Saturday, July 12, 2014

All Is Gray, Hooray!

The moment finally arrived. Since making the decision in November 2013 until now, I grew enough natural hair to be able to finally get a short haircut. The honor of the scissors went to Michel, the greatest, most experienced, and possibly the oldest hair dresser in Lebanon. He did my grandmother's hair, my mother's hair, my aunts' hair, my hair, and next week he will cut my son's hair. If you're wondering how old he is...well, he'll soon be 80!


 The Masestro cutting.

Getting short...I needed  cigarette, c'est normal au Liban..


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cinnamon Leaf Oil: A Solution for Summer Pests, and More!

Wouldn't summer be better if we all didn't get stung by mosquitoes and pests that leave colonies of bites all over our limbs? Personally, I've had more summer vacations ruined by mosquito bites than I care to remember. I'm one of those people who is a living magnet for mosquitoes, and it's been a joke in my social circle that when I'm around nobody else gets stung. I'm like a human citronella candle.

And speaking of those candles, I've never really liked them, nor have I found them to be effective. Before I knew any better, I would always use the commercial bug sprays on myself, which are usually full of toxins. Then several years ago I read something about cinnamon leaf oil and its effectiveness in keeping bugs away and killing mosquitoes better than DEET. So I tried it, and I haven't gone back to anything else since. It absolutely works, when I remember to spray it on, that is. And as my experience with this essential oil grew, I came upon two new discoveries. First, cinnamon leaf oil not only keeps mosquitoes away, but it keeps animals away, too! So for example if you aren't an animal lover and you're visiting a friend who has a dog or cat, rest assured that the pet will stay far away from you if you dab some on. I've recently discovered that you can even mix it into your favorite sunscreen for dual skin protection.

But my newest and most exciting discovery in using cinnamon leaf oil is for gardening. Having lived in condos most of my adult life, I've never been a gardener. But when we moved to our house recently, I wanted to try my thumbs at growing some cucumbers and sweet peppers. But to my utter disappointment, the bugs were merciless on my new plantings and they ate up the leaves and flowers right away. Not wanting to use any insecticide on my plant foods, I decided to try spraying my cinnamon oil solution on the leaves and see what happens. I did this once a day and well, a miracle happened. The bugs stopped eating at the plants, and all the new leaves are now growing healthily without any holes in them. Look at the picture, only the old leaves have been eaten.

Now I don't know how this solution might affect the taste or quality of the resulting veggies and fruits because I haven't found anything at all on the Internet that suggests using it on plants. I guess I'm just going to have to find this out for myself, unless you're a green-thumbed person and are curious enough to join in my continued experimentation with this discovery.

So here's what you do. This is the same mix I use to spray on the body and clothing before venturing outdoors.

In a spray bottle, mix a proportion of 5 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil to each 1 oz. of filtered water (multiply the ratio as needed). Fill a small bottle for personal use and a large one for gardening. Shake well before each use.

Try it, folks. It's simple, inexpensive, safe, and organic! As long as you don't have a personal aversion to the smell  and you don't mind walking around smelling like a fresh-baked cinnamon roll, you might even like the scent. I promise you a bug-free summer with this cinnamon leaf oil solution.

Remember, you heard it here first, so

Keep your ears on!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It All Started With Angelina Jolie

When the Broo published its first commentary one year and one hundred blog posts ago,  it was in revolt to all the positive media attention the disturbed and self-harming Angelina Jolie was receiving when she wrote the NY Times Op Ed, "My Medical Choice." She became an instant hero and a model parent because she chose to have her breasts removed and replaced to "avoid" getting breast cancer.

A week later, she got even more attention and publicity because Dr. Mehmet Oz, the doctor who plays wizard on TV, gave her the proverbial medal of honor as the media headlined how "proud" he was of her. I responded with a somewhat harsh follow-up post entitled "The Fake Leading The Blind," which concluded with these words:

"I might be coming across as not liking Angelina. That's not true at all. I care about her as I would care about any living thing.  In fact, I'm "proud" of her for being a millionairess high school drop-out! But, she happens to be in the spotlight for something that could potentially turn out to be a very dangerous trend among women world-wide."

As the Broo celebrates its one year anniversary, Angelina is in the news again for the very outcome that the Broo predicted. The loud  cheer-leading doctors who supported this act of madness are now being discredited by what is being termed the "Angelina Effect," Here are the alarming facts today, thanks to the UN ambassador of self-harm:
  • A recent study found more than two-thirds of women who had both breasts removed after a cancer diagnosis did not have a medical reason for doing so. 
  • They had a very low risk of developing cancer in the healthy breast because they had no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutations.
  • The study was carried out by US researchers, but surgeons in Britain say such requests are on the increase, especially from young patients who want the unaffected breast removed at the same time. 
  • In the US study, of 1,447 women treated for breast cancer, almost 8 per cent had undergone a double mastectomy. But 69 per cent of these women who underwent removal of the unaffected breast at the same time had no genetic or family risk factors.
  • women who do not have a genetic predisposition or family history are being over-treated
As if it wasn't enough that the hospital factories have millions of women lined up for costly c-sections, which are the most common hospital procedures in the US, generating the bulk of revenues by needlessly slicing up women's bellies. The second most common procedure in the "top three list" is circumcision, which is another completely needless assault on the human body. And in third place is Percutaneous coronary angioplasty. A 2011 study found that about half of those heart procedures were also unnecessary. Now we have unnecessary mastectomies battling for a lucrative spot in the top rankings, thanks to Mrs. Pitt!

Until men and women stop blindly and willingly surrendering their sacred bodies and the bodies of their children to the operating tables; and until we stop considering doctors our gods --unquestioningly handing them full control of our life decisions-- we will continue to be a country of medical guinea pigs, sacrificed to feed the piggy banks of the greedy, while destroying our bodies and minds in the process. Although this mass insanity makes good material for the Broo to keep bitchin' for years to come, it will have very sad results for the world if we don't collectively awaken from our slumber and start reversing these disturbing social and medical trends.

Keep your ears on...and the rest of your body parts!

Monday, May 19, 2014

May BHM: Rinat VS. The Beast
To be honest, I didn't know who Rinat Dray was until two days ago, but this week's media spotlight on her is enough reason for me to instantly crown her this month's Beautiful Human of the Month.

Rinat is suing the beast!

Rinat Dray is one of millions of American mothers who are sick and tired of being assaulted and treated like property once they become pregnant. She is a modern-day Rosa Parks--a simple mother who refused another c-section (after having had two), yet was forced to undergo this disempowering major surgical operation, which ended with the surgeon perforating her bladder and putting her life at risk. For begging to have a natural birth, she was accused of endangering her unborn child, and threatened that her baby would be taken away from her. All this mother pleaded for was some more time to give birth on her own, and her doctor called this "child abuse??" Birthing cats and dogs are given better treatment in America. They are at least allowed time, space, quiet peace, and privacy to have the best chances for a successful natural birth!

