Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Share Your Burden With a Beast

Emotional support animals (ESAs) can lighten the burden of mental illness and anyone in the U.S. who has a psychiatric disability (including children) is guaranteed the right to have such animals live with them in all but a very small percentage of dwellings by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Every U.S. apartment complex, condo, and co-op is included and the rights are not just for renters; owners' associations also must allow ESAs. One cannot be charged pet deposits or fees for ESAs. The best part of all is that this right is cheap and easy to exercise: millions of potential ESAs can be found in animals shelters across the nation, no special training is necessary, and no lawyer is necessary.
What's the difference between a pet and emotional support animal? Nothing except that the owner is a person with a pain or psychiatric disability and uses the animal for "emotional support," that is to say the animal helps them enjoy their life in the home and makes it easier to live with their disability. Six-week old kittens and puppies too young to be housebroken can be emotional support animals. Iguanas and bunnies can be emotional support animals. 
Can I take my ESA to places other than my housing where pets are not allowed? Generally speaking, no. There are some exceptions, e.g., for flights on airlines where you have a note from your doctor stating you are disabled and require the animal either on the flight or at your destination. There are psychiatric service dogs who can be trained to assist you and accompany you in public, but unlike ESAs they must be dogs and they are required to be specifically trained for public access and to assist you. They are wonderful too and those of us who use them often credit them with keeping us alive.
Where can I find out more about ESAs and psychiatric service dogs? Go to for more information. Note: everything on this site is free and there is no advertising. There is even a page

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Working at the Beach in Oregon

Maeve and I are really enjoying our time on the Oregon coast. We've been hanging out at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon, most of this week working and playing. For the first time Maeve is truly enjoying the beach. She's loving the freedom of playing fetch, running, and playing with other dogs. I'm loving the walks on the beach and watching the surf (and the surfers) while I finish up my handouts for our presentation next week and plan our trip down to southern California following the conference in Portland. My cat, Sibol, is enjoying my company in the van while I work and the respite from travelling so much. This is the perfect way to recover from a long cross-country trip and get ready for the conference. Thank you John McManamy for suggesting it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

View from our mobile office in Michigan?

Sometimes my GPS exhibits a whimsical streak. We ended up unexpectedly in Michigan today. That was okay and we just kept going. Until this scene brought me up short. I had to get a location check as well as a reality check. Yes, we were still in Michigan, in Horton Michigan to be precise. I wonder if Dr.Seuss named his elephant after this place. Seems like he'd be comfortable here.

Driving Through Pennsylvania

We left Maeve's ancestral home in Selinsgrove, PA and set the GPS to take us to Des Moines, Iowa via the most economical route. I set the GPS for this not only to save money on gas (my biggest expense), but also because it usually gives us a route that includes some country highways (speeds of 45-55 miles per hour give you better mpg than 65-75 expressway speeds do).

Maeve hates the high-speed interstates and I don't much like them.  Yesterday's drive through Pennsylvania was great. Even though the weather was bad (downpouring rain much of the time), the scenery was spectacular.  We followed a horse and buggy down a country highway for a while, we drove through picturesque small towns with amazing old buildings, and mostly we drove through gorgeous rolling farmland. This is the kind of farmland I like; where there's a real farmhouse that probably contains the family that owns the farm -- not miles of acreage farmed by giant mechanical beetles and devoid of humanity.

My friend Kathy insists that part of why travel suits me is that seeing new things all the time is mood stabilizing. I can't say she's wrong about that.   

Sunday, September 16, 2012

View from our mobile office

Lake Hammond, PA

When Did You Last See the Bitch Who Whelped You?

Maeve and I went to Loco Meadowsin Selinsgrove PA to see Maeve's canine and human moms. Maeve's canine mom had just had a new litter of pups and was too irritable about other dogs being near her babies for Maeve to visit (this could be the origin of the word bitchy), but Maeve's human mom, Connie Hackenberg, was thrilled to see her. 

