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  • Shamanic Journeys

    I wouldn’t be an organic eating, yoga practicing, Birkenstock and sock wearing new age hippy if I hadn’t partaken in a Shamanic Journey. Even though the ideal circumstance for such an occasion would have been the South American rainforest, my voyages took place in the exotic locales of Connecticut, Long Island, and Brooklyn. So yeah, there is a post-modern contextual conflict happening with my ceremonial experiences – yet they were still profound and healing.

    Here are the stories of the Shamanic expeditions I took into my mind, heart, and spirit.

    The First Shamanic Journey

    It was 2008, and I was in a really bad place. I was dealing with my brain tumor, the transitioning of a 12-year relationship, and the failing of my business. Needless to say I was depressed, lost, and hating myself. I was invited to drink ayahuasca with a Colombian shaman who was holding a ceremony in a yoga studio… in Connecticut… so obviously I went.

    I had my period during this time, so when I got there, I was told I had to adorn myself with a moon menses belt. This consisted of my taking pinches of tobacco to place into small squares of red fabric, and then making 108 miniature pouches. I then had to tie each tiny tobacco-filled sack to a red string, and wear it around my waist like a badge of menstrual honor. This was not only time-consuming but also super fucking embarrassing. Usually one hides their lunar flow by plugging up the poon, or sitting on a cotton cushion to soak up blood – yet in this instance I had to put my leaking lotus on full display for all to know about.

    When the ceremony was ready to begin, we all took our places on our yoga mats. There were buckets next to us in case we had to purge – a.k.a. barf. We were asked to come up one by one to drink the sacred vine. After it was my turn, I had one of those moments of “holy shit – no turning back now,” and wondering what the hell was going to happen.

    Even though it was suggested we sit up in a meditative pose, pretty sure I was lying down in a fetal position the entire time. It was a very solitary experience. We weren’t supposed to talk or communicate with anyone, and instead explore the inside of our own consciousness – what a creepy place! I felt like the ayahuasca had a distinct feminine energy. Part of what was happening inside my brain was like a downloading of information about how the systems of nature work. Suddenly I would be like, “oh, that’s why birds migrate.” It was beautiful, peaceful, and poetic.

    Then there was this mining of my mind that was really uncomfortable. It was as if I were staring into the void of my shadow self. Everything that sucked about me was on full display to examine. At the time I didn’t know how to unpack everything, and I remember wanting to peel myself out of my own membranes.

    The shaman was chanting as his protégés played instruments to guide our excursion. At one point, we were asked to come to the center of the room, one at a time, to stand stoically while the shaman and his apprentices did their therapeutic work. It was suggested to take off your shirt to receive the offerings fully, but I am way too much of a New Englander for that. I remember thinking to myself that maybe “taking off your shirt” was just a suggestion for the shaman to see some tits. Then I felt bad for considering that, but I also laughed because that would be hilarious.

    The whole event lasted through the night, and then around 5 a.m. we all went to sleep. The next day I felt very agitated and inaccessible. The group was all connecting over a common bond, but I couldn’t relate to anyone. I was feeling judgey and annoyed. One of the assistants came to talk to me, and told me that healing can’t just be an occasional activity, but that I had to make ceremony and ritual be a part of my everyday life. She reminded me that in order to make time for my recovery, I had to truly commit to the process. Even though I wanted to punch this girl, I knew she was right.

    A few days later, I had one of the most insightful realizations about myself. Having a competitive nature was the root of my dis-ease. Every time I compared myself to another person, I was participating in a disservice to us both. From that point forward, when I found myself thinking I was better than someone, or that someone was better than am, I would stop, and send that person love. I then trained my brain to no longer participate in that kind of destructive dialogue, and instead focus on my own evolution rather than the distraction of others.

    The Second Shamanic Journey:

    One of my dearest friends was spending her summer in Long Island doing multiple ceremonies with a shaman from Peru. She invited me to participate in one. I was on the fence.

    At this point, I had been sober for four years and was committed to my meditation practice. Meditation had provided me with a critical towards healing and I wasn’t drawn toward the influence of outside substances. I decided to go anyway to support my friend.

    When I got there, I felt a mixed vibe from the shaman. The energy of the whole event felt very male-dominated and imbalanced to me. I decided I wouldn’t partake in the medicine, but would sit and “hold the space.” Let me tell you something, the only thing weirder than doing Ayahuasca in Long Island with a bunch of strangers, is NOT doing Ayahuasca while everyone else does. I was WAY too aware of what was going on.

    After everyone consumed the black, molasses like substance, there was an hour of calm before the storm hit. It was like a cacophony of puking – people vomiting in a round of… “row, row, row your boat” style. There was also a lot of writhing and moaning going on. I was trying to be chill and meditate, which was hard while I looked around at everyone thrashing and occasionally screaming.

    My friend was  right next to me and obviously very uncomfortable. She was quiet and enduring, but also kept wiggling and shifting positions. Even though talking was frowned upon, I whispered to her anyway.

    Toni: Are you okay?
    My Friend: Not really.

    We both sat with this knowledge for a minute.

    My friend: Come downstairs with me.