This scenario is becoming very widespread in hospitals all over the world. In Britain a woman who is deemed "mentally unfit" can be sedated , restrained, and forcefully cut open to remove her baby.

Expectant mothers very often check into hospitals with the full intention of having a natural birth, and come out traumatized and threatened as the hospital staff rush to get the babies out on their own schedule. It seems the concepts of free choice and "informed consent" when having surgical procedures in American hospitals do not apply to pregnant women. Women seem to lose all ownership of their bodies once they become pregnant.  Just this week in Tennessee, the governor passed a law that made criminals out of pregnant mothers who might struggle with "substance abuse."  This is outrageous! What defines "substance abuse" these days? What about forced substance abuse? What is that, you might ask? Well, here is the story about a pregnant woman who was legally fired from her job in the state of Pennsylvania because she refused to take the flu shot for fear it might harm her unborn child. Aren't vaccines a substance, and wouldn't administering them by force be considered abuse?

That is why, Rinat Dray's fight is so important for women all over the world. Enough is enough. Enough controlling our reproductive systems, birth, and medical decisions. Enough meddling with our parental rights, already!

Although there is a steady rise in home births among educated American parents wishing to avoid hospitals, I honestly don't know what is taking so long for us to fully unite with Rinat Dray and fight this barbaric practice of legalized assault on mothers. I do hope we see more and more such law suits, maybe even a class-action suit, to put an end to these mad practices once and for all. It's one thing for a woman to choose a pre-scheduled c-section for her own convenience (a mistake if you ask me), but quite another to be forced into it. It would be just as wrong and criminal as forcing people to have face-lifts (or amputations?) against their will, and putting them at risk of further injury in the process.

Here is a step by step breakdown of the Cesarean trap (also called an unnecesarean) which many women are falling into today. This is the trap that Rinat Dray was desperate to avoid. I copied it below from my midwife's website where it is called "The Cascade of Interventions."

Does it sound familiar? If it hasn't happened to you, surely it must have happened to someone you know...

Changing into the hospital gown

Something as seemingly harmless as wearing a hospital gown can have an effect on the laboring woman. Putting on the hospital gown shifts the balance of power from woman to hospital.  Her perception of herself shifts, and she sees herself as a patient, in the care of “experts,” rather than as a woman confident in her ability to birth on her own terms. This simple act may also make the woman feel less comfortable, feel cold or she may be concerned about modesty as well, which increases stress and makes relaxation harder.

Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM)

The major effect  of continuous EFM is that it keeps the mother immobile in bed. The use of EFM is not evidence-based, and even ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) admits it has had no effect in improving outcomes for babies.  Evidence shows that Intermittent EFM with a handheld Doppler is just as effective as continuous EFM at identifying babies in distress.  The only effect continuous EFM has had is that it has increased the cesarean section rate.

Getting the IV

IV’s restrict a woman’s mobility and make it easier to administer fluids and medications that can interfere with natural birth.  Sometimes, IVs can be helpful, especially if a woman is unable to tolerate oral hydration, or in an emergency situation.  In normal labor, women need to be free to move their bodies throughout labor, and should be encouraged to change positions frequently.  Having an IV can hinder that. The IV is also simply uncomfortable, annoying and may interfere with her focus on relaxing with contractions as well and make holding hands with her support person more uncomfortable or impossible. Even a hep lock can be bothersome in the same ways. The perception that having an IV readily available is helpful in an emergency is not evidence based. Many times this IV port is not working well enough to handle an emergency and must be restarted.

Labor augmentation with Pitocin®

The use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin®) makes labor more painful for the mother, and more difficult for the baby to tolerate. There are studies that show Pitocin® may interfere with the body's natural ocytocin hormone production which may hinder the mother's natural efforts in the pushing stage, may contribute to postpartum hemorrhage and may interrupt her bonding with her baby, contributing to postpartum depression.

Pain relief

Because the contractions are so intense with Pitocin®, the mother frequently will choose to receive an epidural for pain relief.

Restriction of movement

An epidural keeps a woman confined to bed for the duration of the labor and birth.  Being unable to move restricts the woman’s ability to help her baby get into a good position for birth. It may also hinder the baby's ability to move, too.

Contractions slow down

Epidurals can slow labor progress, which results in increasing dosages of Pitocin® to increase contraction intensity and frequency, which can lead to an even greater need for pain relief and greater risk of fetal distress.

Progress slows or stops
Assuming the woman reaches full dilation, the epidural can interfere with the woman’s ability to push effectively.

Fetal distress
Hard contractions, combined with reduced blood pressure and the lack of blood flow to the baby, can cause the baby to go into distress.

Cesarean section
After having exhausted all of the tools at the obstetrician’s disposal, this one option remains.

I'll be following Rinat Dray's case with great attention, and I wish this Beautiful Human of the Month all the justice and peace that she and her children deserve.

Keep your ears on...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Pistorius Saga Pauses


Maybe if I kept my mouth shut, we wouldn't have to wait another month to get a verdict on the Oscar Pistorius case, huh?

It looks like the judge in the trial has ordered that the defendant undergoes a one-month-long psychiatric evaluation to investigate more deeply the anxiety disorder Dr. Vorster claimed he had.

All kidding aside, I am very surprised that the case has taken this sharp turn, and that Pistorius was taken for a psychiatric evaluation during the Easter recess, three days after I wrote about his childhood trauma(s) and how it may connect to the murder.

If Pistorius makes it out alive from this psychiatric evaluation (I cannot imagine the depth of pain  from revisiting his past in such a way), the results of it will have to become public. I'm sure the thought of his life being laid out for the world to judge him by is terrifying. But his case also has the potential of bringing new light to a dark world. A world that downplays the importance of childhood experiences, from pregnancy to birth to infancy to bonding and security, and how these play a role in the future of our PHYSICAL and mental health.

I know the Broo readers might welcome a break from this story for the next month, but I can't wait to hear more details about his amputation, birth, and early relationships with his parents. Don't laugh, but I wonder if he was circumcized, and under what circumstances. I am firmly against any circumcision, male or female; so, I also wonder if his amputation at 11-months, not only caused him trauma from the horrific experience itself, but also a double-trauma due to his body memory of the circumcision that preceeded it. Two body violations before the age of one.  Something's gotta give.

Keep your ears on...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pistorius: You heard It Here First.

Update on "Pistorius, Neither Innocent, Nor Guilty."

Is the defense team reading the Broo? I'd love to think so, but probably not.

