Category Archives: Books

The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer. A portion of this post heading is taken from a wonderful and well-respected book by La Leche League I read over 38 years ago, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” I read it during a time when I was preparing for my first child and preparing for childbirth and beyond. This was my first lesson in learning to listen to my body.

This morning, some 38 years later and a lifetime of listening, I was awakened by this thought, “The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies” and how even though the time may not be the best to write this, because I have scholarships to apply for and work to do to prepare for the next semester of grad school, I cannot help but listen to this message and put it out there.

The message is: Our thoughts and feelings (or emotions) are inextricably linked to our bodies! Once we recognize this, the knowledge is immensely powerful. I have been so fortunate to attract mentors and educational opportunities in my life from the days I was a pregnant teen at 15 to my life today, a mother of 3 and grandmother of 8; now the age of 54.

I learned from natural childbirth that “attitude IS everything!” If you think it is pain, it is painful! If you think of it as the process that brings you your angel, then it is manageable.

I learned from 7 years in La Leche League that if you always remember in the back of your mind that breastfeeding is a normal, natural process that mammals have been doing successfully for millenia and trusting this natural process, your milk will come and challenges are only bumps in the road, not roadblocks.

I learned from reading Adelle Davis’ “Let’s Have Healthy Children” that our foods are full of everything we need if we learn to trust the foods that have been provided by nature. We do not have to buy expensive food to nourish our bodies properly. By being more efficient with our food choices, we can bring health to our families within any budget.

I learned from my 10 years working in the field of biofeedback, that the mind and our inner emotions are incredibly powerful and that our body speaks to us continually. Whether we listen or not is the real challenge! When we listen, we reduce suffering and illness and increase our quality of life. When we ignore the signs, we suffer from a variety of ills, including accidents and injuries.

So much more to share and no time to do it right now, but I want to leave you with this thought, please take the time to just be quiet without any outside electronic or other interference at least once every day. Listen and acknowledge and make the little adjustments you know deep down that you will benefit from. Little by little, you will find that the simple adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” will improve your daily quality of life, your health and your future!

Until next time,
Granny Pants
(Oh yeah, this photo was taken of me in 2002. I just found it and had to use it to brighten my day. The Yuba River is in the background. Love that place!)

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January 20, 2013 · 6:48 pm

Education Reform and the Over-Inflated, Over-Rated 4-year College Degree

by Christina Ivazes  

 The current state of the US economy, our unskilled labor force, the need for educational reform, and the skyrocketing costs of a college education demand we be smart and efficient about solutions that affect and connect all of the above. Perhaps a better strategy is to back away from the ideal that every American should go to college. Yes, we can all agree that every American should have the opportunity to go to college if they choose. However, to give our students and our nation the best educated and skilled workforce, we should not focus on every American going to college, but first, on every American graduating from high school with two years of career training. This pragmatic strategy offers numerous benefits to our country. 

vh   By becoming more efficient and effective in preparing students for the real world and college, the US will save money and jobs. In 2010, The Fiscal Times reports, “just 56 percent of those who enroll in a four-year college earn a bachelor’s degree…Some students drop out because of the trouble paying the cost—the average college debt upon graduation is a whopping $24,000” (Reynolds Lewis). According to the U.S. Dept. of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the cost of a four-year college education is from $18,900 to $35,500 and rising. We also know that these quotes are a low-average and not really what a four-year is typically costing our college graduates, where $50-$100,000 is a more common estimate today in 2011. And graduation does not necessarily equate employment as we see with a glut of unemployed college graduates today weighed down with inflated student loan and credit card debt. There are jobs however, that are immune to outsourcing and which do not warrant an expensive four-year degree.

Secondary and post-secondary vocational and technical training programs are historically lower in cost with competitive salaries to those earned from four-year college degrees. Matthew B. Crawford advocates for the many benefits of trade-based training in his bookShop Class as Soulcraft, “You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information system or low-level “creative” (53). The Houston Chronicle published an article supporting Crawford’s concept stating, “Mechanics of all types are in high demand and can command a high hourly wage… Many blue collar jobs require training through apprenticeships or vocational training programs and others may require on-the-job training or passing an aptitude test prior to employment” (Nielson). This is not a proposal to eliminate the college track for high school students in America.

Shouldn’t we beg the questions: Why are we so single tracked about how to create a productive & competitive job force? And, shouldn’t we think about downsizing the cost of education along with our lifestyles? The IES reports that in 2008, earnings for an employed four-year college graduate are on average of $55,000/males, $45,000/females per year. Compare the costly four-year college degree with training and apprenticeship (which can begin as a junior in high school) for an electrician who can earn from $34,000 and upwards with no student loan debt with just two more years of post-secondary training for $400-$1000/yr. “Semi-truck drivers…start out making $50,000 annually…and only requires about four weeks of training to obtain a license” (Nielson). Debt free high school training in the trades or technology/health careers can yield from $34,000-$50,000+ per year. Another pragmatic idea Crawford suggests is “even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers” (53).    By increasing high school career training programs, we can create a stronger buy-in for students, reducing training costs while also reducing the costs of high school dropouts for our society.

cgh  The costs of high school dropouts are far-reaching beyond the costs of college dropouts. According to the 2007 report The Economic Losses from High School Drop-outs in California, the significant impact from high school dropouts come from lost tax revenue, Medical and Medicare expenditures, fiscal costs to fight crime, prosecute and incarcerate felons, and increased assistance for both felons and their families. “The economic magnitudes are substantial” (2 Belfield, Levin). After deducting the cost of education, the average total lifetime social gains for a high school graduate is $391,910 per graduate in the State of California, with the savings for black males being the highest at $681,130 (Table 18, Belfield and Levin). My point is not to stereotype but to acknowledge that we need to do everything in our capacity to invest in our high school students to become ready employable adults and/or ready for college, not inmates and/or recruits for drug cartels.

