Pages

How does an ant eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Big problems are composed of smaller, albeit interconnected, problems. Solving the smaller problems will have an implication on the larger problems.

24 December 2010

Grandma "Weez" & Grandpa Clyde

What a week! It's so difficult to watch your loved ones age. Living with Grandma and Grandpa has a lot of pros, but there are definitely a few cons! One of the things I have loved the most about living here, is that Grandma is always good at making me laugh! I can be exhausted or in the worst mood and she can always get me laughing pretty hard! I love Grandpa's sweet humor. He makes simple little jokes and laughs at himself, while everyone else is still trying to figure out what he said. I love it and I love his smile; it makes me happy...they make me happy, these little things, like down to the soul type of happy. This however, creates the negative part of living here - watching them get old and seeing their health steadily digress. It hurts to watch that and sometimes can be so emotional, ESPECIALLY the past month or two, with Grandpa. I don't expect him to live much longer and watching him gasp for a breath whenever he tries to say something is so difficult.

Last April was one of those overwhelming emotional times of living with them. Grandma was admitted to the hospital, after I took her to the ER. She had her gallbladder removed and finally recovered, while maintaining her spit-fire attitude. Now I watch on a daily basis, both of my grandparents steadily growing older. I know they are ready to die; Grandma tells me every single day. This thought makes me sad, but sometimes happy. I think about how happy it would make them to be out of their pain. The hardest part about watching all of this, is to see how frustrated they get about the challenges of aging. Grandma thinks she is lazy and has a hard time with the fact that she can't get up and do everything she wants to, everything that makes her happy. Grandpa never seems to openly express the frustrations like Grandma does, but I am sure he gets frustrated that he can't see very well...or that he can't hear (at all...tv is full blast and I can hear it when I pull into the driveway sometimes). 

These are the thoughts that make me sad...so let's leave those for a bit and focus on the rest of the beautiful things about getting to live with your 88-year-old grandparents. I love my grandparents and I love how proud they are of me and that they express it on a daily basis (yes, it gets old, but is still so sweet of them to say how they feel, every day). I love making my grandma's day, because she gets so happy to see visitors. I love hearing how much Grandma appreciates my mom (among a couple of her siblings) coming on a weekly basis to help them - this is something I love, because I really appreciate my mom and always am happy to hear how much my grandparent's do, too (even if Grandma jokes about it fulfilling their 'children duties'). Above all, I LOVE watching the love my grandparents have for each other. It honestly brings a tear to my eye. Never have I seen two people bicker more than the two of them, but in such a lovingly way...and never have I seen two people so perfectly in love and so content to just sit and enjoy each others company. I will find them in the summertime sitting on the back patio, just sitting there. Sometimes they will be talking, other times just holding hands and watching the sunset. It's beautiful.

While Grandma was in the hospital this last spring, she would call Grandpa (and yes, I would eavesdrop on their calls...I know, I am a horrible human being, but I am so glad I did it) and beg him to come to the hospital and pick her up so she didn't have to be in that miserable place any longer (this was after about 4-6 days of being there). She would threaten that if he didn't come get her, she was going to call a taxi to get her out of that "damned place". They would both laugh and then her laugh would turn into sobs. Grandpa would comfort her over the phone, telling her how much he loved her and how he wished he could come sit with her and hold her hand. He would then tell her to remember all the good times they have had together and to think about their wonderful children. It was the most precious conversation.

Sigh. I know it's life. I know they are OKAY with dying. But why does it have to be so hard for those of us that will be left behind. The thought of losing them is hard, but it is even harder to watch Grandpa with the way he is now. It makes me so heartbroken and sad. I don't like it, not one little bit!

23 December 2010

“There is a big difference in what we long for, what
we settle for, and what we are meant for.” 

09 December 2010

The Hidden Power of the Heart

photo

Enthusiasm created from the heart is the spirit of the matter. It ignites your whole system so there's no drag, no resistance, no thoughts like "Do I have to?" coming from the head to sabotage the power of your surrender.

02 December 2010

This is deep...

 Image thanks to sandhu

"In this new world, you and I make it up as we go along, not because we lack expertise or planning skills, but because that is the nature of reality. Reality changes shape and meaning because of our activity. And it is constantly new. We are required to be there, as active participants. It can't happen without us and nobody can do it for us."
Margaret Wheatley

01 December 2010

World AIDS Day 2010

world-aids-day

As many of you may know, Dec 1 (today) marks World AIDS Day. Two decades ago this was a mysterious disease that we knew very little about. Over time, AIDS has become a disease that is widely spread and has a tremendous amount of research being done on it. There are many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and all aspects of the epidemic. As an HIV instructor and educator, I find it very important to break down the stigma and be as open as possible when talking about this sensitive topic. I find many it is a difficult topic to address, given the taboo of talking about sex and the activities related, but one that is extremely important to address. 

I have taken a little excerpt from a site I came across that gives some great basic information. It is always best to be informed with the correct information. The following questions were answered by Dr Elaine Leader, who is in private practice in Los Angeles after extensive work at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Teen-Line, a youth hotline where teenagers can call anonymously to talk about the problems facing their lives, from family situations to sexual questions. She is a true wealth of knowledge on the many issues facing teenagers and young adults in today’s world, AIDS just being one of them, but one that is incredibly important to understand, so that everyone can protect themselves.