    We stepped over expunging people, and walked down the candle-lit stairs. There was an open room with doors leading to bathrooms, and a massive rug on the floor. My friend went over to sit on the bench, and looked at me with a disturbed expression.

    My Friend: I am not okay.
    Toni: What is going on?
    My Friend: I think he gave me too much. I feel like I can’t be inside my own body right now.
    Toni: Oh no! Are you in pain?
    My Friend: It’s just… being confined-by-my-own-skin torture. I don’t know? Do you think maybe it is because last night I drank too much alcohol, had sex, and then we ate all that pizza in the car??

    *Note to reader: I had picked up my friend in NYC that morning, who was very hung over from drinking and having hot sex with a guy all night. I then bought us a pizza, which we split during the drive up. It is suggested that for a week before drinking ayahuasca you DON’T DRINK ALCHOL, HAVE SEX, OR EAT DAIRY!!!

    Toni: You think?
    My Friend: Fuck… I shouldn’t have done that.
    Toni: Do you want me to do some reiki on you?
    My friend: Please…
    Toni: Okay, I’ll pee and meet you back upstairs.

    My friend went upstairs, and I went to the bathroom. When I came out, there was a girl crumpled on the floor ,weeping.

    Toni: Ummm are you okay?

    The girl looked at me with wild eyes full of fear. I remembered her because she was a beautiful Russian model, and I had been staring at her all night.

    Russian Model: What’s happening to me? I am so afraid. I am not okay. I need help.
    Toni: Uhhhh, do you want me to do some reiki on you?

    I sat across from this stunning woman, and put my hands on her lap to do reiki. She was terrified, and weeping so violently, that I felt I had to calm her mind by saying something.

    Toni: There’s nothing to be afraid of. All that is happening is that you are in your own mind. You don’t have to fear yourself. It’s just you in there – and you are getting to know you. You are totally safe inside you.

    Russian Model: I am cheating on my husband, and I think I have to go upstairs and tell him.

    Now thank mother Gaia this exquisite creature was talking to me – a person with incredibly flexible morals. Call me crazy, but I really don’t think tripping balls on Ayahuasca is the right time to admit your indiscretions.

    Toni: Of course you are cheating on your husband. You are a magnificent goddess from another dimension. Every man that looks at you, would want to enter your sweet canyon of mystery. The deterioration of your relationship is not your burden alone to bear. You are both  responsible for whatever is going on, and the mere fact that you care means that you are a good person! You are not an asshole who doesn’t give a shit, but a righteous soul who is deeply concerned about your actions. But now is not the time to be plagued with guilt. First forgive yourself in this moment, and then tell him tomorrow.

    The Russian Model collapsed in my arms with relief. I held her, and stroked her hair – both for her benefit and mine. I mean, she was insanely hot. As I cradled her, I felt the daemons leave her. She was no longer heavy with panic, but her whole body became very light and buoyant.

    Russian Model: Thank you so much. You are my angel.
    Toni: No, you are.

    We hugged while she thanked me profusely. My friend then came back downstairs to see me embracing this divine being and was like “WHAT THE FUCK! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!” I mean… I know I momentarily ditched my friend for a Russian model, but she was a Russian model in need, so… come on.

    When I went back upstairs with my friend she was pissed! But she was also suffering, so that was her main priority. I put my hands on her to do some reiki, but her energy was resisting it.

    Toni: Ummm, I feel like you’re fighting it.

    My friend finally forgave me, and started to relax – but she was still struggling. At one point, one of the shaman’s assistants came over to give my friend a tobacco bath to help calm her nerves. Now, I believe in the grounding and healing properties of the tobacco plant – but I am not so sure my friend was that keen on someone blowing second hand smoke in her face repeatedly. Then, I got an idea of what could help her.

    Toni: Do you want me to tickle your back?
    My Friend: Sure.

    I tickled my friend’s back just like I would my kid when she was sick. It really does make you feel better because that type of light touch on the skin actually releases endorphins. So I tickled her back/arm/head/calf until the daemons left her, and she settled back into herself.

    I realized that what was missing from this particular ceremony was the mother energy. All I was doing for these women was listening, telling them everything was going to be okay, and tenderly stroking their tenseness away. They needed to be momentarily nurtured to let go of whatever was plaguing them.

    For me, the mother role is one I am always taking on in relationships. There are times where I have resented this – always having to be responsible and take care of others. Yet this night, I discovered that this was a great gift to give people. Instead of focusing on my own bitterness that people don’t play this part in my life, I was filled with joy that I could be this for others in their times of need. I realized that this wasn’t something I needed or craved, so there is no reason to be aggrieved that I don’t have it. I can mother myself just like I mother others, and there is true beauty to that.

    I was pretty blown away that just by me being around the sacred plant, there was still so much knowledge to learn!!! I didn’t have to actually take the ayahuasca to benefit from it!

    The Third Shamanic Journey

    After 6 years of sobriety I was ready to shake things up a bit. Another friend invited me to work with someone who she felt a deep connection to. This friend has a very delicate nervous system, and is not the kind of person who does any mind-altering substances. If my super sensitive friend was into this shaman’s work, I felt like I could handle it because even she described it as mellow.

