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.

29 October 2010


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)

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


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


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'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..