Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The van with stickers all over the windows

Do you sport stickers on your windows? Crayon in your carpet?
Crumbs in every crack? Scratches on the door? This post is for you!

We're not rich. I don't often focus on that for several reasons. First, I believe in the process of encouraging abundant thinking and grateful living. Second, I feel wary about complaining or being negative when I know we are lucky as it is that my husband has a fulfilling job to cover the bills, that we have a safe home, and that we have healthy food to put on the table. I know that's more than many in this world.

Still, every now and then I feel the swirling doubts, fears, and discontent in my mind. It's hard to be a stay at home mom counting every penny, and not look down the other pathway in the medical field and think, "What if I had chosen a lucrative career instead?"

Maybe the ingratitude slipped into my heart innocuously, on the backs of all those extremely fit, shiny beach bodies in the vacation ads that seemed to have cropped up with the turn of the season recently.

Whatever silently crept into my day, it was there, hanging over me as I took the kids grocery shopping. I felt it as I pulled my sputtering old van into a parking lot and pulled open the squeaky doors. I felt it as I painstakingly calculated unit prices and stacked coupons with mobile rebate offers, noticing as others simply grabbed what they wanted off the shelf and hurried on their way.

I felt it as I got to the checkout and spent a frazzled few minutes trying to gently wrestle 4 shrieking monkeys while keeping an eagle eye on the cashier and the total to make sure everything was perfect. I felt it in the sigh of relief as I ended up 30 cents under my budget. Another successful shopping trip.

By the time I was pushing my full cart out to the van, I let those negative thoughts float freely in my head. We're poor. We're not keeping up with the Joneses. Our house is tiny. The van is going to die any day now. I'm tired of the stress.

Distracted by my self-pity, I let the kids get ahead of me and missed a beat. In an instant, I had unlocked the door without noticing my 3 year old was up by the passenger side. He loves to open the passenger door and climb into the front seat. I jumped around the van, words caught in my throat, and it was too late. With the energy of a 3 year old boy, he flung open the door, slamming it into....

Shit. Yes, a shit was required here.

He slammed it right into some kind of black, shiny, convertible sports car filled with two wealthy looking people. I stood there, my mouth not even able to fall open, watching what was almost like a Matrix-style scene, as the van door bounced off the side of this beautiful car, the thunk reverberating through my head. Holy cow, I thought to myself. The repair for that is going to cost more than our van is worth!

I grabbed my son and stood there, waiting in shock, as the man climbed out of his convertible and turned towards me. "I'm so so sorry. Does it look like there's any damage?" No response from him, so I kept at it. "I should've kept an eye on him! I can't believe this happened. I'm so terribly sorry." Before the man could respond, my 5 year old daughter decided to add her voice to the situation. She rang out loudly, "Wow! You must be really rich! You have a cool car!"

The man was older, maybe in his 40s, and looked pained. He put his hands on his hips, and stared at us all, my 4 monkeys practically vibrating with energy. A huge kid-cart filled with groceries, foam swords sticking out, open snacks, water bottles, and two ergos. All next to my dinged up, scratched up, rusting old car with the missing license plate.

Then he changed my life that day.

"Little Miss. I'm not rich. I'm actually quite poor. Your mom here is the rich one."

He looked at me. "See, my wife and I wanted nothing more than children, but we didn't know it at the time. We sought riches first. We worked hard to be rich and we were rewarded. But, we didn't know what it meant to be truly wealthy. Oh, yes, we had our big home and our vacation home. We had our careers. We had our fancy cars. We didn't have bills to worry about or budgets to follow. We thought we had it all. And now I know we have nothing at all. We are the poorest of the poor."

He waved at my van. "I would trade you my three cars, my big home, my vacation home, my timeshare, my gadgets, my chef, all of it. I would trade you the nice clothes off my back and the shoes I'm wearing, for just one trip in this van, this happy van with stickers all over the windows. I would climb into your old van and drive away a happy man, the richest and wealthiest man in the world."

Then he smiled and said, "Don't worry about that scratch. Just do me one thing and remember how blessed you are today. Don't squander your riches."

I buckled in the children, put in the groceries and climbed into my seat. I started to sigh at the familiar sight of the yellow empty sign on the gas gauge. And then I caught myself. I didn't have money to spare. Or the career I thought I deserved. I didn't have a big, fancy home or a nice car. But as the kids started to sing along to their preschool CD and I heard their loud, giggling voices, I realized I was driving home wealthy.

It's true, we don't have a lot of treasure in our family. But, we do have each other to treasure. I'm forever grateful to that man for his reminder. I hope his words ring true against any negativity that pops into my heart and mind in the future.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Parasites in your bum howling at the moon? Tidbits on melatonin and immune modulation of parasites

Everyone has heard that parasites become more active with the full moon. A quick google search brings up plenty of articles and discussions on this phenomenon, but no clear answers. Some people have theorized that gravitational changes are the cause, but this doesn't make a lot of sense in regards to parasitic behavioral changes. So, what's causing the bugs to go out for a romp when the moon is hanging in the sky? Is this a myth? Psychosomatic?