Maeve showed off for Connie all day long. She started by exhibiting her Frisbee and jumping skills. Next we went out to breakfast and Connie got to see how so many people smile at Maeve as she waltzes through the parking lot and into a restaurant. As we were seated Maeve scooted into her place under the table and began her prize-winning impression of a stuffed animal. On the way out of the restaurant Maeve switched into her public interaction role and facilitated a conversation with strangers about service dogs and emotional support animals. She performed variations on these themes as we did errands around town. 

This was Connie's first experience out in public with a working service dog, but she is no

Friday, September 14, 2012

Philly Trains Run a Quarter Century Late

We've started our trip to Alternatives 2012 in Portland OR. We had our first gig in Philadelphia at the wonderful Chestnut Place Clubhouse (details in next post). We stayed out in the suburbs and Maeve got her first train ride the morning of our gig. She wasn't sure she liked the train. She got on, but was hesitant to get under my seat.Luckily there was a family she'd made friends with at the station and we moved to their seats. She settled right in and behaved perfectly for the whole trip. I wish I could say the same for the SEPTA conductors. The Americans with Disabilities Act has been law for almost a quarter century, but SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) hasn't yet updated their policies about dogs to comply with the ADA.  Whether one's civil rights are violated seems to be at the discretion of the conductor.There is no evidence of any ADA education or policy.

Here's what the DOJ (which enforces the ADA) says they can and can't do:

Monday, September 10, 2012

GoDaddy Outage Knocks Out ServicePoodle

Both and are registered with GoDaddy so the GoDaddy outage today (see took our website out too.  I expect we'll be back up soon. Update: as of 4:12 pm Eastern, we're back up.  Visit us at  Nope, that only lasted a few minutes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mental Health is Going to the Dogs and We're Going to Portland!

OCTOBER 11, 2012

We'll be presenting  our 90-minute workshop, Mental Health is Going to the Dogs (and Cats), with our co-presenter, Jo Becker, a local Fair Housing educator. Maeve and Joanne will be driving across the country in the Maevemobile and would love to do this workshop for your organization or group on our way out to Portland. 

To book a free talk for your group, contact us

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Respect for the Bereaved

"What if my dog's presence upsets some of the bereaved at the wake?" 

A member of my support group (call her Carol) contacted me after her mother died. Carol didn't think any of our support group would be at the wake because she hadn't been in contact lately. Carol is terribly susceptible to severe depression, has been devoted to her mother (she talked about her visits to the nursing home all the time) and there was a lot of friction and misunderstanding among her family. I don't usually attend wakes, but I'd never avoid one that mattered to someone in my support group. I offered to go. In my offer I specifically mentioned that I would be coming with Maeve. Carol responded with enthusiasm to the idea.

Inside my head I thought, "Yes, she's enthusiastic, but what about her siblings and other family members?" I could have asked, but I knew communications in her family were badly flawed.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Recovery on the Road: 10,000 Mile Checkup

Six months ago my psychiatric service dog Maeve, my cat Sibol, and I set out on the road in our new home, the Maevemobile.  The goal was to advance my recovery and to support my mission of fighting stigma and getting the word out about the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities to have emotional support animals and service dogs under federal law -- and do both within the limits of my monthly social security check (see my Tour Page). Now, after 6 months and 10,000 miles, it's time to take stock.  


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm Blogging for Mental Health

Mental Health Blog Party BadgeSee for details

A Taste of Life Without Stigma

Maeve and Joanne at Rainbow Point, Bryce Nat'l Park
I celebrate the positive side of mental illness and psychiatric service dogs, but I'm no Pollyanna. Stigma and bigotry are alive and well.  Every so often, however, I get a glimpse of how life would be without them. Tuesday was exhilarating!

