his family decided they would call Inky “Roscoe” because it was a good dog name.

But Inky couldn’t sit like a dog. He wanted to curl up like a cat.

“What’s wrong with that dog?” asked Billy’s father. “That’s the dumbest dog I’ve ever seen. It can’t do anything.”

“It buries it’s poop in my flower beds,” complained Billy’s mom. What kind of dog does that?

Inky tried as hard as he could to be an awesome dog for Billy’s family. But no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t be a very good dog.

“Maybe, you should go to doggy training camp,” said Scout, “You’ve gotta be willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen.”

Inky was thinking maybe he just wasn’t cut out to do the dog thing. But when he mentioned this to Kitty/Doggy Johnson and Tigger they were appalled.

“Are you kidding me?” said Doggy (formly known as Kitty Johnson). “You’re so close to being the family dog. Don’t give up now. You just need to work harder.”

“And you’re working with Scout!” said Tigger, “All I hear is how amazing he is.”

One day while Inky was at the doggy park, he noticed a black and white cat watching him. “Why are you staring at me,” asked Inky?
“Because you look so unhappy,” said the other cat.

“I am unhappy,” said Inky. I don’t like hanging out with dogs or cats that are pretending to be dogs. I don’t like running and doing tricks and sniffing each other’s butts. It’s just not my thing at all.”

“My name is Missy, by the way,” said the black and white cat. “You don’t look like a dog. Are you a cat?” “Yes, I’m a cat,” said Inky.
“Why don’t you hang out with cats and humans who like cats if you’re a cat?”

“Because dogs have it a lot better than cats,” said Inky, “I didn’t want to miss out on all the great stuff that dogs have.”

“If it’s so great then why aren’t you happy?” asked Missy.

“That’s true,” admitted Inky, “I guess no matter how great these things are, if I don’t like them, they aren’t great at all, at least not for me.”

“Do you have humans?” asked Missy?

“Yes,” said Inky “I live with humans who let me live with them because they wanted a dog but they don’t like me very much because they don’t think I’m a very good dog. I don’t like them very much either because I’m a cat and I’m not very good at dog things.”

“Did you have humans who liked you when you were a cat?”

“Yes, I did,” said Inky. My humans who I lived with when I was a cat liked me a lot. I guess I thought they weren’t good enough because they wanted a cat not a dog.

“Do you think you would be happier if you went back to being a cat and living with the humans who thought you were a totally awesome cat?” asked Missy

“Maybe,” said Inky. I’m going to have to think about it a little.

Inky decided he should first talk to Scout because Scout was really smart and had a lot of experience. Scout would know what to do.

Scout was worried about Inky going back to being a cat.

“Why would you want to do that? asked Scout, “You’re doing really well. You just need to have a better attitude. Be more grateful for what you have.”

That night, Inky’s human’s had guests over. The other family had two little girls who tried to dress Inky up in doll clothes and called him their “baby.”

“Stop it,” Inky yelled when one of the little girls tried to tie a baby bonnet on his head, “you’re crushing my ears!”

Of course the little girl didn’t hear Inky said “Stop it?” She just heard Inky hiss and started to cry when Inky scratched her with his claws.
“Bad, bad dog!!” yelled Billy’s mother. You go outside you naughty dog.

Billy’s father threw Inky outside into the back yard. It was a cold, rainy night and Inky tried to stay dry huddled under the porch.

“Do I really want to keep doing this?” he wondered. “Yes, dogs have it good but what good is having dog stuff if I don’t really like dog stuff. Plus I have to work so hard and I’m not even very good dog. How much longer can I keep doing this?”

Inky decided he was going to give up trying to be a dog. He would go back to being a cat.

When he told Scout, Doggy Johnson, and Tigger, they all told him he was making a big mistake. He would regret it after working so hard to be a dog.

But Missy agreed with him. “Just because your friends want to be dogs doesn’t mean you have to. You should do what’s right for you.”

So Inky went back to his humans who loved him when he was a cat. His humans were very happy to see him.

“Dad, dad, Inky’s back,” cried the human girl, Sarah.

“We missed you Inky!” said Sarah’s dad, “Where did you go?” “I’m just glad you’re back, Inky,” said Sarah.
And after a nice bowl of cat food and being petted by everyone, Inky curled up with Sarah when she got tucked into bed. “I love you, Inky,” said Sarah sleepily, “You’re the best cat in the world.”

“That’s purrfect,” thought Inky happily, “That’s exactly what I want to be.”


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