Career and technical training can be a ray of hope for all high school students, not just the disenchanted. Crawford makes a strong case in favor of the trades in Shop Class as Soulcraft, including his highlight on their little recognized intellectual merit, “I quickly realized there was more thinking going on in the bike shop than in my previous job at the think tank” (27). With a PhD. he describes a collegiate fall from grace as a blessing because it led him back to his original high school training as a motorcycle mechanic.  Crawford describes his own cognitive journey as well as those of other tradesmen he interviewed. The conclusion is worth a new focal point in our education reform. In Crawford’s view “Given the intrinsic richness of manual work— cognitively, socially, and in its broader psychic appeal—the question becomes why it has suffered such a devaluation as a component of education” (27). Some may view this idea as undermining a college education, but what Crawford is really pointing out is that “Practical know-how… is always tied to the experience of a particular person. It can’t be downloaded, it can only be lived” (162). Children and teenagers have always responded positively to the value of hands-on learning, especially when it has a practical application in their lives.

At the age of 16, a teenager’s cognitive maturity starts him or her on the path towards the reality of the adult world and all that entails. You may wonder what cognitive maturity has to do with a broad-based high school career and technical training program, but if students are struggling in school, have no money or family support for college, many see no future in the value of their junior and senior years. Challenged students need full engagement to prevent them from becoming avoidable statistics. By focusing on Math and English proficiency by the end of sophomore year, juniors and seniors can take core subjects and science classes with their half day of training courses to ensure they are ‘college ready’ at graduation. This schedule does not limit a student’s education, it enhances it by making it relevant; it prepares the student both for life and for college should they choose to attend.

 cvb  Though career and technical training in high school is not the solution for every student, it can serve a healthy percentage of our labor force. Some model programs in the US illustrate the potential of every high school, such as the Howard High School of Technology in Delaware.  The 2010 report by the Delaware Department of Education declares, “Howard has a high graduation rate (97 percent) and daily attendance rate (95 percent) and a low serious infraction rate….In addition to an academic program, Howard students choose one of the following career pathways: finance and business; carpentry; computer network administration; cosmetology; culinary arts; dental assisting; electrical trades; engine technology; legal administrative assisting; medical assisting; nursing technology; public service; or structural steel detailing.”  This richly diverse program serves a variety of student and community needs. It is a model that deserves replication.

There are still many questions to address in more detail before programs like Howard can be implemented effectively across America.  Questions like: How will we pay for this?  How can we make a solid case for the benefits of high school career training that will not be sabotaged by budget cuts every time state and federal revenues fluctuate? How can we refocus dollars from punitive institutions to education so we can create a higher skilled work force, reduce high school dropouts and prison populations while also reducing student loan and credit card debt? The answers to these questions and are necessary for the design of lasting and effective education reform that will strengthen our economy and society.  Of course, to change the current system, we may also have to challenge for profit college and prison industries that have benefitted by the shrinking of high school career education in the U.S., but it’s a challenge worth taking up.

Work cited

Belfield, Clive R. and Henry M. Levin. “The Economic Losses From High School Dropouts in California.” University of California, Santa Barbara: California Dropout Research Project Report #1, August 2007. PDF.(Table 18) Web. 7 April 2011.

Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft. New York: The Penguin Press. 2009. Print.

Delaware Department of Education. “Delaware Partnership Zone: Howard High School of Technology.” PDF. 2010. 21 April 2011.

Nielson, Lisa. “Highest Demand Blue Collar Careers.” The Houston Chronicle. 2011. Web. 7 April 2011.

Reynolds Lewis, Katherine. “High College Dropout Rate Threatens US Growth.” The Fiscal Times. October 28, 2010. Web. 22 April 2011.

 Wei, Christina Chang. “What is the Price of College?” U.S. Department of Education. December, 2010. PDF. (Table 1). Web. 7 April 2011.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, children, Education, Families, Fathers, Financial Crisis, Literature, mother, Parenting, prevention, teaching, technology, teenagers, The New Physics of Childhood

MY LIVING WISHES – PART 1

 fufMY LIVING WISHES FOR MY ELDER YEARS (Inspired and influenced by all of the precious elders in my life and those who have cared for them.)

TO ALL OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS,

There will be a day, when I may stop doing things for myself, but they will still be important for me to do.

Who will do them?

Who will make sure I carry them out?  

I will need you to help me do the things that are essential to my health and wellness and state of mind. I will need to be reminded to do them or even have you do them with me, so I can maintain a quality of life that all seniors deserve to have. If for some reason you are not taking care of your own needs, please don’t limit mine. Use my deep down (though not always stated) desire for quality of life to lift you up with me. This is what you did for me when you were a child. You motivated me to care better of myself and now is the time for me to return the favor.  Throughout my life I have also  worked to make sure all I care for have their core needs met for health, wellness and a joyful state of mind. Can you be there for me as well? 

Here is what I ask from you at the very least:

  • I NEED MY LOVED ONES TO HAVE ALL OF MY CONTACT INFORMATION ON DOCTORS, CAREGIVERS, NEIGHBORS, ETC. Perhaps a master list that gets sent to everyone in my family will be the best way to handle this! Also, please make sure I have a copy of this list myself in my wallet or purse and on my refrigerator. (If it can be laminated this is even better!) 