What exactly is AIDS?
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a viral syndrome where the immune system fails, and leads to many life-threatening infections.
How is AIDS contracted?
The majority of HIV infections are a result of unprotected sex – oral, vaginal or anal or through shared needles or contact with infected blood.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retrovirus that causes AIDS. It may not lead to AIDS, particularly when treatment is instituted early and consistently whereas AIDS is when the HIV has invaded the system to the point where it fails to fight off life-threatening infections.
Can you get AIDS from sharing a drink with someone that has AIDS?
No.
Can you get AIDS from giving or receiving oral sex?
Yes. You can get AIDS from any form of sex which produces an exchange of bodily fluids. Prior to people’s misconceptions, oral and anal sex are, in fact, sex.
Does a condom protect against AIDS?
It is best to use a condom and spermicide every time you have any kind of sexual activity.  Knowing how to use them properly will decrease the chance of condoms leaking or tearing. However, there can always be accidents, nothing is 100% effective, other than abstinence.
Does birth control protect against AIDS?
The Pill, Foam, Vaginal suppositories, the Patch, the Vaginal Ring, Intrauterine devices or birth control injections DO NOT protect against AIDS. Only abstinence or safe sex practices mentioned above can protect against contracting HIV through sexual activity.  It is still possible to contract it through blood contacts that are contaminated with the virus, e.g. needle sharing.
What can you do to prevent getting HIV?
Of course abstinence or practicing safe sex. Also, do not share needles.
Is there a cure for AIDS? Can it be treated?
To date there is no cure for AIDS per se. However, there is treatment particularly if it is begun before a life-threatening infection has taken hold. It is very important to follow the regime rigorously that is prescribed by doctors who specialize in HIV treatment.
What about PEP, the vaccine for those that have been infected with AIDS within the previous 72 hours?
Studies of PEP have demonstrated the greatest reduction in HIV transmission when antiretroviral medications are administered immediately after exposure to HIV-infected blood and body fluids. The efficiency of PEP is diminished after 36 hours and is minimal after 72 hours.
How can you tell if you have been infected with HIV?
You need to get tested as soon as possible after suspected contact, but wait at least 3 months after contact, to allow your body to build up enough antibodies for the test to detect. Please visit http://www.aidsinfoutah.net/ for testing locations near you.
Are there other ways that you can get HIV/AIDS, other than through sex?
Yes, through sharing needles (i.e. IV drug usage) as there is likelihood of blood exchange from someone who is infected. Many people were infected through blood transfusions prior to screening of blood donors. AIDS is transmitted again, through an exchange of bodily fluids, blood being one of them.
Is AIDS only in the homosexual community?
No. In fact, in recent years there has been a great increase in the heterosexual community and in adolescents. In Africa, it is primarily a heterosexual disease. It can also be transferred to newborns from pregnant women who are HIV positive.
If you find out you have HIV/AIDS, what are your options? What can you do? Do you have to tell anyone?
After being tested and a positive diagnosis is confirmed, as with any STD it is important to inform anyone with whom you have had sexual contact. It is extremely important to seek treatment with a knowledgeable physician as soon as possible to discuss your options. Also, take care of your body and basic health.
How can you tell if your sexual partner has HIV or AIDS?
You can’t tell by just looking at someone. You need to ask if they have had a recent test.
Are there places where you and your partner can go to get tested together, where your parents won’t find out?
Yes. Visit http://www.aidsinfoutah.net/ for testing sites near you (in Utah) and for sites that are anonymous. All testing sites are confidential and will test anyone over the age of 14, without parental consent.
Do you have to tell your parents if you find out you have HIV or AIDS?
Of course it is always best to have parents help with any kind of medical issue. However, be guided by whether you believe they will be supportive and helpful. If you fear they might be punitive or kick you out of the house, please get help from a trusted adult. You do not have to tell them.
Will people be able to tell if you have HIV or AIDS?
Not unless you are in the advanced stage of AIDS in which case people would know you are ill but perhaps not the cause.
How long can somebody live with HIV/AIDS?
This depends on the treatment received.
Does everyone that has HIV/AIDS die from it?
The mortality rate was very high for AIDS up until the past few years when new treatment regimens have been instituted. Nonetheless, since a person’s immune system is impacted this varies with individuals. Many people do not die directly from AIDS, but rather from the diseases that then are able to affect their immune system, which is weakened.
Can you have children if you have HIV/AIDS?
Yes, but it is important that your doctor be advised and you follow their guidance.
If you have children, will they contact HIV/AIDS from the mother? Father?
Yes, it is possible for the virus to be transmitted during the pregnancy but not all pregnant women who are infected pass it on to their newborn.
Can you get AIDS from kissing/hugging/touching?
No.
What is the demographic of HIV/AIDS victims?
Anyone who practices unsafe sex with someone who has been tested positive for the virus or who uses IV drugs or shares needles is vulnerable. The demographics are constantly changing, AIDS has become a worldwide epidemic.
If you are raped, how can you find out if you have contracted HIV/AIDS?
If raped, it is important to be tested to be sure you have not contracted any STD including HIV. After you are tested, you should be re-tested in 3-6 months.
How can someone get involved in HIV/AIDS prevention/research?
You may contact ME if this is something you are interested in getting involved in; I can send you to the right people, at least in Utah.

Protect yourself; be one less person at risk for HIV/AIDS! Today, let's remember all of those that are suffering physically, mentally and/or emotionally from AIDS. Let us also remember all those that have passed from this virus.

Please be aware of what is going on in the SLC, UT community and get involved! 
http://www.utahaids.org/coming-attractions/WAD2010/world-aids-day-community-awareness-events/


25 November 2010

Giving Thanks

I don't remember where I pulled this from last year, but I believe it was in a CNN article posted around Thanksgiving time. I liked it and wanted to share. I realize that Thanksgiving is not actually about the food, however, I feel that this incorporates a common theme of gratitude for food, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving!

LATIN AMERICAN
To those who have hunger Give bread. And to those who have bread Give the hunger for justice.

BUDDHIST
This food is the gift of the whole universe. Each morsel is a sacrifice of life, May I be worthy to receive it. May the energy in this food Give me the strength To transform my unwholesome qualities Into wholesome ones. I am grateful for this food. May I realize the Path of Awakening, For the sake of all beings.

MUSLIM
All praises are due to Allah who gave us sufficient food to eat and who satiated our thirst while such food is needed by us all the time and while we are not ungrateful to Allah.

ASHANTI, GHANA
Earth, when I am about to die I lean upon you. Earth, while I am alive I depend upon you.

SELKIRK GRACE, SCOTTISH
Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it. But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.

CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S PRAYER
Thank you God for the world so sweet, Thank you God for the food we eat. Thank you God for the birds that sing, Thank you God for everything.

APOSTOLIC, ARMENIA
The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord, And Thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest Thy hand and fillest all things Living with plenteousness.

HINDU, INDIA
Before grasping this grain, let us consider in our minds the reasons why we should care for and safeguard this body. This is my prayer, oh God:
May I be forever devoted at your feet, offering body, mind, and wealth to the service of truth in the world.

COPTIC, EGYPT
Bless, O Lord, the plants, the vegetation, and the herbs of the field, that they may grow and increase to fullness
and bear much fruit. And may the fruit of the land remind us of the spiritual fruit we should bear.

MOTHER TERESA, CATHOLIC, CALCUTTA
Make us worthy, Lord, To serve those people Throughout the world who live and die In poverty and hunger. Give them, through our hands This day their daily bread, And by our understanding love, Give peace and joy.

SIOUX, NATIVE AMERICAN
I’m an Indian. I think about the common things like this pot. The bubbling water comes from the rain cloud. It represents the sky. The fire comes from the sun, Which warms us all, men, animals, trees. The meat stands for the four-legged creatures, Our animal brothers, Who gave themselves so that we should live. The steam is living breath. It was water, now it goes up to the sky, Becomes a cloud again. These things are sacred. Looking at that pot full of good soup, I am thinking how, in this simple manner, The Great Spirit takes care of me.

JEWISH
Praised are You, our God, Ruler of the universe, who in goodness, with grace, kindness, and mercy, feeds the entire world. He provides bread for all creatures, for His kindness is never-ending. And because of His magnificent greatness we have never wanted for food, nor will we ever want for food, to the end of time.
For His great name, because He is God who feeds and provides for all, and who does good to all by preparing food for all of His creatures whom He created: Praised are You, God, who feeds all.

