Victory Bus Project/Prison Industrial Complex/What you can do

What is obvious to one person is totally not obvious to someone else. I think that is what is implied when people say that common sense is not so common. So this to me is common sense. Our country has a prison-industrial complex and this is a terrible thing. 

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Life with the Bean

Yes, there are bunch of really great mommy blogs out there (reminds me of the word Femivore, ie not sure I like it). This is not going to become a Mommy Blog. Yet, it might be nice to have those of you who have been with me on this crazy health road to share in my miracle doings. It is also nice to realize modern medicine does both Bone Marrow Transplants and freezes petri dish embryos so that they can become people 8 years later. 

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Lessons from the land of surrogacy (part 2 of 2)

“I had a dream that I am supposed to carry your baby. I want to be your surrogate.”

“No you don’t. You are crazy.”

Katie and I have that kind of friendship. Eight years ago we were thrown together in a unfamiliar Midwest town for our husbands’ surgical residency training - and we created our own family.

What started out as regular Sunday dinners and movie nights morphed into Katie driving me home from medical procedures. Her two-year-old son would jump on the trampoline at summer BBQs - the trampoline I had purchased to detoxify my lymphatic system.

A few years, three frozen embryos, and several biopsy scars later that same son turned to me one Super Bowl Party, “Corinna, put your hair back on, you look better with it on.”

His father, mortified, turns to me, “He didn’t mean that, he doesn’t understand.”

“No, it is a good point, I am a bit of a egghead - especially without any eyebrows.”

My husband’s birthday one year happened to occur when I was still in quarantine on the Bone Marrow Transplant Floor. Katie and her family were the only friends we invited.

We finished our residency. Katie and her family returned to the West Coast and we returned East. A new biopsy scar in my armpit joined the ones on my neck and I said goodbye to my hair again. I also said goodbye to waddling and complaining of swollen ankles, to cute shirts over leggings, to resting a glass of carrot juice on my belly and watching it dance with hiccups. Goodbye to being kicked from the inside. Goodbye to George kissing my belly with paternal pride. We read pamphlets filled with pictures of the Gerber baby and saved money for a surrogate.

In February, just when we are ready to sign a surrogacy contract, Katie called me. I was not able to talk her out of her extraordinary offer.

Later that year, the doctor placed one embryo we had frozen 6 years ago into Katie’s uterus. She gave herself daily shots, made appointments for acupuncture because she knew I wanted it, stopped exercising, educated her children about momma cells and pappa cells coming together, and prayed with her priest.

The day we came home from the implantation at the clinic Katie’s 5-year-old daughter ran up to her momma laying on the couch, leaned over, and kissed Katie’s belly, “Grow baby grow. Grow baby grow.”

During our husband’s training, our friendship became familial. We are adding complexity and depth to that familial relationship by literally adding another member to our family.

Our baby is due in April. Katie, mine, my husband, her husband, and her children - all of us are having this baby. Grow Baby Grow.

 (this is the first one in this short lived series - some things are better to be kept close to the chest)

Upset about Fracking? Get excited about Biogas!

I woke up this morning excited, nay wiggly with excitement, because I want to learn all about Biogas generators and put one on our land. I don't know if it is legal to do so in my county (probably not, considering that you are not allowed to put in a composting toilet in your house), in which case I am excited to get that ball moving. images

Once I have put one on the land, I think our town needs a big one for our waste - we currently have a beaver problem near the landfill flooding the land, which might be a good segway to focus the community's attention.

Biogas is what happens when anaerobic bacteria eat organic waste, manure (from humans, etc) or biomatter (plants), and give off gas as a byproduct. For countries who don't have quite such a generous excess of land to throw landfills onto they are already utilizing biogas technology: UK, Germany, China, etc. There are a few instances of biogas in the US, however, Wikipedia seems to conflate biogas with Landfill gas, which is incorrect.

My first desk job was working with landfill gas - the ability to take the methane generated by the bacteria and turn it into electricity and put into an industrial boiler. However, due to airborne siloxanes (a type of plastic) from the breakdown of certain beauty products (often in deodorants) the plastic would gunk up the moving parts of the turbines as the gas was heated in the generators. Biogas is a clean gas, no plastics from industrial waste are coming out of your chickens. (at least, we hope not)

We learned in our Permaculture Design Course this weekend that 2 cows, OR 7 goats, OR 170 chickens (and not counting humans or other organic waste streams) can generate enough gas to serve the needs of heating/cooking for 3-4 houses (this is in China). Not that our teacher was recommending that everyone run out and get two cows to keep in the shower in manhattan to run their Wolf ranges. But this notion of a decentralized, regionalized power grid is VERY important and one that our country needs to address.

