Category Archives: La Leche League

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

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!

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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

10 Things You Need to Know But Probably Don’t Want to Hear!

OF COURSE YOU ARE TOO BUSY TO READ THIS WHOLE POST!   

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Empowering Healthy, Capable Kids Takes Conscious Parenting!

HOWEVER, whether you are expecting your first child, or have a child of any age, I CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE THE TIME TO READ IT ANYWAY! At times, the truth can sting a little, or even a lot, but isn’t better to know when it comes to the future of our children?   

1. If you live in the U.S., your child probably needs at least 2 more hours of outdoor activity a day in order to function normally (physiologically, mentally, emotionally). Children of every age need physical activity for 4-6 hours a day and the OPTIMUM is to have most of that activity outside, even in the cold (with adequate clothing, of course). When a child starts school, their body does not automatically reduce its need for physical activity. In fact, many of the behavioral, physical, and emotional issues of children today are a direct result of this physical, outdoor deficit! Don’t even think about medicating a child for any behavioral or emotional issues until they have had these OPTIMUM needs met for several weeks. Dramatically increasing outdoor physical activity (in a safe environment) will almost always guarantee positive results with challenges such as insomnia, attention, lowered immune resistance, emotional outbursts, physical  fitness, strength, large motor skill development, and overall life satisfaction.   

2. If you have a baby from this point on, any investment you can make that allows the mother (or yourself) to exclusively breastfeed baby for the first 6 months (no water, food, or formula), is the No. 1 best investment for both a baby and mother’s health. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months is the recommendation for OPTIMUM infant health by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Pediatric Association, and other health organizations, YET, all over the world, this recommendation is not being followed, especially not in the U.S. where even though 73.9 mothers start out breastfeeding at birth, only 13.6% of babies are    

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No doubt about it: the best!

exclusively breastfed at 6 months of age http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/report_card2.htm. This staggering statistic correlates with the rise in many childhood illnesses and allergies. Even mothers who breastfeed lower their own risk of breast cancer and diabetes, while also losing extra baby weight easily (as long as they are not consuming empty calories). http://grannypantsspeaks.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/excerpt-from-the-new-physics-of-childhood/ Instead of providing the minimum standards with processed, incomplete formula and heating it with a microwave oven, let’s start our children out with the OPTIMUM nourishment and disease prevention.    

3. Insisting that caregivers and/or you hover over your child to protect them is creating generations of wimpy kids! If you think giving your kids what you didn’t have for yourself is all good, you may be fooling yourself! Whenever an adult does something for an infant, child, or teenager that they can do for themselves, the underlying message is, “I know you can’t do this, so I will do it for you.” When these actions repeat throughout a child’s life, starting in infancy, children become dependent on others to make them happy. They do not experience the intrinsic motivation of autonomous accomplishment. They need the continual approval of others and they often have low-self esteem because they are not challenged to learn, to try, to fail, to adjust, to try again and to succeed!  Experiences of success with minimal interference by adults create confidence and independence. They develop with plenty of alone time to learn to play, to satisfy oneself and to accomplish difficult tasks. Infants learn these lessons, even as they sit in the yard or on a patio, observing nature by themselves, or by playing with a single toy by themselves. Attention and reinforcement are important components in parenting children that helps them feel loved. Equally, children need to experience their own ability to make themselves happy by increasing autonomous successes that allow them to become capable, confident, and self-motivated adults someday.   

4. If you feel that your household is out of control, your kids may be the ones in charge, not you! Children need parents who are leaders and mentors, not overly permissive best friends. Being a parent means running the family and training children to be functioning members of society. This is not the job of a child. Children are not supposed to choose their own schedules, pick out their own food from the grocery store, decide what and when to eat, when to go to sleep, or how much exercise or tv time they get, or whether or not they participate in the upkeep of the household they live in. The job of parents is to make sure children have the proper household routines for OPTIMUM sleep, hygiene, eating, exercise, homework & free time, proper, nourishing food,  proper respect for others, manners, accountability for behavior and age-appropriate contribution to the household. If a parent is not providing these needs for their children, the children will become disruptive to the household-plain and simple.   