I was browsing available medical literature on human sleep during lunar cycles when something caught my eye. Researchers observed human sleeping patterns during full moon activity and discovered that melatonin rates drop during the full moon. (Read about the study here.)

This immediately piqued my interest because a frequent talking point in the natural community is that children with gut issues...damaged guts, leaky guts, food intolerances, allergies, and the resulting behavioral labels that come with this situation such as autism, ADHD, SPD, etc have very hyper sleep patterns and are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. Parents desperately turn to melatonin supplements in these cases.

Then I remembered something from my college days. Parasitology 101: melatonin in the host can influence the parasitic-host relationship. See, melatonin might be known as the sleep hormone, but it has immune system functions, too. It makes sense that if children are exhibiting immune system issues, they might also have low melatonin. (And it's chicken or the egg: could low melatonin be causing the immune system issues? And what caused low melatonin in that case?) At any rate, the wheels started turning.

I quickly typed in, "Melatonin parasites" and began reviewing the current medical literature on the topic. Sure enough, I found several references to the influence of this indolamine on parasitic infections. Melatonin mediates immune responses to parasites, controlling their reproductive cycles, their population levels, and host "fighting reaction" to infection. (See the studies here and here for examples.)

So, if you notice a change in your health during the full moon, especially regarding parasitic infestation and gut issues such as flatulence, constipation, and bloating, or mood changes such as irritability, insomnia, and brain fog, consider supporting your neurochemical balance in the brain, along with healing your gut. Research healthy foods that support serotonin and melatonin. Brush up on amino acids needed for neurochemical health. If you suspect parasites, touch base with a health care provider for testing. Depending on the type of parasite, things such as minced garlic, diatomaceous earth and various essential oils can help.

And the next time your kids are jumping off the ceiling, refusing to sleep, and running around like crazed zombies during the full moon, you might have an interesting answer for onlookers. "It's the parasites! The melatonin hormone has dropped and those parasites are howling at the moon!"

And you thought it was just the red hair!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When Dog Ownership is Violence and Cutting Your Son is Freedom

I learned something new the other day. I casually mentioned my dog, Butters, while at the playground. I laughed a little and said, "I never thought I would be a dog owner, but he sure is cute!" The lady I was talking to did not respond with amusement. Her face remained flat as she sternly rebuked me. "Dog ownership is a form of violence. It is wrong to own another living being. I am an animal companion."

We have reached a fascinating step in mankind's development. We have reached a time where we are dedicated to eradicating any form of violence against any living being. To smack a dog on the nose is abuse. To cut its tail is an unspeakable horror.

And I certainly find nothing wrong with that stance. Hurting another living being does not receive defense from me. I do not punitively care for my dog, despite the inadvertent use of a politically incorrect label. I guess my doggie companion will forgive my verbally violent labeling even if this society cannot.

What I find most hysterically concerning is actually the inconsistency in applying an affront to violence. Are we actually opposing violence because it is violence? Or do we select specific forms of it and specific victims to suit our own emotional needs?

I have an analogy, one that I have shared during those terse and unpleasant times when human violence activists begin to pick and choose what violence they oppose and what violence they support. They make bold attempts to oppose violence while still loudly supporting it in another way.

Let's say, within the expanding field of prenatal surgery, that a mother is now able to choose elective circumcision surgery on her son while he is still in her womb. Thanks to the miraculous advance of technology and medical precision, at the mere gestational age of 17 weeks, doctors can use a delicate laser to accurately remove every bit of the male's foreskin long before he is born.

Would someone who opposes circumcision but supports reproductive choice still support the mother in this situation? Would someone who opposes surgical abortion but supports parental circumcision choice still support the mother in this situation? Or will their heads merely explode after reading this analogy, as they refuse to acknowledge their hypocrisy and lash out at the messenger? Perhaps, then, the two parties will find unity in their contradiction.

If you oppose a mother electing to have a surgeon cut a piece of flesh off the body of her son after he is born, will you still oppose the mother electing this if her son is inside her womb? Is it not her reproductive choice to do as she desires while pregnant?

Will you only attempt to educate or dissuade the mother if the organ being destroyed is the foreskin? What if she decides to pay for other cosmetic changes? What if she decides to surgically alter her daughter in the womb?

If you say that circumcising a small, defenseless human being out of preference, desire, or misinformed and uneducated reasons is wrong, is painful, is violent, is inhumane, is you only feel this way when the flesh removed from him is a foreskin? And only after he is born? What about if an arm is removed? A leg? At what gestational age is it repugnant? At 12 weeks? Or 22 weeks? Or maybe only the last trimester?

Oh, I do not hold only one party to the wall here. Let us not overlook the screaming, red-faced activists who vehemently oppose abortion. Life is precious! Unless you are a baby boy. Abortion is violent! But cutting a newborn's genitals is loving. We are pro-life! Except for when we want to risk our sons' for sexual preferences. She's a person, not a choice! He's my son, it's my choice! Ah, how the gaps grow wider.