We all have so much we have been blessed with and SO many reasons to be grateful on this Thanksgiving day.

11 November 2010

Everyone should own a mac...

I have to give a quick shout-out to the Apple Store at the Gateway. I have never had such great customer service in my entire life. Seriously. I have been more than pleased with the service I have received from them, especially the past 3 or 4 months!

A few months ago, my computer screen was doing funky things. After about a week of this it totally crapped out. The computer was still working, cause you could hear my music, my emails coming in, but the entire screen died. I took it in, anticipating buying a whole new computer. I had heard it was very expensive to replace your screen, depending on what was wrong with it and my computer was not under warranty anymore. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I took it in and they replaced my screen, hard drive and about 3 other things on it, updated all my programs, and handed it back to me at no charge. What? Cool! They had had the screen problem with a lot of other computers of my same model, so they were fixing them at no cost.

Yesterday, I go in there to talk to them about my battery. I bought a replacement battery almost a year ago. For the past 4 months or so, it has been saying, "service battery". So I finally found time to take it into the store, before I take off to DC. The guy told me to hang on a few minutes, came back and said, "There is nothing I can do, since you bought it at the Apple Now store (up in Fort Union), which is not an actual Apple store. You will have to take it up to them." Great! I just had come from them! They sent me to the Gateway! I told him that and he told me to come back and see him specifically if they kept giving me the run around. I called Apple Now (I think that is what it is called) and they have a 30 day out-the-door warranty, but I could try calling the manufacture, if I wanted. I ran back to the Apple store on my way home from work, found this nice gentleman, that had kindly helped me before, who told me to give him a few minutes to talk to his manager about the situation. Earlier he had told me if things didn't work out, he'd try and get me 50% off a new battery, so I just assumed that is what he was working on. He came out a few minutes later, apologized for the inconvenience and told me they wanted to apologize on behalf of Apple Now....and he handed me a brand new battery for my laptop. This may not sound like a big deal, but do you realize that those suckers cost about $150! Brand new; free. I thanked him about 1,000 times, after I offered to pay for half of it and he wouldn't let me.

SO NICE! That's all. What great customer service. Seriously!

08 November 2010

Last Friday, I received a phone call from my old boss at PAHO, requesting some extra short-term help at the EOC (Emergency Operation Center). After talking things over with my current boss, I have been able to work things out to head back to DC for a few weeks to help out! The situation in Haiti has been keeping them extra busy and with the hurricane that hit last week, they have anticipated that the Cholera will continue to escalate. So, I am out of here on Wednesday! I will be one busy girl for a few weeks, trying to continue my responsibilities as the Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator here in Utah, as well as taking on responsibilities for a few weeks at PAHO. I am excited though to jump back on board with my old crew and be back in the DC area for longer than a few days. What a great opportunity!

04 November 2010

"If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."

I realize that Jon Stewart is a comedian, which I think many have forgotten this last week, as attention was focused on Washington, D.C. and the Rally to Restore Sanity. I heard a lot of complaints from friends that attended, hoping for this so-called rally, to be some sort of organized political event. You put Stewart and Colbert together though, you get something fun...it was not intended to be a rally towards anything. I really appreciate the idea of the rally, even if it was more or less, ineffective. It grabbed at people's attention and hopefully made people think about how ridiculous some of these crazy extremists are. 

Anyway, I wanted to post this, because I personally really appreciate what was said and strongly agree with a lot of what Steward is getting at in this clip. He's got some really great thoughts in here! Let's see a little more love, people!

"This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith. Or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies."

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Jon Stewart - Moment of Sincerity
www.comedycentral.com
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

01 November 2010

Dateline: Sex Trafficking

To follow up with the book that I recently read and post I  made about it...I came across this older article from NBC and a Dateline that was done on Brothels and the Sex Trafficking Industry. I thought it really portrays what goes on...but it's LONG!