    I was expecting a similar set-up as the other two. Where we all would take the medicine, and then go back to our seats and have a solitary trip. Yet this shaman’s approach was very different. He was all about community, connecting, and being with each other.

    He also didn’t work exclusively with ayahusaca, but plant medicines from around the world. I ended up taking something called Kava, which is from western Africa, and felt a lot like pure MDMA.

    When I was living in NYC and was always surrounded by people, I could see why the universe would provoke me to go through things alone. Yet now that I live a very remote country lifestyle, I can see why the cosmos would suggest I have a more of a collective experience.

    I spent the entire night attached to 3 people. We connected, and then I was immediately co-dependent with them. I wanted them close to me at all times, because I felt like our heartstrings had entwined. One of them looked so much like my friend Bitty who had died, and it was such a sweet melancholy to look at her face. It reminded me of all the times I haven’t had with Bitty, and how much I missed the memories we never got to make together.

    Rather than having a shaman going around to heal us, we were all there for each other in this unique way. We talked about our childhoods, our present pains, our fears, and existential questions. We all knew how to be there for each other, and listened to our intuition on how to best support one another. It was like the healer in our own selves was awoken, and all we had to do was trust it.

    The night was so sweet, kind, and full of understanding. I never wanted it to end. Even the thought of the outside world felt unfathomable. I was so in the moment that I couldn’t’ help but wish the moment would last forever.

    shaman-ceremonies

    February 26, 2015 • 1st time for everything, Adventures, Health, Musings • Views: 1232

  • The Chubby Mermaid

    Not to brag or anything, but my kid is kind of a genius. No, she isn’t a 4-year old fashion designer for J-Crew, and no she doesn’t paint pictures that get sold for thousands of dollars… but she does know how to work my iPhone like a fucking pro. I feel like this is only the beginning of The Munch’s mastery of technology… even if her main motivation is to watch the new Taylor Swift video. But who knows, maybe she is going be the next Steve Jobs – but whose goal is to make 3D digital holograms of Katy Perry that project directly from your eyeballs thanks to an implanted nano-tech microchip.

    I know there are parents who never let their kids watch any modern media, and if they do, it is a supervised experience where they enjoy the wholesome story of Heidi (the 1937 version staring Shirley Temple). Together, they sit around a crackling fire eating fresh popcorn harvested from their farm while the children blissfully fall asleep from their full day of frolicking freely in the forest.

    Then there is my approach of handing my kid my phone/computer/iPad/soul and saying… “Here… watch whatever you want, just let mommy be alone.”

    Now the problem with this strategy is that The Munch then has access to peruse through Youtube, and find other things she may want to watch. She will scan the “related videos,” which may or may not actually be “related” to the initial media I approved of. I would set her up with something innocent to watch like “Curious George,” but then come back 20 minutes later to find her watching a BBC expo about a baby in Indonesia who smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day.

    There was also a time where Munch found these videos that some charming person had created with the PBS character Caillou. Let me just say, I actually hope Caillou dies a horrible death where he is mutilated by rabid wolves. The show is terrible, and Caillou is a whiney little prick that deserves to suffer. So I can get how it would be funny to take this shit-head character, and re-edit the videos so all the audio is a raunchy dialogue filled with a myriad of swears. Yet despite my present attempt at humor, it was a sad and rude awakening to overhear The Munch listening to Caillou calling his baby sister a “fuck-face.”

    In order to preserve my child’s innocence and shield her from the vulgarities of the world, I had to to say to her, “Hey Munch, you have to check with me before you watch something – because there is some seriously fucked up shit on the Internet.”

    The Munch, who is an honest person, has kept to her word and now comes to me for my approval.

    Munch: Mom… is it okay if I watch “The Chubby Mermaid?
    Toni: WHAT????!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Okay… so lets get real. One thing we can all admit about society is that media FUCKS UP YOUNG GIRLS when it comes to their body image. The last thing you want for your daughter is for her to have an unhealthy relationship to her body, and feel she has to conform to a photo-shopped standard of beauty where her thighs are thinner than her forearms.

    I couldn’t understand WHO ON PLANET EARTH would make a cartoon called “The Chubby Mermaid!?” (Answer: Someone on the Internet – that is who.) My main concern was the term “chubby,” and how The Munch internalized the Meta meaning of that word. I started to panic, wondering if lifelong damage had already happened.

    Toni: Why is it called “The Chubby Mermaid?”
    Munch: Well, the mermaid is chubby because she ate too many gummy bears.
    Toni: Well “chubby” is not a very nice word.
    Munch: Why?
    Toni: Do you know what “chubby” means?
    Munch: It means you have a round tummy – like the “chubby” mermaid who ate too many gummy bears.

    HOLY FUCK YOU GUYS!!! I was like “shit, shit, shit, shit in the ass shit!” Of course “eating too many gummy bears” is not a good idea for anyone. Especially since they are made of gelatin composed of horse hooves – I mean basically they are molded balls primed to give you diabetes… But still! I don’t want The Munch thinking that fat shaming a mermaid is okay just because she happens to have a penchant for gummy bears!!

