Writings

July 2013

Sacred Heart charism, Janet Erskine Stuart and the calling of EcoBirth

I recently lead our San Francisco Religious of the Sacred Heart Associates group on an exploration of Chapter 5 of Janet Erskine Stuarts biography: The Noviceship. The Second call. A Great Renunciation. We used her quotes that were given to us in a lovely packet at the last RSCJ Spirituality Forum to help us ponder aspects of the chapter. We discussed what we thought of the words mortification, humility, purity of heart, prudence, as well as, zeal, vanity, perseverance, joy, duty, consecrated life. It was a rich discussion, as they usually are with us. But I had a special connection to this dialog and sharing: since I started as an Associate, I have been attending to my calling around “EcoBirth”. It is a word that has been given to me and it represents all the strands of my life, soul and heart. I am looking at Janet Erskine Stuart’s life to try and understand what a vocation is and what it takes to live it, as a model for my effort to live my vocation with EcoBirth, whose vision is relating earth and birth-caring for one natural life so we will all be well.
“Without  silence no real purity of heart, no real devotion to the Holy Spirit, can …be heard in the talkative mind” We discussed the emptying of our egos as purity of heart, so we can hear our calling and be who we are called to be. This idea connects me to the charism of the Sacred Heart and supports my devotion to the embodied sacredness of all life on our Mother Earth, which I see as grace from the Holy Spirit.
“Real zeal is courageous and invulnerable, because unselfish and self-forgetting. It can be put to any kind of work; it is indefatigable and never says 'too much'; it is persevering; it never gives in.”  I want to learn this holy zeal, in order to change the world to a better place for my grandchildren, contrary to what it has become, in particular on my watch, over the last 30 years. I vow to protect the Future Generations with fierce protectiveness.
“To be a joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything; it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts, and if one gives joy to others we are doing God's work. ..Joy is the most heavenly atmosphere found on earth - we ought to cultivate it as a duty always.” So interesting that joy is a duty but also allows us to live faithfully now. I have been faithfully pursuing the guidance of EcoBirth for the last four years and I will be joyfully presenting My Personal Environmental Story, a personal narrative connecting my environmental lineage and legacy to the true story of my place in life, at the RSCJ Spirituality Forum this coming July in Atherton, CA.
I see Janet Erskine Stuarts life as consecrated to love of God and I want to imitate her duty, zeal and joy. I will depend on the Sacred Heart to hold me in its steadfast embrace so I can consecrate myself to following my vocation. “ ..our zeal is the overflow of the love and grace that God has given to us in prayer”. I pray to hear and follow my calling, to recognize my communion of saints, in which I now include Janet Erskine Stuart, and to in any way possible, to repair and regenerate our Mother Earth and all her creatures, my kin, through my efforts with EcoBirth and my consecration to its vocation and spiritual path.

June 2013

A Womans Story

Our true story is about the extraordinary connection in ourselves that goes all the way back to the first stirring of life gathered on this earth. We were born from our mothers, they were born from their mothers, and we were formed from bits of their bodies all the way back to the first amoeba- there is still a small bit of that life spark in us. We could not be here without all this lineage and heritage; we are dependent on their living and giving. It is a wonderful story of relationship based on love and compassion, unbreakable, freely given. We have just lost our connection to our Mother Earth and to ourselves and our fellow kin, but becoming aware that we are all in the same interdependent living system is hopeful, faithful and so biologically real. We have since the beginning of time, given our feminine, maternal gifts to our children, with no thought for payment. That instinct for offering ourselves will be found again-to reclaim our rightful place in the order of life. We are not lost or truly harmful to our following generations, we are their life-givers. And I chose to work with a fierce passion to make right this world for my grandchildren, and your grandchildren. I trust in my connection to my mother and grandmother, and I see my relationship to all kin in our world, on our earth, in our cosmos, with a gaze of love and compassion. I look to receive that gaze in return, with an open, wounded heart, vulnerable and strong.
I just heard of research that said that a mother’s laughter makes her breastmilk healthier for her child- - there is really nothing more miraculous than that! We can change the world with love and laughter and it will respond with health, happiness and true acceptance of our rightful place in it.