But the quotes below from the most recent reports in the news media today, which come from a psychatrist called on by the defense, got me all excited to share this new development with the Broo readers.

"Dr. Merryll Vorster told the athlete's murder trial Monday that events during Pistorius' life, including the amputation of his lower legs as a baby and his late mother's habit of sleeping with a gun under her pillow, contributed to his "increasing stress."

"Pistorius' mother slept with a gun under her pillow, sometimes abused alcohol and did not soothe the feelings of anxiety her children experienced."

"The children were reared to see their external environment as a threat. It appears that the children were not soothed by their mother but rather all developed features of anxiety. Instead of the mother being in a position, if there was a threat, to relieve her children's anxiety."

"His parents always encouraged him to behave and appear as normal as possible. He was never able to allow himself to be seen as being disabled. He was always encouraged to be seen as being normal. Over time this could result in increasing levels of anxiety as the stress of appearing normal continued."

It all fits right into the formula, folks. We discussed this in detail in the previous post Happy (m)Others' Day, too. It couldn't be more clear. Negative body memory plus absent mother equals negative outcome.

Watch this portion of the hearing! It's very revealing.

This could become quite interesting! Keep your ears on...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy (m)Others Day!

"A Mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take. " --Cardinal Mermillod

Before we go celebrating another rosy posy balloon-happy Mother's Day (a day which can be a source of much pain and sadness for many people), let's consider what little is left of motherhood and the basic role of the mother in America today!

Warning: This is going to be a long one.

We indeed live in dangerous times for humanity when everyone thinks they can take the place of the mother. The doctors, nurses, hospitals, corporations, drug companies,  schools, religious leaders, and the government, all continue to work tirelessly at replacing the mother (and father!) with something else, in order for the country's workforce to be doubly strong and the fat government tax account can be well-fed for squandering.

Statistics indicate that currently 75% of infants' mothers work FULL TIME in the first year of their child's life. Since the U.S. has no laws granting a single day of paid maternity leave to mothers, most return to work as soon as possible, forcing an abrupt severing of their natural maternal instinct, and resulting in the child suffering the same developmental setbacks of children of "absent mothers" -- In the excellent book The Emotionally Absent Mother, by Jasmin Lee Cori, the term includes absence for any reason, even death. There is no blame here, just a profound recognition of the ill effects the absence of mothers, intended or unintended, has on the development of humans. Whether the mothers were disconnected due to forced separation, high paying jobs, drug addiction, or depression, the children will undoubtedly be affected by this loss of time. Just think of that number again-- 75% of the current generation of American infants are separated from their mothers because of work outside the family. What a sad generation we are raising.

This trend of mothers returning to work began to rise sharply in the early 1980s and continues alarmingly unchallenged today. And what do we have as a result? The ADHD generation, the food-allergy generation, the mood disorder generation, the emotionally disconnected tech generation and the skyrocketing divorce rate that goes with it. These innocent children who grew up with "absent" working mothers of the 80s and 90s and TV are the same adults who have today grown up with deficits resulting from unhealthy mental, emotional, and physical development.

Not all mothers have a choice, of course. There is a Silent Crisis in America. Many working mothers are single, widowed, or divorced. It is these mothers especially who should get government support to stay home with their kids, and not get thrown into a system of chaos in order for them to get back to work. Last week, I met an elderly lady visiting from Sweden. She laughed out loud when I told her that the US government has no paid maternity leave laws! She said in Sweden, the law mandates that women get paid 80% of their salaries for ONE AND A HALF years to stay home with their children. What a better way to spend tax money than to waste it on handouts and expanding preschool factories, which do nothing to strengthen the core family or the natural development of the children.

But many mothers in America are more fortunate. They are married or partnered, and might have a second income to depend upon. It is to these mothers I want to reach out. Those who work, but don't really really have to. They don't have to have the big house, or the extra car, or the extra vacation, at the expense of being "absent" from their infants in the first years of life. It's scary to see how much parents are willing to pay for this social parental trap! In New York City, for example, nannies can be paid more than pediatricians! I want to caution those mothers most of all: Your child may very likely grow up to pay a heavy mental/physical/emotional price for that absence (if she isn't paying already), and climbing out of that hole is hard and lonely. I know because I am 47 years old and still working on "fixing" some leftover scattered deficits, even though my childhood wasn't even that bad apart from the fact that I was separated from my working mother a lot, and she didn't even travel frequently out of town like many millionaire  moms pride themselves in doing today.

People tend to think that I have postponed going back to work because I can "afford" to "stay home." I put quotes around that latter term because it's so hilarious. As if non-professional mothers do nothing but stay at home. When properly bonded and connected, we are like the control tower of the airport we call home! Without us "Directors of Operations," many more  accidents are prone to happen--present, future, seen, and unseen mistakes. Things can and will fall apart when mother is absent! The job of mother simply cannot be outsourced to daycare centers and nannies,  and result in the same quality of life for the marriage, family, and children.

I'm often asked if I see myself returning to a regular job outside the home anytime soon. My answer is, when there comes a time that I feel can, I will.  Right now, my family needs me, and the other reality is, my husband and I can't afford for me to go back to work and make a second income. Shocking, huh? Not really. We actually did all the math when I was pregnant and working, and it was clear that it would cost too much for me to go out and earn that extra $100,000-- from a quality-of-life perspective AND from a financial perspective. Once we factored in the childcare outsourcing costs, the increased taxes (due to more income), the food short-cut costs, wardrobe, and transportation costs--Plus the savings in money and time by keeping our family healthy, without a constant need for "professionals" to intervene in our home-life, it was a no-brainer.

I speak with an urgency about this subject today because I am a child of the 60s, a time when it was still very uncommon for new mothers to work full-time, but mine did. So I feel like my life has been a trailer or a preview for the feature film we are about to see in the increasingly mother-shorted generation to come.

When I was growing up, most moms stayed home and my mother was the only one among all my friends' who worked (double-full-time).  Indeed she 'had' to work for financial gain, but she was also primed by her own childhood experiences to grin and bear detachment from her children because the circumstances of her early childhood rendered her own mother emotionally detached. The author of the book I mentioned earlier talks extensively about these generational patterns that get passed on from mother to daughter.

My working mother also never had the opportunity to breastfeed me, an act of nature I deeply believe is where the bonding process is rooted between mother and child. When I say "breastfeed" I don't only mean feeding through the breast, but also on the breast (through a bottle). As long as a mother or the bonding parent (father, adopting mother, caregiver) is doing the feeding up close and personal, the bonding has a chance to take root. So all this empty talk about those poor working moms wasting time and emotions on pumping and storing milk for their babies to feed in their absence, does absolutely nothing for bonding. In fact, the more absent the mother is from her child, the less likely she is to keep producing milk. Another catch-22 for working moms thanks to the government that "strongly recommends" that all mothers breastfeed for a year, and in the same capacity gives them no legal right to do it!