    Toni: Well, what do you think of the “Chubby Mermaid?”
    Munch: I like her… that is why I want to watch her???
    Toni: I mean, do you think she is a good person?
    Munch: Huh? What do you mean?
    Toni: Do you think she is bad for being “chubby?”
    Munch: No???
    Toni: So, do you think she is a good person?
    Munch: I don’t know mom??? I haven’t seen the rest of it yet? I only saw the beginning?? I don’t know her yet?
    Toni: Well do you think it is nice to call the mermaid “chubby?”
    Munch: She ate too many gummy bears, so she has a chubby tummy? Like it pokes out a little bit.
    Toni: Do you think she still has value to society even though she ate too many gummy bears?
    Munch: Huh? I don’t know??? I haven’t seen the whole video? Wait Mom… do we have any gummy bears??

    From the Munch’s perspective, being “chubby” wasn’t an insult. It was just a descriptive. Like having blond hair or green eyes. She couldn’t tell me if the mermaid was a good person until she actually saw what she was like as a person. Nor did she think there was anything wrong with the mermaid because she was chubby. She just ate too many gummy bears. In Munch’s mind being chubby was simply a consequence to an action.

    Placing moral judgment because of someone’s weight is a learned behavior. The idea that being “fat = bad” is a notion society has constructed. The Munch didn’t see the “Chubby Mermaid” as less than, but simply a mermaid whose mom didn’t micromanage her diet to make sure everything she ate was organic, biodynamic, and macrobiotic.

    Weight has become a barometer of self-worth that is deeply psychologically engrained in adults. Being thin means you feel better about yourself, regardless of actually being healthy. A super skinny model that subsists on champagne, lettuce, and cocaine is not in prime physical condition – even if she is slender. You can be “overweight” but also strong, dexterous, and able to climb stairs without passing out from fatigue.

    The body is a handy mechanism that moves us around planet earth – it is not the gauge with which we should measure our importance. I think it is completely possible to shape a child’s understanding of the body on function rather than form. There is no reason to condition our kids to think that their body weight has anything to do with their status as a human. You want to watch what you eat because a lot of processed food products are essentially poisoned. Pesticides, GMO-s, hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, preservatives… are not nutritious and may cause long-term damage. We should be cautious about what we consume not because culture will demoralize you for enjoying butter, but rather because we don’t want to ingest toxins.

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  • I Know Why Skinny Is Beautiful

    The most popular new fashion line for teenage girls is a brand called Brandy Mellville, where the clothes only come in sizes 0-2. What? That is like doll clothes?! Needless to say, wearing these ultra skinny jeans to show off your thigh chasm, has a certain cache. To be cool in today’s high schools you not only need to shop in the right places, but also have the right body to fit into the right clothes – that body being a size fucking ZERO. So basically, if you are not Casper the Ghost, you might as well lock your self in your closet and starve until you are.

    UMMMMMM I AM SO GLAD I GREW UP IN THE 90’s!! You know what was cool when I was in high school? I will tell you – clothes that were wayyyyy too big and hid our bodies. It started with the “grunge” chapter where we wore corduroy pants, plaids tied around our waists, and T-shirts with band names on them. Then it was the “Hip Hop” look that consisted of baggy jeans, hoodies, and Adidas kicks. After that was the “rave” phase where the pants were so ridiculously huge that your entire body could fit in one leg. Maybe you would pair those with a “baby doll” T-shirt. That was as sexy as we got… a T-shirt that was sort of tight and didn’t hang down to our knees. Even though my mom HATED my clothes and would beg me to wear something that was actually my size, I am sure she would have preferred that to my only eating cucumber seeds in order to fit into Brandy Mellville.

    In a way this stupid store is a blessing. The messaging is so in your face it is almost comical. It is the physical manifestation of what is happening in society, and the generation we are breeding to fit into it. The definition of stylish for today’s teens is revealing, tight, and skinny. Yet we can’t blame these girls for revering a body type that is so thin you don’t have to open doors to walk through them. They are a product of today’s culture where the standard of beauty is digital. We don’t even look at models any more, but photo-shopped shadows that were once women.

    BUT GUESS FUCKING WHAT WORLD! I think I know what is happening with the incredible shrinking women of today’s world. It has to do with feminism, power, and influence.

    Much like the tides of the ocean and our monthly moon flow, feminism came in waves. The 1st wave was conceived so women could get the right to vote, and own property. In the sixties and seventies, the 2nd wave born to organize the women’s liberation movement which primarily focused on social equality. We are currently experiencing the post partum 3rd wave of feminism (or the 4th moderately heavy flow in some circles), which is being met by much emotional angst and psychic clotting. Ladies are relentlessly demanding equality and the reimagining of gender roles, but many are still resisting this plight, as they believe it is cramping their style.

    Let me tell you a secret. Do you know what coincided with these waves of feminism?? Women in advertising getting skinnier!!!! Who was the top model during the height of the women’s liberation movement? TWIGGY! A girl who was so thin, her limbs were like the twigs of trees. Not the branches mind you… but the teeny tiny twig parts. During this present-day 3rd wave of feminism advertising is using women so slender that actual humans can’t live up to the ideal – so we just draw stick figures with the computer, and that is considered the standard. There is a direct correlation with women gaining power within society, and the media promoting a body type that is physically weak. The more women become stronger mentally within the systems that control the world, the more we want them to look like they are so feeble that their toothpick extremities couldn’t pick up a toothpick.

