Life is grand

Another Trip to the Doctor’s


Luna had an appointment today with her pediatric ophthalmologist, who also specializes in neurology and oncology. We had to postpone our last appointment with him, because the hospital bumped us off the schedule for Luna’s last MRI, and then we had to wait several weeks to reschedule both appointments. The new eye exam had to be in Los Gatos, which is even farther away than Stanford.

Sam took off the day, so that he could watch Carmela, and I took Luna to the doctor’s by myself. About 40 minutes or so into the drive, I said to Luna that I needed a bathroom. She said that she did too, and suddenly it was an emergency. I was looking for somewhere to pull over, and yelling at her, “Don’t you dare go in your pants! You’d better hold it!” It wasn’t even 5 minutes and she shit herself. Not just herself, but the carseat too. It was a mess of diarhea everywhere. I pulled into a gas station and parked. Luckily I had some wet wipes in the car, and the gas station had paper towels. I had to wipe her down, get her clothes off and strip her carseat, without spreading the mess around further.

This all happened in the middle of a Wendy’s parking lot. I had to get plastic bags to put the shit-laden stuff into, so that we could drive without vomitting. Of course I did not have extra clothes for Luna. I thought about trying to find a store where I could buy her some clothes, but I was so worried about getting to the appointment on time, that I didn’t want to risk it. I had two sweatshirts I tied around her waist for a skirt. The appointment letter said to be early, and that we would be rescheduled if we were late! I didn’t know exactly where I was going, and once I got close, the Google directions were wrong.

Despite it all, we were only 5 minutes late, and then we had to wait 45 minutes to see the doctor. I had to keep reminding Luna not to flash her crotch at the doctors or the other people in the waiting room. Once we finally got in, her appointment didn’t take very long. The doctor said her optic nerve looked good, which is important, but that her vision has deteriorated further. She now has 20/60 vision and needs glasses. We were expecting something like this. I got her prescription and we bought her some glasses in the afternoon. It was a very long and tiring day, but also a success. Luna loves her new glasses and responded to them immediately with, “Everything is clear now!”

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Motherhood: When Spirituality Hits the Fan (Part 1)


I never expected to be a perfect parent. However, I do know some things about holistic health and natural living, and I did expect to have a handle on raising healthy children. I had wonderful pregnancies and two fantastic home births, under the care of exceptional midwives. I didn’t use drugs, prenatal testing, monitors or medical interventions of any kind. I’ve tried to raise my daughters in the healthiest way I know, without interference from the medical establishment.

I believe a healthy diet is the foundation of good health. I buy only organic, seasonal whole foods. I put limits on sugar. Juice is an occasional treat and soda off limits. I avoid giving my kids anything with citric acid, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup. We don’t eat many soy foods or products containing processed soy. I also try to limit our family’s exposure to toxic chemicals. I don’t buy food containing artificial colors or preservatives. (I read labels.) We don’t drink water that has been treated with fluoride, chlorine or chloramines. No fluorinated toothpaste. I won’t use aluminum or nonstick cookware. I bought a corded phone for the children to use, to protect them from electromagnetic frequencies. I choose not to infect their bloodstreams with toxic vaccines. I almost never administer Tylenol or antibiotics. I dress my kids in natural fabrics and particularly avoid material treated with flame-retardant chemicals. (This includes all children’s sleepwear sold in the US.) I’ve tried to limit the amount of plastic toys in our home, and food or drink stored in plastic. The cleaners and cosmetics in our house are organic, non-toxic and/or environmentally friendly. We do yoga together. We spend time in nature. We dance and sing. We get lots of exercise and fresh air.

Despite my best efforts to protect and nurture my children, my beautiful perfect first-born angel had a tumor in her brainstem by age four. My waking nightmare. How could this happen? We tried many holistic approaches to reduce this tumor including: Toaist herbs; a regimen of many different vitamins and supplements; dietary restrictions; Mangosteen juice; medicinal mushrooms; blessed spiritual medicine; oils blessed by priests; vortex healing; prayers; mantras; visualizations and meditation; homeopathy; Qi Gong; psychic “surgery” and a visit to a Brazilian miracle healer. Despite all that we tried, the tumor continued to grow.

As time and options ran out, I had to hand my precious child over to a medical system that I have never trusted. A corrupt, profit-driven system that, in my opinion, has little or no understanding of health maintenance or disease prevention. A system which I believe is generally more harmful than healthful. Suddenly I had to put my hope and faith in a miracle of modern medicine. I can’t describe how difficult this process has been, and continues to be, for me. Each time I enter a clinic or a hospital, I am an atheist in a strange church. I wish I could believe that doctors know best. For years I hardly felt the need for routine check-ups with a pediatrician. Now we are in the hospital at least once every three weeks. I believe my daughter has the best specialists in the world taking care of her, but I find little comfort in that. My daughter has been subjected to ten MRIs under general anesthesia with gadolinium dye contrast, one CT scan and two brain surgeries. Not exactly the natural, holistic upbringing I had envisioned.

Before my children were born, I thought about all the things I would share and do with them. I thought about what I would teach them. But so far the path of parenthood for me has been more about the lessons I need to learn. I know that life is joyful and also full of pain and injustice. This knowledge does not make it any easier to see my child suffer. Many days I am consumed by stress and anxiety. Meanwhile, my sweet baby girl lives a full and happy life. I do not take that life for granted. Still, I struggle with my fears. Fear of the known, fear of the unknown and the fear of fear. Meanwhile, she blossoms and thrives throughout this medical ordeal. The ecstasy and the joy that my children express help me to appreciate the beauty of life at each moment. This is the bittersweetness that I savor. I have also found tremendous gratitude and respect for the team of doctors that manage her care. I believe their interventions have saved her life thus far. Motherhood is much more challenging than I ever dreamed possible, and for that too I am grateful.

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Obama and the Palin Effect


I just read this great article by Deepak Chopra called Obama and the Palin Effect. I include it below in its entirety.


Obama and the Palin Effect
by Deepak Chopra

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and turning negativity into a cause for pride. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.) I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision

Look at what she stands for:

Small town values — a nostaligic return to simpler times disguises a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.
Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be needed.
Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.
“Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right, Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness

Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

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Letter to Yoga Journal


As a devoted yoga student and teacher for the past 16 years, I have alternately renewed and cancelled my subscription to Yogal Journal many times. While I find plenty of worthwhile articles, that inform and inspire me, I am soured by the amount of advertising on your pages. The ratio of content to advertisements is less than 1:1.

The ads are a distraction and an insult to my sensibilities. I am generally annoyed by most advertising, but I am particularly disgusted by it in your magazine. The constant barrage of companies promoting consumerism seems antithetical to the yogic path in every way. While I appreciate that the subjects of the ads you run are “health- or yoga-related,” the volume of the ads is overwhelming and the styles often offensive.

Some ads I find easier than others to ignore, but those that objectify women’s bodies and exploit their sexuality (in the effort to sell yoga gear,) are more difficult for me. There is a stark disconnect between your articles and the ads that surround them. An article about finding one’s center, connecting to deeper truths, or cultivating loving kindness might be juxtaposed to the Hemalayaa Bollywood Booty DVD. “Love your booty again! These unique dance workouts are designed to lift those buns and sashay away unwanted pounds.”

I understand the need for revenue, but if you are the presumed premier yoga publication of the US, dedicated to the path of enlightenment, I have to suggest that your ad standards compromise your integrity. I don’t think I am alone in saying that I would be happy to pay more out of my pocket for an ad-free, reader-supported Yoga Journal. As I feel about you now, however, I think I will let my subscription lapse again this year.

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