I adore my mother and feel her love and hear it in her sweet words, but still, there seems to be something missing, not connecting. This deficient "wiring" and the differences between us continue to slightly irritate us to this day. We love each other, but we don't know how to express it. We want to help each other, but we don't instinctively know what to do. We need each other, but we don't know how to ask for our needs and we 're frustrated when they are not known and instantly met. We want to comfort each other, but we don't seem to know the right words to say. This is what the broken bond does. It becomes a bad wiring situation between mother and child. This delicate seed can only be planted early in a life-time-- in those first days, months, and years of a mammal's life. Is it too much to ask for this natural right? Is it too hard to give up a second income for just one year? Are our children not worth a properly rooted life?

With strength and understanding, together my mother and I have worked very hard at facing and resolving the truths that make us.  And although I feel like I've overcome many obstacles as a result of this effort, she continues to suffer through an endless history of chronic and unexplained illnesses which are very likely to be the result of her own childhood suffering. (see another book, The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting, by Alice Miller).

The well-known healer and lecturer, Louise L Hay also convinced me through her own experience and through her many books, that physical illnesses have definite mental and emotional sources. One of her books, (Heal Your Body A-Z), references many medical ailments, their emotional sources, and a new thought pattern to help heal the problem. You don't have to buy the book to see this list, a similar one is readily available here. The author herself was diagnosed with late-stage vaginal cancer in her adult life. She supplemented her healing through deep inner work, which left her convinced that no cancer healing would be complete without it. She is also convinced that the cancer came to her from a Body Memory of "deep hurt" when she was raped at the age of five and battered in her childhood. "No wonder the cancer hit me in that area," she says of her fate. She believes, as I do, that if buried childhood issues are not recognized, resolved, and healed, then illnesses of the body, mind, and spirit are inevitable.  Babies may not cognitively register the memories of growing up without mother's constant presence, but their bodies will! I discussed this in the two previous posts about Pistorius and Dr. Drew.

The child in me couldn't care less if we had an extra car or what my mom's own childhood was like. That child in me probably would have much preferred to be 'poor' for another year than be separated from my mother twenty hours out of the day, than to bear the pain of being without her grounding force,  mirroring my SELF to me. I have no cognitive memory of how traumatic it might have been for me to be left with a string of strange caregivers because, as all infants, I was non-verbal at that stage in life. However my body's memory somehow recycled these experiences into my adult behaviors and unshakable paterns. And now that I'm all grown up and know the facts, I still don't think my mother's two jobs were worth a couple of steps up for our family on the socio-economic ladder.

It took a lot of inner work and yoga, but I've had many positive breakthroughs as I worked through the myriad of weight/smoking/relationship puzzles in my life. But the biggest breakthrough happened when I had my own child. I was struck with a profound awareness of the pregnancy/birth process and I made a conscious decision not to fall into those same patterns in my own mothering style.

As a young girl, I knew deep inside that I wouldn't be a mother unless I was fully able to be present for my child's first year of life. I was even ready to accept a life without children if I couldn't do it that way. Like most people, until my late thirties, I was still a mystery to myself, and I couldn't have possibly matured my delayed and deficient maternal instincts in time, in spite of the fact that I was a teacher and surrounded by kids for 17 years. I didn't get married until the age of 40, and with no serious intention of having children. But the universe sent me a magical boy of my own at the ripe old age of 43. As a result of my maturity and the full support of a mature loving husband, I decided to take complete ownership of motherhood. I did what most people around me said was un-doable.  I chose unmedicalized pre-natal care and a home-birth. I put my career on hold and we relied on my husband's income alone (which is already truncated for child support from his previous marriage, so I know it can be done!) We gave up the second car, lived a simpler life and shared rooms with our son for a couple of years. Nobody starved or suffered and we reaped the benefits of the health, peace, and harmony that come from having only one parent work outside the home. I was able to nurse my son and give him round the clock care. I chose attachment parenting all the way!

The term "attachment parenting" is a little deceiving because people who are not familiar with it tend to visualize clingy and spoilt kids. In reality, it's quite the opposite. Malattached kids are more likely to be clingy while well-attached kids will be more independent in their mother's absence because they don't experience feelings of abandonment when their mothers are consistently away for long periods of time. They trust their environment and feel secure in it. In Jungian theory, the 'natural' child is described as honest, genuine, generous, loving, innocent, open, trusting, imaginative, intuitive, curious, spontaneous, vital, alive, full of wonder and play. We have succeeded in creating a scoial system that literally operates to prematurely delete these inborn characteristics in the natural child. It's very sad indeed.

Remember the teenage stowaway who has been in the news for defying death in order to reach his mother? Now there's a properly attached kid for you. It's easy to assume that he has all those characteristics otherwise he wouldn't have been able to make that crazy trip. I don't know anything about his early life because my research hasn't turned up anything, but I'm willing to bet this kid was a home-birth, breastfed, and uncircumcised.  I'm also willing to bet he was constantly carried by his mother in  his early years, smelling her, hearing her voice, breath, and heartbeat--bonding with her. The power that made this kid believe he can reach his mother and act on it blows the mind. This is the super human power that is born in mother and child through natural childbirth and proper bonding. Ain't no mountain high enough!  I'm afraid humans are being slowly stripped of their species' instinctive superpowers through continued practices of artificial pregnancies, violent birth, cruel circumcision, unnecessary vaccinations, formula-feeding, bad medicine, and the general outsourcing of the parents' role.

I might not be doing a perfect job with my son, (it's been a wild ride) but I can guarantee you he's properly attached. I "see" him and I "know" him. I can effortlessly tell how he feels, how he thinks, and what he means.  I can predict his responses and second-guess many of his actions. I don't need to be around him all the time to know he's ok, my maternal antennas instantly  know when things are or aren't right. This is not because I'm so highly educated, or anything silly like that. In Dr. Raymond Moore's words, "children thrive more in bad homes than in good institutions."  In other words, most children are better off with their own lousy mothers, than with anyone else. Unfortunately mothers are increasingly trading this work for a paying job outside the home without even needing to.  Many highly professional mothers today are walking around with these broken antennas, wondering why they can't bond with their kids, as society wonders why the rates of postpartum depression, ADHD, food allergies, behavior disorders, childhood sex, murder-suicides, childhood cancer, diabetes, obesity, and everything bad in this world, are skyrocketing? Humanity is on a health downward spiral, with the Baby Boomers less healthy than their parents, and the Generation Xers less healthy than theirs.

