UVA Releases Video Warning About Dangers Of Molly After Student’s Death

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
UVA Releases Video Warning About Dangers Of Molly After Student’s Death
The University of Virginia began reaching out to students and their parents last week to warn them about the dangers of the drug Molly after an honors student died as a result of taking the illicit substance at a Washington, D.C. nightclub.

Mary “Shelley” Goldsmith died on Aug. 31 after taking Molly during a night out at Echo Stage. Officials have not yet confirmed her death was caused by the drug, but her father believes it was due to her use of Molly. Goldsmith’s death came during the same month that multiple college students and recent graduates died after taking Molly in New York and Boston.

The university distributed a link to a five minute video on YouTube which flashes headlines about the deaths over music reminiscent of a campy informational film from the 1990’s. Dr. Chris Holstege, executive director of UVA Student Health, stars in the video discussing the effects of Molly, a form of MDMA.

“What ecstasy does is cause your sodium to drop, and it can drop significantly to the point that you have a seizure and you can have what they call cerebral edema, or your brain swells and then it herniates,” Holstege warned. “That leads to death. Even a one-time user of ecstasy may be at risk for that occurring.”

The video was sent to parents along with a message from Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia M. Lampkin, according to WVIR.

“Surveys of UVa students conducted over the past 20 years show the use of Ecstasy/Molly is not widespread at UVa, but we know that most young people are aware of its availability and popularity,” Lampkin wrote.

Dr. Cathleen Clancy of the National Capital Poison Control Center in Washington, D.C. told WTTG they have handled 48 similar calls relating to Molly use in 2013 so far.

“Sometimes they call because they’ve taken Molly, and still two days later,” Clancy said, “they’re restless and not feeling themselves.”

7 Overlooked Culprits for Weight Loss Resistance
“I’m doing everything correctly,” begins a typical client query. “I’m eating optimal protein and fiber at every meal. I exercise. I take supplements. And yet I got on the scales yesterday and… nothing.”

When you give full effort, you expect consistent results. Unfortunately, fat loss isn’t so linear. Your body is a chemistry lab, not a bank account, and the calories-in-calories-out model is woefully outdated because it fails to account for the numerous variables that can affect fat loss.

During my almost three decades as a nutrition and fitness expert, I’ve encountered plenty of folks struggling with weight loss resistance, a term I coined to describe those people who, despite their best efforts, can’t consistently lose one to three pounds of fat every week.

I’ve pinpointed several culprits, many of them overlooked by traditional dietitians and doctors, which create weight loss resistance. If you’re putting in hard work and not getting satisfying results, consider these seven obstacles that could be stalling fat loss.

Lack of Sleep

I recently wrote about seven hormones that become out of whack when you don’t get seven to nine hours of uninterrupted, high-quality sleep. Subsequent lack of judgment means you’re more likely to order a gargantuan dark roast and low-fat muffin the following morning, exacerbating weight loss resistance. Researchers at the University of Chicago found even with a perfect diet and exercise, you’re at risk for weight gain if you fail to get eight hours of quality sleep each night. Prepare for sleep: About an hour before bed turn off electronics, take a hot bath, and use melatonin or other natural sleep aids if necessary.

Chronic Stress

Society rewards a fast-faster mentality. Call your best friend and complain about how busy you are — all bets are she’ll tell you she’s busier. Stress can benefit you and even save your life, but what rewards you in the short-term can become detrimental over time because you weren’t supposed to always be “on.” Elevated levels of your stress hormone cortisol break down muscle and store fat. A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found for women, “stress-induced cortisol secretion may contribute to central fat and demonstrate a link between psychological stress and risk for disease.” Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or even a walk with your golden retriever: Find what works for you to reduce stress and make it a priority.

Toxicity

Everything from the air you breathe to the water you drink constantly bombards your body with toxins. A study in the journal Lancet found environmental toxins could trigger fat gain and even diabetes. Symptoms are often subtle: You might have a slightly lower-than-normal body temperature. Your doctor might find you have a normal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level but your T3 levels are chronically low. Sensitivity to smells, insulin resistance, and sex hormone imbalances can also signify a high toxic body burden. Consider a doctor-endorsed, professionally-guided detoxification program to reduce toxicity.