5. Quick fix meals may actually be hurting you and your kids in ways you aren’t even aware of! Unfortunately, parents need to read the labels when they are shopping, no matter where they live because manufacturers are adding ingredients to foods continously. Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners should not be a part of any baby or child’s dietary consumption, yet they are included in many foods for babies and children today. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM ) The escalating rates of diabetes and obesity around the planet are a clear example that more diligence is needed from parents everywhere. Microwave ovens are also a seriously questionable method for heating ANYTHING for a baby or child. On the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services website of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), this is the statement they have regarding the health risks of microwave ovens, “Much research is underway on microwaves and how they may affect the human body.” http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/ResourcesforYouRadiationEmittingProducts/Consumers/ucm142616.htm. Will microwave ovens be another BPA nightmare as the FDA sits back and does research to substantiate the risks AFTER products are already being manufactured and consumed? Don’t make your child’s health a scientific experiment. Read labels, buy more fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables. Don’t buy foods containing sugar, and choose proven, safe methods of heating food. (Keep a tea kettle filled with water that can be heated quickly and a deep bowl or measuring cup to heat any liquids or foods by adding hot water to the bottom and inserting either the bottle or bowl. This  3 minutes or so may save your child’s health!)   

6. Creating peace of mind today by allowing kids to tune-out with technology could be destroying your family and your children’s intuitive and sensory-based communication abilities. When parents make numerous choices and non-choices to allow ways for their children to be pacified by technology throughout the day–so they can have peace of mind–children are losing the valuable minutes, hours, and days they need to prepare themselves for life in other areas such as physical creative, intellectual, emotional, and social   

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Technology- A Blessing & A Curse

 development. See each moment a child or teen is glued to a television, video game, or computer as a minute robbed from their development. When children and teens are plugged into music devices or cell-phones at all times, they are not learning to develop or fully listen to their own instincts and guidance. They are losing their ability to relate to and be aware of the world around them. They are losing their ability to communicate face-to-face. When anyone in a family is plugged into a device or allowed to use a cell-phone/IPod at the dinner table, they are systematically digging a wide communication chasm between family members that may never recover if it is underdeveloped. Why not create a tech-free zone for meals, a significant portion of commuting to school and other activities, after school, weekends and/or traveling. Of course, the kids will rebel at first, but in the end, they will have YOU and your conversations to reflect upon, not just a blurry memory of text messages and images on screens of people they don’t even know.   

7. Children identified with an illness, condition or disorder like ADHD, diabetes, migraines, etc. are debilitated by labeling. A label or an attachments does not really get anyone off the hook! Labels exacerbate challenges by limiting a child’s perception that they can have control of the many things in their life, starting with their attitude. The language that we teach our children either empowers or weakens their perception of their ability to create their own happiness and life satisfaction. First of all, if your child faces any physical, mental, or emotional challenges, refrain from using language like this, “Your diabetes” “Your migraines”  Shouldn’t children identify themselves and get more attention from things other than illness? Internal language produces physiological changes in the body, which either deteriorate or improve health. http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Healing-Exploring-Frontiers-Medicine/dp/0553348698/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265880453&sr=1-18 Whatever the condition of a child’s physical or emotional state, he/she will still need adults in their life to emphasize that “They are not their body!” They are a bright and shining spirit that is meant to experience joy in many forms. It is up to parents to find these experience for a child and build on them, not on the culture of victimhood. Regardless of any situation, we always have the ability to change our internal attitude! Physical and emotional states will improve when they are nurtured by positive experiences and empowering perspectives!   