 

  • AS MUCH NATURAL LIGHT AS POSSIBLE. Even if I want to stay inside and close the blinds, don’t let me! Make sure I get outside in the daylight every day for at least ½ to 1 hour. If it is raining, make sure I have all of the blinds open so I get enough natural light! This will help my sleep cycles and other body functions to balance. I need exercise, fresh air and natural light to thrive!    

 

  • PLEASE HELP ME EXERCISE EVERY DAY, especially if I am ever inside without the ability to take a walk. Have me use the stairs as much as possible; have me stretch and dance and do toning exercises. Take me wherever you can to get me walking briskly and move every part of my body in every way possible every day.  

 wer

  • PLEASE MAKE SURE I GET PLENTY OF VEGGIES, FRESH AND COOKED. I need to eat a lot of whole grains and legumes and fresh fruits. I may get lazy and not want to cook for myself. I will need you to cook good food for me! I don’t want a lot of fattening foods or breads or pastas or sweets. Of course, I love these foods and will gladly eat them if they are served to me, but they will be so bad for me. I need for you to take the lead and make sure I am getting the best, especially that oatmeal every morning. A nice pot of homemade soup is something that will help me stay healthy too. P.S. Please don’t microwave the nutrients out of my food (once in a while is ok, but not every day).  nkn
  •  
  • I NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER OR BATH AT LEAST 2-3 TIMES A WEEK. If I get lazy and don’t want to bathe, make sure I do anyway! This is a big issue that I need for you to monitor. Don’t take my word for it! I need to have personal hygiene handled. (Check my fingernails and toenails and give me regular manicures and pedicures-at least every 2 weeks.)  
  •  
  • I NEED MY SHEETS AND TOWELS AND CLOTHES WASHED ONCE A WEEK. Don’t take my word for it. (I may say I have handled things just to keep things easier for both of us.) Make sure my living space is clean and that I have fresh air and sunshine coming into my room.
  •  
  • READ TO ME PLEASE! Because you know how much I hunger for a good story, please find out what my favorite stories are today so you can read them to me when I can’t read to myself!  I adore a clever and beautifully written sentence and find so much joy in hearing them! You can also read me my own writing and journals (or your writing). This may be fun for both of us. I love great movies of course, but I should never stop experiencing the value of good literature.

 

  • I NEED TO EXPERIENCE NEW THINGS ALWAYS. Get me out to museums, live performances, especially great singing and dancing! I love all kinds of new things that are happening from all walks of life. Take me to cultural activities and to neighborhoods for ethnic food and experiences so I can feel connected to the world’s people and feel like I am traveling again. If this is not possible, please let me watch movies set in other cultures. I am a child of the world and need to feel this always.

 

  • I NEED TO HAVE REMINDERS OF MY LOVED ONES. Show me pictures and videos of all of you children and grandchildren and future great-grandchildren. I want to see you as you were when you were babies and as you have grown. 

 

  • I NEED TO SEE AND HUG MY LOVED ONES. Please make sure I have contact with all of you, my loved ones, as much as is possible, even if it is not convenient for everyone! Families are never convenient, though they are necessary! You can just sit me in a corner to observe the goings on of the family and I will be happy if that is all I am capable of.  

  cvb

  • I WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN THE STORIES OF MY LIFE. Ask me to tell you my stories for as long as I am able. I have so many to share and want to know you are curious about my life. I just may surprise you with one you haven’t heard before!   

 

  • I NEED PEOPLE AROUND ME TO HAVE A LOT OF PATIENCE WITH ME. Please, please, please humor me when I repeat myself.  If you really want to help me feel as normal as possible, pretend that whatever I say is the first time I have said it or asked it. I don’t need the humiliation that comes from realizing my memory is failing me.

 

  • PLEASE TREAT ME WITH RESPECT ALWAYS! Do not ridicule me, tease me, or show your frustrations about my shortcomings as I age. I want to feel that you respect me and do not look down on me for aging. I also want to know that you still respect me for all of the years I have on you, no matter how much I may not show it.

 

  • REMIND ME TO STAY POSITIVE, not pessimistic because we all know that attitude is everything! I may need to be coaxed at times to remember that everything is OK and that there is nothing to worry about.

 

  • MAKE ME LAUGH! Throw humor and laughter into my life whenever possible; even if it is a funny YouTube video or email someone writes.

 

  • I WANT TO BE ABLE TO ENJOY THE LITTLE PLEASURES IN LIFE. (in moderation of course) like a small piece of dark, dark chocolate or a buttery piece of anything! Oh how I hope I never have to stop enjoying the taste of a perfect cup of dark roast coffee or a perfect ½ glass of red wine. If for some reason I can’t have these things in the future, can you find other things that are almost as good so I can have those little pleasures please?

 

  • I NEED TO HAVE MY BRAIN STIMULATED. Involve me in playing games when you can. I love them so and love to keep my mind active.  Even the simplest game will be okay but don’t dumb me down because I may be able to handle more than you think. Be creative with me please!    dnf

  

  • I WANT TO BE REMINDED OF WHAT I HAVE CREATED IN MY LIFE. Show me the things I have created in my life, like family projects, accomplishments, crafts, structures, writing, etc.

 

  • I WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO FRIENDS (even if I can’t do it by myself or pretend I don’t want to) I may be afraid of making a fool of myself because I have changed but don’t let that stop me! (Maybe you can keep me connected to everyone on my Facebook page for me if I am not able and show me photos.)

