Although Cassie has overcome a lot of her separation anxiety that she had when she first came to live with us, bits of it linger. When the pack is together, Cassie, my husband, and myself, all is right in her world. She plays, she naps, she keeps guard at the front and back windows. She’s a happy dog.

When one of us is gone she becomes somewhat unbalanced. She might play, but not with the same enthusiasm. She might check out the front window but she won’t settle. She paces, she nudges whomever is home for attention and then when she gets the attention she still isn’t happy. Yet as soon as the missing pack member comes back home it’s as though she takes a huge, deep breath and relaxes. She is surrounded by family and all is right in her world.

This past weekend I went to our local SCBWI conference at Asilomar in Pacific Grove. It was, as it often is, a lovely conference filled with wonderful nuggets of information from the talented speakers. It was a time to huddle together in the small rooms and talk after hours about craft and publishers and life in general. It was a time to be surrounded with creative energy hoping that some of it would seep into our souls.

And it did.

I work so much in solitude or, as I have for the past few months, with incarcerated youth which is a tough job. All that aloneness, away from my pack, puts me off balance. I do what I’m supposed to do but I often stutter-step around. But a few days immersed with other writers and illustrators, sharing my words and, for the first time, sharing my art, and I was able to take a deep breath, one of those huge, giant, soul-filling breaths and I felt my heart swell and expand and then I smiled, from the inside out.

I was surrounded by family, my writing family, and all was right in my world.