In the Bill Mollison's The Global Gardener series, there was a very simple example of this in India that was literally just this design.

In the next 30 years nearly 50% of our high power transmission lines will need to be replaced on the east coast and 13%-30% of the power is lost as it travels (that's the buzzing you hear near the wires). One of the principles of permaculture is that pollution is just waste that hasn't been put to better use.

(On a side note, landfills will 100% become super fund sites EVERY TIME because the liner only lasts 30 years and we are mixing industrial waste with organic matter which creates toxic leachate that goes into our groundwater, among many other fun/sad/horrible things. Check your well water if you live near a landfill and tell your neighbors.)

What does this have to do with food? Well, organic waste from the farm in whatever form: corn stalks, human feces, sheep manure, tomato vines, squash leaves, etc all have to go somewhere. You can compost the waste and feed the organic gold back onto your land and watch the pile steam in the winter from these bacteria - or, I would posit AND, you can harness the energy that is coming from the steaming pile and heat your house or run your stove or even your tractor with the biogas. To me, biogas is common sense - the bacteria are doing all of the work!

Upset about fracking? Get excited about Biogas!

Are you excited too now? Hope so!!

It all brings us back to the old adage, "Waste not, want not."

I wanted to write this out because I felt so wiggly that I was having a hard time focussing on my morning meditation. Still feeling wiggly with possibility and promise of the world and ideas and things happening, but I will try again to focus on my mantra!

As Abraham Hicks would say, I am feeling "tuned in tapped on!" ie, the power of the Universe is coursing through my beingness! What a wonderful wonderful thing!!

I wish the same for you today!

Faith is a choice: thank you Joao de Deus!

IMG_5447Unlike my last visit to John of God, where I was not present for any physical surgeries - this time I saw several of them (if you want to see videos, there are many available). I saw a woman lean against a wall, the Entity incorporated in Medium Joao bared her breast, did a 3 cm incision, used his hand to pump out blood (which splashed on the floor), stitched her up with a few sutures, and then she was wheeled away to lie down. There was no anesthesia, no Betadine to wash the skin prior to cutting, no gloves... just Blessed Water and the Entity. I could see the blood vessels and the thick skin, I could see ligaments and fat, it was awe-inspiriting. I saw the woman a few days later in the garden drinking coconut juice from a coconut - right as rain.

A different woman's eyes was scraped with a knife, yet another had a long pair of clamps shoved into her nose and rotated around, a man was cut open much like the woman above - every single one of them stood against a wall with their eyes closed - no yelling, no screaming, no drama. Just standing on a stage with a room full of silent watchers who had just said the Lord's Prayer.

(speaking of which I really prefer the Lord's Prayer that has been translated directly from the Aramaic - as opposed to from the Aramaic to Greek to Latin to Old English to English - thank you Heather for putting this in your book)

[quote]O Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration. Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where Your presence can abide. Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission. Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desires. Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish. Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglements of past mistakes. Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment. For you are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth, power and fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again. AMEN[/quote]

IMG_5463In other words, my trip was incredible, amazing, awesome, wiggle making, loverly, and perfect.

The biggest shoe that dropped for me is that Faith is a choice. Just like courage, being cheerful, and not feeding Fear. Faith - choosing to know that a Universal Cosmic Consciousness/God loves us, watches over us, and wants us to be happy - is a choice. And as all choices - the more I practice the better I shall get at this.

The village of Abadiania sits onto of a large rock crystal - the moment I arrive, the whole body feels as though I have just had the best massage ~ and then the Entities start to work and WOWZA. I look forward to integrating what I learned, and I look forward to going back.

Heading to Abadiania, again, lucky me!!

(that is a view of GW bridge as the train goes under... gorgeous) The fact that I didn't misspell the name of the small town in Brazil where John of God hangs out is an indication of something. Something big. or not, yes.

Off to the land of mangos and meditation, again - and as I told a new friend - both of those are God.

IMG_5440 As are you.

As are me.

Holiness we are in this beautiful world.

 

Which means that me wearing wool socks with plastic sandals is holy too.

Which is awesomesauce.

My sister sparkles as a beautiful writer (who has negative biopsy results!)