 

  • I WANT TO KNOW THAT MY BELONGINGS WILL GO TO PEOPLE THAT APPRECIATE THEM. If I get close to death and no one in the family wants my precious things, please find someone who will appreciate them who understands me.

 

  • IF I AM ABLE TO TRAVEL, GET ME OUT OF THE HOUSE ONCE IN A WHILE. Take me to travel with you when you can. I really am a good travel partner and may still be so when I am older.  I love ‘good’ anything, wherever it may be and whatever it may be (that could even mean rap music or the latest music or dance craze or performance art craze)!  

 

  • DON’T LET ME ISOLATE MYSELF! I will always need to be around people on a regular basis; even those who are my age! I may act or say that I don’t, but deep down, I do. Help me with this.      cgh

 

  • HAVE ME WRITE WHENEVER POSSIBLE BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU LOSE IT! Have me write in my journal for as long as I can hold a pen and write anything!!!!! It will help me keep my mind alive and create a record of my life up to the very end.

 

  • I NEED TO SEE THE DOCTOR FOR REGULAR CHECK-UPS. Please make sure that they check everything.  However, if a doctor prescribes any medication or treatment for me, ask them if it is necessary and if there is another option. If you don’t like what they say, get a second opinion. I do not believe that God’s plan is that we should automatically be medicated in our old age and I need you to advocate for me to be without medication if at all possible and to find other solutions based on the cause of my ills, not just the symptoms!

 

  • DON’T DOPE ME UP ON MEDICATION JUST TO MAKE ME EASIER TO BE AROUND! In the long run, you may end up dealing with the side effects of the medication that are even worse than me being without medication.

 

  • ENSURE I HAVE BEAUTY IN MY LIFE. Bring me to see things of beauty: flowers, trees, nature.  I need to stay in touch with life in order to connect with my own will to live.  

 

  • I NEED TO FEEL USEFUL for as long as I am able. Give me things to do so I feel like I am contributing, but don’t work me too much! Even the littlest task can make me feel useful. sdc

 

  • RESPECT MY WISHES FOR DEATH, funeral, burial, belongings and any monetary distribution!

 

  • SHARE MY CARE WITH OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AND MAKE SURE YOU GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF PERSONAL TIME SO YOU HAVE MORE PATIENCE WITH ME!

 

  • THIS MAY SEEM LIKE A LOT, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY WHAT YOU NEED TOO, SO HOPEFULLY AS YOU MAINTAIN MY QUALITY OF LIFE, YOU WILL DO THE SAME FOR YOURSELF!

Thank you loved ones for caring for me and being patient with me to the very end! I know it may be taxing, so once again, remember to divide up the duties so not one of you takes it all on! Remember that the ones who are doing the caregiving have their own needs too and that they need a break. That is where each one of you come in! I love you all and so appreciate who you are to me. I hope you will do the same for me!   PART 2- HOW I WANT TO BE TREATED- THE NITTY-GRITTY DETAILS (Coming Soon).

 Love, Mom, Christie, Grandma, Granny Pants

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Filed under Alternative Medicine, Books, children, community, Elders, exercise, Families, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, health care, nature, Senior Citizens

Calling All Teachers!

For those familiar with Paulo Freire’s book Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Continuum, 1970), the story below illustrates the tragic results to the individual from a very personal perspective:

From Ch. 17, The New Physics of Childhood: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies (I-Universe, 2009)

“FOR TEACHERS

The following story of “La Niñita” is an introduction to what powerful influences teachers are in a child’s life:

La Niñita

‘I was five years old, I was in kindergarten. From the beginning, school became troublesome for me because I was always looking out the window, instead of listening to my teacher. One day, while daydreaming of wonderful things, I had a fabulous idea.

After school, I ran home to work on my big project, a special play for my class. I felt happy because this play had a part for all of my classmates, leaving no one out. That was the most important thing.

I worked hard that weekend. I made costumes for my classmates out of paper bags my mother gave me. Mommy smiled. She was proud of my play and my costumes. I was a big girl now, I was in kindergarten.

Monday morning, I walked to school with all of the costumes wrapped and folded into two big paper bags. I ran to my teacher. I showed her my project. I told her all of my classmates were in the play!

My teacher’s face was like a stone, she did not look at my costumes and she did not look at me, she just stated, “We don’t do that here.”

Those five shocking words put much of my innocent and uninhibited creativity to sleep that day, changing my life forever. Just five words, five powerful words loomed in the back of my subconscious from that moment on.

Thirty-two years later, then a woman of thirty-seven, I created, acted, produced, and directed a production, purposely to include the forgotten teenagers in my community. These teens had no place to go or activities to enjoy. At the end of the production, I stood on the stage with these forgotten teenagers and in a flash, remembered that moment from my past.

The feelings were very intense as I finally manifested my dream as a five year old! Without realizing it, I had started to heal that wound from my childhood.

Today, I acknowledge that it will take many years of work to return to the uninhibited creative state I experienced as a five year old. Being around children helps me remember. For me, this is the beginning.’

Imagine what could have become of not only this little girl, but countless others, if she had had the support from the adults in her life to pursue her interests. She needed so little, just awareness and sensitivity on the part of the adults in her life, the parents and teachers who missed the opportunity to nurture her creative potential. Please choose your words carefully and take care not to do this to any child. Our precious children need the adults in their lives to help them blossom into whatever they are supposed to become. When adults recognize the signs and provide them with a supportive environment, children can create a world in ways only they can imagine.” by Christina Ivazes, aka Granny Pants

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Filed under Books, children, Education, mentor, Myths, Parenting, teaching, The New Physics of Childhood, Writing

Number 8 is Just as Great!