I had a reservation for the Park Service bus to Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. The park has been great about the service dog and this bus tour was no exception. Despite some resistance from Maeve to getting on the bus (she was sensitized by her first large bus on the Vegas Strip a couple of weeks ago) the driver was friendly and welcoming. Even better, he was a gentle and good driver so Maeve got over her fear quickly. By the first stop she was good about getting back on and a couple of stops later she was so relaxed she fell asleep. With one grouchy, ignorant exception, the passengers were very friendly and inclusive. The day was clear, the views were beautiful, and I heard about the restaurant at the Lodge

Friday, May 11, 2012

Recovery on the Road

Maeve with Hoodoos in background, Bryce Canyon Nat'l Park, Utah
Travelling, working, and living in 100 square feet of van with a dog and cat would be a challenge for most people, but the benefits to my recovery are more than worth it. I'm living and working in a beautiful natural setting--often with spectacular views; everything I own is never further away than the parking lot; housework (vanwork?) is limited;  I go from sleeping to working to preparing meals to hiking in the blink of an eye. Little gets in the way of my mission and the self-care needed to manage my bipolar and anxiety disorders. Take today:

08:30: I'm sleeping (still adjusting to crossing of a time zone two days ago) and a call comes in from a Fair Housing specialist in Oregon I'd asked to co-present with me at a SAMHSA conference this fall. Time was short to submit the presentation proposal, her schedule was hectic, and I couldn't afford to miss this call. The phone was on the table/desk over my bed so I picked up the phone before the third ring. I might have needed to refer to materials about the conference, my proposal, or my website during this conversation.  No problem, my computer is on the table/desk above me within easy reach. Being able to work from bed is a blessing.

09:00: I am PSYCHED!!!! She agreed to co-present and is enthusiastic about it. She's got a great voice, a gentle but animated personality, and lots of experience in front of groups -- this is great.  I've promised to email her the current draft of the presentation proposal which is 90% complete. I'm going to make coffee and drink it while I touch up the proposal and mail it. No, I'm going to wash up and dress and then make coffee. Maybe I should work on the proposal first and then get coffee. It's sunny now and rain is forecast for today; maybe I should go hiking first. Warning lights flash in my brain. My sleep was repeatedly broken last night, I'm very excited, I recently crossed a time zone, I didn't eat very well yesterday, and I'm buzzing around having trouble getting to the next thing I need to do. Hypomania has entered stage left.

09:45:What's in my toolbox for hypomania that can get me on track? I open my mental inventory and choose several quick and easy things: Listen to audio book, get outside, and begin morning routine. Maeve, who is sitting in the driver's seat waiting patiently for me, and I do our morning greeting ritual of paws on my shoulders, petting, licking, tail wagging, dog-praising, and eye-to-eye contact. I fire up Daniel Seigel's Mindsight on my smart phone; get the coffee makings, coffee grinder, pot, and induction cooktop out of the cabinet next to the bed; and carry everything three steps out to the picnic table. Grind coffee and brew while listening to audio book and enjoying the pine trees and sunshine.

10:00: I'm a little more under control, but Mindsight is turning out to be even better than I expected and there are parts I'm going to want to notate and use in my writing and speaking. I start to fret about how I'm going to remember which parts of the book I really wanted to use. Uh oh. This is buzzing me again. Need to do something and get it off my plate. Three steps back to my desk, grab the kindle, bring it out to the picnic table, buy the book, notate the parts that I just couldn't lose. Pour the coffee, rinse the coffeepot, take a walk to the restroom so Maeve and I can pee, and go back to the desk to work on the proposal.

10:30: I'm eating grapefruit and putting the last missing element in the proposal. It takes me a while to make sure it's right (with hypomania proofreading and editing are not easy). I make a some careless errors in the process of converting the document, writing the cover e-mail and attaching the document and the call for proposals document to the message, but I get it done.  Hurray for me!

Noon: I get sucked into checking all my social media stuff but eventually get  back outside. A person I met yesterday comes by and we talk a bit.  Face-to-face interaction is mood stabilizing. I was too buzzed to eat enough grapefruit earlier so I eat some more while I read and highlight sections of Mindsight.