Why do healthy twenty-somethings of today think their "biological clock is ticking" and they need expensive and invasive in-vitro fertilization to become pregnant, c-sections to give birth (up 500% since the 1970s), and strangers, nurseries, and now computers, to mind her infants while they attend to other careers?  Because there seems to be an active media campaign that hypnotizes them so. At the rate society is going, there won't be much of mothers to celebrate as we are forced to pledge our ovaries and our children to the churches and state, so they may be vaccinated and processed to be good citizens with attachments for the nanny institutions of America.

My message to new mothers (and fathers)-to-be on this Mother's Day is: If work can wait, get your priorities straight. Resist being de-feminized to gain bogus "equal rights." Resist the federal, medical, and educational systems that strip women of their womanhood and mothers of there motherhood. Get informed. Say No to unnecessary c-sections! Demand the natural right to breastfeed and care for your own child for at least a year. Fight for paid maternity leave in America. Recognize that there is a fourth trimester in pregnancy after the child is born. Humans are the ONLY mammals that practice maternal-neonatal separation, and we've yet to come to a full understanding of the depths of the psychological, biological, and physiological wounds this will have on future generations. Are beast mothers and their offspring more deserving than our mothers and babies?

In her book The Body Never Lies, by Alice Miller, the author investigates why people continue to honor their parents, regardless of how they are treated by them. She found that around the world, people do this as a duty buried in their psyches that dates back to Moses' 4th Commandment (of the ten), which is strongly evident in the books of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Honor your mother and your father, or risk an early death from God. And from here, the complexities of our psychological issues take root.  The 4th Commandment empowers parents to be untouchable, in spite of any mistakes they might make with their children, and leaves children helpless and haunted by this love dilemma.

The meaning of Mother's Day in America has come so far from Julia Ward Howe's call for peace. The many roles of mother have been outsourced to test-tubes, surgeons, nurseries, bottles, baby-monitors, TVs, other machines, and doctors. Along with "Father's Day" the purpose of this holiday has morphed into a mere propaganda ritual for keeping alive this out-dated and hurtful 4th commandment, so parents are immune from blame for screwing up their kids and kids can never ask too many questions about their childhood. It essentially takes the pressure off parents to, first and foremost, be present in their children's lives.

In the USA, we have a day, or a week, or a month on the calendar to honor everyone, their heritage and illnesses! This week, for example, in addition to Mothers' Day, we've been celebrating "Teacher Appreciation Week." which falls in Asian-American Heritage Month (shared by Jewish and Haitian Heritage), and Celiac Deisase Awarerness. And that's not it. Here's the list for May.

But of all the commemorative dates we share with the rest of the world, there is one thing starkly missing on our list of holidays. Can you guess what that is?

<Drum roll, please.>

Children's Day!!

And that's because we could never decide on what day to have it on. Bill Clinton came along in 1998 and said we should celebrate it on October 11. George Bush, said, no, let's make it June 3! Obama says let's just make it the first Sunday in June, while the state of Illinois is arguing for the SECOND Sunday in June. I kid you not. Look it up.

So until we stop our governing leaders from making a constant mockery of our children, their health, security, and education, Mother's Day will continue to lose it's meaning in America; for  what is Mother's day without Children's Awareness Day, week, month?

And now we interrupt this depressing programing and return to our regularly scheduled  rosy posy balloon-happy (m)Other's Day, because after all, most moms truly deserve to be celebrated and honored for their billions of sacrifices to us! And they've ALL sacrificed something, somehow, in some way, no matter, to bring us into this world.

To my mom, and to all the m(others) who care/d for me, Happiest Mother's Day to you from the Broo!

Thanks for reading, and keep your ears on...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dr. Drew, You Blew It!

Since I published my last blogpost about Oscar Pistorius and body memory connections to the crime he committed, the mainstream media has been abuzz with the 'scandal du jour' targeting Dr. Drew Pinsky. Predictably, everyone completely missed the point he tried to make about body memory, and it continues to be buried by the "pseudo" label-mongerers of this science. Everywhere I look I see that this human phenomenon is real, and the diseases that come from it are also real, yet for some reason, it's still not accepted. Even the media turned on its own popular TV doctor  because he dared to suggest it. It's another conspiracy, I tell ya! There's a powerful lobby out there that is very busy giving new names to old illnesses and writing big prescriptions on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies.  Nobody wants to investigate drug-free therapies that don't make corporations rich!

 The story goes like this:

A man called in to seek advice from Pinsky on how to deal with his fiancée's medical issues. He explained that his fiancée was suffering from endometriosis, lactose intolerance, interstitial cystitis, and a lack of stomach lining. Dr. Drew responded:

"These are what we call sort of functional disorders. Everything you mentioned, everything you mentioned, are things that actually aren't discernibly pathological. They're sort of — they're what we call 'garbage bag diagnosis,' when you can't think of anything else, you go, 'Eh, well it's that.' So, it then makes me question why is she so somatically preoccupied that she's visiting doctors all the time with pains and urinary symptoms and pelvic symptoms, and then that makes me wonder, was she sexually abused growing up?"

Why, oh why, did popular TV doctor with massive reach take this perfect opportunity and ruin it by using such a stupid term to bring light and attention to the topic of body memory? 

But to his credit, Pinsky guessed correctly that the caller's fiancee was indeed sexually abused! He continued to explain a little more eloquently, 

"When people have unexplained pain, particularly pelvic pain, it's called somatoform dissociation, and the only way her body, which was suffering during those early experiences, can tell its tale of woe is with pain. "

All the media took from this is "garbage can disorders" and nobody bothered to even define SOMATOFORM DISSOCIATION for the public- which is basically a medical term for injury from trauma. 

The woman in question suffered from three things in particular, endometriosis, lactose intolerance, and cystitis. In the Louise L. Hay's book,  Heal your Body A-Z: The Mental Causes for Physical Illnesses and The Way to Overcome Them, the author says the same thing. If you look up the disorders the caller was complaining about, you'll find that they're all connected to fear and anxiety from holding on to the memory of trauma. Louise Hay herself was diagnosed with vaginal cancer and she is absolutely convinced that her condition came as a result of her being raped at the age of 5. She survived this late-stage cancer by supplementing the medicine and surgery with inner healing.

Dr. Drew even gives the caller some useful advice. The man was calling in the first place because he and his fiancee seemed to be running out of medical options. At least Dr. Drew offered a new path and recommended that the woman go see a trauma specialist, instead of giving him the real 'garbage' about the latest 'advances' in surgery and drugs for these conditions!

Since I'm TV-unplugged and not familiar with Dr. Drew Pinsky's program, I don't know enough about him to form a complete opinion. But I'm disappointed that three days have gone by and we heard no further explanation from him. He is still silent and the media seems to have completely snatched away the microphone from him. Rather than debate what he is saying, the media is choosing to demonize him. What a sham journalism has become. Nothing more than a tool to sell a single message.