 8. Marketing shapes a child in ways you may not even be aware of!  Limiting a child’s exposure to technology will also limit their exposure to dangerous life altering influences. The cumulative effects of advertising and product placement promote a “me” driven, materialistic culture which discourages the development of a child’s intrinsic motivation, integrity and compassion for others.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maeXjey_FGA   

9. Children are learning more about how to be from what they observe you doing than from what you say! Although this is not revelation, isn’t it funny that we ignore this fact quite often? How many times have you done   

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IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO BECOME?

something inappropriate like using profanity, but then tell a child not to do it later on? These little hypocrisies throughout the day add up over a lifetime. The way we  feel about events and other people, especially any contemptible or fearful feelings,  are felt by infants, children, and teenagers, even if they do not say anything. These strong opinions and feelings, reactionary behaviors, and even disrespect towards others (even employers) is affecting how they too will view others someday.  If you would rather sit on the couch and watch TV all evening, they probably won’t want to go outside and exercise. They too, will become couch potatoes someday. Pretend a movie camera is filming you and outsiders are reviewing you on your own quality of daily life experience. This is what your children see. Then, adjust it so they see     

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OR THIS?

the movie you want them to watch!   

10. You may think putting off your own nutritional, exercise, or sleep needs are okay for now, but you are wrong! Not only are children learning how to take care of themselves by watching your example, your health and state of mind also effects your ability to care for your  children.  If you are exhausted, it is difficult to be consistent and firm. If you are tired, can you really be present for your children? If you are sick, how available are you for anyone? Perhaps this means limiting outside commitments, especially in the early years of your child’s life. Over time, the cumulative effects of neglecting your own health can also lead to many debilitating illnesses that will in turn, rob you of valuable, quality time with yourself and your family someday. This includes quality downtime for yourself with your partner and yourself to just do nothing, like taking a vacation. Who wants to spend their vacation time sick because they waited too long ot take on, or never be able to make it to enjoy retirement? Do it for your kids and you will also be doing it for yourself! When a parent is at their fittest and healthiest and rested, they are better equipped to care for their children and actually enjoy the experience!   

All of these preventive strategies among many others are contained in my book, The New Physics of Childhood: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies  You can purchase the book at http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com, and follow me on    

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Author, Christina Ivazes (aka Granny Pants) w/ Grandchild # 7 Hudson Cooper

Facebook at “Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips”   

I welcome your feedback and experiences with any of these issues! I am also available for Parent & Family consulting. Email me about the needs of your family @ christinaivazes@chameleaproductions.com   

Granny Pants

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Filed under 1, babies, Breastfeeding, children, cooking, exercise, insomnia, La Leche League, nutrition, Parenting, prevention, teaching

EXPLORE TODAY’S POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT CHILDREN!

 
 
 
"MYTHBUSTING TO THE RESCUE"

"MYTHBUSTING TO THE RESCUE"

POPULAR MYTHS ARE AFFECTING THE LIVES OF OUR INFANTS, CHILDREN, AND TEENAGERS AND MANY OF US ARE NOT EVEN AWARE OF THE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE SO SUBTLE.

 The new book, THE NEW PHYSICS OF CHILDHOOD: Replacing Modern Myths with Simple Strategies busts open these myths of modern child rearing.

“This book promises to expose, inspire, and possibly even shock adults into looking differently at all children and child rearing with a new set of eyes.”

We hear it every day on the news: childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are on the rise, as well as cesarean births. Our children and teenagers are over-medicated and under-educated. It is obvious that all of these symptoms and challenges are connected and yet there is still a massive disconnect between the current parenting tools available and these escalating problems.

Without delay, modern child rearing practices are in need of a new, effective model. However, significant changes to the currently failed model of child rearing cannot begin until we get the root of the problem. THE NEW PHYSICS OF CHILDHOOD looks at the myths and the connections that have created these growing challenges in our global society.

As the author, I deconstruct today’s dangerous myths and replace them with practical wisdom and unique insights to help parents put their children and teenagers back on track and/or prevent problems from ocurring.

This book is not another parenting guide. It is a pragmatic philosophy focused on prevention. Though there are many parenting books with valuable information, most parents do not have the means or the time to purchase and read a book for every phase of childhood and neither do these books connect the whole child to the family, the community, larger society, and the environment like THE NEW PHYSICS OF CHILDHOOD.