If people are only now becoming aware of the level of violence against completely defenseless living beings, I see nothing wrong with giving them space to continue to soften their heart and adjust their ethics.

If someone has not stopped to think about what it means to dig a sharp tool down between the prepuce and penile shaft, to rip the two apart, and then to clamp and cut the organ off as the newborn is tied down to the circumstraint board and fully conscious, I hope she stops to think now.

If someone has not stopped to think about what it means to locate the being inside the womb, cut him into pieces small enough to vacuum out, reconstruct his body to ensure no pieces of him were left behind, then send him nameless and forgotten off for incineration, I hope she stops to think now.

What underlying need is more important than the plight of these tiny living beings? To be esteemed by friends? To be accepted into a group? To look as if you are saying the right thing and doing the right thing? What would cause a person to oppose violence against him in the womb, but then turn a blind eye to his bloody genitals after birth? What would cause a person to rally against the scalpel when applied to the penis, but fall silent when applied to his entire body?

I think back to an incident after the birth of my third son. For the first time in my mothering journey, I flinched while clipping the fingernails of my baby. I barely clamped down on the top of his finger, not even breaking the skin. He awakened immediately, eyes wide with fright, and began screaming. I felt a wave wash over me as I held him. What kind of wave must parents harden their hearts against when they sign the papers for something that cuts as deep as circumcision and as final as abortion?

If I cannot stand to clamp the tip of his finger accidentally, if I cannot so much as clamp the flesh on my son's penis after he is born, I certainly cannot clamp his arms and feet, nor crush his skull, nor have his tiny body sucked up into a tube to be incinerated. Circumcision, this thing some people consider to be a "snip" is a severe, deep human rights violation. The concept of dismembering his entire body, then, must be unbearable.

This aspect of ignoring violence has always perplexed me. If a woman, going back to my dog example, refuses to call herself a "dog owner" as she finds the concept of owning an animal to be a form of violence, what then of actual violence committed against defenseless beings?

If uttering a word is violent, if snipping foreskin is violent, what then, is this thing, this choice we can barely utter in close company, this magical "A" word, that involves crushing entire bodies and incinerating them as mere hospital waste?

So, you see, when activists from various topics mingle and begin to shout at each other, asserting who is the least violent and who holds the most important stance, I have to bring up my analogy about prenatal surgery.

Of course, I find that focusing on one topic at a time is sometimes necessary. People need to work through things, they need to reconsider, grapple, learn, and grow. Toss too much at them and it can shut them down or turn them off to your thoughts. I get that. I also think the forest is filled with birds and each bird has a unique song. Focus on what your talent is and share it with the world. If you lack experience or insight when it comes to a particular topic, leave it for others who have their heart in it.

That being said, in the continuum of consistent upholding of living beings' rights, it's clear that we cannot hold contradictory viewpoints on the aspect of violence against defenseless and innocent living beings. Either we oppose forced cutting, or we don't. All this talk about it being just a prick or  it being justified because it's the mother's choice or refusing to enter the debate because whatever parents choose to do is their right  is merely a socially acceptable way to express our apathy when it comes to protecting the bodily integrity of other living beings.

Perhaps, after that lady informed me that she is not a dog owner, I should have smiled brightly and responded, "I understand! I am not a child owner."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jewish Intactivist: Miriam Pollack: "That which is not ethical, cannot be spiritual."

Miriam Pollack, MA, is one of the leading Jewish Intactivist scholars. A Jewish mother and active Jew, she was chosen as Intact America’s Intactivst of the Month. Pollack has written for Tikkun, and been interviewed in She has led talks with Eli Ungar Sargon, an Orthodox raised Intactivist on the subject. She is part of a group of Intactivist Jews who've made moral arguments for a shift in Jewish interpretation of the bris.
Pollack has lectured on Jewish Intactivism at conferences as early as the 1990's. She is one of more than 200 Bris Shalom celebrants, Jewish leaders who will hold a bris covenant ritual for intact Jewish boys. Pollack visits Israel frequently, and has also helped to connect Jewish Intactivists in Israel with the American movement. She has joined some Rabbis in making ethical and moral cases for an Intactivist interpretation of the Jewish covenant.

"I have helped a number of parents, particularly Jewish parents, come to the conclusion that they can be good Jews and leave their baby intact."

“Judaism has always been a core piece of my identity, even though my practice and understanding have evolved over the years. I have great reverence for what we hold as spiritual. When the authorities of my tradition define the sacred in a way that violates the most elemental and life-giving forces, mothers and babies, then something is very wrong. That which is not ethical, cannot be spiritual. That is a basic Jewish tenet… It is Judaism that has taught me that reverence for life, the principle of pikuah nefesh, and the mandate incumbant upon all of us to distinguish (l’havdeel) between what is holy and what is profane. It is precisely these fundamental tenets of Judaism that have led me to conclude that circumcision is not holy in terms of Jewish ethics.… What is most satisfying to me is knowing that I have helped a number of parents, particularly Jewish parents, come to the conclusion that they can be good Jews and leave their baby intact.”Miriam Pollack, Defying Convention: An Interview With Miriam PollackBeyond the Bris, July 27, 2011. 
“…many committed and affiliated Jews… are choosing to welcome their male babies with a brit shalom, a covenantal ceremony without cutting…. Circumcision may be an ancient rite, but it is wrong. It is wrong in terms of Jewish values for it violates the most fundamental Jewish principles of sanctifying life. Spiritualizing the wounding of circumcision does not change the damage, nor make it ethical. As Deuteronomy 30:6 teaches, what is truly required of us in order to contact the divine has to do with the architecture of the heart, not the alteration of male genitals.