NBC News NBC News
updated 1/9/2005 4:17:47 PM ET

It's an exotic vacation destination, with ancient cities, bold colors, legendary temples, remarkable beauty — and horrendous crimes that go on behind closed doors. Children, some as young as 5 years old, are being sold as slaves for sex. It's a shameful secret that's now capturing the attention of the world and the White House, a secret that has been exposed by Dateline's hidden cameras. Dateline ventured into this dark place, where sexual predators can gain access to terrified children for a handful of cash. How could this be happening? And how can it be stopped?
Inside the world of child sex trafficking, each year, by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of girls and boys are bought, sold or kidnapped and then forced to have sex with grown men. Dateline’s investigation leads to the troubled and distant land of Cambodia. We reveal what “tourists,” like one American doctor, may be up to, and we'll take you inside a dramatic operation to rescue the children.
The night clubs of Bangkok and the windows of Amsterdam are among the most well-known destinations in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry: sex tourism. But the business is not all about adult prostitution. There are some places you might never have heard about, notorious places, the kind of places a sexual predator would be willing to travel halfway around the world to reach — destinations like a dusty village in Southeast Asia, where the prey is plentiful and easy to stalk.
They are children born into poverty and sold for sex. And while the thousands of men who flock here each year — many of them Americans — may think that they're involved in nothing more than prostitution, by any definition it is rape.
The small Buddhist country of Cambodia has a rich cultural heritage, but it has become a magnet for people who prey on the young and innocent. To follow their trail, we'll have to infiltrate their perverted world and pretend we're predators ourselves. It’s the only way we'll be able to see first-hand how serious the problem really is — so serious that President Bush told the United Nations it has become a top priority for his administration.Secretary of State Colin Powell is leading the administration's efforts and has a special office dedicated to the problem.
Chris Hansen: “Why has child sex trafficking become such an important issue for you and the Bush administration?”
Colin Powell: “Because it's the worst kind of human exploitation imaginable.  Can you imagine young children, learning their ABCs or whatever the equivalent is in their language, being used as sexual slaves for predators?  It is a sin against humanity, and it is a horrendous crime.”
On the front lines
To combat that crime, increasingly the administration has been turning to people like Gary Haugen, a former federal prosecutor who runs a human rights group called the International Justice Mission. Haugen's group uses tactics that are considered controversial by some in the human rights community. He sends his investigators undercover to gather evidence of sex slavery in other countries, then takes the evidence to local authorities to persuade them to take action. Their work helped rescue hundreds of women and children around the world.
This time the target is Cambodia, and a Dateline team is headed there undercover.
After an 11,000-mile journey, our producer and cameraman set up shop in a hotel in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, where they assemble our state-of-the-art equipment and rig themselves with hidden cameras.
Cambodia still suffers from a traumatic past. In the 1970s and ’80s, an estimated 2 million Cambodians died because of war, famine and a brutal dictatorship. 
Now there are signs of recovery, thanks in part to the three-quarters-of-a-million foreign visitors who come to Cambodia each year.  Our hidden cameras found that many tourists come not to visit the historic sites, but for another purpose. They go to a place like Martinis. It's a nightclub where young women outnumber men 10 to one, and many of the women are for sale.
Even though prostitution is illegal in Cambodia, finding a girlfriend for the night at Martinis takes just a few words, a few dollars, and a stroll out the door. But the action at Martinis pales compared with what else we're about to see in Cambodia.
Early one morning, our producer walks out the front door of the hotel and is greeted by a local motor bike taxi driver, who explains how easy it is to find girls for sale:
Video: Children for sale: Undercover in Cambodia
Twelve-year-olds for sale. As shocking as that sounds, we're about to find out in some places that's considered old. Children who should be in elementary school are being exploited by adults. 
A human rights investigator we'll call Robert is acting as a sex tour guide for a Dateline producer and cameraman posing undercover.  The investigator is a former police detective from New Zealand.  We agreed not to show his face or use his real name, because of his ongoing undercover work.
Robert has developed local contacts who know where to go and whom to see. All it takes is a quick phone call for this man to arrange a visit to a brothel in Phnom Penh.
The producers and investigators arrive across from what looks like a local café, but it's really a brothel. The owner is a woman who goes by the name Madam Lang. She's eager to do business.  She leads the group through the café and up a back staircase to meet some girls for hire. And when she says they're girls, she means it literally: young girls, younger than we even imagined. And as an extra attraction, she says they're still virgins.
Trapped in tragedy
Many sex tourists come to Cambodia for exactly that reason, and they're willing to pay a premium. Madam Lang tells us her virgins go for $600, and for that price she says we can take a girl back to the hotel and keep her there for up to three days. When she brings out the girl, the 15-year-old looks paralyzed with fear.
A child's tragic journey into the sex trade often begins in a family struggling for survival. This is a country where the average income is less than $300 a year.  Some children are sold by their own parents. Others are lured by what they think are legitimate job offers like waitressing, but then are forced into prostitution. 
One 14-year-old, who was recently freed from a brothel, says she came from an extremely poor family in the country next door, Vietnam. She says when she was walking home from school one day, she was approached by a woman offering work in a café. But the café turned out to be a brothel. With no money and no way to get home, she didn't have much of a choice and was forced into sex with grown men, many of them American.
At best the girls' families get a few hundred dollars, a debt the girls then owe to the brothel owners. It can take years to work it off. It's a form of slavery. And when this girl refused to go along, she says she was beaten:
Girl: “I thought, I am here to serve coffee, not be a prostitute.  But the boss told me that I had to be a prostitute. She forced me, and I was scared. I did not want to go with those men, but being beaten was worse.”
So she tried to run away.
Girl: “I got captured. They forced me into a room for three days and three nights. They beat me. They did not let me have anything to eat or drink. And they sold me to a different brothel.”
All this comes as no secret to the Cambodian government. Mu Soc Hua is Cambodia’s minister of women's affairs.
Hansen: "Cambodia has a lot of problems.  Where do you rank the child sex trade?"
Mu Soc Hua: "I rank sexual trade, sexual exploitation of our children as top — on the top of my list."
Hansen: "Is there any way to even attach a number to this to say how many children?"
Mu Soc Hua: "Around 30,000."
Hansen: "That's a staggering number."
Mu Soc Hua: "Yes. Yes."
Inside Phnom Phenh
She says it's happening all over the country, but there's one place that is notorious. Any taxi driver can tell you it's the place to go if you're looking for the youngest girls. Svay Pak is a rundown village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. A 20-minute drive, and we're on a dirt road dotted with cafes and gated storefronts. It takes just a second for a pimp to approach.
Everyone in Svay Pak assumes we are here for sex. When we sit down at one of the cafes, we're greeted by a young hustler named Po. He's only 15 but already a real operator. He tells us he's grown up in the village and introduces his mother — who knows exactly what he's up to and takes a cut of the money he brings in.
Po says he can get us girls who are even younger than the ones we saw at that brothel in the city. And despite all we've seen, we're stunned at just how young he says they are — 8-year-olds. It's hard to believe. He tells us to come see for ourselves. Along with a human rights investigator, we follow Po through some alleys into a ramshackle house. We think we've already seen it all, but who could be prepared for this?
Video: Children for sale: A rare view
Girls, some so young they could be in kindergarten, are all for sale. Throughout the village, we see the same scene at one brothel after another. Everyone here seems to know a little English. When they talk about sex, they use simple child-like terms anyone can understand. "Yum-yum" means oral sex. "Boom-boom" means intercourse.
We meet dozens of children. One girl says she's nine. She's joined by another who says she's 10. Both say they know how to perform oral sex. And they even tell us how much it will cost: $60 for two girls.A pimp says if two girls aren't enough, how about three?
Our team then leaves saying we may come back later. In the car, the grim reality has set in for the International Justice Mission’s chief investigator, Bob Mosier. In 20 years as a cop, he says, he's never seen anything like this.