May 2012

Submitted to San Francisco Listen to Your Mother for Mother's Day, 2012

Maternal lines-My Environmental Lineage and Legacy Story

I am a sixth generation Californian, my grandparents raised my parents in San Francisco and my son is raising my granddaughters here. When I was growing up there was nothing better than being in my Irish Clan-Parties, gatherings, social life- we were in a whirlwind at all times.  So, I have some strong personal connections to this very place we are in. But my sense of belonging to San Francisco has suffered disillusionment and fills me with anxiety now. Being a mother was my most earnest desire and birthing my two children was the most empowering and exciting experience for me. And raising my children was a focused endeavor to enable them to be good productive people. But when I fulfilled that personally assigned mission, I started thinking about the shape of our world and what kind of place my grandchildren would live in.

 I have brought some props to show you a little about my increasing awareness of what is happening to our world, in a very personal way.
This is the brochure that I picked up at the Marin County Fairfax EcoFest some years ago and this is the precious perfume bottle that my mother gave me as a “coming of age” acknowledgement, it has been on my bureau for decades, really. 

But now I understand from this brochure that it contains chemicals that are correlated with cancer and hormone disruption that can affect fetuses, especially in the 1st trimester. When I looked further into it, I found out that Chanel #5 was invented in 1923, when my mother was an adolescent and I distinctly remember the lovely smell of it because she used it every day. It is associated with my love for my mother and hers for me, but she had breast cancer when she was 38 and I was just two. 

So recently, I started wondering about the perfume and my mother’s cancer, and then I started wondering about my sister’s birth defect of an unformed hip bone, her early puberty, obesity and death from cancer at age 52. What was happening here? Was it just that my sister had weak self control or could this significant part of my mother’s life have caused involuntary harm to her and my sister? 

What other parts of our growing up time could have been adversely affecting us? What other products that we used could be unsuspectingly causing us harm? How about the chemicals in our kitchen flooring, in our toys, or DDT in our food?  How about the mercury in the San Francisco Bay from the gold mining? How about the lead in the paint in our adorable San Francisco Victorian house.? Or How about the waste from the WW11 war manufacturing here in San Francisco and thrown into the Bay until the 1970’s? Then I realized, obvious!  Two generations can be affected during my pregnancies, as my grandchildren’s eggs are being formed in my daughter when she is gestating in me.

Then I went on a search for what my daughter and new granddaughters are encountering today- ubiquitous chemicals and toxins in all the natural, free and necessary gifts from Mother Nature- our air, water and food. I quickly realized that all them were adulterated now.  

At the same time, I noticed the change in birthing in the US- what happened to the back to earth birth movement that we promulgated in the 70’s and 80? - it was replaced with corporatized interventions that were not necessarily warranted vs the risk endured by the babies.  With the realization now about the multi-generational affects from our environment, I also started wondering about what affect our birthing practices could have on our children’s health? Would the toxins in our bodies actually affect our capability of giving birth? I learned that our children are pre-polluted in our wombs- now that is really wrong! EcoBirth came to me as a context to understand what we need to be conscious of in our world today. 

The word EcoBirth has integrated many strands in my life- my feminine qualities, living a faith-based life, connecting to my lineage, unique to place and time in San Francisco, and my primary, immutable, relationship with  Mother Earth. I see birth as the metaphor for transformation and creation that if honored, will create a paradigm shift in our culture’s consciousness.

And that consciousness would realize that we are all related, that our planet home is an extraordinarily perfect balance of natural cycles. That we are caught in web of a story that separates us, gives us a false sense that we are disconnected, unrelated, isolated. Not true.

Our true story is we were born through real bodies- our mothers body, from her mother’s body, back and back- we contain bits of all of them in our bodies from the very first spark of life on earth. It is a wonderful story of relationship based on love and compassion, unbreakable, freely given, maternal love. We have just lost our connection to our Mother Earth and to ourselves and our fellow kin, but becoming aware that we are all in the same interdependent living system is hopeful, faithful and so biologically real.

We are not lost or truly harmful to our following generations, we are their life-givers. And I chose to work with a fierce passion to make right this world for my grandchildren, and your grandchildren. I trust in my connection to my mother and grandmother, and I see my relationship to all kin in our world, on our earth, in our cosmos, with a gaze of love and compassion. I look to receive that gaze in return, with an open, wounded heart, vulnerable and strong.