Thyroid Fatigue

Despite your thyroid test numbers, you really want to know how well your body converts inactive T3 to active T3. Slightly elevated TSH or low levels of free T3 can be due to low iodine or selenium levels, chronic stress, heavy metals, and gluten intolerance. Thyroid fatigue can impact metabolic rate, sex hormone levels, overall mood and wellbeing, and the ability to build muscle. Common signs of low thyroid function include a yellow tinge to skin, thinning eyebrows in the outer third, fatigue, inability to build muscle, depression, constipation, dry skin, low body temperature, and weight loss resistance. If you suspect thyroid fatigue, get your TSH, free T3 and T4 and thyroid antibody levels checked and look for optimal, not normal, ranges.

Dysbiosis

Candida, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and other yeast and bacterial overgrowth mean your small intestine can’t properly digest or absorb nutrients, leading to hunger, cravings, and inflammation that contribute to weight loss resistance. Gas and bloating, sugar cravings, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea are sometimes signs of gut dysbiosis. Work with an integrative practitioner to eliminate overgrowth and restore gut balance.

Food Intolerances

Among their problems, food intolerances trigger leaky gut, an immune response, and inflammation. Common offenders include gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, corn, sugar and artificial sweeteners, and eggs. A study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed a gluten-free diet reduced fat gain, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Try an elimination diet for three weeks — remember, you’ve got to completely remove potential food intolerances — and see if the scales start moving again.

Overdoing Cardio

Without fail, you’re first in line to your Tuesday night aerobics class, and you hustle for that whole hour. So why can’t you lose weight?

“[The] current popular high intensity aerobic pursuit is a dead-end,” says Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint. “It requires huge amounts carbohydrate (sugar) to sustain, it promotes hyperinsulinemia (overproduction of insulin), increases oxidative damage (the production of free radicals) by a factor of 10 or 20 times normal, and generates high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in many people, leaving them susceptible to infection, injury, loss of bone density and depletion of lean muscle tissue — while encouraging their bodies to deposit fat.”

To blast fat in just minutes a day, switch to burst training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A study in the Journal of Obesity found among its benefits, burst training significantly improves insulin resistance and aids in greater fat loss. You couldn’t get those benefits with hours of aerobics classes.

For more by JJ Virgin, click here.

For more on weight loss, click here.

I’m Coming Out… as Pro-Vaccine
I know. Some mom coming out in favor of vaccines shouldn’t be breaking news. There’s nothing edgy about siding with most parents, nearly all the world’s governments and the vast majority of medical researchers and practitioners. But more of us need to do it.

When I see debates about vaccines online — and as someone who writes about parenting culture I see a lot — I used to pat myself on the back for not getting mixed up in the fray. I mean, what’s it to me what other people do with their kids? I’m secure in my own choices. Besides, even if I wanted to change the minds of anti-vaccine advocates, how could I?

I have two reasons for rethinking my silence: Jack and Clio. I came to know both children through their mothers’ blogs and have been following along with their diagnosis and treatment for leukemia. Their illnesses prevent them from receiving live vaccines such as the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) shot. Some kids get diagnosed before they have a chance to receive all of their vaccines, but even kids who were vaccinated, as Jack and Clio were, remain vulnerable to contagious diseases because of their compromised immune systems. The idea that they could be exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease while they are enduring treatment is troubling.

You might be thinking, “No worries, because those kids are protected by herd immunity.” Well, so many parents are foregoing vaccines now, quite often in progressive communities like the ones in which Jack and Clio live, that herd immunity is threatened. In California, where I live, there is a database of vaccine rates listed by school. There are pockets where the vaccine rates are dipping below 50 percent. For herd immunity to be effective, vaccination rates need to be at least in the ballpark of 80 percent.