I have to announce the latest wondrous occasion in our family: the birth of Dayton Simone, who came to us on July 30, 2010. She has the longest, most delicate fingers I have ever seen on a newborn and she uses them frequently to express herself. She smiles at everyone and NO, it is not just gas bubbles! 

Dayton Simone

Dayton Simone- Grandchild No. 8

Now this may seem like an ordinary story, but it is not. Yes, babies are born every day and have been since the dawn of time, yet I am always flabbergasted as to how miraculous birth is, no matter how commonly it occurs. 

This last birth of my 8th grandchild, was an at-home water birth in the true and gentle Leboyer style. It was about the smoothest and most beautiful birth I have ever witnessed in person or otherwise. I had my last 2 children at home in the care of experienced  midwives, though I always learn something new from each midwife I observe. Our last baby in the family needed to be transferred to the hospital during labor due to some risky signs because the midwife was being responsible. There IS a time for the hospital and RESPONSIBLE HOMEBIRTH means ensuring that there is a hospital close by (about 20 minutes) if it is necessary to transfer during labor and that there is a qualified and experienced birth professional there to monitor mother during labor & assist during delivery and post-partum.

This last midwife had delivered 750 births and had never lost a mother or a baby, which is probably a better record than most any OB/GYN could say. She knows that birth is a normal process, yet there is a time when medical back-up is necessary. THIS is RESPONSIBLE HOMEBIRTH. No responsible person would insist on birthing at home if there were risk factors or signs of fetal or maternal distress during pregnancy and/or labor. 

Yet, remembering that ANY medical intervention itself, especially unnecessary medical intervention, increases the risks to both mother and baby, is also a key to any RESPONSIBLE BIRTH, whether the birth is in the hospital or at home. Responsible choices increase safety by minimizing risks.

THE FOCUS OF CHILDBIRTH SHOULD ALWAYS BE “WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO OR NOT TO DO? ” NOT “WHAT IS THE MOST CONVENIENT THING TO DO?” Convenience is where we have made most of our mistakes with childbirth today. There are thousands of studies and articles to support this point so I will not belabor it. 

For THIS latest birth in our family, there were 2 midwives who worked as a team. They were absolutely wonderful, wise, and warm to everyone; especially in caring for our little angel, during and after her birth. What I loved most was that they encouraged Mom (my daughter) to breastfeed for almost an hour at the outset, as soon as the baby was able. This expelled the placenta naturally and created the stimulus Mom needed for milk production, while cleaning out Baby’s intestines & nourishing & protecting her with nature’s perfect newborn meal: colostrum. They were also very careful to ensure baby was latched on appropriately to prevent sore nipples. The correct help and advice makes all of the difference!

Hery family

The Morning After

You can read the whole birth story on my daughter’s blog: MamaHery.BlogSpot.com 

However, there is one thing you won’t read in my daughter’s birth story: What an absolutely blessed experience it is for a mother to watch her own daughter give birth, becoming a mother herself. There really are no words for being allowed to participate in this blessed event of bringing a new life into the world. Even though I have been lucky enough to witness this event 7 other times with my 3 amazing daughters and am so honored by each of their maternal bravery and instincts, and this was Sara’s 2nd. baby, it was much faster than any others in our family. It was practically effortless compared to all the others, including my own. It was a smooth and graceful water birth. The midwives were attentive, skilled & adept, working together like two experienced dancers. Sara was poised, receiving guidance from us all, resting on Dad’s body throughout the birth and cherishing the time with her new daughter on her chest afterwards, the natural location for any newborn.  My 15 year-old granddaughter, Tayler video-taped the entire event & witnessed this most humane form of childbirth. It really made an impression upon her because she has also witnessed the hospital births of her 3 younger siblings & commented on how easy this was in comparison.

One of the biggest benefits of homebirth, as I also experienced with my own, was to be able to naturally include big brother when he awoke the next morning. No mother-child separation. Our family was around, offering all of the peripheral support needed such as meals, care of big brother, laundry, etc. 

Yes, this is the 21st. Century. We have many many advances to make life easier. These advances are best served in our family, not with medical intervention to take the inconvenience out of childbirth, but to share these stories and photos of a natural normal process that is not necessarily better served with interference.

This was my 8th grandchild, my 12th birth experience, and my 3rd. homebirth experience. It was the most natural and smoothest birth experience of them all as we put technology in its place and refused to let technology take the place of the best humanity has to offer.

I take my hat off to my daughter Sara, her amazingly supportive husband Andrew, and Marlene and Kaleem, the two midwives from One Heart Midwifery. I trusted them implicitly and am so grateful they were there to make this birth of my 8th grandchild so perfect. I am also so grateful and impressed with their follow-up care of both my granddaughter, Dayton Simone, and my daughter, Sara. I have had no worries about incorrect advice because I know they are in good hands with qualified professionals that understand the true needs of  both Mother & Baby. They allowed Dayton Simone to enter the world nurtured & loved, not traumatized with unnecessary medical intervention or separation. 