Over the ages Judaism has demonstrated a remarkable ability to mutate in practice and retain the integrity of its spiritual legacy. It's time that our gatekeepers lead the way, the people of Israel, will demand the gates be opened.
Miriam Pollack, Rite is ancient, but wrongBoulder Daily Camera, 07/27/2014.

"[Circumcision] be it religious or secular, has no place in a humane society, nor in a religion or culture, such as Judaism, that emphatically values the protection of the helpless, the pursuit of justice, and reverence for life.

As a strongly affiliated Jew, Hebrew speaker, and lover of Israel, I will continue to do what I can to educate other Jews about the very serious harms of circumcision. Certainly, no parent intends to inflict damage upon his or her child, but the misinformation, disinformation, mythologies, and deeply held allegiances are profound and widespread. As couples realize how unholy it truly is to hold another individual down and take a knife to their tender genitals, more and more Jews, both in the U.S and in Israel, are choosing to welcome their babies into the Jewish community with a non-violent ceremony, a brit shalom.

As secular Jews, and even, some orthodox Jews, question and reject circumcision in greater and greater numbers, a tipping point will occur. Certainly, no amount of scientific evidence documenting the suffering of the newborn, or the anatomical importance of the foreskin, will dissuade many of the orthodox from changing this practice, but, hopefully, in the not too distant future, they will be the anachronistic few; the rest of us will have moved on to a more enlightened, gentler and kinder embrace of our precious, newborn baby boys, and redefinition of the most fundamental mitzvah: above all, choose life."
Miriam Pollack, NORM News, 
Winter 2013/2014. 

"Circumcision, both male and female, is a relic from our ancient past... Challenging circumcision inevitably means challenging the ancient notion of what is sacred. Re-naming the sacred is the task which awaits us as we enter the Twenty-First Century. It must be for life."
Miriam Pollack, REDEFINING THE SACRED, Presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, August 9-11, 1996.

"We must envision a Judaism that can welcome all of our children, nonviolently, into the brit b'lee milah, a covenant without circumcision. We need to support and affirm men's struggle to revise the old notion of masculinity which is rooted in fear of women. We invite men to explore ways to ritualize and celebrate masculinity and the critical passages of male bonding in ways that are life-affirming, nonviolent and protective of the sacred wholeness of men. Only in these ways will we begin the restoration of the holy and establish tikkun, healing, between the sexes.... Opposing circumcision is men's work; but it is also most profoundly, women's work. Our babies know and we know: it begins with us."
Miriam Pollack, Circumcision: A Jewish Feminist Perspective, Jewish Women Speak Out, p. 171-185, Canopy Press, 1995.

compromising either our children’s identity or the survival of our people, we can invite all of our Jewish children, our baby girls and our baby boys, into a brit b’lee milah, a covenant without circumcision, and school them in the wisdom, love, and beauty of the Jewish tradition. Unlike Christianity, which teaches that a child is born into original sin and must be redeemed, Judaism teaches that the soul is pure — only the penis needs “redemption.” The truth is that the whole baby is pure, body and soul, including his tender genitals, and it is both a mitzvah and our most sacred duty to protect him."
Miriam Pollack, Circumcision: Identity, Gender, and Power, Tikkun 26(3), 2011.

Intactivist Movement Spreads in Israel

Jewish Intactivism. A Jewish Male Human Rights Movement!
Expanding the Rights of Mankind.

Jewish Intactivist: Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon

Jewish Intactivist: Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon

Raised an Orthodox Jew in Massachusetts and then Israel, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon has emerged as one of the leading intellectuals of American Jewish Intactivism. A filmmaker, his movie “Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision” helped to introduce the subject of Intactivism to Jewish audiences in the United States. His movie received good reviews including within the Jewish press, and in the Jewish Intactivist community

His article, 
Outlawing Circumcision Good for the Jews?, appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward. Ungar-Sargon was chosen as Intact America’s Intactivist of the Month. He writes and blogs about these issues regularly. He is one of a group of Jews, including scholar Dr. Leonard Glick, and Dr. Mark Reiss who sit on the board of Intact America, an organization working to make circumcision against the law in the United States.

Ungar-Sargon publically 
debated Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author of “Kosher Sex” on the subject at The Manhattan Jewish Experience. Ungar-Sargon has lead a movie tour holding events with Rabbis ranging from the Orthodox to the Reform and Humanistic talking about the ethics of genital integrity.