There seems to be two main types of parents who are skipping routine immunization for their healthy children: the ultra-crunchy and the ultra-conservative (plus a third group that I’ll address later). The two camps of “ultras” might not seem to have a lot in common, but they’re buying their doomsday rations from the same catalog, if you catch my drift. Both groups often have intense distrust of modern medicine and the government. (And not for nothing, as it often feels like the United States government is actively searching for ways to intensify the paranoia of its citizens. I mean, WTH with that NSA stuff?)

However, while there is nothing more “natural” than large numbers of children dying in a Malthusian cesspool of unchecked contagious disease, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we should avoid that. This shouldn’t be a controversial opinion. The increasing success of the anti-vaccine movement is endangering not only immune-compromised children such as Jack and Clio, but also infants too young to be vaccinated. To say nothing of the unvaccinated children themselves.

Some members of both camps of ultras subscribe to the idea that there is a “coordinated media blackout” to conceal the dangers of vaccines because “the exact same people who own the world’s drug companies also own America’s news outlets,” as one recently viral article put it. Even if that were true, our alleged oligarchy doesn’t own science and history. Science has repeatedly disproven a link between vaccines and autism. History has shown that vaccine-preventable diseases flourish where there is no herd immunity.

Being informed parents who research the recommendations of their pediatricians is one thing. Doctors aren’t infallible. However, anti-vaccine advocates are asking parents to disavowing nearly the entire medical establishment and for much the same reason that cults cut off their followers from their families: If someone is to be convinced of something that cannot be supported legitimately, then legitimate sources must be discredited — however clumsily.

Mayim Bialik, the sitcom actress and parenting activist, is part of the crunchy camp of vaccine deniers. As the spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network, she’s quite forthcoming with her opinions about co-sleeping and breastfeeding. However, she has mostly refused to comment on vaccines other than to say that she doesn’t vaccinate her children. A wise choice, since if she were effective at convincing enough people not to vaccinate, herd immunity will be further compromised and her own unvaccinated darlings will be endangered.

This is the problem with not vaccinating: It’s safe only as long as the majority does vaccinate. Enter the conservative camps of ultras. Recently, Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, a megachurch where the pastor was critical of vaccines, suffered a measles outbreak so severe that the pastor reversed his stance and sent his followers post haste to the doctor to get some shots before the megachurch suffered an even more mega epidemic.

The ideas of anti-vaccine advocates have been allowed to spread because vaccinating parents tend to not be radicalized enough to bother with arguing with them. However, this tendency for vaccinating parents to stay out of the discussion is what’s causing vaccination to lose its bandwagon appeal. Anti-vaxers are loud. The rest of us need to be loud too, because there’s nothing crunchy about a resurgence of polio.

So I’m writing here not to the anti-vaccine activists, but to other people like me. People who vaccinated their children but avoid saying too much about it because it seems like it’s hopeless or none of our business. Even if it feels like we’ll never change the mind of anti-vaccine advocates — and we might not — we can do our best to head off new recruits to their movement. Vaccines are different from every other parenting issue in that the choices that parents make affect everyone else as well. Vaccines are everyone’s business.

Remember that third camp of anti-vaccine advocates that I mentioned? Many of them are parents of children with autism who badly want an explanation for why their child is atypical. Science doesn’t know why, except that the link between autism and vaccines has been repeatedly disproven. All parents — myself included — want to believe we can protect our children from everything, but we can’t. We just friggin’ can’t.

Take Jack and Clio. Their parents did everything to keep their children safe and healthy, and yet their kids are battling leukemia. It’s so unfair. But one thing that the rest of us can control is that Jack and Clio shouldn’t have to encounter measles while treating their cancer because we — the collective public — can maintain herd immunity for them, for other immune-compromised people and infants too young to be vaccinated.

Anti-vaccine advocates are fond of telling people to “do the research.” I have. I side with science. And I side with Jack and Clio.

For more by JJ Keith, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.