This Grandmother is grateful, happy & blessed once again!  

me

My 3 daughters, newest granddaughter & myself: Granny Pants

You can follow my Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips on Facebook or find out more about my services at ChameleaProductions.com

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Filed under Alternative Medicine, babies, Books, Breastfeeding, childbirth, children, community, cooking, Fathers, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, health care, La Leche League, mother, nutrition, Parenting, prevention, Stay-At-Home-Dads, The New Physics of Childhood

Sedentarianism: Disease or Addiction? The Dilemmas of a Sedentary Society

sed

                 The escalating rate of childhood obesity in the U.S. is just one example of  “the canary in the coal mine.” There is a much larger, more encompassing issue at hand of which childhood obesity is just one symptom. This issue is a growing disease/addiction I call “sedentarianism.” In my book published last November, 2009:  The New Physics of Childhood: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Solutions, I introduce the concept of sedentarianism because in order to fully address the problem of obesity, behavioral issues and an increasingly illiterate and unskilled labor force in the United States, we need to look at all of the connected and contributing factors to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, not just school lunch programs, high-fructose corn syrup or income disparities.

obesity

The terms sedentarianism and sedintarianism and sedentarism  have been used by others before in publications and posts, yet this post is not do dispute the word itself, but to understand the term itself and its implications in our global future.

The definition of a disease is:  1. A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms. 2. A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful.

The broad medical definition of an addiction is: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful..

I make my case below for a more conscious global plan to combat sedentarianism. You can decide whether or not it qualifies as a disease or an addiction. Regardless, I hope you will agree that it is worthy of escalated attention.

Sedentarianism is the abnormal daily way of life for a growing number of Americans, adults and children, evolving subtly and slowly over decades of cultural shifts, inventions, and failed policies. We are now in a moment where many of us don’t even realize that sedentarianism is an abnormal way of life, that it is extremely life-threatening and contrary to the physical, psychologial and social needs of every person it affects.  Shift-by-shift and invention-by-invention, we have been and still are, chipping away the amount of physical activity and outdoor activity that each American gets compared to life 50 years ago. With every next new technological invention or seemingly helpful new product or service, we are slipping deeper and deeper into a deceptive lifestyle that is literally killing us from a multitude of angles.

Sedentarianism is an individual problem, a family problem, a city, state, national and growing global problem. Everyone is effected and in order to address this global threat efficiently, we need everyone to be a part of the solution: parents, mayors, city planners, educators and policy makers. Investing in the preventives to sedentarianism with save billions in health care and crime while creating a stronger, healthier, more capable and productive country, whereas if we just focus on antidotes like prisons and pharmaceuticals, we will be drowning in debt with a lose-lose situation for all. So, let us take a closer look at preventives by looking at the subtle changes and symptoms that have led the U.S. to become a nation suffering from sedentarianism.

From The New Physics of Childhood, Chapter 6:

“Many homes in the U.S. today have yards which are surprisingly not even set up with growing kids in mind. Yards are filled with kid-prohibited landscaping like poisonous plants, sharp drop offs, pools without fences, and bare concrete, with no swing-set or jungle gyms or tree forts to play in. Or worse yet, there is no yard at all. There are even people who design new homes to cover an entire lot, foolishly omitting the yard for both children and adults to enjoy.”

couch potato 

 

From Chapter 15:

“Once again,  it is important we discuss “sedentarianism” and the role that city planners and developers have in this social disease. Sedentarianism is propagated by suburban sprawl, box stores, and zoning laws in suburban, rural, and urban communities. Fast food becomes the standard meal for working families when isolated communities are not offered convenient fresh food choices due to zoning laws that favor large chain stores over neighborhood grocers and/or farmer’s markets. Sedentarianism produces higher crime rates when urban communities have zoning laws that permit liquor stores on every corner, selling alcohol, cigarettes, soda and even guns. Sedentarianism increases diabetes rates when these same communities have grocery stores with fresh food on the average of a mile apart with fast food alternatives in closer proximity. Sedentarianism increases isolation when we build new housing tracts far from a city’s hub without connecting public transit. Sedentarianism increases addiction and obesity rates through isolation when we allow apartment buildings to exist without playgrounds, parks, and safe outdoor common areas and/or community centers. Communities forced indoors due to limited healthy opportunities to interact experience numerous negative consequences that impact the larger society.

If we replace six-foot high solid fences and walls that separate and force isolation, with short, and open white picket fences, we invite a smile or wave from a neighbor. If we create front porches with benches or swings that encourage neighbors to sit and greet passersby during morning and evening walks, we encourage familiarity and conversation with one another. If we design garages that do not dominate the front of a house, but are discreetly set in the back or to the side, observation and connectedness become priorities, replacing isolation. We remove the fear factor, “the fear of the unknown.” Lack of knowledge about our neighbors creates a climate of mistrust, fear, and secrecy. These emotions are breeding grounds for crime because unknown community members lack accountability. Isolation robs a person of the feeling of belonging or responsibility to a larger community.

A heightened sense of belonging and higher quality of  life is invaluable to every resident, regardless of age. Safety and inclusion result when grocery shopping is within walking distance, bicycling trails are within every housing tract and neighborhoods connect to every other neighborhood, and are continued to downtown areas in all residential and commercial zones—regardless of distance. This community model is not new; it has been the common European model for centuries; in fact, most of the world’s communities are designed like this and should be celebrated and maintained instead of being replaced with the highly problematic designs of the U.S. suburbs and urban areas.

Commercial facilities and factories with healthy outdoor environments also experience more indoor productivity by increasing employee satisfaction during breaks and lunches. Bicycle trail connectedness from residential communities to the workplace and shower/change facilities at work increase employee health and reduce sick days. Plain and simple: connectedness increases well-being and safety for all.

Communities designed with the citizenry walking and greeting each other have less crime and less problems with adolescents because again, all eyes are upon everyone: nature’s built-in—free of cost—security system.”

from The New Physics of Childhood: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies

I was in Finland this past winter. After only 1 week, I had already learned about the issues arising from the isolation Somalian immigrants were feeling in Helsinki. Racism and cultural differences are creating a situation that is causing many of these intimidated immigrants to remain indoors, escaping their pain through television.