Ungar-Sargon is one of more than 200 Jewish leaders, mostly Rabbis and Cantors, who will officiate at bris covenant ceremonies and he is regularly quoted in articles on these subjects. 
Though he considers himself an artist and moviemaker, rather than an intactivist, Ungar-Sargon has found himself a leading voice on one of the most heated ethical issues in Judaism today.   

“I should mention [that] I was raised as an Orthodox Jew. When I was 13 years old, my family moved to Israel to seek better religious education for myself and my [five] siblings…. The only ritual religious consequence of being an intact Jewish male is that you're not allowed to eat from the Paschal Lamb, which was a sacrifice that was brought when the temple was around, and hasn't been brought since the temple was destroyed—and we don't know when the temple is going to be rebuilt. That's it!

So, I think [that] as more people become aware of this information and leave their boys intact, we're going to have a situation where there are lots of intact Jewish [men], some of [whom] are going to be religious and are going to be participating in everything [in which] circumcised Jewish men are participating.”
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, 
A Conversation with Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon. 

"…the ritual and religious consequences of not being circumcised amount to nothing. There is absolutely nothing that an intact Jewish male today cannot do. Contrast this with - I'm talking from the Orthodox perspective - non-Sabbath observance. Jews who are not Sabbath observant are not trusted in Halachic courts of law, they cannot be witnesses at people's weddings, they cannot be trusted with issues of Kashrut, making sure that things are Kosher... Here's an issue that is very easy to solve. You don't even have to argue for the eradication of male circumcision in the Jewish tradition for everyone to be happy. All you have to do is say that this will be a decision that an individual makes at an age when they can make the decision.”
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, NYC Q&A with Rabbi Steven Blaine & Laurie Evans.

“My first feature-length documentary, “Cut” is an exploration of male circumcision and Jewish identity. I made the film, because I think that circumcision is a really interesting example of a problem that we don’t often discuss openly. Namely, what we as people who care about living both moral and Jewish lives are supposed to do when our own ethics conflict with Jewish law.”
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, Eli Ungar-Sargon Debates “Kosher Sex” Author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Ethics of Jewish, Thursday, July 21, 2011.

“There are really no practical religious ritual consequences - and I’m speaking about this from an Orthodox perspective too - to not being circumcised… The only exclusion in Jewish law – even from an Orthodox perspective, for an intact Jewish male is the Pascal Lamb, the Korban Pesach which hasn’t been brought in 2,000 years, and it won’t be brought again until the Temple’s rebuilt ostensibly. If it’s even brought when the Temple’s rebuilt, if the Temple’s rebuilt.“Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, Georgetown University, Washington DC Q&A with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber, September 22, 2011.

“The human right to body integrity would, in this instance, override their religious right.…non-fundamentalist Jews, who constitute a very large number of Reform, Conservative, and even some Orthodox Jews, believe that human ethics are an essential element in the Jewish tradition. …there is a Jewish tradition practiced by virtually all Jewish parents today that is morally wrong. This should give pause to any non-fundamentalist religious Jew, and it is a black eye for the liberal movements that they have not taken this issue more seriously. Perhaps a law prohibiting circumcision is just what these Jews need to start a serious discussion about the problem of brit milah.”Eli Ungar-SargonOutlawing Circumcision: Good for the Jews?, Forward, the Jewish Daily, May 20, 2011. 

Intactivist Movement Spreads in Israel

Jewish Intactivism. A Jewish Male Human Rights Movement!
Expanding the Rights of Mankind.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Senior CDC Scientist Dr. Thompson Confirms Data Omitted from Autism/MMR Study

In case you didn't notice, which you might not have, seeing as how no major media sources have picked up this breaking news, Dr. William Thompson, a senior scientist at the CDC, released a statement today confirming that he and his fellow researchers omitted data and that "final study protocol was not followed."

The study involved was looking at the timing of the MMR vaccine and autism diagnoses. The data removed caused 41% of participants to no longer "count" thus reducing the statistically significant findings, and allowing the researchers to continue claiming that we have no concerns when it comes to vaccination and autism.

Dr. Thompson says he worked with Dr. Hooker on this project for 10 months before Dr. Hooker released the information to the public. Several big blogs have attempted to tear apart the information, desperately trying to claim that Dr. Thompson is wrong and that the data is being manipulated to suit vaccine opponents' interests.

Unfortunately, what these vaccine defenders seem to forget is that our interest is the wellbeing and health of our children, along with a demand for scientific transparency and professional behavior from our government researchers. However much vaccine defenders want to tear apart the nuances of the omitted data, the overriding point is that it was omitted after the study, to alter the findings so that the researchers could present a particular view to the public.

To read Dr. Thompson's legal statement, see here:

To read a response regarding the CDC's attempt to justify the data omission before Dr. Thompson admitted to this act, see here:

To read the AoA statement:

Be sure to download the PDF of this study and save it for later viewing as it might go *poof*

Saturday, August 16, 2014

We Forgot the Science about Ferguson

I've received PMs about the Ferguson issue, people wanting to know what I think. I thought maybe instead of saying what I think, I'd tie together what the science and the numbers show. Despite the constant media coverage and thousands of people discussing this topic and related topics of police violence, government power, and racial tension, the biological story is being ignored here.