I hope his silence is temporary, and I hope he doesn't turn out to be another American coward who will bow and apologize to save his career, rather than muster the courage to use his position to bring more light onto the truth.

Keep your ears on...

UPDATE: "In the latest episode, Pinsky offered a lukewarm apology to endometriosis sufferers last night on “Loveline.” He said he was only referring to the caller’s case, not the affliction in general."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oscar Pistorius: Neither Innocent, Nor Guilty

AFP/AFP/File - South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius appears on February 20, 2013 at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria

By now, most everybody knows who Oscar Pistorius is. We know without a doubt that he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. Many people have strong opinions and beliefs about the case as the world waits to see whether it will be proven that he shot his gun with full intent to kill Reeva (knowing it was her behind the bathroom door), or he fired his fatal gun with the intent to kill an intruder. What will the verdict be?

I've followed this disturbing story closely because I have my own underlying curiosity about it that comes from my deep interest in the study of "Body Memory." I have read so much recently about how the mammalian body has a completely separate memory system from the mind, that it's given me a whole new perspective on human responses and a complete paradigm shift in how I respond to people's personalities and circumstances.

When the details of the crime began to surface and as the trial began to unfold, I was deeply repulsed by Pistorius  because I have a strong feeling in my heart that he knowingly shot and targeted Reeva. But as I started to make connections from what I've been recently learning about childhood experiences and body memory, I began to see things differently in this case. Heck, I began to see everyone I know differently!  I feel like I've had a major breakthrough in my understanding of people. Everything about the theory of Body Memory makes so much logical sense that I'm really astonished that there has been very little serious interest and research on this science in the psychological and medical fields that closed-mindedly continue to insist on its pseudo-status.

According to the short and limited Wikipedia description:

"Body memory is a hypothesis that the body itself is capable of storing memories, as opposed to only the brain. This is used to explain having memories for events where the brain was not in a position to store memories and is sometimes a catalyst for repressed memory recovery. These memories are often characterized with phantom pain in a part or parts of the body – the body appearing to remember the past trauma. The idea of body memory is a belief frequently associated with the idea of repressed memories, in which memories of incest or sexual abuse can be retained and recovered through physical sensations.[1] The idea is pseudoscientific as there are no hypothesized means by which tissues other than the brain are capable of storing memories."

When humans are in infancy and before verbal expression develops, body memory is most dominant because there is no verbal memory yet. That is, experiences can't be stored in words, but they may very well be stored in our living cells. Thus, negative experiences in childhood often manifest themselves into adult physical symptoms or mysterious psychological struggles.

As I researched Oscar Pistorius' childhood and particularly the circumstances surrounding his amputation, my verdict on him changed. And if I was his defending attorney, I would seriously look into a completely different strategy for his defense, because even though I believe Pistorius committed this crime in full mental knowledge, there might be enough to prove that it was actually his body memory's response which took over and made him knowingly pull the trigger. I would argue that this physical memory of violence and trauma triggered a REFLEX in him which is completely not in his mental control.

The story goes that when Oscar was born, he was missing the fibula bones in both legs. He had feet and two toes on each foot, but his shins below the knee were congenitally deformed. This beautiful baby boy was not "perfect" enough, so his parents quickly set out to "fix" him.

After an obsessive search for expert doctor opinions by his parents (bordering on the Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, if you ask me!), the decision was made to amputate his legs below the knee sooner than later. The reasoning behind the urgency had nothing to do with any danger of deterioration of his health, he could have lived with this deformity for the rest of his life. The reason the parents and surgeons decided to amputate in infancy is to give him neat stumps and no chance to experience anything but prosthesis legs to walk on from the beginning. I recognize this flawed mentality. In modern education speak, they call this impulsiveness to act on human imperfections BEFORE problems arise "early intervention." The child will learn better if we try to fix him sooner. In my opinion, this rush to "fix" Oscar was a tragic mistake and an injustice.  The amputation could have been, and should have been, postponed until this baby had the verbal ability to decide what he wanted to do with his body, and a verbal ability to express physical pain and understand its source and purpose. In his autobiography Blade Runner (published before the crime) Pistorius writes:

"Basically if I had a double-amputation before I learned to walk, I would never know what it was like to walk on my own feet and so would not suffer from the trauma for having lost them."

And so his legs were amputated at the age of 11 months.

But trauma he did suffer at this most tender and impressionable age. His body must recall this operation as a gross act of violence against it.   In the first chapter of the book Pisorius tells us that his father (the same father who traveled the globe to collect dozens of expert opinions) was out of town on a business meeting when the amputation surgery took place. When he returned early, feeling  guilty for being away, he found infant Oscar alone in a cold recovery room in the hospital "wailing in agony," because no effective pain medication was administered to him. Just imagine this infant's terror and pain. Where does this horrific memory get stored if it doesn't verbally get stored in the mind?

I haven't read Pistorius' entire autobiography, but believe me, I will soon. These are just little clues I found by looking at the book's preview on Amazon.  Predictably, Oscar must have spent the rest of his life hearing messages of "you can achieve whatever you want," and that is likely why he achieved his athletic successes. But he also must have heard over and over, that his legs were amputated because his parents loved him so much and wanted him to be perfect.

I have read biography after biography of historical figures, criminals, artists, and all kinds of people with tragic life endings. In all these lives--all of them-- an injured childhood is unquestionably the root of the violence. The body memory is separate from, and uncontrolled by, the mind, yet it probably defines half of our life's responses. A more serious study of this human phenomenon is overdue and it has the potential of breaking ground in the way we view everything, from medicine to education to criminal law.

I'm not a judge, witness, or lawyer, but I don't believe Pistorius' recent emotional breakdowns in the courtroom are an act. I think what we are seeing instead is the image of a baby trapped in his injured body who cries for the lonely violence he endured in the name of love, and lost in his confusion by his own fatal reaction to his girlfriend. I also don't think that Oscar believes his own story. He simply cannot verbally explain what happened to him in that insane moment, but he knows it was wrong,  and no other defense is available to save his life except to convince everyone (including himself) that he meant to kill an intruder. In the mind and heart of Oscar, he didm't intend to kill Reeva. Only in his BODY,  did he intend to. The person on trial here is the injured infant inside Oscar, not the adult Oscar. Hard to prove in a court of law, but personally, I rest my opinion.

So there's your doze of Pistorius during the recess. Until court resumes on May 5,

Keep your ears on...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Alternative Tabbouleh!

I was just complaining to my husband about how a lot of the blogs I follow are flooding my mailbox with recipes lately. So this gave me the idea to share a recipe. Ha, ha, hypocrisy! But it's true, I've been meaning to share this for a while, and being waaay behind on posting (because I've been working on a rather long one for Mother's Day), I'm seizing the moment.