This book gives all adults tools for supporting parents to make better decisions that affect the lives of children, because society is failing our parents, grandparents and other caregivers, who are also the victims of this mythology that is literally killing our children.

 THIS BOOK IS FOR:

  • Expectant parents
  • Seasoned parents
  • Caregivers
  • Grandparents
  • Focus groups (prison inmate re-entry programs, low-income parenting programs)
  • Teachers and early childhood educators

 DISCOVER THE MYTHS & LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT PROJECT:  http://TheNewPhysicsofChildhood.com

 See You There!

Granny Pants

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Filed under 1, babies, Books, Breastfeeding, children, environment, Grandchildren, La Leche League, mother, Myths, nutrition, Parenting, prevention, teaching, teenagers, The New Physics of Childhood, Writing

Are You A Mentor But Don’t Know It?

We may not realize it, but for those who have little support in their lives, the little things we do to teach someone about life and their personal potential can have a monumental impact on their future and the future of those they impact. Mentoring is not only imparting wisdom to someone who needs it, it is recognizing and validating the potential of the individual, especially when they may not see it in themselves. A few weeks ago I was reminded of how powerful a mentor can be. Since then, I have been reflecting on the people in my life who did little things that changed the course of what could have been:

  • Professor Sheldon Harmatz, high school Science teacher. He always gave me a hard time for missing most of my early morning Science classes for two semesters. Complaining they were too early, I signed up for his late morning Environmental Science class the third semester. Always on time, I became a model student. He reinforced my participation by inviting me to discuss topics over lunch now and then, always professional in every way.  Mr. Harmatz gave me a reason to want to go to school. Years later when I returned to Sunnyvale with my three little girls, I looked him up. He had just had his first baby and was SO thrilled to invite us into his home whereas he played the birth video of his first child while we all ate pizza. Sheldon Harmatz was the only teacher during my spotty primary and secondary education who showed me I was worth the effort. He was the only adult in my childhood who spoke out about the necessity for me to be a responsible participant in my education.  Mr. Harmatz also fostered the lasting passion for environmental responsibility I have carried into every aspect of my life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDQyoUZB9us&feature=channel_page 

 

  • La Leche League International provided me with mentors that lasted for years as I also learned to mentor other mothers. Being a young mother from a difficult childhood, I needed someone to show me a better way to raise my children, a healthier way to bring up my three daughters. The members of La Leche League did this and more. I learned how to handle the challenges of mothering through loving guidance, which to this day, I believe saved me and my children. They showed me how to do it right, even though there were still many imperfect moments of mothering. I had a new model to aspire to other than my own past conditioning. What I received from LLLI (www.llli.org)  I also went on to share with my own daughters who are now mothers themselves. This healthy foundation became the philosophy for my work with children throughout my entire life.

 

  • Judy Green and Robert Schellenberger introduced me to the exciting potential of biofeedback and non-traditional counseling methods during my first year of college work study. I studied and worked under Judy Green, daughter of Elmer and Alyce Green—the pioneers of biofeedback—while working at Aims Biofeedback Lab in Greeley, Colorado. This synchronistic experience enhanced the important pieces of a program I would later create and implement during my teaching career. Judy’s husband, Professor Schellenberger insisted we learn actual counseling techniques as freshmen, which we did. Today, my family members still benefit from the Gestalt techniques in dream interpretation I learned in that first year of college.

 

  • Jose Montoya—what a rebel! I remember how impressive it was to find out that his book of poetry was actually banned from the CSUS library in the 70’s, the very same university this Poet Laureate was teaching at when I took his class,  Art and The Child. Jose introduced me to Rudolfo Anaya, Caesar Chavez, and active Chicano role models like himself working to improve the lives of immigrants and their children in the U.S. During class, Jose taught us to understand what it was like to be a creative being in a learning environment. Comprehending the purity and necessity of the creative process, I recalled the events from childhood that had stifled much of my own creativity. I promised to help encourage this in all of my future students, a promise I still strive to carry out today.  Compassionate activism for the Latino struggle in the U.S. has also become one of my torches thanks to Jose Montoya.