I just heard of research that said that a mother’s laughter makes her breastmilk healthier for her child- - there is really nothing more miraculous than that! We can change the world with love and laughter and it will respond with health, happiness and true acceptance of our rightful place in it.

March 2011

Testimonial for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s Environmental Health Primary Prevention Training Program


Molly Arthur:  “Your environmental health training opened my eyes to the possibility that I might be an advocate for a cleaner, safer world. I felt responsible for the toxins that my grandchildren are now ingesting and wanted to better understand how that was happening. Your training outlined what the implications are for our species being immersed in a toxic soup and it was not pretty. But I felt more empowered by having the language and scientific knowledge so that I could clearly advocate for the environmental health of my family. I have used your training to support the launch of an organization that I believe will improve the environmental health of all of our children and grandchildren. The dedication and devotion of your scientists, Ted Schettler,MD, Science Director from Science and Environmental Health Network and the Collaborative for Health and the Environment and Sarah Janssen, MD, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council,  impelled me to try and take steps to get their message to a larger audience in our culture. Thank you so much for this grounding in the clear reasons behind why we must take responsibility for working to clean up our world—so our mothers’ bodies can be healthy first environments and our children will be raised in a safe, non-toxic world.” She leads a group called EcoBirth, which is a coalition of organizations and individuals who cherish our beloved babies and Mother Earth, including women who want to consciously change our culture’s story to compassion for the environments of Earth and Birth—to impel social change to sustain healthy, caring humans and a healed earth home.

Spring 2012

 Published in Green Body Green Birth, by Mary Oscategui, The International Maternity Institute

My Story to EcoBirth-Women for Earth and Birth


I have lived in Marin County for over 20 years, raising my family, making a living, growing into myself. It has held me in a beneficence that broods o’r my heart and is manifest in the beautiful Mt Tamalpais. My Grandmother wrote poems at the turn of the century about this decidedly feminine mountain, now I get to still walk on its curving breast and be nurtured. All four of my grandparents lived in San Francisco and raised my parents in The City. My Grandfather used to come to Marin County in the summers at the turn of the century- 1900s- together with his large Irish clan to stay in their wooden, rustic cabin. And his side of my family came here after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake for refuge. He told me of swimming in the local creek in Kentfield. So I have some strong personal connections to the place where my husband and I raised our two children. And truly it was not so long ago that my relatives felt happy to swim in local creeks, but now I would not let my grandchildren swim in the local creek because of my fear of toxins in it.

I started thinking about the shape of our world when I was done raising my children and had fulfilled my personally assigned mission of raising them to be good, productive people. But I noticed that the world had drastically become a worse place for humans and any species to survive and thrive. I became conscious of the ravaging of ourselves and our Mother Earth when I understood that our expectant babies were pre-polluted by our own bodies[1] and that our birthing was dismissed as inherently risky and frightening, rather than nature’s way of sacred creation. This is a brief story about my increasing awareness of what is happening to our world, in a very personal way and a growth of my commitment to do something about it.

I picked a brochure up at the Fairfax EcoFest a few years ago that said something was wrong with having perfume on our bodies[2]. I thought about the precious perfume bottle that my mother gave me as a “coming of age” acknowledgement which has been on my bureau for decades, really. But now I understood from this brochure that it contains chemicals that are correlated with cancer and hormone disruption that can affect fetuses, especially in the 1st trimester. When I looked further into it, I found out that Chanel #5[3] was invented in 1921, when my mother was an adolescent and I distinctly remember the lovely smell of it because she used it for her frequent social forays. It is associated with my love for my mother and hers for me, but she had breast cancer when she was 38 and I was just two. I started wondering about the perfume and my mother’s cancer, and then I started wondering about my sister’s birth defect of an unformed left hip bone, her early puberty, obesity and death from cancer at age 52. I wanted to learn more about what a hormone disruption[4] was and what it was doing in my mother’s body and whether it may have created my sisters bone defect and even had influence on the rest of her vulnerable life story.