This isn't a new recipe, but something that's been gaining popularity because it's one of those new twists on something old. Some of you may have tried quinoa tabbouleh, substituting it for the burghul, but I doubt you've tried it with kale! Ever since a friend introduced me to it, I haven't gone back to parsley. Friends who've tried it at our home were delightfully astonished with the authentic taste. Everything about it is the same, but instead of parsley, substitute with a bunch of well-chopped kale. The difference is almost unnoticeable, and the added bonus is that kale has a better refrigerator life than parsley in tabbouleh. Unlike day-old wilted parsley tabbouleh, the kale version tastes just as crunchy and fresh the next day and even the day after.

So, if you're looking for new ways to eat kale, you might find this recipe a fun and familiar addition to your diet.

Many variations are available on the internet. Here's one recipe from the NY Times that has cumin (ick!) and radishes in it (?). Here's mine, based on the tabbouleh recipe passed on to me from my mom, and her mom before her, etc:


1 large bunch curly kale -- finely chopped.
2 large ripe tomatoes-- diced.
5 scallions - chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint -- finely chopped
1/3 cup bulgur ---washed, pre-soaked, and strained
1 1/2 lemons --juiced.
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon sea salt
dash of pepper

Remove the stems from the kale and chop the leaves finely- by hand or food processor. Be careful not to over process. In a large bowl, thoroughly toss all the ingredients together. Taste. Add lemon, salt, or oil if needed. Serve.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Unwanted Facial Hair Solution (Maybe)

Genetically, I don't think I inherited the hirsute gene from my lineage, as I went through my entire puberty and teens without sprouting a single hair in my armpits. Unlike Julia Roberts, today I have about twenty hairs there in total. I also never tweezed my eyebrows. They were always the right shape and thickness for my face. My arms and thighs?  Not much hair growth there, either. But being born Mediterranean, in an area of the world where the hairiest women proudly cluster and boast sugaring hair-removal techniques (halawa) which were probably invented by Cleopatra, I was nonetheless trapped in the feminist battlefields of the centuries-old Hair Wars.

You see when I was 13-years-old, my family moved to Greece, home to some of the hairiest of them all; and one of my first friends was our landlord's daughter who lived in the same building. When I met her, she had some noticeable upper lip hair, but one day, it was gone along with all the other hair on her body! Of course, I wanted to try this waxing thing that the pubescent Greek goddesses were doing, even though I had no upper lip hair at the time. My dear friend obliged in giving me instructions, and the rest is history. I've been paying for this mistake all my life. Ever since that one time, the more I waxed, the more hairs came out, and they were more determined to be fruitful and to multiply with each plucking. It was a vicious cycle, and I was doomed.

So throughout my adult life, I've had to do this monthly routine of waxing my upper lip, until it became a bi-monthly routine, and eventually become a weekly routine. So as I tired of constantly waxing and tired of the the fear of being away from my tweezers for more than 24 hours, I decided to try electrolysis. I tried it at a dermatologist and I tried it at home. It was daunting and didn't work. Then when laser hair removal was introduced in the 1990s, I tried that too. It didn't work, was expensive, and each session gave me unsightly blisters and dark spots. Additionally,  because of the requirement to SHAVE before each session, the hairs on my upper lip got stronger and increased in number. This was bad, so I quit the laser and went back to waxing and tweezing. By then, I had to wax or tweeze almost every other day to keep up with the rapid hair growth.

After exhausting many options and in desperation for a solution, I turned to history in search of the early traditions used for hair removal. Posted on my favorite folk medicine website,, I found information about the use of ALUM by Asian women to stop hair growth. This made me extremely curious and led to deeper research. It's claimed that when a mixture of alum and rosewater solution is applied to freshly removed hair pores, eventually hair will stop growing in that area. Apparently in India, this is done to girls early in puberty, and by the time they reach their teens, they would be hair-free in all the right places. So, I decided to give it a try for a year and see what happens. Being in my late-forties already, I knew I was getting a very late start on this, but I had nothing to lose, and I had tried everything else (except this new product I just found, which is used in a similar way).  And now that it's been exactly a year since I started using alum,  I'm going to report the results of this personal experiment here on the Broo.


1/2 teaspoon of alum (I got mine at Amazon)
1 teaspoon high quality pure rose water
(quantity needed for upper lip area)

In a sake-sized cup, mix the two ingredients thoroughly until most of the alum is dissolved. It's hard to dissolve it completely, so do your best. You can use an art paintbrush to mix and apply the solution to the skin. After about ten minutes, the alum will dry and grain. Reactivate it by spraying some rosewater on the skin and leaving it on for an additional 10 minutes. Wash all the alum off under running water and pat the skin dry with a towel. The epilated area must be washed very well, especially if it's on the face or near the eyes. Alum can sting and damage eyes. I found alum to also have a nice post-waxing cooling effect. The Executive Shaving Company even sells it in the form of an after shave balm.

Finally, moisturize the skin with coconut oil.

I did this for 6 months, then I decided to add another step to the method to encourage the alum to more efficiently go into the hair pores. To get this effect,  I wiped the skin with a cotton round saturated with hydrogen peroxide before applying the alum solution.  It bubbles and cleans the pores deeply, making them more open to receive the alum solution. Hydrogen peroxide not only made a wonderful sterilizing agent for the pores, but I feel like it might have helped the alum solution to further slow my hair growth in the second 6 months of this trial.


  • I have 70% less hair on my upper lip today than I did a year ago.
  • I only need to wax about once every ten days, as opposed to every other day.
  • I can easily skip the magna mirror and tweezing routine a couple of days a week.
  • The hairs that remain are much thinner and no longer have dark strong roots.  
  • I have much less ingrown hair problems in the area. 
  • It didn't cost time or much money ($15 total)
  • I see less wrinkling on my smoker's upper lip. I don't know if this is from the alum-- since it's also known for it's tautening effect, or from the fact that I'm less frequently waxing and yanking at my skin, but I definitely see less wear and tear on my upper lip. In some African and Middle Eastern countries, alum is used to restore female virginity by tightening the vagina! So who knows? 
Since I haven't yet reached the point where I can throw away my tweezers, I plan to keep this up for another six months and see what happens. Until then,

Keep your ears on...

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Death of Writing: Back to Dictation.

I promised myself that whatever happens, today there would be a blog post on the Broo. I also made a commitment to start posting more regularly, at the very least every Friday.