When you systematically poison, mutilate, nutritionally deprive, and abuse children intergenerationally, you are physically altering their genetic potential and impairing them in mind and body. (This is a secular post so we will ignore the spiritual and emotional aspects which are also impaired.) As this abuse is carried on cycle after cycle, passing from parents to children, and the people begin to forget their inherent potential as humans, it is no surprise that they will suffer deep consequences from these wrongs.

Let's take a look at the Ferguson/STL area and the environmental background for a minute to see what's really happening. First, they have that Westlake landfill leaking nuclear waste into their water supply and spewing toxic fumes into their air. This is simply an extension of the experimental studies Monsanto performed in the area that put toxic sludge into waterways and doused previous generations, ensuring the start of genetic mutations and cancers.

These chemicals are associated with genetic defects and mutations that can then be passed on to future children. They are associated with midline defects that harm the brain and spinal cord. They are associated with chronic illness, decreased IQ, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, aggression and more. So the people of Ferguson and surrounding cities are growing fetuses and raising children on poisoned water and air.

Their lower income restricts their education and access when it comes to healthy living and dietary choices. They are more likely to have government subsidized options, which means pressure and even outright bullying them into compliance with mainstream medical decisions. What does this mean when we look at the snapshot of a pregnant Ferguson mama?

Let's say a person who was born there, or lived there for many years, then goes on to conceive in that area. She is genetically damaged from the area and passes those mutations onto her baby at the moment of conception. She is nutritionally deprived from her SAD, Monsanto diet. Generational abusive scripts such as poverty, racial tension, poor public education, abusive parenting, etc have made their mark on her body and mind. She might be using various substances that also pass along their consequences to the baby.

But, now she is pregnant. She goes into the little government-run clinic and what does she get? Too many ultrasounds, increasing hemispheric damage to the baby and increasing the risk of false diagnosis and increased unnecessary interventions. She is told she must consent to every single maternal vaccine available, despite there being no real studies proving their safety or efficacy during pregnancy. She might even be subjected to some experimental ones if we listen to the rumors in various underground circles. Her child's immune system is activated and altered. She doesn't feel well from this and reaches for acetaminophen as doctors say that's the only safe one to use, despite it causing a cascade of potential complications in the child ranging from autism to allergies to liver damage. So her child's mitchondrial disorder begins before birth, along with an increase in asthma and liver complications already associated with her race.

She's told to take folic acid, a synthetic version of b9 that increases her risk of cancers, a risk which is already higher than average simply because of where she lives and her family history. Because of the genetic mutations from the environmental pollutants, she and her baby can't use this form of the vitamin and remain deficient in a variety of essential vitamins, leading to the slow development of chronic, lifelong conditions.

She obeys the doctors completely, as she has never heard of other prenatal and birth options. Or if she has, she lacks any support or financial and educational ability to access those options. She goes in for her induced, rough, likely abusive and traumatizing hospital birth. She and the baby are exposed to more drugs that particularly stress their genetic damage. Her baby, already injured from prenatal exposure to things such as drugs, smoking, alcohol, vaccines, ultrasounds, and tylenol, is then exposed to various narcotics, pitocin, chlorobutanol, more tylenol, routine IV antibiotics, etc.

Finally, he is born. He is not placed on her chest. He is not allowed to meet her, to breastfeed, to bond. He's whisked away, bathed, blinded by the eye antibiotics, fully vaccinated and placed in the nursery. She's suffering from PTSD and other complications after her traumatic birth that triggers previous childhood abuse, domestic abuse and statistically, post-abortive syndromes. Her area has one of the highest abortion rates in the state due to racial inequality of targeted family services companies.

So, she lies in her hospital room for the day (before being released as soon as possible of course to save on state funding) screaming to keep the TV and lights on because she's suffering from PTSD and no one cares. Meanwhile, her son lies screaming in the nursery, given formula right away and without her consent or knowledge.

The next morning, despite his genetic background and increased risks, he is circumcised. Missouri is an orange circumcision state, boasting one of the highest circumcision rates in the entire nation at over 75%. He's separated from his mama, forced fed formula, and then mutilated.

The casual, subtle threads of his tapestry continue to weave a story of detachment, damage, deprivation and violence. His father is absent or abusive. Healthy, stable relationships are difficult in the face of poverty, low education, no job prospects and physiological damage. His mother practices severe punitive parenting due to cultural and racial influences along with struggling from her own abusive childhood.

The child is left in a crib to CIO, physically abused from early infancy onwards, is faced with abuse and neglect from caregivers. The mother is impoverished. She has to place him in a low-quality government daycare to go to work. She feeds him watered down formula, acutely increasing the span of his vitamin deficiencies and impairing the development of his brain. She leaves him in diapers for long periods, causing infections and constant pain because she cannot afford new ones and doesn't have access to cloth diapering options or someone to support her in ECing.