    Now I know that everyone has a different body type. Some women are naturally thin. I am one of those women. I am 5’10” – so I am stretched out more. I have the “body type” of a model. In fact, I was approached over 4 different times in my teenage and early adult years to be one. When I was 16, I tried to take it seriously but here was the main problem. I also played sports, so was told my arms were too muscly. My agent asked me to stop doing so many things that involved my arms moving, so I could maintain a more willowy frame. With muscles I could be a “fitness” model (where there was less work and you got paid less) but not a “fashion” model (where the real money was).

    In order for my naturally slim body to marketable, I was asked to be more sedentary and eat less. Even though I was svelte, I was also told I could be a little more so if I really wanted to work. Nothing major – just lose 10 to 15 pounds. PS… I weighed 128. If I could be a little less strong, and a little less attached to consuming meals, I could make way more money. But I was 16! Dieting was hard because I was attached to feeling full, which I guess is so pathetically human of me. I tried to shed the excess pounds, but I didn’t like how frail I felt. I tried to brainstorm what could keep me obscenely skinny but still give me energy and finally came up with the perfect solution – but my mom didn’t let me do cocaine. WHAT A SQAURE!

    My point is, if my genetically slight frame wasn’t good enough to be a commodity, the only way to make it so was to deprive it. It is not natural to be obscenely skinny, you have to make a  conscious effort to achieve that goal.  The intensity of how stressed you are about consumption may vary from person to person, but models are trying to stay that thin.  It isn’t just about eating healthy,or avoiding desserts – the mentality is to keep up with the expectations society has placed on you.  I think it is pretty obvious that the pressure to stay thin is more prevalent then those with the ultimate ectomorph physique.  It is not like these girls are brimming with vitality.  Even when they are jumping through the air, with their hair blowing in the wind, it looks like someone through chicken bones out a window.  The greater the will power to starve, the less threatening you are to society. BECAUSE YOU ARE DISTRACTED, TIRED AND HUNGRY… rather than, focused, healthy, and determined.

    Yet here is the thing about modern food. It is filled with chemicals, partially hydrogenated oils, salt, sugar, and preservatives. The reason why Americans are so fat is not because they are lazy, it is because they are eating food that the body cannot process correctly and provides little nourishment. People who eat processed foods will lack the energy to exercise because their body is essentially starving for nutrients even as it grows in girth.

    So here lies this perfect trifecta of oppression. The more women empower themselves socially, the more they are expected to vanish physically. In order to achieve this preposterous paradigm, women have to obsess about counting calories of mass-produced poison pretending to be food. It is really hard to have the perfect body when you are dealing with contamination in the food sources. If we all had access to regular organic whole foods like they did in the turn of the century, and led more naturally active lives, we wouldn’t be struggling with weight gain in the same capacity. Yet instead we live deskbound existences attached to technology while scarfing down manufactured munchies as we ironically stare at artificial images of flawless physiques.

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    October 22, 2014 • Current Events, Musings, Women's Business • Views: 20087

  • Beauty Is A Rainbow (of hair)

    When you bring your child into a public space, there is a pretty good chance that someone might overhear your conversation and judge you as a parent. This is especially the case when you frequent a new-agey organic restaurant where the seats are painfully close to each other, and the diners next to you are hyper-critical snobs… but in a non-critical accepting way. Yet just because you know someone is listening in on your conversation doesn’t mean you have to self censor. Sometimes you’ve got to speak the truth, even if that means dealing with dirty looks from hippies.

    Toni: I kind of want to dye my hair red like the color of this doll’s hair.
    Munch: You do?! How come Mamma?
    Toni: I don’t know. I guess I am sick of my hair color.
    Munch: I want to dye my hair too then!
    Toni: Okay. What color?
    Munch: BROWN!
    Toni: What?! NO! Not brown! You have beautiful blond hair Munch. Why would you want to dye your hair brown?
    Munch: Because you have brown hair Mamma, and I want to be just like you!
    Toni: Munch that is really sweet, but your hair is awesome. I wish I had yellow hair like you because there is so much more you can do with it. Like you could dye your hair pink if you wanted?
    Munch: No Mamma. BROWN! I want to dye my hair brown!
    Toni: What about purple! It would be so easy. You wouldn’t have to bleach it or anything. You see my hair is too dark for that….
    Munch: Mamma, I want brown hair.
    Toni: Dude there is no way I am going to let that happen. What about blue!!! It would look so rad with your eyes! We could do blue streaks!
    Munch: Nope brown.
    Toni: Okay fine. I guess neither of us will dye our hair then.

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  • March Against Monsanto

    On May 25th a mass protest is being organized against Monsanto.  I do not necessarily believe that protesting alone can change policy in this day and age, yet I do think that it is worth our time to do whatever we can to express our discontent with corporate plutocracy.  If anything it is at least an opportunity to better network with each other.