13:00: Rain clouds are rolling in and my blurred vision tells me I'm getting a migraine. I make more coffee, stop reading, clear picnic table, and throw everything into van. I'm feeling more sick than headachy; thank goodness my bed is right here. I call a friend to share the good news about the co-presenter and try to put a few things in their places, sitting down on the bed frequently as the nausea waves hit. The van is closed up against the rain but there is a big window on either side of my bed so I can still look at the pine trees. The cat comes down from her perch to cuddle and Maeve is lying at the foot of my bed.

Mid- to Late Afternoon: Rain is over. I take Maeve out to play with her new frisbee. Pain and nausea are under control but the migraine's neurological symptoms are still going strong. My balance is off and I'm having weird physical sensations. I may not be safe hiking yet. I go back to the computer and catch up on messages and make myself a sandwich.

Early evening: Maeve insists I need to do something outside and she's right. There's not a lot of time left, but the beautiful rim trail around the top of the canyon is less than a quarter mile from our campsite. Off we go! We take pictures (see above), walk, and have short interactions with a number of people. I'm calm and happy by the time we get back to the campsite.

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human We would LOVE to speak to your group free of charge

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

View from Our Mobile Office -- Coyote!

Maeve's been urine-marking over coyote stools on the side of the campground's road for days now. The other night I saw a coyote trotting up the hill toward our campsite and shooed Maeve into the van. Yesterday a pair of them sauntered by at midday.  I'm a little concerned that she's "pissed them off."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Maeve Dares to Go Bare

Maeve at the Mercedes-Benz of Henderson cafe
There is no question that service dogs do not need to be labelled in any way. I've always had Maeve wear a simple, home-made sign that says "service dog" on her saddlebags when we go into any place that serves foods and also in most businesses, but I was under no obligation to do this. I did it for my own convenience.

A couple of weeks ago I had a 10-day period of bad luck, bad health, and high stress. One of the stressful events was the loss/theft of Maeve's saddlebags with the service dog sign. I had backup saddlebags, but no sign. I was sick, had no address to which an order could be shipped,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Maeve Does Vegas Strip to Celebrate 150th Business Added to Honor Roll

Maeve will be touring the Las Vegas Strip tonight to celebrate the 150th addition to her Business Honor Roll. The Honor Roll publicizes the good news about psychiatric service dog access -- people with PSDs are treated appropriately in most businesses in the United States.

As part of their nationwide SPOT tour, Maeve and Joanne document businesses they visit which conform to the Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines for service dog access under the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA). When they are not treated appropriately, they educate the employees of the business. At this writing the Honor Roll contains 150 businesses in 14 different states.

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human We would LOVE to speak to your group free of charge

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

Saturday, April 21, 2012

View from our mobile office

We are at Fossil Falls, a BLM campground off 395 in California on our way to Sequoia National Park. It looks like we've driven to Mars.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rx for Joy Can be Written by Any Therapist in the U.S.

My current therapist is a nurse practitioner who can prescribe psychiatric drugs. My previous therapist was an MSW who could not. Both, however, could write a prescription for an emotional support animal (ESA). A short, simple letter (see sample below) from a doctor (any medical doctor, not just a psychiatrist) or any therapist will allow a person with a psychiatric disability or a chronic pain condition to have pets in no-pets housing, to avoid any pet deposit or pet fee, and to avoid size limitations or species restrictions. The person with the disability gives this to their landlord or co-op/condo board as a request for a reasonable accommodation. (See How to Get an Emotional Support Animal).

Why should I prescribe ESAs?
Maeve, Psychiatric Service Dog and Mental Health Advocate said it best in her Manifesto:
If the drug companies could patent pets, then animals would be the first line of treatment for every condition in the DSM. Animals interact with no drugs, can't cause metabolic syndrome or diabetes, never overwhelm kidneys or liver, are approved for pediatric use, and improve both mental and physical health -- EVEN OVER THE COURSE OF A LIFETIME OF USE. Rather than a few 6-week clinical trials, thousands of years of experience demonstrate our safety and effectiveness.
What types of animals can be ESAs?
ESAs need no special training and can be any species normally considered a pet. They can even be too young to be housebroken. Note: you may have heard that the Department of Justice recently limited service animals to two species: dogs and miniature horses. This does not affect the law regarding ESAs.  See note at the bottom of How to Get an Emotional Support Animal with link to a memo from HUD, which enforces the law regarding ESAs in housing.