In October I introduced my sister's blog Hair Optional ... she has continued to write beautifully about her experiences - though, to be honest, many of her recent postings I have found very difficult to read. I found them difficult to read because it was a lot of data and Fear. Data and Fear feed my own What If twinges and I found it difficult to steady myself and not get sucked in. Sororal worry, personal worry, etc etc... A lot of what she has been going through for the last few months has been living in her pothole. I get it. I lived in a pothole myself. I Dreamt of Sausage is about me choosing not to live that pothole. Seeing it for what it is and realizing the sticky molasses pond of Fear can be stepped around.

As a shout out to her latest biopsy results! (ALL CLEAR!) I am reposting the entirety of her What If Pothole piece for a variety of reasons. Most importantly because I am FREAKING 150% proud of my sister. Second most importantly - I have been searching for a name of the What If demon/spirit/entity/sprite/etc - and I love love pothole.

Pothole is descriptive without being judgmental. So I am going to use it. Thanks Chiquita.

[quote]A few weeks ago, I was moaning about all of the horrible possibilities that could be the state of my health with my sister on the phone. On and on I went. And on and on. And on some more. When I finally finished, a little impressed that she’d let me go on so long, she paused before asking if I was done. “Yessir! Thanks for listening.” “I’m your sister, I will always listen to you while you’re in your pothole. But, just so you know, I wish for your sake that you would spend less time in your pothole.”

My pothole?

I got off the phone with her and thought about this image. A pothole: a temporary hole in the road ahead. Avoidable. Sometimes deep enough to puncture a tire, sometimes barely noticeable. Created any number of ways: when water seeps into a crack and then freezes, breaking apart the asphalt, or sometimes when a part of the road is not made well, and then worried to death by passing cars.

Ever since December 11, when I was told that my PET scan looked strange and the possibility remained that I still might have cancer, I have been running through my what-ifs, usually in this precise order:

1) I might still have cancer. 2) If I still have cancer, they’re going to want to give me stem cell treatment. 3) They’re going to want to start right away. 4) Which means that I won’t have time for the Lupron to wear off (my artificial menopause is currently due to wear off by Feb 28) before they want to begin. 5) Which means they won’t want to give me the time to try to harvest eggs again. 6) Because the first time failed, I have no eggs/embryos currently frozen. 7) Stem cell treatment is horrible in and of itself. 8) I would lose my hair again. 9) I would lose my body again. 10) I would probably completely lose my fertility. 11) Michael and I wouldn’t be able to have babies that look like us. 12) Unless we go a different route for treatment. 13) Nobody wants to talk about that.

Depending on how I’m feeling that particular day, I shut down at any point along this list and burst into tears. If I make it to 13, I shut down and burst into tears. And anything could trigger my walk down my list: “why are you having so many hot flashes, Lydia?” “Why are you having fewer hot flashes, Lydia?” “Why are you so tired?” “Why is your appetite so variable?” “Why did you just cough that weird way?” “Why did you just have to stop and catch your breath?” “Why did you get so little sleep last night?” “Why did you get so much?”

You get the point.

This is the list that I was walking down with my sister on the day she referred to my pothole (I hadn’t slept well, so of course my response was “well, I might still have…”). This is the list that, whenever I’m going through it with Michael, he gently puts his hand on me and says, “wait to worry.”

Potholes are avoidable. What ifs are avoidable. Worry is useless until there is something about which to worry (even then, I’ll admit, its usefulness is questionable).

Sitting in a pothole is bound to get me creamed by a tire. Sitting with my what ifs are bound to get me creamed by the emotional onslaught. Worrying before I know what I am actually dealing with is emotionally draining if not damaging.

Pothole. What If. Wait to Worry.

What If Pothole.

Now that I see a tire coming at me every time I think about running through my what ifs while sitting in my pothole, I find that I’m sitting there less. And driving myself crazy less.

Pithy words of wisdom have a very different impact and a lot more meaning now that I am in the middle of something actually really tough. Having a personal catch-phrase is incredibly useful; I literally catch myself before tumbling down my personal what-if chain-of-thought hell.

I’ve now got a name for the thing that I want to avoid because it hurts: the What If Pothole. Feel free to remind me of it when you see the tire coming for me.[/quote]

Lessons from the land of Surrogacy (1 of ?)

It is time to see if our frozen eggs can make there own way in the world (as hilarious it is to send off checks for their daycare/nightcare/storage). As such I have been so lucky to be given recommendations from dear friends to talk to people in this world from all over the country (well, left and right coasts). This is a small snapshot of what I have learned...

The only organization that seems to have ranked the MANY surrogacy agencies/fertility clinics out there is called Men Having Babies. You can check out their ranking on their website: MenHavingBabies.org. (caveat, the organization is based in New York City - so it is fairly NYC centric and they have not ranked everyone). The nice thing about this ranking is that you know the agencies/clinics are all LGBT friendly, which is important.