C.J.: New York City, January 23, 2008
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I’m sitting at the top of the steps of the Met Museum on this late afternoon. The sun has dipped and so has the temperature. I finish my afternoon call to my sister Patti in Miami. Her speech, lately very slurred from her degenerative condition, is a little better today – I think in part because we’ve reduced her meds. From amidst the din of traffic and people, there suddenly arises a beautiful vocal rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which resounds like a hymn throughout the museum plaza. I look around for some type of sound system and see the best one of all — a solitary man without a microphone at the bottom of the steps. I approach him. “Sir, may I make a special request?” “If I know it,” he replies. I tell him about Patti and then call her back. “Patti, here’s a little treat for you!” I put the phone on speaker and C.J. breaks into an extended version of “Stand By Me.” When he gets to the chorus he sings “And Patti. Patti stand… by me… Ooohhh stand… by me!” I hear her laughing and enjoying the song and the attention. When he finishes the song I put 10 dollars in his hat. He thanks me and is already into the next song. I stick around for a minute as more people leave the museum. Then C.J. and I shake hands and I start walking down Fifth Avenue. He belts out a heartfelt “Hit The Road, Jack” to me, to the museum crowd, to the gray New York City sky.

info@kindsightfoundation.org

www.robertzuckerman.com

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
The Cost of Identity in the Personal Data Economy

I sync, therefore I am.

Every tweet. Every post. Every search. Every movement. Every action or word pushed to the digital sphere creates a portrait of your identity. The advent of Google Glass and similar technologies also means your preference towards privacy and posting becomes irrelevant regarding information made available about who you are and what you do. Soon you’ll be a part of other people’s videos or life narratives whether it’s your choice or not.

Discussions around these tracking behaviors tend to focus on privacy. But the issue needs to shift to encompass the economics of monetizing our identities currently controlled by a handful of organizations determining the flow of our digital information. What they don’t want you to realize is the expanding revenue they’re making on the insights explicitly drawn from your life. Your identity in data is valuable and right now we’re giving it away for free.

Banking Your Personal Data

“Consent is not the same as negotiation.” Scott L. David is Executive Director, Law, Technology and Arts Group at the University of Washington Law School. He’s currently creating legal taxonomies around personal data banking, or a trend known as personal data clouds for individuals, in the context of the existing Internet economy. In regards to the freemuim model that currently drives the Web, David explains why exchanging personal data to use a service like Amazon or Facebook is far from equitable in nature:

These transactions aren’t negotiations in the traditional sense — the terms of service and policies of these organizations are, in effect, saying, “I’m doing this — do you consent?” That’s a take it or leave it proposition which creates a paradigm of inequality. If we want to build trust in the digital era, we have to have a system that doesn’t make people feel alienated since we’re happiest when we’re in control.

“We have to rethink our institutional structures.” John Henry Clippinger is a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab Human Dynamics Group and the cofounder and Executive Director of ID3, (the Institute for Institutional Innovation & Data Driven Design). He and his ID3 cofounder, Alex “Sandy” Pentland have created The Open Mustard Seed Project (OMS) to combat the existing model of data exchange for the Internet economy. “There’s a logic among companies that collect data which is, ‘If I can get away with something, I can do it,'” notes Clippinger. “But they don’t understand the ecosystem they’re creating.”

OMS is building a data banking methodology through a technical architecture they call the, “Trustworthy Compute Framework” (TCF). This allows users to create their own personal data cloud that reverses the current transactional nature of the “freemium” Internet economy. Instead of individuals sacrificing their data in exchange for services, they create general preferences around which companies they’d like to engage with and how. Here’s how the Open Mustard Seed wiki describes the need for this new paradigm:

Users have not had an easy or reliable means to express their preferences for how their personal data may be accessed and used, especially when one context (a bank) differs so much from another (a health care provider) and still others (family and friends). A user may not know with whom they are really transacting, nor can they readily verify that their privacy preferences are actually respected and enforced.