This newly produced Finnish problem smelled awfully familiar to what I have seen evolving within the immigrant Latino communities I am familiar with in the U.S., specifically California. Disenfranchised populations will isolate themselves as a survival mechanism, yet the devastating effects of sedentarianism prevail in these situations such as obesity, insomnia, depression, aggression, and illness, among others. When immigration policies create fear in any community, sedentarianism increases with all of its by-products.

The education component of sedentarianism is just as important to consider in the future financial and economic health of our planet.  When children and adults are sitting in front of a television or video game or spending hours of useless time on cell-phones and computers (versus productive time), every community is losing this valuable time individuals used to be spending on reading, creating, training, and working. The long-term devastating iphone effects on our global culture are yet to be seen now that our current focus and mania has become the latest “App” or “Tweet” or “Wall Post” instead of the real, tangible activities that drive any healthy economy.

We know today, that children are under-educated, but they are also becoming socially and emotionally incapacitated with an increasingly sedentary culture if they are not getting the “optimum” physical and social face-to-face opportunity to develop these crucial communication and social skills with their own families, peers, and community members. Technology has created more opportunities for socialization on one hand, but on the other hand it has also created more isolation from the outer world, specifically the outdoor and in-person social world where instincts and a multitude of sensory skills are developed.

We have replaced productivity with hobbies, feeding this disease of sedentarianism until now it has become so interconnected into our daily life that it is accepted as normal, even with symptomatic abnormal behaviors like insomnia.  These time wasters of misplaced creativity and distractions are the pathogens, but what we don’t realize is that these pathogens are weakening our physical, psychological and social constitutions which are reducing our chances to transform into productive and prosperous societies. New technology, like a euphoric, fleeting cocaine buzz, has now become indispensible to our economic growth and to everyday life. The product pushers of our economy, who are also addicted, deny this dilemma because it feeds the larger monster: the global economy. Now, as a global culture, we are addicted to the products and behaviors that promote sedentarianism.  Country by country, those who adopt our American dysfunctional ways and seductive products are suffering the same symptoms such as obesity, behavioral problems, learning challenges, suicide, etc.  These results are all connected to this spreading addiction of  sedentary indoor activities that are replacing the vital physical needs of our bodies, minds and spirits.  Though, if we carefully examine this quandry that feeds our economy while killing our population, we can begin to design and promote a new era of productivity based on the real needs of the human being, not perceived, vacant, market driven products that feed the spread of this disease/addiction.

Personally, like the billions of others, I am enthralled with all of these social networking tools. I Twitter & have several Facebook pages  & blogs, but I have seen in my own life how addicting these activities can become. I made a vow this Spring to make the effort to start working more with my hands again and not just on a keyboard. I started a bit of gardening and made a blanket for my new granddaughter that will arrive in August. Last night, as I sewed all of the crocheted squares of her blanket together. I reveled in this very tangible act of  love that would last for many years, just as my latest grandson’s blanket has lasted for him.

At the end of the day, a tangible, creative and lasting measure of my efforts is the most rewarding, whether it be a weekend with my daughters and grandchildren, a published book or a blanket. For me, these are the measure of success. (Of course, I also feel accomplished when a blog post receives an abundant amount of hits and/or comments.)  We all have to find our own measure of success and go for it until we achieve it and then go for it again and again and again. It may be that part of that success does involve sitting at a computer, but at the end of the day, isn’t balance what we are striving for to ensure we are not suffering the effects of sedentarianism?  When we stop going for it is when we are more susceptible to the many addicting distractions of sedentarianism. The distractions that can take us further from ourselves and leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled at the end of every day. We all have physical, psychological and social needs to be fulfilled, regardless of where technology is leading us.

Of course, in my own life, I have found that by being honest with myself about my own vulnerability to succumb is the first step. Then, I know that I need to make sure I start my day physically with exercise, because if I have numerous tasks to accomplish on my laptop such as this blogpost, I know that I will get sucked into this seductive world and that my body will suffer if I don’t start with exercise first!  For me, insomnia and body aches are my clues that I have been too sedentary. We each have our own warning signs. I also know that those around me are observing and learning from my own choices, so I have to kick it up a notch, which becomes a motivator. I love it when my  1 1/2 year old grandson, Hudson comes to watch me exercise and joins in to do his squats. Hudson also gets me out of the house for walks more frequently than when I am by myself. I am just as prone to sedentarianism as the next person. It takes tremendous will power to counteract the everyday temptations like that closer parking spot, the elevator instead of the stairs, television all evening instead of a refreshing walk around the neighborhood, coffee before exercise (which will ruin everything for the day).

Sedentarianism is a preventable. Whether it is cultural disease or addiction, it is being fed in many forms throughout our days in blatant and oh so subtle ways. Even baby monitors today make it unnecessary for a parent to get up and walk to their child’s bedroom to see if they are okay! It seems like every latest invention is geared toward less physical activity, not more. Many of the newest children’s outdoor toys are now battery operated so kids don’t even need to use their legs to make their bike or razors move!

With honesty and awareness we can consciously insist and reward innovations for anyone responsible for city planning and/or new inventions make considerations to increase walking, movement and productivity, while boycotting products or community designs that promote the life-threatening, costly effects of sedentarianism. We are creative beings that are always searching for products or “Apps,” to make life easier, but if easier means less physical movement, perhaps we should consider passing! Maybe that is where the next phone “App” revolution should be: to increase physical activity. I am still waiting for this idea for every classroom in the U.S. : Energy Efficient Bicycle-Powered Classroom  Focusing on inventions like this will stamp out sedentarianism!