My sister, Patty, appeared to be the most beautiful, intelligent, funny and creative member of our extended clan. But her potential was stunted and ended much too young.  Was it just that my sister had weak self control over her addiction to smoking and food? Or could the involuntary absorption of this particular synthetic chemical (perfume/phthalates)[5] in my mother’s life have caused harm to my sister in utero (during WWll, 1945) and impacted her later in life during her puberty and even her adulthood? Then, I realized, obvious! That Patty’s and my genesis, our eggs, were actually formed in my grandmother’s body, in my mother’s body, when my mother was eagerly expected as the first baby of the growing Fay clan[6]. Whew, what was happening in San Francisco in 1912? How do I figure that out?

I talked to experts involved in environmental health and delved into internet search. I did not have to go far, just to the EPA and other governmental websites- the most documented toxins were heavy metals: mercury left over from the Gold Rush mining[7] and lead paint in all our lovely Victorians[8]: very specific results from living right here in San Francisco. I pulled out our family albums and written histories. Turns out that my male ancestors were involved in Western mining[9] and in retail-a paint store in San Francisco in the 1890s! Geez. I was discovering that my heritage was not just genetic but environmental too. Our immutable connection to our ancestors was manifest not only through our genes, like  our red hair and freckles, but in our health vulnerabilities and susceptibilities, just because our ancestors were in San Francisco, exposed to the reality of life there and then, which contained mercury and lead toxins.

I still have the crib that my grandmother told me she kept close by the side of her bed so she could pat her babies to sleep, comforting them when they cried. She was given that crib by her mother for her first baby- my mother. My grandmother had 7 babies, but one was a stillbirth, which still grieved her when she and I discussed it when she was in her 80’s.  Now I realize that that crib was undoubtedly painted with lead paint, -which causes physical and neurological disorders, as well as behavior, learning and intelligence problems in children. I was rocked in that cradle as an infant too, and it was passed onto me with such love from my mother, who sewed new pink satin lining and bows for my two children embracing sleep in this special, precious heirloom. This crib has come to symbolize to me the adulteration that involuntary poisons can do to our lives, even when we are offering love and connection to our beloved babies. How does this ignorance of harm come to be a part of my lineage- why does my story get corrupted by these inadvertent, unknown substances in my life? I was getting fierce in my search, this was not right, that I was passing onto my children and grandchildren harm that I knew nothing about but had invaded my body and my life.

I wanted to know about how we were birthed too, because I wondered if birthing practices could have just as much effect on our health, as these ubiquitous chemicals, because after all, the first environment is our mother’s body, which I thought was pure and unadulterated and now I find is not. I read my mother’s baby book, a treasure filled with my grandmother’s wispy handwriting. My mother was born in one of the first maternity hospitals in San Francisco, the building is still there (now condos) on Van Ness and Broadway. If chemicals ingested by breathing and drinking could be harmful, what about the drugs given during birth?

Wow, I found out that something called Twilight Sleep[10] was used early in the 1900s, particularly in hospitals, administered by male doctors. So, my guess is that my grandmother received it. I spent some months reading up on the possible implications of drugs and birth practices. I found this study that concluded:
“Adults who met diagnostic criteria for drug addiction were about five times as likely as sibling controls to have received three or more doses of opioid and barbiturate drugs within ten hours before birth.”[11]

It appeared that drugs did affect our babies. I know that my mother was “put out” during our births, happily she said, and of course, we were not breastfed, which actually is such a strong basis of connection between mother and baby and an indicator of their future health. So what were we fed, if not the perfectly balanced and evolved nutrition from a mother’s body? I found a copy of the take-home instructions given out by the hospital in 1945 on preparing a formula of the right mixture of dextrose maltose and canned, irradiated condensed milk with a note “You may continue to give your baby Irradiated Carnation Milk after weaning from the bottle. The same good qualities which have helped make your baby a strong healthy child will continue to help him through all his growing years”. So ironic, I discovered an old magazine ad displaying lead solder being used in infant formula cans - we were given cow’s milk, sugar and lead for our nourishment, instead of the health supporting, immune resistant mother’s breast milk.  Perhaps my mother’s generation of birth practices contributed to the addictions that 80% of my extended family suffers from. I recently realized that I was addicted to sugar, not surprising really, considering what I ingested from the hazardous cans of baby formula fed to me.