OMS lets users curate their digital personas and manage the data they collect, produce and distribute. They can also pre-determine privacy and other settings for social networks or transactions with brands. This is a critical idea regarding personal data banks — they don’t hinder transactions with companies looking to communicate with consumers. Relationships are actually enhanced via increased trust since people know what organizations will do with their data, and will be more likely to volunteer specifics about their lives in this new transparent framework. (This is an idea known as Vendor Relationship Management, or VRM, eloquently elaborated in the book, The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge, by Doc Searls.)

Clippinger is evangelistic about the timing for a solution like OMS, noting what will happen if we don’t change the tide of how our data is managed in the current Internet economy — “If you don’t have an open platform, you don’t have an open society.”

Hacking Happiness

ID3 is currently hosting a series of hackathons in conjunction with The H(app)athon Project, the non-profit I founded a year ago. Our mission is, “Connecting Happiness to Action” and we’re building an app on top of OMS’s open-source framework because we want people taking our surveys (we send two short daily prompts asking people questions related to their well-being, while also measuring their actions via passive sensors in their smartphones) to begin to understand the inestimable value of their data.

“Open Mustard Seed is something I’ve been dreaming of and working in indirectly for a few years,” noted Adrian Gropper M.D., chief technology officer of Patient Privacy Rights, an expert in the regulated medical device field with a long record of contributing to the development of state and national health standards. An attendee at the first H(app)athon Hackathon held at ID3’s offices last August, he sees OMS’ open-source mindset towards data as being essential towards creating trust in the modern health arena. “Unless there’s technology to align doctors and patients, 21st-century health is not going to happen. We need a different set of data and app flows that OMS represents.”

Jake Butler is a product manager for MeYou Health, a company dedicated to helping people pursue, achieve and maintain a more healthful life by improving their well-being every day. Butler was another attendee at the H(app)athon Hackathon, and while interested in ID3, he doesn’t see the Data Banking model being adopted rapidly but via a steady and linear path. “I think the move towards cloud-based systems in the last five to seven years is making something like OMS possible, especially since there’s not the high cost of infrastructure for servers that there used to be.”

The Common Wealth Hackathons will continue into 2014 as The H(app)athon Project works with the City of Somerville, Massachusetts, to give our sensor-based surveys to citizens in conjunction with OMS’ open-source framework.

Conclusion

In their recent piece in the Stanford Law Review, Neil M. Richards and Jonathan H. King elucidate the “identity paradox,” one of the “Three Paradoxes of Big Data” affecting how the current Internet economy functions: “Whereas the important right to privacy harkens from the right to be left alone, the right to identity originates from the right to free choice about who we are.”

This right is rapidly eroding in our current Internet economy. Restricted or occluded access to how our personal data gets used means the personalized algorithms navigating our lives will soon establish more of our digital identity than we create for ourselves. As Richards and King note in their article:

Such influence over our individual and collective identities risks eroding the vigor and quality of our democracy. If we lack the power to individually say who ‘I am,’ if filters and nudges and personalized recommendations undermine our intellectual choices, we will have become identified but lose our identities as we have defined and cherished them in the past.

Open Mustard Seed is working to create a framework allowing people to manage their own data and decide for themselves how their identity is broadcast, but we as individuals need to better manage our data to protect our right to create our identities as we see fit. We need to recognize that the current “sharing” economy of Internet commerce is built on a financial infrastructure that is anything but evenly distributed, and is rapidly eroding our ability to portray our character, value, and lives within a context where we have sovereignty over how we’re broadcast to the world.

So take control of your digital identity now before syncing, and thinking, are completely controlled by someone else.

For more by John Havens, click here.

Drumbeats
Years ago, when I was still trying to decide whether or not to add a third child to our family (never mind a fourth), I attended the wedding of two dear friends in Chicago. The bride was the baby of her large family, the groom the middle of three brothers. It was the speeches that got to me that thick summer night in a museum gallery in downtown Chicago, particularly those of the groomsmen: the brothers roasted the groom with love and laughter, using the language and the memories only three brothers could know. As they spoke, I could feel strings of family and love pulled taut throughout the room, and they moved me. I wanted that for my boys, then only ages 4 and 2. I wanted them to be entwined with family, to know private jokes, to have each other’s backs, to share a common language. The following fall, we conceived our third son.