    We need to be as proactive as possible to an impact on how our food system works.  It is important to organize and educate each other, as well as deeply investigate the companies that are feeding us.  Right now, the best form of activism is being hyper aware of how you spend your money, and not supporting companies that are contaminating the land and their product.

    People are very impassioned when it comes to this issue, and there are many different ways to analyze information.  But no matter what your opinion on GMO’s and pesticides… whether you seem them as problematic or necessary… here are two ideas worth chewing on.

    Do you remember Russia… you know, the country we were at war with for WORLD POWER? Yeah, well they haven’t gone away – even if we did break up their empire.  Recently the president of Russia met with John Kerry and he is pretty pissed.

    “President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war… At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.”

    I don’t know about you, but a world war sounds terrifying.  Especially one that is based on corporate greed and a refusal to adapt their business model.  I am not saying Monsanto can’t make money.  Make all the money you want Monsanto.  Have it all.  But maybe not murder the bees while you are doing it?

    I think we all know how important bees are to our food system, and the rest of the world seems pretty concerned that they are all dying.  And if all the bees die what are our options? To get children to pollinate the flowers with their tiny fingers?

    The other thing worth thinking about is that Monsanto impacts the entire world’s food system.  That is too much power for any one company to have over the most precious resource on the planet.  You could have more money than god, but if you are hungry and thirsty you are going to be in a bad mood, and eventually die.  Food is vital.  Our food system needs to be governed by a collective effort, not ruled by a dictatorship.

    There are many things we can argue about when it comes to geopolitical issues, but can’t we all agree that we don’t want to die in a world war, and that eating is important?

    I am inspired by the fact that Monsanto has already been removed from Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, South Australia, Russia, France, and Switzerland.  It gives me hope that we can do it here too.

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    May 24, 2013 • 2 years old, Current Events, Eating, Environmental Impact, Health, Musings • Views: 1312

  • Sometimes Being Eco is Annoying

    I really don’t want to live in a trashcan of a world, but being eco can be annoying.  To exclusively support organic fair trade local products that you also happened to grow in your back yard, had harvested by virgins, and processed by leprechauns is a fucking challenge.  The other day I thought I would buy some organic cotton t-shirts for The Munch, and one shirt was $40?! When I saw the price I threw up in my hand and then had to eat it because my dinner was from the organic store and my tofu kale wheat-free sandwich was not cheap.

    I know the responsibility is on me to be the change I want to see in the world, but I already changed my underwear today -isn’t that enough?  It is a lot of pressure for me to always make the right decision when there is so much crappy crap out there that is way crappy, but easier to get.  My main question is, why is there so much temptation to poison ourselves with toxic shit?  We have so much access to such a vast variety of products, but the majority of them are actually semi dangerous.  Major corporations are exposing us to some sort of poison, subjecting employees to horrific working conditions, and sometimes secretly feeding people rats they think is lamb.

    So there is plenty of incentive to be conscious consumer.  In fact I consider myself to be a PROsumer with all the positive shit I buy.  Get it? PROsumer rather than CONsumer? Am I lyrical genius or what?  But sometimes I want to be just like ahhh fuck it! I mean I got The Munch this hippy sunscreen because I read that sunscreen, although may protect you from getting skin cancer from the sun, actually just gives you another kind of cancer.  So I slapped the eco stuff on her, and it worked in the sense that she didn’t get burned, but it wouldn’t absorb into her skin.  She was walking around looking like Casper the Ghost the entire day.  I mean that is fine for a kid and all, but there is no way as a self-respecting woman, I can go out in public like a member of the Adams Family.

    Of course when we are talking about green products, food is the one I am most committed to.  But sometimes I get sick of being healthy.  Over the summer I am part of CSA (community supported agriculture) and get all my organic vegetables delivered to me.  They are grown in the most fertile soil and picked by a bearded farming angel.  Yet by time September rolls around all I want is to eat cheeseburgers and doughnuts.  I get so sick of vegetables I want to throw them against the wall, and then waterboard them.

    I know I should probably find a balance and feel peace knowing I am doing what I can and all that…. But what the fuck world?  Why can’t eco shit just be the only shit we can buy so I wouldn’t have to compare it to the other shit?

    (Here I am…. saving a spider and bringing her outside so I don’t murder her…. because I am environmentally responsible!)

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  • Hey, That’s MY Message!

    Information is social currency.  When I send someone a link, or post something illuminating, it contributes to my public value. The Internet allows us not only to spread information but also to become associated with it. It’s almost as if we can brand ourselves alongside the messages we are spreading.

    So last week when everyone was talking about the Monsanto Protection Act I was really involved in the discussion. This is an issue that I am very passionate about and have been researching for over a decade. I wanted to be an active part of the discussion – to help spread the message of why I think Monsanto should be a major part of the public dialogue and we should all have a clear understanding of not only its power but its product.  Our food system.

    I had first learned about Monsanto and genetically engineered food over 10 years ago when I was in college. Before understanding the science behind food, the only thing that concerned me was calories and fat grams. Then one fateful night, while smoking joints with my friend Marisa she told me,

    “You know, the reason why Americans are so overweight and unhealthy is because of partially hydrogenated oil.”

    “Wait, what is that?”