She remains in the system, so he is routinely vaccinated fully, without question or adaptation to his individual needs. He's considered high risk by CDC officials, so he gets all the extra or optional vaccines, too. He begins showing concerning symptoms around age 1. He isn't talking well, is very aggressive, isn't reaching physical developmental milestones even within the very broad ranges. He moves from daycare to preschool. His aggression continues, along with an inability to sit still, to work with other classmates, to follow basic instructions, and everything else that's expected in a classroom.

The mother is told to get him evaluated. He's diagnosed with ADHD. She must obey, and places him on medication for it. If that's the only thing they diagnose him with, he's lucky. Many children these days receive a whole slew of labels and are placed on 3, 4+ medications for their entire childhood. He's medicated to the hilt despite drugs being unproven for school success, he's stuck in a public school system that needed special labeling because it scored so poorly that it couldn't keep accreditation, his only option is to eat harmful, toxic, fake food daily and at home he might be undernourished.

All of his parental figures abuse him physically and emotionally, teaching him that a cycle of violence is correct in the world. His MAOA gene was damaged by the environmental exposure and then his enzymatic expression was impaired his entire life, so he is very aggressive, even prone to violence without reason.

This biological and psychological assault continues through to adulthood. He has no idea what happened to him. If he feels wounded, unloved, or if he questions his lifestyle, he probably drowns out the confusion and depression with drugs, alcohol, and sexual encounters.  He quickly amasses a police record and continues to fulfill the cycle of human violation that was forced onto him from before his birth.

We, the general we surrounding this ongoing cycle, are only too happy to play our role. It's much easier and simpler to blame the victim. It's easy to find a scapegoat. It's easy to cover up huge government failings, societal scars, environmental crises under the guise of racial fighting.

Why would we be interested in looking into the hospitals to find the abusive doctors who like to birth rape women or who refuse to update their unscientific methods? We might find the doctors in our family with blood covered hands. Or we'll find out the politicians we voted were involved. Or we'll see the scientists we admire came to harmful conclusions. Or that the products we buy and enjoy every day come from a company responsible for harming thousands.

We might notice our own failings. We might notice that our parenting needs improvement if we try to support other parents. We might have to call out large corporations and important people who have wronged all of us. We might be forced to acknowledge that pollutants such as dioxins now expose everyone around the entire globe. To help others, we would have to look at our own scars. What a tall wall to scale!

We might have to face very negative situations. We might have to look at the burning nuclear waste in a landfill and make tough decisions about what to do to save the people being exposed to it. We might have to learn how to reach out to others in our communities and provide peer to peer support for breastfeeding instead of attacking women who breastfeed in public. We might have to reach into our own pockets and wallets when we'd rather turn a blind eye and let the government continue on with its low quality offerings.

Oh, it's much simpler in a world where we ignore the science on this topic. It's much easier to cry that this is a black and white issue, forgetting that no matter what color our skin is on the outside, deep down, we all carry human DNA. We all bleed when cut, we hurt when slapped, we cry in a corner at night when our parents fight. We struggle to survive on low quality food and meager educational programs. Deep down, we're all the same when it comes to science. When we can face the #realstory about #ferguson, then we can begin healing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ways to Encourage Safe Negative Emotional Expression (Stop Peeing, Spitting, and Kicking)

A common stage that can start around age 2 but typically peaks by age 4 is the passive aggressive communication of negative feelings. This stage occurs on its own as a normal milestone because the child needs to develop verbal skills and emotional intelligence. But, for some children, the stage can be especially difficult due to various factors.

First, if the child has been emotionally invalidated frequently by other caregivers or cherished peers, this behavior might become a way to passively share emotions or cry out for help, or even attempt to take back some semblance of control. Watch out for common invalidating comments. Take steps to remind the adult that your child is learning and respect is required. Briefly but firmly reassure the child when invalidation occurs. Some examples of emotional invalidation:

Oh, you're ok! Stop crying about it.
Hey! There's no reason to be angry about that, quit it.
Oh, you're being a scaredy cat. That's not scary at all.
Why are you crying over such a silly thing? Don't be a baby.
I don't care if that makes you angry. That doesn't matter.
I can't stand when you cry like that. Knock it off already.
Your brother isn't scared of the dark. Why don't you be like him?

Besides directly hurting the child, invalidating situations deprive the child of an opportunity to practice emotional processing and emotional regulation. It's a loss of skill development. Try whenever possible to defend your child from invalidation.

Second, if the child is experiencing any language difficulties or delays, or other circumstances and conditions that interfere with easy verbal communication such as hearing difficulties, autism, hyperactivity, etc, then this stage can persist because it is simply easier to communicate physically. Or it might be impossible from the child's perspective to communicate in ways society deems appropriate. In these cases, removing the obstacle when possible and working on coping skills can help create a bridge from the physical outbursts to safer expression.