My home was a wonderful San Francisco Victorian, with whistling, shaking windows that let the fog in, and a lot more toxins that increased in the 1950’s as a result of the synthetic chemical industry and agri-business development. BPAs,[12] part of the phthalates family of chemicals, were introduced to my home in personal care products such as soap, shampoo, hair spray, deodorants, and fragrances.2, new household items, marketed through the wonderful little TV box,  and in the pesticides that transferred to my body from the vegetables and meat that I ate. We always had cheap meat, bread and frozen vegetables for dinner and a sweet dessert!. The soda I drank could have come from the spring that was used by the local bottling company, just 3 miles from Hunter’s Point[13] toxic chemical stew which was dumped until 1970 over the sides of the ships that have been built for war here since WW1. Our old plumbing pipes were probably lead, and the vinyl flooring in our kitchen probably contained phthalates. The accumulation of these toxins in my body could have affected whether I could get pregnant and have healthy babies. Early life exposure to phthalates holds the greatest risk for harm and prenatal exposure to very low doses can have irreversible, lifelong effects. More recent studies link phthalate exposure to early puberty in girls and suggest that females are affected in other ways that may increase the risk of breast cancer. [14]

I was relieved of my anger at my sister at this point, it came to me that it is very possible that her addictions to smoking and food/sugar/flour- her lifestyle choices, were probably not the main reason she had what I considered an unproductive life. It was likely that the influences of her environment in utero, and during our childhood, all involuntary interventions in her natural development, were largely responsible for her vulnerable health, lack of mental resilience and early death by cancer. I grieved the extinguishing of her bright laughter, ribald humor and wry perspective on life. I miss our belly-laugh times together, remembering our shared family challenges together that were so funny when recounted by her acerbic and outlandish humor.

I learned more about the history of lead in our world and mercury in our ecosystem and the ubiquity of the over 80,000 new synthetic chemicals in our lives. It appeared to be an old story: that making a living, like my male ancestors did to support their families and pioneer a new land here on furthest Western edge of the US,[15] perpetuated harm to their families, but benefited industries that used complicity and duplicity and plain old criminal acts to prop up their profits. An industry even grew up in the medical care offered to women and babies, which now is associated with over 60% of hospital admissions. [16]What happened to the back to earth birth movement that we promulgated in the 70’s and 80? It was eclipsed by an industry that leveraged women’s desires to be liberated- from pain and perceived risk, to being drugged during their baby’s births. The painlessness vs. the increased adverse affects to mothers and babies has been glossed over for the sake of an institutional status quo and for profit. The number of maternal deaths and infant deaths from our health care system in the US is a shocking testament to how interference with the natural order of things can take an dramatic toll on our current and future well being. 

In 1985 my daughter was born at a birth center with the new version of a midwife in California, Certified Nurse Midwife. We did a major remodel of our house while I was pregnant with her. She grew up in a house built in the 1950’s, and we did another major remodeling while living in that house.  She would have ingested lead dust from the paints released during the remodeling, as lead was not banned in house interior paint until 1970 in the US. Our house is very close to the main artery into our town: we breathe the fumes from the 24 hour car traffic which contains methylmercury[17]-a persistent version of mercury that gets into our air and water.

She ate the food I prepared for her, chock full of pesticides, PBDE’s and PCBs. I know there were a lot of pesticides on our vegetables and fruit, I did not know that BPA, a hormone disruptor, was in the cans, in the vinyl lunch box she took to school and in the storage containers we used which have been associated with thyroid disease, obesity and diabetes, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and infertility, and immune-related disease, such as asthma or allergies. We lived on cheese and tortillas and pizza. And fish sticks- our favorite! Damn that mercury is in the fish I fed my children for so many years.

We loved our hamburgers and spaghetti too- wow, hormone growth promoters[18] were in our beef and I did not know that early exposure for my daughter could change her gene environment which may basically re-program her body’s resilience, reproduction and metabolism later in life. And she would not get nutrients from the processed foods and genetically modified fake foods that I fed her like Cheetos and Cheerios. Recently an article came out with research showing that GMO toxins are in babies in utero[19]. The altering of the very foundational components of our lives, the poisoning of our food, -our seeds and soil – the free gifts of our Mother Earth- really gave me pause, because I learned that we could be compromising the structural integrity of our bodies and bones and brains by this, and inadvertently passing it onto two generations of our beloved children and grandchildren.