    “They, like, add hydrogen to the oil, so it is fluffier and takes up more space. They can then use less of it and save money, but the human body can’t digest it. That is what makes you fat.”

    “Why do they do that? How do they do that? And who is they?”

    “You know… they!  I don’t know Toni, I am not a scientist… look it up. But I am telling you. That is why Europeans are all skinny, because they don’t put crap in their food.”

    This really blew my mind into a thousand pieces. Before that moment, I had never considered that highly processed food wasn’t actually food. And I did not want to get fat because I was unconsciously consuming a science experiment. Forget that we were scarfing down ice cream at that moment…. We were high – remember? I am perfectly okay getting pudgy eating delicious treats, but there is no way hydrogenated oils were going to give me a muffin top.

    After that fateful conversation I started looking at ingredients rather than the silly numbers on a side of a box of processed food. Initially my rejection of GMO food may have been for my own vanity or health, but the more I learned, the more committed I became.

    I then read The Age of Access by Jeremy Rifkin, and started to comprehend the environmental consequences of genetic engineering. The massive destruction of natural resources, the farmers that it oppressed, the annihilation of biodiversity, the subsidies that forced an economic stranglehold on the entire food industry, and – perhaps most demented – gene patenting. Rifkin hypothesized that the future held forth a new economy based on owning and patenting genes. The thought of corporations and life-science companies owning the building blocks of life and leasing out the rights to it seemed like an apocalyptic nightmare.

    After understanding the full scope, I became outraged. I was so committed to this cause that I spent three years of my life trying to open an organic fast food restaurant so more people could have access to clean food, but in a format they were accustomed to. I wanted to bring organic food to as many people as I could. Even though my vision did not work out the way I wanted it to – I didn’t get to open my restaurant – I could still do my best to continue promoting the idea.

    So when everyone was talking about Monsanto last week, I made a little cartoon with The Munch and me and posted it on Facebook. It started making the rounds and people started sharing it. But I didn’t put my logo on the picture. So then I started seeing other friends post the pic, and other groups, but it wasn’t associated to me any more. I mean it was my picture, but it didn’t link back to me in any way.

    At first I was so mad at myself.  I felt like a missed a major opportunity to drive traffic back to me! So more people would see me… like me… care about me! I wanted to be the giver of the information!  Me! Me! Me! The more I saw it floating around, and not attached to me, the more I freaked out.  Of course the original picture I shared had 1,700 shares thanks to my friend reposting it on her popular page… but that had a spelling mistake in it because that is my fucking karma! (Hey! I know I am using the concept of Karma wrong here, but I am being emphatic so forgive me).

    Okay… pause….

    I found this to be a really interesting example of how the ego gets tied into things that are essentially ego-less. In reality, I should have been happy that people thought the image had value and wanted to share it. That it took a small part in spreading awareness about an issue that I cared about. But as much as my rational mind knew this, my emotional-self wanted to be credited with that message. WHICH IS ABSURD!!  It was beyond ironic that I had the audacity to feel used by people sharing my picture without crediting me, when the message could easily say I was using it to promote myself.

    That is the thing about activism. It has to come from a pure place, and not from wanting to somehow have ownership over the message. Because to feel personal attachment to the information you are trying to spread, is the very same paradigm that we are trying to change with activism.

    “Mamma you are being silly!

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  • 4 Reasons Why Monsanto Can Go Screw Itself

    The Monsanto Protection Act passed through congress, and came out as a wet stinky fart on the other end.  This means that GMO seeds are protected from any litigation involving health risks.  That is strange right? If you were confident in the product you are forcing down the throats of billions of people world wide, then why would you be concerned about lawsuits involving health risks?

    Monsanto and the government have been in bed for many administrations, doing very naughty things- probably involving butt plugs and choking.  There has been a revolving door between Monsanto, the FDA, and the court system (including Clarence Thomas of The Supreme Court) that has helped allow Monsanto to have a monopoly on our entire food system.  Monsanto’s contribution to countless campaigns has solidified their position, and time and time again the government will protect them over the welfare of the people and the planet.

    As a parent, not only would I rather feed my kid organic bear barf than GMOs, I genuinely fear a future that continues to allow one company to have unregulated endless control over such a vital resource.

    So Monsanto, as far as I am concerned, you can go fuck yourself – and here are my reasons why.

    1)  Seed patenting:  Monsanto patents all its seeds, and genetically engineers the suicide gene so every year the crop dies and the seeds are rendered useless.  Where for thousands of years farmers would save seeds and cultivate a variety of strands to help maintain bio diversity, Monsanto now forces farmers to use their one “terminator seed” that they have to purchase annually.  Buy patenting’s seeds, Monsanto owns life, and makes millions in profit.  If I had known I could have owned and patented seeds, I wouldn’t have spit all those times.  Man… so many blowjobs for nothing.

    Because of this seed patenting, 250,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves because of inflated prices of seeds and faulty crops that force them into bankruptcy.  (As a result of Monsanto’s intrusion on India’s traditional and sustainable farming practices, 60% of the population, 1 billion people, are dependent on their GMO agriculture).