Bob Mosier: “Youhave an 8-year-old or 9-year-old little girl you know just looking at you smiling, realizing that you're going to in just a few moments possibly, probably going to engage in a sexual act they're going to get money for, and they're smiling about it. I mean I see a smile like that on my kids' face when they're finding out they're going to go to Disney World or something like that.”
But the tourists in Svay Pak are a far cry from the ones you see at Disney World, and they're not anxious to talk about why they're here. But last year, a human rights investigator with a hidden camera found a visitor who was willing to admit he was not visiting for the scenic beauty or the local cuisine.
The American 'tourist'
Video: Children for sale: American 'tourist'
When the camera was hidden, an American prowling Svay Pak was happy to brag about his exploits. He’s an American doctor, whom we saw repeatedly while we were in Cambodia. Dr. Jerry Albom is radiologist from Oklahoma, but on the streets of Svay Pak he offers pointers to a man he believes is a sex tourist. 
The International Justice Mission’s Gary Haugen says he'd like to see people like Dr. Albom and the pimps who supply him put out of action. Haugen has a plan. He wants to mount a daring operation, to bust the pimps and to rescue the children. Now the question is can he put his plan into action.
What he can do, he hopes, is prompt the government there to join his cause.But this is Cambodia, so chaotic it's hard to cross the street much less get the police to take action. If you really want results, what you need is the blessing of senior Cambodian government officials. But getting their attention requires help from someone with real clout. So Haugen has taken his evidence to the U.S. ambassador, who in turn has agreed to make the case.
Plan for raid takes shape
It takes a week, but finally, the Cambodians sign on to Haugen's plan. It involves tricking the pimps into bringing the girls to a supposed sex party at a house outside the village. There it will be easier for the police to arrest the pimps and rescue the children.
To get the pimps on board, Robert, the investigator posing as a sex tour guide, has been telling them that his clients are reluctant to come into the village. Robert has discovered it really is dangerous.
When he tried to sell the sex party idea to one of the pimps, the man asked if Robert had a hidden camera. Then he asked Robert to prove he was for real and have sex with a 5-year-old girl. And when Robert refused, the pimp got angry. Finally, the pimp threatened him.
Robert kept searching until he found other pimps willing to let some of the girls leave the village for the supposed "sex party." The pimps say they want to come along to keep an eye on the children, which plays right into the plan, because remember when they arrive at the house, they'll be arrested.
These wouldn't be the first arrests in Svay Pak. The Cambodian police have set up a unit to deal with sex trafficking. But they've never been involved in anything like this. This time, sixty officers are being assigned to the raid.
But the big question is: can they all be trusted? There are no guarantees because many of the cops are in the pimps’ pockets, like the one caught on Robert’s hidden camera. He thought Robert was really a sex tour operator and for $150 promised he could make sure neither Robert nor his clients would be arrested. 
One hundred fifty dollars - that's the equivalent of five months pay for the average Cambodian cop. If a cop like this finds out about the raid, he could alert the pimps.
The operation begins with a ride on a bus which is also supposed to be used to rescue the girls from Svay Pak. The bus waits on the outskirts of the village. A half a dozen motor bike drivers take the producers and investigators to go get the girls. The drivers stop by a pathway that leads to the brothel, where the girls are supposed to be waiting.
Initially, there’s no sign of the children. But after much discussion with the pimps, finally, two children, sisters are brought into the waiting area. The investigators have seen these girls twice before. The first time, they were brand new to Svay Pak and had not yet been sold for sex. But only a few weeks later, the girls apparently had lost their innocence. They'd been forced to perform oral sex.
Video: Children for sale: The raid
Now, if they're lucky, these girls will never have to do that again. That's if
everything goes according to plan.
At first, everything seems on track, but then suddenly the pimps change their minds and won't let the girls leave the brothel. Investigator Bob Mosier suspects the operation has been compromised.
It's not clear how much the pimps know, but it seems they've picked up on rumors of an investigation. They may be suspicious, but they're not exactly chasing anyone away. In fact, they want the sex party to take place right here, right now, and there isn't much of a choice, so our producers and the investigators play along. There is a back-up plan -- a phone call to alert the police who are supposed to be standing by. Who knows when or even if they'll show up?
It hasn't all gone according to plan, but at the end of the day a dozen suspected pimps and madams are in custody, and 37 girls rescued, many under the age of 10. As they're loaded into a van, they're in shock and in tears and don't seems to understand that they're about to be taken to a safe place. Escorted by officers from the Cambodian Ministry of Interior, they pull away from this place where they lost so much, hopefully never to return.
Gary Haugen, the head of the human rights group that made all this happen, is thankful, though he had hoped more children would be rescued.
Video: Children for sale: The confrontation
And he says, while it's good to prosecute the people who sell children for sex, if you want to solve the problem; you also have to go after the tourists who buy them. But who is going to confront these sex tourists? In the case of that American doctor, we do.
Why should the U.S. get involved?
This issue has become a top priority for the Bush administration. It’s for that reason Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed to look at what we found, including the videotape of Dr. Albom.
Powell: "He may be a doctor but he's a criminal. He's a criminal and if he can be brought to justice, he will be brought to justice. The law requires it.  And he won't have to worry about being a doctor because he'll be doing time in jail and that's where he belongs. More than that, he probably needs to see several dozen psychiatrists if that's what turns him on."
Hansen:  "Why should Americans be concerned about the sex trade in Cambodia?"
Powell:  “How can we turn away? If we want to have friends in the world, if we want to have better relations with the countries of the world, we have to help them with this kind of problem.”
Help them or pressure them – the U.S. government can impose sanctions on countries the State Department says aren't doing enough, which may be why the Cambodians recently arrested two American men accused of having sex with children, and sent them back to the U.S. for prosecution.
In the end, at least seven of the suspects we saw, including a man who supplied little girls for the sex party, were recently found guilty by a Cambodian judge and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. In mid-January, Madam Lang, the woman who offered us virgins for $600, was also convicted and sentenced to 20 years behind bars. That's believed to be the longest sentence of its kind ever in Cambodia.
Future for the children
As for the children we saw taken out of the brothels, they were brought to a safe house for a few days. Then they were placed in group homes: one for the younger girls and one for teens, which is run by a charity called AFESIP.  The director of AFESIP, Pierre Legros, says getting the girls out of the brothels is tough, but keeping them in the group home is even tougher.  He estimates that on average 40 percent of the rescued girls return to a life of prostitution.
In October, more than six months after our first visit, Dateline returned to Svay Pak. And despite whatever efforts the Cambodian government is making, we were offered children for sale. We showed our latest hidden camera tapes to Cambodia’s Minister for Women's Affairs, Mu Soc Hua. She was not surprised by our findings, she says, because it'll take years to overcome the extreme poverty and widespread corruption that cause the child sex trade to flourish. But she sees the current wave of prosecutions as a step forward.
Mu Sochua: “Yes that is the little, little small ray of light I see at the end of this tunnel. That's why there is hope and we have to continue to fight.  Prosecution is the key word, the message has to be very strong and forget about prosecuting the little fish prosecuting everybody who is involved in it.” 
Secretary of State Powell acknowledges it may not be possible to eliminate the problem totally, but he says putting pressure on countries like Cambodia is the right thing to do.
Powell: “Can you imagine the spread of disease that is taking place with this kind of activity? Can you imagine what will happen to these girls when they're 15 or 20? What will become of them? They'll have no education. They will be -- they will have been used and tossed away and ruined… And a nation such as ours, which says we are a moral nation, and that we have a value system, that we would allow our citizens to go over and fuel that trade, by their presence and by their money and by their rotten exploitation of these children, we wouldn't be living up to our values if we didn't do something about it.”
The U.S. government is now giving the human rights group, International Justice Mission, a $1 million grant to help battle sex trafficking in Cambodia. Also, agents from the Department of Homeland Security who specialize in child sex crimes are nowinvestigating the activities of dozens of Americans -- including Dr. Jerry Albom -- suspected of traveling abroad to have sex with children.