What types of housing are covered?
All condo and co-ops (whether rented or owned) are covered. All apartment buildings or complexes with more than four units are covered. See page 2 of the Fair Housing Information Sheet #6 from the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law for information on owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units and single family houses.

Can an existing pet be declared an ESA? Is it possible to have more than one ESA?

Yes. I had my cat Sibol for nearly 10 years before she became a legal ESA and had been paying hundreds of dollars in pet deposits and pet fees for her each time I renewed my lease. That stopped after I requested that she and the puppy I intended to train as a service dog both be allowed in my no-dogs apartment as emotional support animals.

What law gives people the right to ESAs?
The U.S. Fair Housing Act, which is effective in all 50 U.S. states and cannot be limited by local or state laws, codes, or regulations.

Do ESAs have public access rights?
Not under federal law. The Americans with Disabiities Act (ADA) allows service dogs access virtually anywhere the general public is allowed, but unlike ESAs these dogs must be specially trained and must provide some service other than emotional support. See It is possible for ESAs to fly with their owners if they are necessary to the owner on the flight or at the destination, but that right comes from a different law with different procedures. 

What Should the Letter Say?
Here is a sample excerpted from page 6 of the Fair Housing Information Sheet #6 from the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Their sample letter includes an additional paragraph which you may or may not want to include. The letter I used only had the two paragraphs below. When I ran it by a lawyer at the CT Fair Housing Center she assured me the omitted paragraph was not necessary.
Dear [Housing Authority/Landlord]:
[Full Name of Tenant] is my patient, and has been under my care since [date]. I am intimately familiar with his/her history and with the functional limitations imposed by his/her disability. He/She meets the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Due to mental illness, [first name] has certain limitations regarding [social interaction/coping with stress/anxiety, etc.]. In order to help alleviate these difficulties, and to enhance his/her ability to live independently and to fully use and enjoy the dwelling unit you own and/or administer, I am prescribing an emotional support animal that will assist [first name] in coping with his/her disability.
What if the landlord refuses the request for a reasonable accommodation?
I contacted my state's Fair Housing Center. Presenting my landlord with the number and name of an attorney there ended the problem.  You can find your Fair Housing Center by googling "Fair Housing Center" plus your state's name. One can also file a complaint with HUD. No lawyer is required, there is no fee, and it can be done by telephone, mail, or internet. See

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at
We would LOVE to speak to your group free of charge

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Recreational Recovery: Eight Steps to a New Life

I love the recovery movement, but not its name. "Recovery" implies "cure" or "going back." I prefer recreational recovery. Why? It sounds like fun (until I remember it means to create again, not just go out and play), and "re-create" sounds powerful -- a mighty phoenix rising from the ashes, not a cooked goose raking them to salvage its charred plumage. I've employed an eight-step process to arise from the ashes and create a great life that allows for my mental illness. 

In 2002 I was heading towards marriage with the love of my life. I was a workaholic technologist with a comfortable income. Anxiety disorders and a misdiagnosed mood disorder had troubled me since childhood. In 2012 I'm divorced; my mood disorder is more severe (ultra-rapid cycling, drug-resistant bipolar); my anxiety is worse; I'm going through menopause; I've been unable to work for years; my only income is a social security check that is 85% less than my last paycheck; and . . . my life is so good my friends and family are jealous. 

I travel full time. It's March and I'm in a stunning national park on the U.S./Mexico border for $6/night. I have no debt, no utilities, no rent, no mortgage, no storage fees, and no hookup/dumping fees. My income is spent primarily on high quality groceries, insurance, and fuel. I love outdoors activities and am proud to be living a greener life with extremely low water use and solar power. I have solid relationships with my parents, children, and grandchildren. 