    2)  The strategy of Monsanto is to create one seed that can be mass produced in one location, which has created mono-crop agriculture.  So when you drive cross-country, 1/3 of the time you will be staring at corn and soy fields – making you wish the Children of the Corn will emerge and eat your eyeballs.  Because there are these massive fields with one crop created from one seed, they are very susceptible to pests, hence the creation of pesticides.

    Hey! You want to know something fun about pesticides?  A lot of them are made from Agent Orange.  Yeah! That stuff we used as chemical warfare in the Vietnam War.  Monsanto created Agent Orange, had a bunch left over after the war, then discovered the perfect market for it.  Our food!  (PS… it is also contaminating the world’s water supply… but who needs non-poisionous food and water right?)

    3) Lets say you have an organic farm next to a farm that has Monsanto GMO seeds.  There is something called wind right?  If the wind blows, and some of the GMO pollen contaminates your crops, Monsanto can sue you for using their seeds without paying for it.  So not only would your food be polluted with GMO dust, but you are going to have to pay for it as well!  And if you were to try and sue Monsanto for infecting your crops, you will lose!

    4)  I almost forgot about soil erosion.  This basically means that after a few years of GMO farming and the aggressive use of pesticides, the soil is FUCKED.  And because nature is crafty, super weeds then form that are resistant pesticides!   That is kind of awesome nature, but at the same time, thousands of acres have been abandoned in the south because they became impossible to farm on.

    I know the Monsanto propaganda says that we NEED GMO’s to feed the world, but that is not true.  Governments create artificial shortages by throwing food away.  Kind of like how the diamond industry keeps diamonds in storage out of the public market so the demand is greater than the supply.  But in the case, when the demand for food is greater than the supply people die of starvation.  Starvation and extreme poverty is not an environmental necessity, but a political choice.  It is about access to food, resources, and land.  Who ever controls the food source controls the world.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I eat food every day.  I know buying organic is annoyingly expensive, but think of it this way – until the 1940’s the whole world ate organic all the time.  Because that was all there was.  Just regular food.  But since Agribusiness dominates the market, small organic farms can’t compete.  The reason why actual organically farmed food is so expensive is because what most people are eating isn’t really food.  It is a science experiment – and we are the guinea pigs.

    So take that Monsanto!

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  • The Forbidden Fruit Has Been Tasted

    It happened.  My child has been exposed.  She experienced the taste of sin. A drug she will battle with, and probably abuse many times.  And I am not talking black tar heroin, because we already kicked that habit when she was 18-months.  I am talking about sugar.

    It started innocently enough. With an organic, vegan, gluten-free, coconut Popsicle my mom gave her.  The Munch’s unpolluted mind had never even heard such words as cake, candy, or cookies.  But the more she started to understand the world around her, the harder it became to lie about what things were.  She started to look at me with doubt when I insisted that a lollipop was made of fairy skin.

    A birthday cake was the gateway drug.  My friend’s husband offered her a piece.  I almost refused.  I was this close from convincing The Munch that cake was bread with barf spread on top of it.  But it was for free, and he insisted she have a taste.  I figured it was a special occasion, and let her live on the wild side.  How often does one go to birthday parties? It turns out, quite a lot.  Now all she cares about at these stupid parties is the cake. It doesn’t even matter whose party it is.

    I think I was the one who gave her the first cookie.  But it wasn’t my fault.  I was tired, weak, and had my guard down.  I didn’t have it in me to fight against her wrath.  She manipulated me.  And now she knows not only that cookies are fucking delicious, but also what they look like.  This makes going to a store very complicated because she understands that round circles with black dots means that shit is good.

    The ice cream happened with her babysitter… the candy too.  Now The Munch is fully aware just how tasty sugar is.  The only things I have been able to keep from her are chocolate bars.  I told her they were “Mamma crackers” and made out of cat poop.

    Maybe it is not a big deal?  Sugar is a part of life and if I deprive her totally I will only make the forbidden more seductive.  But it is not good for the immune system.  It doesn’t contribute anyway to her her health.  And even if its organic treats she is getting, it doesn’t mean its good for her (although I tell myself that organic ice cream happens to be great for me).

    I am trying not to care too much.  To realize that finding a balance is part of parenting and if I am too controlling about what The Munch eats I could give her a complex.  But her naivety made my life so much easier.  She was totally oblivious to the temptation.  The Munch’s ignorance protected her from feeling the disappointment of lacking – or maybe more important it protected me from her.  Now she knows what she is missing when I say. “no you can’t have that.” The subsequent distress, frustration, horror, and tantrum that follow are because she can taste the vacuum of what could have been.

    Sugar is the first drug children are exposed to.  It has an addictive quality, and also makes you feel high.  The rush.  The hyper manic energy that makes you want to punch a cat in the face.  And then of course the crash, that leads into the depression of being without, that eventually morphs into then the desperate searching for your next fix.  And like the need for drugs, kids will do anything to get their sweets.  Including scream in your face, embarrass you at stores, and weep uncontrollably while shaking in the corner.

    “Hey Mamma! This doesn’t taste like fairy flesh?!”

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    March 19, 2013 • 2 years old, Baby Body, Baby Brain, Eating, Health • Views: 4793