Yeah. Well. That pretty picture is not exactly the scene I see every day in my home. I still have hope that someday, my kids will have that camaraderie I saw at my friends’ wedding, but most days, it’s nowhere to be found. I have three boys with three very distinct, often conflicting, personalities. Instead of having each other’s backs, my boys often sport scratches and bruises courtesy of each other. They sometimes throw video game controllers at each other. They often say mean, hurtful things to each other — reckless but calculated words that I know cut to their cores and leave marks on their hearts. They fight over food, over video games, over favorite spots on the couch. It’s less like The Cosby Show around here and more like WWF. The fighting can be miserable; this morning, one brother actually pried a piece of turkey bacon from another’s mouth. (Brothers, I have found, fight over food. A lot. As if we didn’t have, oh, twenty more pieces of turkey bacon at the ready.)

I don’t want to push my kids to love each other. I don’t believe that closeness can be manufactured. Instead, I try to foster it through shared experiences. But I come from a family of two children, as does my husband, and we are winging it (big time) when it comes to raising four children in one household. We don’t always know how to perfectly execute “fair” when there are so many competing needs and wants simultaneously. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will never be able to make everyone happy all of the time. Also, that my kids will likely need therapy.

One day this week, we had a crazy afternoon. My oldest had to complete a big math project and a mound of other homework. He went to flag football practice at 5 p.m. My second boy had flag football practice at 5:30 p.m. in a different park. After I dropped him off, I took my younger two kids to the grocery store — my THIRD grocery trip that day, if I was keeping count, and I was. I waded through the store with a hungry 5-year-old and a stick-a-fork-in-her done baby, and then I rushed home to drop the groceries in the kitchen before hopping back in the car to pick up my oldest from practice. We ended up parked outside the park where my second boy was finishing his practice. Everyone was exhausted, hungry, sweaty and dirt-streaked, including me.

I was sitting in the front seat of my minivan, holding the baby and trying to keep her entertained for the last 10 minutes before we could grab the final child and go home for dinner. My oldest sat in the third row sulking because he couldn’t believe he was being made to wait for someone else, especially his little brother. My littlest boy was leaning out the middle window, using the outside of my van as a drum set. It became background noise to the point where I barely even noticed it:

Thump-thump-thump. Thump-thump-thump.

Thump-thump-thump. Thump-thump-thump.

He kept beating, rhythmically, staring out into the dusky sky, while I watched the baby manically pull and push buttons and knobs on my dashboard, setting the windshield wipers on, activating my turn signal. Suddenly, I noticed that the drumbeat had an answer:

Thwack-thwack-thwack. Thwack-thwack-thwack.

What in the world? I turned my head over my shoulder, and beyond my youngest boy, I saw my middle son walking toward the car, a water bottle in one hand, his mouthguard dripping out of his smiling mouth. He beat the bottle into his hand:

Thwack-thwack-thwack. Thwack-thwack-thwack.

I saw the boys’ eyes meet, and a smile turned up the corners of my youngest boy’s mouth. He opened the door for his brother, who lumbered in, sweat glistening around his eyes, and dropped himself in the third row. We were ready to go.

It was a small moment, but I felt it completely. These boys don’t often cough up love for one another, but when I catch these fleeting gestures — one boy calls, the other answers — I feel the strings pull taut. I think that maybe, just maybe, I’ve managed to give them a family. In the next breath, one might throw a cleat at the other’s head or blow up his house on Minecraft, it’s true. But I have hope that while each boy definitely marches to his own drumbeat, once in a while, they might march side-by-side. They might even sometimes answer the other’s call in a language they will know from their shared childhoods. One day, I hope they find refuge and reassurance, strength and love, there. For now, I’ll take the fact that they all laugh at the same potty jokes as a good sign.