And I did not know that flame retardants were in our sofas, which are called perchlorates and currently found in many commonly consumed foods and beverages, including lettuce, milk and produce, according to FDA data. This hormone disruptor can impede the iodine needed by the thyroid, which can have an effect on early brain and nervous system development in fetuses and children. Mother’s breast milk can concentrate this chemical and it can be passed onto nursing infants. “Most of the toxic pentaBDE ever made is still in furniture inside our homes and schools,” Penta-BDE contamination of the environment is a “chemical time bomb” on a huge scale according to Dr. Susan Shaw, Director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI). “Given the demonstrated toxicity of pentaBDEs, the prospect of diminished intelligence in children and reduced fertility our population looms in our not-too distant future.” [20]
 
I bought some simple kits at Cole Hardware on Polk Street and tested their rental house’s water and interior paint. I checked the water report, there is chloramine and fluoride added to it,(which is not a great thing for a pregnant woman to drink),  but generally the  San Francisco Hetch Hetchy water from the Sierra is pure enough to not warrant special reports to the EPA. [21]

I found specific neighborhood info on an EPA site, that the local elementary school where my grandchildren would be attending, was found to have lead-penetrated soil from the old school’s paint that was torn down and replaced. I want to test their house garden soils now too, before they start growing their own food there. [22]

I learned so much more about the history of birth in the US, and its sordid story.[23] Are we even given the freedom of choice on how we may want to birth in our technological, corporatized birthing practices today?
There are too many interventions to the most natural development of human evolution- bringing life into the world. Babies are subjected to increasing numbers of cesarean section deliveries(in US+30%)[24] and antibiotics, both which seriously hinder the child's ability to culture the essential flora in its gut. These children are at a higher risk of developing allergies and asthma later down the road, as well as other chronic conditions, including ADHD and autism.[25] I worried that we had so altered our body’s natural capabilities, that we may have even compromised our body’s ability to birth. I realized very personally that we embody the ravages that we are perpetrating on the Earth, our Mother Earth, who gives us her free gifts of air and water and soil. We have corrupted these gifts and now they are us, our bodies and legacy. There is no gated neighborhood to which we can retreat for protection from modern life’s polluted air, water or soil.

I am a grandmother now, of twin girls. I found it hard to wait for their arrival.  I did not have the same physical, embodied relationship with them that I had with my own two children, yet my feeling for them is intense and emotional. Our relationship is immutable and life-changing for me. I knew that their lifeforce was growing in the dark, protective womb of their mother- which contained all that they needed. But I knew from pulling together this story of my environmental lineage and legacy, that they could be influenced by outside forces, not by the conscious will of their mother, nor by any truly rational choices of our culture, but just as immutably, by me and my ancestor’s personal actions, choices and ignorance. I realize that how I live on this earth is what my granddaughters will inherit. Their changeable physiology creates a responsibility on me, because I would never want an action that I do to harm my grandchildren. I understand that my relationship with my all-encompassing Mother Earth somehow is immutable too, just like my relationship with my granddaughters. And I feel that my Mother Earth who holds and nurtures me and feeds me is beneficent. She would not want to harm either, yet she accepts what is happening to her, with involuntary surrender. I live within and enable the perpetuation of a system that harms our world and our babies. This became an existential dilemma for me. How do I live in the real world, hold to the faith and conviction I have in the beneficence of our existence and not drop into despair and hopelessness?

The word EcoBirth  came to me in the midst of this search, it has come to integrate many strands in my life- my feminine qualities, living a faith-based life, connecting to my lineage, unique to place and time in San Francisco, and my primary, immutable, relationship with  Mother Earth. I want to take responsibility for the shape that our world is in now, by seeing the hope and love that is needed to enable the next generations to heal it. I do not have the answers for them, but I can try to hold the space to allow them to find those answers, by seeing the truth of what is happening now, processing it in my heart and naming it in public. I see birth as the metaphor for transformation and creation that if honored, will create a paradigm shift in our culture’s consciousness.