This was a fascinating lesson in the variation of State Laws - as a native Washingtonian, I didn't know what a Governor did till I was in college. For example, a Gestational Surrogate (GS) in California is not allowed (per her contract) to be in Arizona for the last trimester of her pregnancy - because, if the baby comes early, Arizona will keep the child and not give it to the Intended Parents (IP). In Florida it is illegal to pay someone to be a GS for you, ditto in NY. However - as this Surrogacy Central FAQ states, "Thanks to our United States Constitution, one may travel to any state in the United States and do anything that is legal in that state." I think that is one of the best sentences ever.

The legality arguments about surrogacy are fascinating. A lot of the people who fought the first court battles are still working today. The most striking sentence I found from my readings about how this has moved forward was from the Center for Surrogate Parenting, when talking about laws in CA in 1980: "Existing laws at the time were: ... (2) you can't sell a child - Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery in 1863 ... (4) Sperm Donor Act stated if a man produces sperm so that another man's wife can have a child, the donor has no liability and no right to declare the child's father; i.e., the surrogate's husband was deemed the father of any child she carries."

Some agencies have psychologists on staff, some do not.

Some agencies tell you that the GS's insurance will not pay for her pregnancy, some tell you it is not a problem (wonder if that is a question of which state the surrogate is in).

Most agencies want you to pay the retainer upfront before your find the surrogacy - I only spoke to one that did not.

Here is my one snarky learning that I hope perhaps some of the agencies can hear: When a heterosexual married woman is talking to a surrogacy agency it is safe to make the assumption that this is not her first choice of being a mother (unless she is super model and doesn't want to ruin her figure). As such, there is no reason to ask any questions along the lines of: "Why are you and your husband infertile?" Just take the facts (frozen embryos, wants to find a GS) and move on.

On that same vein, I found myself doing some really good cleansing of bottled emotions (that bottle that seems to be neverending). Tears, yelling, walks, meditations, talkings with friends - all good flushings in order for me to hug our future pregnant GS without reservation and throw a kick ass baby shower.

We will write up a vision for how we want this process to go when we are in Brazil with John of God. 5 weeks away!

Grateful

A whirlwind 7 days in Germany to have an ultrasound with Dr. Herzog, sweat in the sauna, wander around Weihnachtsmarkt/Christmas markets, and meditate with John of God. It was very full and very wonderful - not least of which was the Ultrasound and Herzog's assertion that all is well (confirming what I had gleaned from the PET scan)

I am going to spend a moment reveling in gratitude for that news.

I am grateful for all of the people who supported me so I was able to spend 3 1/2 months in Germany. I am grateful for all of the people who do research in oncology and decide that certain medicines, treatments, dosages, radiation levels, therapeutic agents, cleansing routines, etc are better for me than others. I am grateful for the doctors, the nurses, the techs, the people who cleaned the floors of the clinics and the hospitals where I spent so much time this year. I am grateful for those who cooked for me.

I am grateful for those people who pack the needles, the bags, the saline solutions. I am grateful to those people who donate blood so that I was able to receive infusions and have enough red blood cells to walk up a hill without pausing every 5 feet. I am grateful my doctor here felt comfortable with me heading to Germany. I am grateful that we are once again in the monitoring stage of my physical doings.

I am grateful the gentleman across from me is using a green pen to write on his pad, I am grateful I am heading to a conference on farming for the rest of the week. I am grateful for the timing of my most recent trip to Germany because Christmas markets are wonderful. I am grateful John of God was there with me.

I am grateful for my family, friends, Universe, friends I haven't met yet, and for the world of amazingness we spent our time floating in.

I am grateful grateful grateful.

Thank you Universe.

(Here is a wonderful poem by ee cummings about the infinite yes for you to peruse, as well.)

 

I thank you God for this most amazing day...which is infinite, which is yes

[quote]i thank You God for most this amazingday:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any--lifted from the no of all nothing--human merely being doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings[/quote]

This poem brings tears - so gorgeous, especially the first two stanzas... "the gay great happening illimitably earth" - awesomesauce.

I took this picture as I flew back to the States from my whirlwind time in Germany as a great example of the great happening earth. On the plane I met a young lad (lad is such a fun word) who had never been to the States before (first time traveling solo as well) and was so nervous! It was such a treat to share with him that life is an adventure and that everything will work out beautifully.

Because it does. I thank you Universe for this most amazing day.

(the other picture was of sunrise that morning as we drove back into Frankfurt from our time with John of God)