But I woke up this morning still not knowing what the topic would be. When the time came for me to sit at my laptop, I searched through my draft folder, but nothing in it felt fresh or inspiring or ready for further elaboration. As the hours ticked by, I decided to turn to the news to see what's happening in the world, and to leave it to the Universe to send me the signal later. Sure enough, right there on the front page of the Daily Mail was a story about a scandal at the University of North Carolina where an athlete wrote an elementary level  one-paragraph essay about Rosa Parks and received an "A" on this "final" essay in African-American history.
The paper: This is the essay on Rosa Parks that received an A- that Mary Willingham produced as evidence of apparent academic fraud on an ESPN special timed to coincide with March Madness


On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the  white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. 
During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. 
Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. 'Let me have those front seats' said the driver. 
She didn’t get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. 
'I’m going to have you arrested,' said the driver. 'You may do that,' Rosa Parks responded. 
Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them 'why do you all push us around?' 
The police officer replied and said 'I don’t know, but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.

Yes, it's pathetic. Many are asking, who's to blame? But the story and the whistle-blowers involved in telling it are really missing the point. They are making it seem as if this fraud only happens when it comes to keeping semi-illiterate athletes on the school's sports teams.  What the story is actually covering up is the fact that the writing quality of MOST young people born after 1980 is atrocious! The elephant in the room here is the clear shift in priorities that have occurred in educational institutions, a shift from being institutions of academia and intellectual growth and curiosity, to institutions that prioritize sports, help produce a population of Apple products-crazed young consumers, and offer degrees with major holes in them (no pun intended).

The sorry fact is that we have an entire generation of young adults today who can't write a complete paragraph if their lives depended on it!

When I began teaching in the early 1990s, Bill Clinton dictated that all schools and children of all ages should be wired and on the "Information Super-Highway"within five years (yes, the wreck started way before No Child Left Behind). It was after that time that I became the writing specialist at the school in which I worked. What got me this new position were the results that my ESL (English-as-a-Second Language) students were getting on the Virginia Literacy Test, which was the only standardized test for 6th graders at the time, and it measured basic writing, reading and math ability. When George Bush became president and brought us NCLB, students in all grades had to be tested on these three core subjects and more, on a yearly basis, starting in SECOND GRADE. As a result, children were given pens and computers in kindergarden and drilled in the alphabet and phonics and made to write....whatever..,just write. The idea was to let them write freely, even if their writing was incorrect and they had nothing to say.

At the middle school, a writing coach of sorts was needed to figure out how the school was going to meet the new writing standards at the new 8th grade level, and I got the position. My first task was to develop a writing curriculum that prepared students for the the state writing tests, because until then, there had been none.

Even though I was able to take our school-wide testing scores from "failing" to "average" in the first year alone, I still believed that the skill of writing was endangered in the next generation unless we stopped allowing students to learn how to write on machines before teaching them how to read and how to formulate thoughts and express ideas. I knew we had to stop forcing children to write before their fingers were big enough to properly grip writing tools and navigate keyboards. I knew that young children learned by emulating, and the less we spoke to them, the less they talked; and the more we placed them in front of machines, the more likely they were to start resembling machines.  This over-reliance on technology really scared me and caused me much professional frustration.

When I first started my career in teaching in the early 1990s, I was aghast at the lack of emphasis there was on grammar in the U.S. primary schools, but I still had the freedom to teach it. By the time the early 2000s rolled around, I started seeing student essays that mirrored text messaging and chatting language. And today, we have a Rosa Parks paragraph that passes for an A-worthy essay--perhaps when compared to a Twitter message it might be considered so.  Yes, folks, we have a new generation of T'writers quickly killing American literacy!

What we are witnessing is the emergence of an entire generation that doesn't read much beyond the 150 characters allowed by Twitter, or the short blurbs of nothingness on Facebook and in phone text messages they send and receive. Yes, I'm generalizing here, but most young people today don't read much beyond required school texts. They can't recognize good writing because they don't read good writing. When I was growing up, I remember my brother sneaking extra time reading chapter books under the bedsheets with a flashlight at bedtime. Today, kids spend endless hours under their bedsheets obsessively reading abbreviated gossip and nonsense that can seem to have no relationship to the English language.  The problem with the education system today, is that there is hardly any literature left in these young adults'  lives for them to have any literacy!

Though I left that position in 2005,  I hear that my methods and materials are still in use today. But things have clearly gotten worse since then, too.

So what did I do back then to help my students write better? Well, I had many tricks up my sleeve as I helped them to unlearn the bad writing habits they had developed as a result of early media exposure. But one of my best secret weapons, which was frowned upon and perceived as old fashioned in 'modern' education practices, was weekly DICTATION tests. Based on my my own learning experiences and on much research that I did in this area, I was convinced, that it was the best method for embedding the skills of grammar, proper sentence construction, punctuation, and idea elaboration without having to drill these skills in my students, which allowed me time to teach other important skills.

It's very simple and costs nothing extra (which are attributes public schools seem to dislike as opposed to money-wasting complexities that require wasteful teacher-training time and usually fail to make any difference). Basically, all I had to do was assign the students to study a relevant passage approximately 100-150 words long. They had to learn to spell all the words in it, recognize where the punctuation belongs, and use capitalization and homonyms appropriately. On the day of the dictation test, the students were handed a blank piece of paper, and they wrote the sentences down as I read them aloud in fragments. I repeated each sentence once, and finally I would read the passage in its enirety at the end of the test, giving them a few minutes to make any corrections before I collected the papers. It worked like magic. The students' writing became better in every way, and their interest in their writing improvement also soared! This method doesn't by any means replace teaching the writing process and composition skills, but it sure helps improve the quality of writing mechanics and vocabulary usage.

According to, "Dictation is a decoding-recording activity. It is the act or process of dictating material to another for transcription. Oller (1979) defines it as a "psychologically real system that sequentially orders linguistic elements in time and in relation to extralinguistic context in meaningful ways."

The vast merit of dictation has been underestimated and ignored in modern education practices. I can't think of anything else that can be as effective and cost-effective, and save the skill of writing, which is drowning in the ocean of information snippets we live in today.

If I was still in the business of teaching writing, I would be pushing for schools at all levels to return to dictation testing in every subject. It's a simple method that not only improves writing, but also greatly improves the lost art of penmanship, listening skills, and recording skills. Young children learn by copying. Let's give them high quality speech and high quality text to copy, rather than low quality abbreviated language that comes from addictive little machines. But I'm not in this business anymore, so I'll rely on certain Broo readers to help make the push (wink wink, nudge nudge ,TS).

Thankfully, my son attends a Waldorf school, where the mass media are unwelcome teaching tools in the classroom, and discouraged at home; and where the skill of writing naturally emerges in each student individually, after a strong oral tradition is laid out in the foundation of language acquisition.

How can we expect children to write, when they can barely read or speak in complete sentences anymore? Seriously, WTF?

Keep your ears on...