    29 October 2010

    Breastfeeding

    Loved this article; I found it very interesting! It's quite lengthy, but well worth the read. So, thought I would share :)

    Normal Newborn Behavior and Why Breastmilk Isn't Just Food

    by Lakeshore Medical Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic on Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 8:55am
    What is a normal, term human infant supposed to do?

    First of all, a human baby is supposed to be born vaginally. Yes, I know that doesn't always happen, but we're just going to talk ideal, normal for now. We are supposed to be born vaginally because we need good bacteria. Human babies are sterile, without bacteria, at birth. It's no accident that we are born near the anus, an area that has lots of bacteria, most of which are good and necessary for normal gut health and development of the immune system. And the bacteria that are there are mom's bacteria, bacteria that she can provide antibodies against if the bacteria there aren't nice.

    Then the baby is born and is supposed to go to mom. Right to her chest. The chest, right in between the breasts is the natural habitat of the newborn baby. (Fun fact: our cardiac output, how much blood we circulate in a given minute, is distributed to places that are important. Lots goes to the kidney every minute, like 10% or so, and 20% goes to your brain. In a new mom, 23% goes to her chest- more than her brain. The body thinks that place is important!)

    That chest area gives heat. The baby has been using mom's body for temperature regulation for ages. Why would they stop? With all that blood flow, it's going to be warm. The baby can use mom to get warm. When I was in my residency, we would put a cold baby "under the warmer" which meant a heater thingy next to mom. Now, as I have matured, if a baby is "under the warmer," the kid is under mom. I wouldn't like that. I like the kids on top of mom, snuggled.

    Now we have a brand new baby on the warmer. That child is not hungry. Bringing a hungry baby into the world is a bad plan. And really, if they were hungry, can you please explain to me why my kids sucked the life force out of me in those last few weeks of pregnancy? They better have been getting food, or well, that would have been annoying and painful for nothing.

    Every species has instinctual behaviors that allow the little ones to grow up to be big ones and keep the species going. Our kids are born into the world needing protection. Protection from disease and from predators. Yes, predators. Our kids don't know they've been born into a loving family in the 21st century- for all they know it's the 2nd century and they are in a cave surrounded by tigers. Our instinctive behaviors as baby humans need to help us stay protected. Babies get both disease protection and tiger protection from being on mom's chest. Presumably, we gave the baby some good bacteria when they arrived through the birth canal. That's the first step in disease protection. The next step is getting colostrum.

    A newborn baby on mom's chest will pick their head up, lick their hands, maybe nuzzle mom, lick their hands and start to slide towards the breast. The kids have a preference for contrasts between light and dark, and for circles over other shapes. Think about that...there's a dark circle not too far away.

    Mom's sweat smells like amniotic fluid, and that smell is on the child's hands (because there's been no bath yet!) and the baby uses that taste on their hand to follow mom's smell. The secretions coming from the glands on the areola (that dark circle) smell familiar too and help the baby get to the breast to get the colostrum which is going to feed the good bacteria and keep them protected from infection. The kids can attach by themselves. Watch for yourself! And if you just need colostrum to feed bacteria and not yourself, well, there doesn't have to be much. And there isn't because the kids aren't hungry and because Breastmilk is not food!

    We're talking normal babies. Breastfeeding is normal. It's what babies are hardwired to do. 2009 or 209, the kids would all do the same thing: try to find the breast. Breastfeeding isn't special sauce, a leg up or a magic potion. It's not "best." It's normal. Just normal. Designed for the needs of a vulnerable human infant. And nothing else designed to replace it is normal.

    Colostrum also activates things in the baby's gut that then goes on to make the thymus grow. The thymus is part of the immune system. Growing your thymus is important. Breastmilk= big thymus, good immune system. Colostrum also has a bunch of something called Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA). SIgA is made in the first few days of life and is infection protection specifically from mom. Cells in mom's gut watch what's coming through and if there's an infectious cell, a special cell in mom's gut called a plasma cell heads to the breast and helps the breast make SIgA in the milk to protect the baby. If mom and baby are together, like on mom's chest, then the baby is protected from what the two of them may be exposed to. Babies should be with mom.

    And the tigers. What about them? Define "tiger" however you want. But if you are baby with no skills in self-protection, staying with mom, having a grasp reflex, and a startle reflex that helps you grab onto your mom, especially if she's hairy, makes sense. Babies know the difference between a bassinette and a human chest. When infants are separated from their mothers, they have a "despair- withdrawal" response. The despair part comes when they alone, separated. The kids are vocally expressing their desire not to be tiger food. When they are picked up, they stop crying. They are protected, warm and safe. If that despair cry is not answered, they withdraw. They get cold, have massive amounts of stress hormones released, drop their heart rate and get quiet. That's not a good baby. That's one who, well, is beyond despair. Normal babies want to be held, all the time.

    And when do tigers hunt? At night. It makes no sense at all for our kids to sleep at night. They may be eaten. There's nothing really all that great about kids sleeping through the night. They should wake up and find their body guard. Daytime, well, not so many threats. They sleep better during the day. (Think about our response to our tigers-- sleep problems are a huge part of stress, depression, anxiety.)

    And sleep... My guess is everybody sleeps with their kids- whether they choose to or not and whether they admit to it or not. It's silly of us as healthcare providers to say "don't sleep with your baby" because we all do it. Sometimes accidentally. Sometimes intentionally. The kids are snuggly, it feels right and you are tired. So, normal babies breastfeed, stay at the breast, want to be held and sleep better when they are with their parents. Seems normal to me. But there is a difference between a normal baby and one that isn't. Safe sleep means that we are sober, in bed and not a couch or a recliner, breastfeeding, not smoking...being normal. If the circumstances are not normal, then sleeping with the baby is not safe.

    That chest -to -chest contact is also brain development. Our kids had as many brain cells as they were ever going to have at 28 weeks of gestation. It's a jungle of waiting -to-be- connected cells. What we do as humans is create too much and then get rid of what we aren't using. We have like 8 nipples, a tail and webbed hands in the womb. If all goes well, we don't have those at birth. Create too much- get rid of what you aren't using. So, as you are snuggling, your child is hooking up happy brain cells and hopefully getting rid of the "eeeek" brain cells. Breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, is brain wiring. Not food.

    Why go on and on about this? Because more and more mothers are choosing to breastfeed. But most women don't believe that the body that created that beautiful baby is capable of feeding that same child and we are supplementing more and more with infant formulas designed to be food. Why don't we trust our bodies post-partum? I don't know. But I hear over and over that the formula is because "I am just not satisfying him." Of course you are. Babies don't need to "eat" all the time- they need to be with you all the time- that's the ultimate satisfaction.

    A baby at the breast is getting their immune system developed, activating their thymus, staying warm, feeling safe from predators, having normal sleep patterns and wiring their brain, and (oh by the way) getting some food in the process. They are not "hungry" --they are obeying instinct. The instinct that allows us to survive and make more of us.

    Dr. Thomas

    28 October 2010

    As usual, my "stalking" others on facebook and/or blogs, led me to this beautiful thought.

    I am passionately, audaciously inspired to be alive, to be a part of this growing, thriving, breathing, vibrant, stimulating, perplexing earth. I am alive in the grace of this moment that allows/encourages/pushes me to be a woman, a friend, a family, a community, a learner, a believer, a listener. I choose not to focus on what COULD happen, but rather, what WILL happen: which is simply that I am going to lead an amazing life. I choose to. I am surrounded by strong, proud, vibrant men and women who love and support me. It's about trusting the universe....

    24 October 2010

    Road to Lost Innocence

    "What you have learned, from experience, is worth much  more than gold. Any kind of possession can be lost, but your experience is yours forever. Keep it and find a way to use it."