And that consciousness would realize that we are all related, that our planet home is an extraordinarily perfect balance of natural cycles and that caring for our one natural life will enable us all to be well. That we are caught in a web of a story that separates us, gives us a false sense that we are independent, alone and in charge of our own destiny, with no need for anyone else. Disconnected, unrelated, isolated. Not true.
Our true story is about the extraordinary connection in ourselves that goes all the way back to the first stirring of life gathered on this earth. We were born from our mothers, they were born from their mothers, and we were formed from bits of their bodies all the way back to the first amoeba- there is still a small bit of that life spark in us. We could not be here without all this lineage and heritage; we are dependent on their living and giving. It is a wonderful story of relationship based on love and compassion, unbreakable, freely given. We have just lost our connection to our Mother Earth and to ourselves and our fellow kin, but becoming aware that we are all in the same interdependent living system is hopeful, faithful and so biologically real. We have since the beginning of time, given our feminine, maternal gifts to our children, with no thought for payment. That instinct for offering ourselves will be found again-to reclaim our rightful place in the order of life. We are not lost or truly harmful to our following generations, we are their life-givers. I know that that wicker crib was a hard and tangible part of my inheritance and my legacy to my children; I know that that Chanel #5 is still on my bureau, symbolizing all the love given and harm perpetrated; I sleep next to it every night. But I chose to see the respect and acknowledgment that my mother was giving me when she gave me that meaningful gift. And I chose to work with a fierce passion to make right this world for my grandchildren, and your grandchildren. I trust in my connection to my mother and grandmother, and I see my relationship to all kin in our world, on our earth, in our cosmos, with a gaze of love and compassion. I look to receive that gaze in return, with an open, wounded heart, vulnerable and strong.

I just heard of research that said that a mother’s laughter makes her breastmilk healthier for her child- - there is really nothing more miraculous than that! We can change the world with love and laughter and it will respond with health, happiness and true acceptance of our rightful place in it.

[1] EWG Report || BodyBurden 2 - The Pollution in Newbornswww.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2/ You +1'd this publicly. Undostudy coordinated by the Environmental Working Group that found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies ...


[1] Houlihan J, Brody C, Schwan B. 2002. Not Too Pretty. Environmental Working Group. Available: http://www.ewg.org/reports/nottoopretty
Colborn T, Dumanoski D, Myers JP. 1996. Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?—A Scientific Detective Story. New York: Dutton.

[1] Baby boys and pregnant women are two groups especially vulnerable to hormone-disrupting effects of phthalates. Alarmingly, these are precisely the groups whose high level exposure to multiple phthalates has been extensively documented (Adibi 2008; Sathyanarayana 2008; Silva, Barr 2004). Phthalates cross the placenta into amniotic fluid (Silva, Reidy 2004); they are also transferred from the mother to the infant with breast milk (Main 2006). A child’s exposure to these potent anti-androgenic chemicals starts from the prenatal stage and continues through the formative early years. As a result, the exposure of children to phthalates generally exceeds that of adults (Heudorf 2007). Infants, with their small body size, and different behavioral patterns from adults, are most at risk from phthalates. http://www.ewg.org/node/26052

[1] Exposure to gene-altering substances, particularly in the womb and shortly after birth, “can lead to increased susceptibility to disease,” said Linda S. Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and of the National Toxicology Program. “The susceptibility persists long after the exposure is gone, even decades later. Glands, organs, and systems can be permanently altered. There is a huge potential impact from these exposures, partly because the changes may be inherited across generations. You may be affected by what your mother and grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy,” Birnbaum said. Such exposures can disrupt the way that genes behave, according to both animal and human studies. These changes, in turn, can be passed on to the next generations. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/epigenetics-workshop



[1] (Nyberg, Buka, and Lipsitt 2000). Evidence-Based Maternity Care: “What It Is and What It Can Achieve “
Bt Carol Sakala and Maureen P. Corry ,Co-published by Childbirth Connection, the Reforming States Group, and the Milbank Memorial Fund, October 2008






[1] 1. Sakala C, Corry MP. Evidence-based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can
Achieve. New York: Milbank Memorial Fund, 2008.
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