When your child only expresses negative emotions in your presence

Many parents report that their children do not act out at school, daycare, the other parent's home, in front of peers, etc. But, seemingly the moment they get home, suddenly the children are throwing things, screaming, spitting, wetting their pants...why the sudden change?

If your child only expresses negative emotions in your presence, or in specific areas such as only at home, this is a sign that she feels safest with you. It's not a bad sign. It doesn't mean she's taking advantage of you or that you're too soft on her. On the contrary, it means she has big emotions boiling up inside her and she only trusts you to see them.

Think about it. If you're really stressed out about something you feel is perhaps slightly embarrassing (read: invalidating or shamed by others) you probably keep it hidden. You don't cry your eyes out at work. You don't curse and go on about someone who hurt you at the playground. You wait until you're home and with a safe person to finally let go of your feelings. Children do this, too. And if your child is doing this frequently, it could be a sign that he feels shamed, judged, or invalidated. Remember this when you are facing frustrating behavior, so that you can respond in a way that builds the trust while developing the communication skills.

When your child begins to use emotional outbursts to exert control

Children who feel stifled emotionally can feel powerless. This can cause intense feelings of resentment and anxiety. The child is stuck experiencing what feels like a very large crisis, but the adults around him ignore it or punish him if he lets them know about it. He's new to the world and has very few skills for handling it, so he's lost in himself and lost to others.

As he begins to act out, he comes to find that certain ways of expressing his emotion not only feel good, letting off steam and relieving that anxiety inside him, but might also cause a reaction in others. If it feels good and gets him what he wants, it must be a good idea to keep using it!

Suddenly, you have a child who spits on you when she's angry or pees her pants when she's rejected. Who throws toys at children at the park when she feels left out or pretends to choke on food she doesn't like.

Emotions don't just melt away. They will find their way out, and in children who haven't developed healthy emotional skills, they will come out in ways we dislike. Ways that might hurt others or cause negative reactions. Ways that tempt us to rain down punishment and consequences.

If your child is falling back on crude emotional expression to get your attention, it's a sign that she needs your help, not punishment at this time. No, I'm not saying to condone the behavior or to go all wishy-washy. I'm warning against hyper focusing on the negative behavior to the point that skill-building is squeezed out. Even if the child is punished enough to be convinced to stop the emotional outburst, she still needs to learn healthy ways to process and express her emotions. The need is still there. Start processing with her.

Great. So how is this done? 

Let's use a real life example of a 3 year old who is fully potty trained and does not wet her pants at preschool or with her father. But, she frequently wets her pants when with her mother. Not only does this warn us that she feels safe in her mother's presence and that she has some big emotions building up inside her, but the child has also begun to use the emotional outbursts to cause reactions in others.

For example, when the mother walked away from the 3 year old to care for the baby, the 3 year old wet her pants.

At this point, a lot of different approaches could be taken ranging from shaming and punishment to completely ignoring it and remaining emotionless while cleaning up the mess. These are merely superficial responses, however, and do nothing to encourage her to develop emotional skills.

Let's say the mother has just come back from caring for the baby and the 3 year old is sitting on the floor with wet pants and with an angry and slightly rejected expression on her face. What does the mom do for her?

She gets down on one knee, moving close to her, making eye contact and making physical contact such as by touching her arm gently. While keeping physical and eye contact, she begins assessing the situation.

Hey. I see that you peed in your pants. You must be feeling pretty embarrassed right now. Can you use your words to tell me why you peed your pants? Pause for response. You were feeling angry because I left you to help the baby, huh. It made your heart hurt? Pause for response.

You know, it's okay to feel angry. That's a strong feeling, but it doesn't make you a bad person. Everyone feels angry sometimes. When I feel angry, it makes my stomach squeeze. What does it feel like for you? Pause for response.

Next time when you feel angry, I want you to use your words to tell me. Say, "I'm angry!" Let's try it right now. Ready? Tell me! Pause for response. Remember, instead of peeing your pants, it's okay to tell me that you're angry. I'll always listen to you.

And if you begin to recognize individual triggers, briefly remind her before they happen:

I'm going to focus on caring for your sister right now. Remember, if you feel alone, come grab my hand and tell me instead of peeing your pants.

I'm going to leave the room to make dinner. If you feel scared inside, come and get me, ok? Remember to keep your pants dry.

Tonight, we're going to be very busy with the baby at the park. If you start to feel angry, be sure to tell me with your big girl words! I will listen.

Remember to keep it as simple or long as needed, pausing when needed and following cues to go where the conversation leads you. As children begin to realize how much connection they can make with words, lots of thoughts might tumble out in little situations like this. Try to listen intently and to provide a safe place for those emotions to come out.

Realistically in the beginning it might take several incidents before you see your child come out of his shell and begin to share with you. And especially if he has been mocked or shamed in any way, it might take a long, dedicated effort to show him that it's safe to share. So don't give up too soon!

My 3 year old son tends to kick impulsively when he's upset.
For him, it's easier to kick than to explain things verbally.
In time, slowly and with reminders, he's learning to pause and
to express how he feels without kicking.