My psychiatric service dog travels with me. We get the word out about two federal laws that give people with psychiatric disabilities the right to have trained service dogs accompany them wherever the public is allowed as well as the right to have untrained pets (emotional support animals) in no-pets housing without deposits or fees. This volunteer work is self-directed and self-financed. We visit clubhouses for the mentally ill and treatment facilities; we talk to groups and individuals. We have a website, a Facebook page, and a Google+ page. I have no boss, no bureaucracy, no bookkeeping (I don't fundraise or charge anything), and I set my own schedule. 

This hasn't cured me, but it has moderated my symptoms and given me a life well worth living. 

Want to work on your own recreational recovery? Here are the eight steps I used:

1. Forgive yourself for often failing or underachieving at everything in this list
2. Allow yourself sick time, but don't wait until treatment "works" (I'd STILL be waiting)
3. Study everything about your disorder and your individual experience of it
4. Examine your life, identify what doesn't work, and picture a better future: 

"I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want." --Mark Twain

5. Use positive psychology techniques to sculpt the foundation blocks of your new life:
  • Learn your strengths and find uses for them
  • Learn what creates flow in your life and create opportunities for it
  • Note and appreciate what you find good -- even on bad days
6. Discard what hurts and add what might help
7. Reduce the risk of major life changes:    
  • Avoid commitment to major changes until each idea has aged and been refined for months or years. You have to be able to live with them in sickness and in health.
    • Changes had to make sense to me in all parts of my cycling (up, down, and stable) before I would take an action that would cost a lot of money or narrow my options.  
  • Talk to people you respect about your plans 
    • I told my psychiatrist, my therapist, some friends and family. 
  • Live and test the ideas as much as possible before committing. 
  • For many months in my apartment I ...
  • stopped using my stove and microwave and used a single induction burner for all cooking
  • turned off the lights in my apartment and lived with LED lamps alone
  • used only a small amount of refrigerator space and left my freezer empty
  • used only water from measured containers for all my cleaning, cooking, and personal hygiene

8. Repeat all steps above over and over ... and never stop

For more information about service dogs and emotional support animals in the U.S.:
For more information about positive psychology: 

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Funny Memoir with a Bad Title

I can't say I like his title, but reading John McManamy's newest book got me to write my first Amazon review. Writing no longer comes easy to me and I usually write only about people and mental illness, emotional support animals, and service dogs, but this author was worth the effort.

Click here to see the book (and my review) on Amazon.

John McManamy has been a powerful and positive influence on me and on my recovery. A previous book, Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder, is one of the few books I replaced in Kindle format when I gave my physical books to PrimeTime Clubhouse in Torrington, CT in preparation for taking to the road full time. His Knowledge is Necessity blog comforted me when I was unsure whether my reactions to Whittaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic, were rational and I was afraid to discuss it with others. His other writing in that blog and at have entertained and enlightened me.

Here's the text of my review for those of you who don't want to go to Amazon:

I wish everyone would read this book to get a fresh perspective on the humanity of those of us with mental illness. Why should YOU read it?

If you haven't (yet) been diagnosed with a mental illness, have no family members who suffer from mental illness, and don't know anyone with a mental illness (i.e., you're a hermit in the Himalayas shunning all society because you were brought up by wolves), it's a funny memoir written in an authentic voice by a man of a certain age who has suffered serious mental illness throughout his life.

For friends and family of those who suffer from mental illness, John's book is a wake up call. Here's a mental health journalist writing about his life with a sometimes devastating mental illness and he never mentions his doctor, his therapist, or his medication. These things are not his life; his interactions with friends, family, and the rest of the world are.

Likewise, if you suffer from a mental illness, this book is an entertaining reminder that we are not our illness, we have real lives to live, and we needn't spend all our time worrying about the problems of living with mental illness. He even reminds us that being "normal" is not all it's cracked up to be: "Yes, there are times when we really do go crazy, do things we later wish we could undo. But on top of that, we then have to put up with people who simply think we are crazy for no other reason than we're not as constitutionally boring as they are."