Also on HuffPost:

Good News – The Huffington Post
High School Students Lip Dub Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ In Epic Performance (VIDEO)
From YouTube star Max Schneider to former “X Factor USA” contestant favorite Beatrice Miller, there have been some pretty impressive renditions of Katy Perry’s latest feel-good anthem, “Roar.” But in a new twist on the hit song, instead of singing, a few thousand spirited students decided to lip dub it — and the result is awesome.

According to Reddit user jackanater1, 2,000-plus Lakewood High School tigers of Lakewood, Colo. joined forces when they performed an incredible, one-shot take lip dub of “Roar.” While giving a tour of their school, they managed to squeeze in everyone from the lacrosse team to the bridge club (balloons and confetti included).

Watch in the video above.

Something tells us that Katy Perry would be proud.

[h/t Reddit]

Every Mother Counts: A Mother of a Certain Age
I’m not one of the young mothers anymore. I’m not an empty nester yet either, but since I had my now-13-year-old when I was 39, I’m older than many of the other mothers I know. I’m not a mother of one, either. No, I have the lumpy, stretched out tummy leftover from having four pregnancies. I’m not one whose skin and muscles snapped to attention after their pregnancies, who never got stretch marks and lost every ounce of baby weight within months of birth. With each baby I gained exactly 32 pounds. If I’d also lost exactly 32 pounds with each one, I’d be in better shape than I am, but each baby left me with a few extra pounds like souvenirs of our time together. The stretch marks have faded, but their silvery shadows will always mark me as a mother.

I’ve spent my time wishing I was one of those mothers who were able to return to their pre-pregnant figures with smooth skin stretched just-so across tight abs. I never went off the deep end with my not-perfect-body-image thing, but I’ve worked out in the pool and gym and on the track and mat in a futile attempt to look like one of them. I think my mild bout of abdominal self-loathing was right on par with what most mothers go through. I eventually made some semblance of peace with the way my post-baby body looked, even if I held out hope that with enough exercise, discipline and time, it might morph into something different than it was.

And then, something happened that changed my mind about all that nonsense and made me grateful to have any body at all. I got seriously ill with cancer three months after my youngest baby was born. That kicked the crap out of any silly thoughts I’d had that my body hadn’t been good enough exactly the way it was with all it’s belly flop, extra padding and silvery stripes. I was told my body was doing battle with my disease and my weapons were surgeries, medications and radioactive treatments, but inside, I knew that was not true.

I was not willing to do battle with my body anymore. I knew in my heart that If I was going to continue living in this body, I had to make peace with it. I had to love it and nurture it no matter what it looked like. I had to exercise it and feed it, not to make it be something it was not, but to give it everything it needed in order to be mine. I refused all imagery of battles and fights and replaced them with comforting, encouraging thoughts to root my body through the work of healing. I changed my lifestyle from one where I was punishing my body with too much work, too little sleep, too much alcohol and too little fun and finally gave it what it truly deserved — the respect it had earned for being my receptacle for living a truly marvelous life.

Now, as I see younger mothers going through similar attempts to “get their body back,” I wish I could tell them not to be so hard on themselves. I kick myself for ever doubting the beauty of my 15, 20 or 25-year-old stomach, back in its pre-child days I should have known that was as good as that belly was ever going to look and celebrated it then. I can so relate to what Nora Ephron said, “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re 34.”

Now, I’m grateful to my body for its powerful contributions — like helping me create four truly gorgeous children and for healing me from countless illnesses and boo boos. If it’s left me with a few scars and bumps, so be it. I’ll live my life with Hunter S. Thompson’s quote in mind:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”

Green – The Huffington Post
Announcing SNAP: Because Everyone’s Prosperity Depends on Nature
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Protecting nature really is the bottom line for human prosperity. But how does conservation help the world better understand that? And then act on that knowledge?

The new Science for Nature and People (SNAP) initiative is designed to answer these questions — quickly and effectively. A new collaboration between The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), SNAP will deliver rapid, implementable results. Our goal is to demonstrate how protecting nature can enhance human well-being.

I’m at the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2013 Annual Meeting, where SNAP is being announced today — a clear recognition of the growing importance world leaders and human development experts are now placing on conserving the natural systems that support all life.