    I just finished reading The Road of Lost Innocence, the true story of a Cambodian Heroine (I put a summary of the book @ the end of this post). Again, like majority of the books that I read, if you can handle the content, I highly recommend this one! What an inspiration this writer and  her story are, despite how painful it is for her to write, and was for me to read! I sat on a flight as I finished the last half of this book, bawling, with strangers staring at me. I didn't care; I was totally engulfed in her story and how resilient this woman is and how she has taken her trials and tribulations and has used those experiences to assist other girls, that have a similar story to her own. 

    Somaly's story is one that much of the world turns a blind eye to, unfortunately. However, it does not alter the ugly reality. Her story is one though, that reveals hope and inspiration, while revealing the terror and horror of what it is like to be sold into the lucrative human trafficking industry. All too often young girls in SE Asia (as well as so many other parts of the world) are sold into the brothels and wind up entangled in the ugly snares of the sex trafficking world.

    "She used to ask me whether there was a God and why he allowed such things to happen to a little girl who had never done anything wrong."

    I wish that more people would read books such as these, for one reason mainly - so that people could have an open perspective on issues. It breaks my heart and I find myself getting very defensive when anyone begins talking poorly of prostitutes, which is all too often the case. I don't think people think about situations that this book describes, and for those that do think about it, many don't realize that this sort of thing happens in developed countries, especially not the USA. It may not happen to the extent it does in SE Asia, for example, however, all too often a prostitute is not on the street by her/his own choice. There are a variety of reasons one may end up in prostitution, which may not always include being forced into it by another person. Financial situations all too often will play a role in prostitution. I think most of us would agree that a mother's love is often unconditional and she will find any way possible not to watch her children starve, even if that means selling her own body on the streets for money to buy food for her little ones. I suppose the point I am getting at, is that I wish people would see prostitution differently than they often do; I wish that the laws and those that enforce those laws would see it differently and that it generally isn't the prostitute isn't the one doing harm, but more those that are soliciting the sex. I wish there were laws that would protect these women (and men); laws that would allow for them to carry condoms or would allow for them to access healthcare more easily and that they would not be arrested for selling sex. I know there are always exceptions to every situation, but in this line of work, we don't ever know the whole story and I think we all should think before negatively speaking of anyone!

    AFESIP was created by Somaly and her ex-husband. The organization started small, but today, is a growing organization that does a variety of things, including: Legal investigation, HIV/AIDS prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration. The organization also does a lot of education and training, which targets both the women and the men. The men are oftentimes shown a video of a young girl recounting how she had been raped - every detail - and then have an open conversation about sex. There has been great success in all that has been done, overall. However, one of the most difficult problems encountered in this type of work, is how to integrate these girls back into society so they don't feel they need to go back to the brothels. When a young girl enters, or is sold into, a brothel, they are broken down to the point that they will submit themselves to whatever it is the owner is asking. During this process, the girls are given high doses of drugs and alcohol, which becomes one of the biggest barriers to the work AFESIP, or any other organization in the field, does. These girls become addicted and have a very difficult time overcoming that, which occasionally will draw the girls, "willingly", back into the industry.

    Some statistics that I pulled from a recent report I read on the topic:
    • Last year, 2,888 people were charged with having sex with children under 15 in Thailand
    • SE Asian nations are the destination of choice for sex tourists looking to prey on children
    • Most of the clients of Cambodian prostitutes are locals, but some are foreigners
    • Very profitable business - traffickers earn a lot of money, especially if the girl is young (her virginity can be sold at a very high price)
    • With such high profits made by traffickers, it makes it very easy to bribe whoever they want; all to often justice is for sale.
    Somaly's closing remarks were this, "I still feel that I'm dirty and that I carry bad luck. When I sleep, my dreams are filled with violence and rape. Most of my dreams are nightmares. Last night I dreamed again of serpents crawling in my trousers. I've tried to rid myself of these nightmares, but they continue to haunt me. Consulting a psychologist isn't enough. I did that. I've tried a great many things. But the past is inscribed on my body now. When you see the marks on your skin, the scars of torutre and cigarette burns, the shape of the chains on your ankles, you feel the past can never be wiped away. You carry the marks of the suffering. They're just there. But that's precisely why I carry on with the work of AFESIP. [The work] for me, it's different. I'm one of them. Everything they've been through, I share. I wear their scars on my body and in my soul. Writing this book has brought everything back, and I can no longer sleep. It makes me sick. I have nightmares remember all the horrors. Somethings I don't know if I can bear to keep living them...that is one of the reasons I decided to write this book. Perhaps it will stop me from having to tell my story over and over again, because repeating it is so difficult.  I want everyone to know now what is happening to the women of Cambodia."

    This woman has given up her own dream of a quiet life, to be a public figure and a foundation for the girls that share her same terrorizing past. When she is asked how she can bear to keep doing what she does, she always responds, "the evil that's been done to me is what propels me on." As I mentioned in an older post (about another inspiring story I read), it is people like these that should be the heroes and that should be more recognized in our media! Unfortunately, these are the people that we don't hear much about. Instead we hear of movie stars, who are just like any other person, and the people that are creating havoc in our society. How could this happen, when there are people like Somaly, who have a beautiful story that we can all learn from!

    About Somaly and The Road of Lost Innocence:
    Author: Somaly Mam (Translated from French by Lisa Appignanesi)

    SOMALY MAM
    Born to a tribal minority family in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, Somaly Mam began life in extreme poverty. With limited options as a severely marginalized ethnic group, and living in unimaginable despair, her family often resorted to desperate means to survive. This confluence of dire circumstances led to the unspeakable horrors that would mark Somaly’s early years. Somaly was sold into sexual slavery by a man who posed as her grandfather. To this day, due to the passing of time and the unreliability of a wounded memory, Somaly still does not know who this man was to her. Yet his actions set her on an unimaginable path fraught with danger, desperation, and ultimately, triumph.
    Forced to work in a brothel along with other children, Somaly was brutally tortured and raped on a daily basis. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Fearing she would meet that same fate, Somaly heroically escaped her captors and set about building a new life for herself. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.
    In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire). Under Somaly’s leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach that ensures victims not only escape their plight but have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of The Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Somaly has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world.
    For her tireless efforts, Somaly has justifiably garnered worldwide respect and is now a renowned leader at the forefront of the anti-trafficking struggle. Universally recognized as a visionary for her courage, dignity, ingenuity, and resilience, Somaly was honored as one of Time® Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and was featured as a CNN® Hero. She is also the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC), Glamour Magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year Award, and has won accolades from the US Department of Homeland Security.