P.S.: for those who also wish to know more about the illness, the same author wrote a very good book about mood disorders that covers diagnosis, related brain science, recovery, and special sections for specific populations (men, women, old, young, etc.): Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

View from our mobile office

We weren't on a hajj, but we ended up in Mecca (California). Wonderful campsite complete with blooming ocotillo and a shining white-yellow flower that appears to be a poppy relative.

John McManamy's Newest Book: Perfect End to a Great Day?

"And now for something completely different . . ." I just got done doing a great auto tour of Joshua Tree National Park. I've had no cell or internet service for a while, but tonight I'm camping on BLM land outside the park and I'm connected again. I was thrilled to see that the long awaited latest kindle book by my favorite bipolar writer has finally been released see: Knowledge Is Necessity: My New Kindle Book!!

I immediately put aside Mark Twain's Roughing It and downloaded McManamy's memoir.  I'm hoping for a cross between Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes and David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. That's a lot to ask for $4.99, I know, but I have faith!

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

Saturday, March 31, 2012

View from our mobile office

We're in an Arizona rest area almost in California trying to catch up with things while we have some cell service. We're going to Joshua Tree National Park next.

You Can Take Your Dog to Work

NPR has a great story on this subject (see link below).  Turns out it's good for people to take their dogs to work.  There aren't too many places where "normal" people can do that, but it's a possibility for people with psychiatric disabilities.  Not only service dogs, but also emotional support animals, can be requested to accompany a person with a psychiatric disability to work in the U.S. as a "reasonable accommodation." See for links to relevant .gov web pages.

You can read the National Public Radio Story at:

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

What if water cost a quarter?

That's what we paid for it in Gila Bend, AZ at this water dispenser.

How much would it cost you if you had to buy a week's supply for all your indoor use? According to the EPA the average family of four would be popping 1,960 quarters into the machine -- $490 for a week's supply.I'll bet that would change your water use habits!

I don't scrimp on water for drinking at all. The vast majority of water goes into me, Maeve, and Sibol as drinking water. I use extremely low water use personal hygeine and cleaning methods and I use a dry composting toilet. It would cost me only $2.50 for a week's supply for drinking, cooking, and cleaning for me, the cat and the dog.

Want to see where your 1,960 gallons goes? Here's the link to the EPA site.

Joanne Shortell, Maeve's Service Human
call us using "call Maeve and Joanne" at

Joanne and Maeve (her psychiatric service poodle) help people with psychiatric disabilities discover their rights to emotional support animals in no-pets housing without pet deposits or pet fees and their rights to service dogs

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Great video on ADA rights to public access for people who use service dogs

It's slightly out of date as it was made before the Department of Justice limited service animals to dogs and miniature horses, but otherwise it is accurate.

Monday, March 19, 2012

There is no life worth living without risk

Just the other day I made a reservation for this tour and then drove to my mom's for a week's visit. Look at the lead story in her local newspaper yesterday. She was good; she didn't make a fuss.

Following my bliss and my blisters

I have been receiving signals about my life choices lately. All of them approve of my spending time outdoors. The night before my first real camping trip in the Maevemobile, I saw a spectacular green-tailed meteorite break into several pieces above the desert behind my Mom's rv park. The night before I headed to Yuma to have a solar system installed and then to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, I saw another meteorite in the skies over Tucson. Today I was less than half watching a PBS program, but heard one phrase clearly: "Follow your bliss," a quote from Joseph Campbell. The reason I was not really watching was that I was browsing a book on national parks in the southwest, looking for destinations.

The quote resonated in me and evoked memories of my recent experiences in the Coronado National Forest and at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. In both places I felt a deep peace like nothing I had ever felt before. It was not a hypomanic high or a giddy, in-love emotion. When I looked it up in wikipedia, there was another quote by him in response to accusations that he was promoting hedonism (he was not). The quote was, "I should have said follow your blisters."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Take time to smell the cactus

We're in the Sonoran desert and the cholla are starting to bloom. So far I've seen yellow orange and red flowers on different types of cholla. They smell good too.

View from our mobile office

We're at Organ Pipe Cactus National Park near Ajo AZ