It’s exciting to see this growing awareness of the connections between healthy nature and healthy, prosperous communities. We in conservation have known for some time that our interventions really do benefit people and enhance economic development.

But to spread this understanding and help policymakers, corporate leaders, planners and others put it into action, we have to detail these connections with even more precision — and that’s where SNAP’s scientific efforts will focus.

SNAP is going to be bold in the questions it addresses. Right off the bat, it’s tackling two big issues: how investments in ecosystems can protect coastal populations from storms, and how large-scale infrastructure can be developed in the Western Amazon in ways compatible with sustaining the astonishing ecosystems there, particularly for fish and the tens of millions of people who depend on them.

You need think back no further than Hurricane Sandy’s devastation a year ago to the coastal communities of New Jersey and New York to understand the importance of SNAP’s work. While we believe investments in coastal ecosystems can go a long way in protecting people, just having that broad hypothesis is insufficient. Engineers and coastal planners need real data about just where and how green and hybrid green/grey infrastructure solutions will work cost-effectively — and that’s what SNAP will provide them.

SNAP should succeed for a couple of reasons. First, it draws on three great founding partners — TNC, WCS and NCEAS — that bring great science capability, great convening power, and on-the-ground capacity in 65 countries for testing and implementing the results.

That ability to convene experts and put results into action with an eye to refining the findings makes this a unique effort. This is one of those well-designed collaborations where the partnership can be much more than the sum of its parts. In addition, SNAP’s working groups will contain key practitioners and stakeholders who are ready to implement its findings — generating critical momentum for the knowledge we create.

Second, the world is looking for the answers SNAP will provide. The timing couldn’t be better — SNAP will take on questions that our city and community leaders are thinking about as we see greater impacts and losses from coastal storms and inland flooding, and that business leaders are thinking about their operations and supply chains are impacted. We can help bring real science to address real challenges the planet is facing right now.

And that’s why I’m personally excited about SNAP. It gives us the chance to scale up conservation’s relevance to issues everyone cares about. Just think: if we can show the world that our conservation interventions can really benefit people and really drive sustainable, economic development, that should allow us to take our work to a whole new level and achieve a whole new impact.

Image: Local village fisherman work to catch barely enough fish to make a living selling to the local market in the village of Katumbi on Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. Image credit: Ami Vitale.

Environmental Leaders To Obama: ‘No Deal’ On Keystone XL Pipeline
The leaders of 25 environmental and climate action groups sent an open letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, urging him to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and avoid any “deal-making” with the Canadian government.

The letter follows a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. report that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has offered to make emissions reductions in his country’s oil and gas sector in exchange for U.S. approval of the Keystone XL.

“Our rationale is simple. Building Keystone XL will expand production in the tar sands, and that reality is not compatible with serious efforts to battle climate change,” wrote the leaders of 350.org, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 22 other organizations.

The proposed pipeline requires State Department approval because it would cross an international border. If approved, the pipeline will carry diluted tar sands bitumen nearly 1,200 miles from Alberta to southeastern Nebraska. A nearly-completed southern segment would carry the crude product to refineries along the U.S. Gulf coast.

“The tar sands pipeline and the carbon emissions it would generate are not in the national interest,” the environmental groups’ the environmental groups wrote.

In his landmark climate change speech in June, Obama declared he would approve the midstream project only if it served the “national interest” by “not significantly [exacerbating] the problem of carbon pollution.”

Observers quickly noted that there was some ambiguity in the president’s declaration, as it left the door open for offsets similar to what Harper is reportedly offering. An environmental impact statement released by the State Department, whose findings were later criticized by the EPA and the Department of the Interior, concluded that the pipeline won’t significantly increase emissions because other methods would be used to transport the oil even if Keystone XL is rejected.

Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver told Reuters earlier this month that a final decision on Keystone XL was unlikely in 2013, but he remained confident it would be approved.

Read the full text of the “No Deal, Mr. President” letter here.

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo

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