 

  • Doctor Ennis McDaniel gave me the confidence and guidance to become a biofeedback intern and stress management teacher. His phenomenal skills crafted my training, allowing me to find my own style and ability to empower others in their self-awareness and healing. His mentoring gave me the confidence to design innovative biofeedback and relaxation techniques which I utilized to help hundreds of at-risk students. Though Ennis is no longer with us, memories of his wise and gentle spirit continue on.

 

  • Dan Retuta taught me hypnotherapy, intuitive healing, and that healing ourselves was primary before we could be authentic when helping others. His warm guidance, support of my personal process, and complete professionalism gave me a new level of self-worth. I went on to extend this wisdom to my classes where I used these techniques to help students find their own self-worth and inner peace.

 

  • Maria del Rosario Casanova al Caraz is one of the most poignant mentors in my life. She is the grandmother of my goddaughter Alondra in Manzanillo, Colima-Mexico. The mother of ten children, today Rosario is 74. Not only does she make the spiritual trek, walking on foot and camping for 7 days every year to make the pilgrimage up to Il Talpa, she is the most gentle, humble, loving, maternal person I have ever met. The nuances of motherhood and grandmotherhood she has displayed in the twenty something years I have known her are so numerous, gracious, and profound, I will not list them here, save this one. I always feel warmth when I remember they way she showed me how to wash beans. Yes, beans! For about 3-5 minutes, she gently caressed the beans while swishing them in a bowl of fresh water from the pila. This, she said, takes away the gas. No need to boil or soak overnight. The love and care she put into washing those beans for those few minutes was one of the most tender and memorable gestures towards providing nourishment for a family, proving that what we think while we work for our loved ones effects the outcome. Her children and grandchildren have the utmost endearing respect and love for Rosario. I don’t believe I will ever reach her grace and humility, but through her actions and most importantly, her non-reactions, I understand how simple flowing acts of love make life much more harmonious for all mankind.

 

  • Earle J. Conway, former principal of Sierra Mountain High School in Grass Valley, California gave me permission to introduce my programs to his students. His confidence and trust in me—like a supportive parent—allowed me to flourish in my teaching career at this school for over five years. I was given space and the freedom to create a variety of innovative programs for the school’s at-risk students. These programs offered refuge and coping skills, but could not have been possible without Earle’s continual support. At times, those in charge are so threatened by changes that they look past solutions. Earle was a leader who saw the potential in every staff member and gave them the freedom to find what worked best, which brought out the best in everyone, staff and students alike.

 

  • Finally, though there are so many more mentors in my life—like my aunt, my uncle, and my grandmother, I will end this train of thought with one of the most spectacular non-family mentors I was blessed to have known: Robert B. Choate, Jr. whom I knew as Bob. The most interesting thing about Bob is though he died May 3rd of this year at 84 years old and since I last saw him about 1 1/2 years ago, his mentoring continues. We first met in Nevada City. I was running a community meeting to boost support for a skatepark project I had been working on for about five years at that time. Captivated by the cause, Bob stepped in to become a part of our BOD, bringing much needed political savvy to the project. Knowing the power of the media and feeling impressed by my dedication to this youth driven project, Bob went on to nominate me for a Daily Point of Light Award, which I did receive on September 17, 1998. Bob’s national clout (I am only just realizing from the wealth of history in his obituaries this past month) gave us the boost we needed to finally bring our project to completion. (I am now studying how to approach a future campaign of mine from the blueprint of his successful campaign against the junk food industry in the 70’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_B._Choate,_Jr. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/us/13choate.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=robert%20choate&st=cse. Who would have known that an outcast fifteen year-old sitting on that park bench at Fair Oaks Park in Sunnyvale, cutting classes with no hope, no goals, no support for a future, would receive a national award of distinction by a major player like this someday! Bob’s recognition was the ultimate message of what I was capable of and what I had yet to do. Though a book could be written on what Bob taught me in the few years we interacted, there is a particular statement he made to me one day that has inspired me to think bigger regarding the potential I had to help others. He told me, “Christina, you are just a big fish in a small pond”. That statement set me free! It became the impetus to think of my life’s work beyond the borders of Nevada County.