    On the book:
    The horror and violence perpetrated on young girls to feed the sex trade industry in southeast Asia is personalized in this graphic story. Of mixed race, Khmer and Phnong, Mam is living on her own in the forest in northern Cambodia around 1980 when a 55-year-old stranger claims he will take her to her missing family. Grandfather beats and abuses the nine-year-old Mam and sells her virginity to a Chinese merchant to cover a gambling debt. She is subsequently sold into a brothel in Phnom Penh, and the daily suffering and humiliation she endures is almost impossible to imagine or absorb (I was dead. I had no affection for anyone). She recounts recalcitrant girls being tortured and killed, and police collusion and government involvement in the sex trade; she manages to break the cycle only when she discovers the advantages of ferengi (foreign) clients and eventually marries a Frenchman. She comes back to Cambodia from France, now unafraid, and with her husband, Pierre; sets up a charity, AFESIP, action for women in distressing circumstances; and fearlessly devotes herself to helping prostitutes and exploited children. The statistics are shocking: one in every 40 Cambodian girls (some as young as five) will be sold into sex slavery. Mam brings to the fore the AIDS crisis, the belief that sex with a virgin will cure the disease and the Khmer tradition of women's obedience and servitude. This moving, disturbing tale is not one of redemption but a cry for justice and support for women's plight everywhere.

    Really great CNN report on Human/Sex Trafficking

    07 October 2010

    Happiness

    I really like this little clip from CNN, talking about happiness. The theory is that unselfish people are generally happier; someone that is part of something bigger than themselves. A person's values have a huge impact on their happiness - compassion, empathy, cooperation, wanting to make the world a better place - these are the people that tend to be happier.


    My happiness depends on me!

    06 October 2010

    PoRtLaNd

    Months and months later, I am determined to do some blog catch-up, since this blog does serve as a journal for me. So here goes nothing...this past April (going into May), I talked a friend of mine into making a little extended weekend trip up to Portland, Oregon. It had been ages since I was last up there (literally, I think I was 8 or 9...the trip I chopped part of my middle finger off - yes, true story). So the last weekend of April, Marina and I boarded an airplane bound for Portland, to visit my "sister," Hailey.
     Hai is one of my Clog America girls...it's always me, Tiff and Hailey - the unrelated sisters, as we think of ourselves. Tiff and Hailey are two of my very closest friends. I was bummed that Tiff couldn't come with me, but I was excited to have Marina and more than anything, to be visiting my Hailey bug! Unfortunately, mine and Ma's friendship fell apart after this trip, which still totally bums me out, but I am grateful to have some new wonderful and amazing friends in my life!
    We got into Portland and spent the entire weekend eating, shopping and dancing...LITERALLY. Oh and one little hike to Multnomah Falls.

    We had such a great time though! Hailey's boyfriend only stuck around long enough to sleep, because he had to work. So it was a weekend just for girl time, which was so great!


    The Herbal Store



    We spent one afternoon, after our hike, doing some shopping. We went to the largest herbal store I have ever seen. I was in my element! Wow, what more could I have asked for! I wish we had something similar in SLC. It was honestly like heaven to me. I think we spent almost as much time in there as we did at the Saturday Market! Okay not really, but we should have! However, the Saturday Market was awesome! Great live music, lots of amazing people watching and some good shopping!








    05 October 2010

    Awesome quote from yoga today!

    “May today be peace within. May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be... May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you... May you be content knowing you are a child of God... Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of you.”
    -Mother Teresa

    Speaking of yoga...

    When we still the mind, we become aware of a door forced shut by thoughts. As if by magic, the door opens to reveal the spiritual realm.We desire to enter it, but soon discover that we can't. This frustrates us, because it seems that the physical and spiritual worlds are incompatible. But this is not true! We are the door, and our task is to be open, so the spiritual world can enter the physical world.

    Sometimes I kinda feel like this before, after and/or during yoga class. Resting the brain, other than while asleep, aka meditation, is such a HARD thing for me to do! I have experienced a few blissful periods of time though, where I have been able to enter into that deep meditative state and really focus on keeping that door open...ahhh, I love yoga!

    Human Rights

    I just finished watching a foreign film called The Stoning of Soraya M. There are no words for how I feel after watching this. I cried and cried and cried during the later half of this movie. It breaks my heart the situation of women in the middle east. I realize there are plenty of happy and good situations, but the story the movie depicts, these are the women that my heart feels so heavy for.

    The stoning of Soraya M. is a drama, based on a true story, set in 1986 Iran and centered on a man, Sahebjam, whose car breaks down in a remote village and enters into a conversation with Zahra, who relays to him the story about her niece, Soraya, whose arranged marriage to an abusive tyrant had a tragic ending.

     

    I came across this, which I thought was very beautifully written poetry, on the topic (words included below)...graphic pictures, please be aware!

    Sharia Law Poem, by Nessrriinn

    sharia law...
    she's buried chest high..
    her arms can't stop the stones that fly..
    or wipe the tears that have already dried
    for a crime she so persistently denied..
    she's buried chest deep...
    the moderates asleep..
    no matter how hard she weeps..
    worth half a man...her testimony's cheap..
    Allah subhana wa ta3ala has come up with such a fair rule
    dictators of history couldn't be so cruel..
    told by mohammed sallahu 3alhe wa salam..
    teaching us allah's divine referendum..
    what becomes of those who have a sip of rum..
    drinks to forget or wants to be numb..
    or those who play a game of chance..
    poker buddies escaping the religious trance..
    allah's prescribed in his merciful script
    their flesh be ripped their blood be dripped
    at the tip of a muslims whip..
    she's buried chest high..
    her arms can't stop the stones that fly..
    or wipe the tears that have already dried
    for a crime she so persistently denied..
    and this is allah's eternal reply..
    1400 years of backwards law
    a tragic flaw of the primitive claw..
    the tribe of homosexuals..
    koum lot as they say..
    sharia is clear on how they should pay..
    the price for their gay display
    life.. doesn't matter which way..
    abu baker got them with a tumbling wall
    ali.. muhammad's cousin and son in law
    had people burned for their sexual call
    an entire village .. children and all..
    she's buried chest deep...
    the moderates asleep..
    no matter how hard she weeps..
    worth half a man..her testimony's cheap..
    apostates .. remember those who have bled
    to speak the word Muslims leave unsaid..
    killed for the sake of those misled..
    submit now or be left dead..
    allah subhana wa ta3ala has come up with such a fair rule
    the devil himself couldn't be so cruel..
    she's buried chest high.. half way deep..
    while the moderates are still fast asleep..
    while the world stands silent..
    her testimony's cheap...
    stones thrown by religious sheep...
    witches were burned long ago..
    til the flame of freedom began to glow..
    and we learned to say the word 'no'
    no ....know that your laws are unjust
    not worthy of respect only disgust..
    beheading those with a knifes thrust
    oh but in Allah we so blindly trust...
    she's buried head high
    in a heap of stones...
    no more crying .. no more moans..
    all that's left is skin and bones..
    Allah has come up with such a fair call..
    the true justice of sharia law..