Granny Pants

Owner, Chamelea Productions

Author of The New Physics of Childhood: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies

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CONFESSIONS OF A FIRST TIME AUTHOR

It has been made extremely clear by those who are closest to me that I need to share my process of writing, publishing, and promoting to people who share my obsession with these subjects. Though no one has actually said this to me directly, I can tell by the questions that have stopped being asked about “my book,” the quickness in the change of subject when I mention “my book,” and the relief we all feel when we are talking about something else other than “my book.”

Ahhhh!!!!!! Am I the only one who gets sick of conversations about “my book” at the same time I feel the satisfaction of self-indulgence?

This is a confession of sorts. I know I have neglected my own family in the process of publishing this first book, which I suppose is quite normal. I qualify this obsessive behavior because I realize a degree of tunnel vision and consuming behavior is necessary to produce any project, whether it is building a home, starting a business, or starting a family. Writing a book is similar and requires intense focus and dedication. It requires ignoring dusty corners, dirty laundry, and old leftovers in the refrigerator. I think a first book requires that one not get derailed by the lives of others, because as many writers have experienced, getting derailed is quite easy. How many years do people dream of writing a book or completing their first book, but never get there because we do get derailed by getting involved in the lives of our loved ones, by being there when people need us. There is always something pending that takes precedent over writing, editing, re-writing, and editing some more. Derailment is both the savior and saboteur of the unsuccessful writer.

But, now that my book is published, it is time to move on. Now it is time to talk to my family about more than “my book” after three years of devoted listening. Now is the time for me to be there for them when they need me, both physically and emotionally. I want to hear more about their lives and about what is important to them, even though I still do have the deep need to share my process with someone who will listen.

So, with this blog, I give my entire family an eternal break from the day-to-day mundane, exciting, and often gut-wrenching details involved in writing. I am grateful for their support and their indulgence while I incubated and finally birthed this new life for myself, the life I have always dreamed of and visualized.

However, the biggest confession I have to make about the experience of writing my first book is that while my husband has been the most patient and supportive throughout my entire process, admittedly, the events of the past years due to the economy and my obsession to complete my book has changed our relationship. After grieving these changes, I acknowledge the gratitude for him in my life and his support and our connection in life, no matter where our lives may lead in the future. This may sound callous to be so matter-of-fact about this subject but after a lifetime of traumatic events, I have had to learn to roll with the changes. This is the only way not to let them take over my life and fill it with daily suffering. Life is too important to wallow in what could have been. I have learned to accept what I have been given and love all of those in my life along the way, even though how we are connected may change.

Catharsis, the honest expression of what is real for me has become the essence of my inspiration. Being safe is boring. The most exhilarating moments I have experienced have been while speaking to groups of people, sharing the frank, somewhat provocative and inspiring reflections from my life experiences. These experiences somehow link us all together because I am not the only one who has suffered through the school of hard knocks and picked myself up again. We gain strength from being surrounded with resiliency.

Most recently, at my 2nd book signing at Underground Books in Sacramento, California, I found myself in front of a group of people, most of whom I did not know. I was so grateful for each person that turned out for this event because it was a cold, dreary, rainy day in a city where people really don’t really know me, not even when I was living there. The discussion format of the event was perfectly suited to my open nature and the exchange was a spontaneous dance, leaving us all satisfied when it was over. I knew I was in the right place doing the right thing; just another affirmation that all of my former steps in life had been perfectly placed to lead me to this moment.

After the fulfillment of that event, there is no going back for me now. If I had any thoughts that I should give up on this dream of mine and get a “real job”, I erased them that afternoon.

Writing is a way to create a lasting record of those conversations, even though it requires much more patience, perseverance, and perfection than I ever imagined! I hope to find a way to integrate the spontaneous exhilaration of those live exchanges into more of my future published products, which is probably why blogging satisfies me.

Blogging and posting to others blogs gives me the platform and satisfaction of spontaneous expression while encompassed in the grueling work of writing an entire book. I love living between the evolving ethos of cyberspace and the permanency of the printed page. It is time to embrace all that I have been given without apologies, for this is who I am!

As I deal with jet lag this week from Helsinki, I am finding that blogging is even a better 4am friend than I had ever realized, but I need to make sure that it doesn’t become another derailment to my next project. While I hunker down to start the research on my next book, I know I need to focus, but it still feels good to get out my thoughts of the day.

I sold my first book in Finland yesterday! Yes, it was to a friend, but a sale nevertheless! I consider each and every book I share with the world a fulfillment of my mission, whether I know the person or not. I have to admit though that I do want to know that they are actually reading the book! I don’t to sell, but to share information. There are much easier ways to make a living, but very few compare to the feeling of having a book in print to share with others.

I pray that the Finnish community, with their pragmatic sensibilities, will embrace the messages in this book, which also embrace the best of their own constant cultural influences, while cautioning against the take over of modern life as it relates to their infants, children and teenagers. No matter where we are on the planet today, children are influenced by technology, which has its wonderful advantages. However, we also need to ensure that technology maintains its proper place and does not replace the deeper needs of the community members, whether they exist in cyberspace or just around the corner.

6:45am…time to get some sleep. Are you a writer of books, blogs, etc.? Have you found that blogging spares your loved ones from obsessive thoughts and midnight musings? Is this is a universal experience or do other writers find it easier to refrain from self-absorbed conversations about their books, especially first books and just prior to the publishing process. Who do you talk to about all of these details without boring them to death?

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