 

Every one of us has our own mentors, and I have used actual names to recognize the positive impact of my own. The little things we do, the things we say to remind others of their worth and their potential do matter. Words can be as inspiring to the human spirit as they can be inhibiting. To all of the people who are mentors and may not know it, thank you, because what you say and do has unforeseen impacts! You shape our lives, our direction, our self-concepts. Mentoring is the gift that really does keep on giving, like the ripples from a pebble in a pond that often continue further than we realize.  This is also a reminder for us to choose our words carefully, because you just never know!

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Filed under 1, Biofeedback, Breastfeeding, La Leche League, mentor, Parenting, teaching

LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER: A MODERN DAY STORY

 

 

Dear Sara,

 

As your mother, I have many regrets.  If only I could have taught you a few more things before you headed out in the world on your own.  (I guess I had to learn them first myself before I could teach them to you!) Despite these many untaught lessons, you have done quite well for yourself: successful careers, financial responsibility, loved by all, great husband, wonderful new baby boy, and now your first house.

 

In fact, you have done so well that you were the one who gave me my first lessons on office protocol, the ways of the business world, internet dating, and the value of Craigslist.  Although it felt strange at the time, I accepted your help and trusted your judgment, always, which has proven to be good. 

 

What an inverse era we finds ourselves in, when children teach their parents the nuances of resumes, job searches, and career choices.  I know I am not alone in this experience.  Millions of mature adults such as myself are forced to enter and re-enter the work force after years in a singular field. We are up against masses of youthful competition and our children often have a window into how to compete with their peers, providing us with the updated knowledge we need to succeed.  It’s like we’ve raised our own little resource directories that give us free regular updates.

 

Now, years have passed and the winds of usefulness have shifted, once again in my direction.  Most recently with your first pregnancy, childbirth, as a new nursing mother, and now as a new homemaker, you have found new value in what I can offer you.  The things I always wanted to share with you, the wisdom I knew I had to offer you, has finally found its day.  In my pride as I witness you as a new and wonderful mother, it feels like you see me with new eyes with every question or favor you ask. Your motherhood has transformed our relationship.

 

 

The nurturing experiences from our mothers will always transcend the value of fast pace, technical toys, and current school of thought in any given era. In our new era, I am here to offer you time tested remedies, sagacious secrets, resplendent recipes, and common sense practices that will outlast every parenting trend, marketing miracle, or latest medical advancement. 

 

My experience as your mother has evolved from that stressful and fumbly first bath while I tried to gently wash all of the folds in your chubby little neck, to the fears of the many responsibilities in the world I found myself in one day—on my own—with you and your two sisters.  Today, as you give me my seventh grandchild, I sense that all of the maternal encounters of my past will serve you well and overshadow any lack of business savvy I may still suffer from. 

 

As your own motherhood evolves, remember that whatever question you ask, or favor you need, that for me, it is a blessing to again be able to give you an answer, a suggestion, a helping hand, a hug, or just a shoulder to cry on. 

 

Not so long ago, I used to be zipping up your coat and tucking your cherub cheeks into your hat before you headed out of the house into the biting Colorado weather. Today, as your mother, I find so much joy in tucking your son’s sweet cheeks into the cozy hat I made for him so he too, can feel the warmth of my love for you both. 

 

I may not have all of the answers; I may not make the best choices in every aspect of my life; I may not respond perfectly in every situation; but one thing is a constant: my love and commitment to my children, grandchildren, husband, and other loved ones.  In this, I hope to never let you down Sara.

 

With cherished anticipation of all we have yet to share and give to each other in our many future moments, I Bless you Sara with goodness and wish you the most Awesome Birthday and Best Year Yet in your new home!   

 

Love, Mom

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