31 March 2009

see it in your mind

This morning my husband was practicing an oral argument in the shower and I could tell, in his mind, he was there - in court, kicking ass.

Later in the morning I heard about a study in which three high school groups participated. One group practiced shooting baskets for one hour a day for two weeks - they were 2% better at the end of the study; another did nothing regarding basketball & got worse over the course of the study; the third group also did not pick up a basketball but instead practiced in their minds for an hour a day and they got 3.5% better. That's right- better than the people who actually shot baskets. The "mind" group used all of their senses - they thought of the smell of the gym, felt the ball leaving their fingers and saw it arcing perfectly, imagined what they were wearing, heard their sneakers squeak against the waxed gym floor and the swish of the baskets...and this alone made them better. The person telling the story said it's like footprints in the snow - you have walked this way before and know the path.

I believe it - I know this is true and encourage my students and clients to try and do this - to see, hear, smell and feel what it will be like and see themselves doing it, with the outcome they want.
I know this is helpful for me - when I swim or bike or run right now, in my mind's eye I have that triathlon number scrawled on my arm, the sun is shining and I cross the finish line, sometimes with my arms raised in the air, victorious. And when I was pregnant, I would see my births happening each day...of course I studied my options and thought about what it would be like if things didn't go according to plan, but what I focused on, what I rehearsed, was seeing myself push out my babies in the way that I wanted to.

Prepare for everything, but plan for success.

29 March 2009

from The Birth House

scenes from a birth in The Birth House by Ami McKay
...There is a sound that creeps up...it's like no other sound I ever heard. When it pulls at the hairs on the back of your neck, that's how you know it's time...

...Mabel closed her eyes and let out a long, anguished wail. Bertine and Sadie cried out loud beside her, moaning right with her, all three women letting out heavy groans...the baby slipped out, all milky looking and wet...

...I recorded the days events...still amazed at the way it felt to be the first person to bring her hands to a child's life.

ER EZ pass?

Since it seems I'm such a loyal customer of the ER, I'm thinking I should get every 10th visit free or something...maybe some frequent flier miles at least?
Yes - that's right - another trip last night...same kid (the one with the cast) split his forehead open at a friend's party - tripped over a skateboard. Great: a skateboarding injury when he wasn't even riding!
5 hours (getting home at 5am - an ER visit has never been that bad before) and 12 stitches later, the plastic surgeon (jokingly) offered me the left over suture packs given our family makeup (all boys). Another doctor threatened to make my kid live in a bubble if he came back anytime soon!
The plastic surgeon was kind of funny in a quirky way - kept saying the local anesthesia was "going to hurt like HELL! Because it has acid in it! So it's OK to yell - because it's gonna hurt - LIKE HELL - from the ACID!"
The upside? We actually had some nice mother-son time with a bonus facts of life talk that just organically happened. I'm hoping we can continue to have these talks and fun times minus the ER visits, at least for awhile.

27 March 2009

by any means necessary

Today I managed what I'm calling a "Malcolm X swim"...

I got through a bit more than a half mile, but did so in a very cobbled-together way. The triathlon I'm training for requires a half-mile open water swim in the ocean and only wetsuits & goggles are permitted. Today I used a mask & snorkel for a big part of it and a kick board for a few of the lengths - I feel like I just need to build the muscle memory & confidence before I worry about the breathing even though I technically know how to breath & swim now. I took a few very short rests, knowing that I will be able to rest if needed on the big day. I reminded myself that I will be a stronger swimmer, have adrenaline on my side and be more buoyant in a wetsuit and salt water when it counts.

But I did it & it wasn't bad. I did sort of get into a groove. I tried to make it meditative and appreciate the view through the water - the woman next to me was a really excellent swimmer so I sort of kept an eye on her progress. Mostly I just counted.

25 March 2009

Earth Hour

This Saturday, March 28th, from 8:30-9:30 pm, people all over the world will be taking part in Earth Hour. For one hour, people are turning off their lights to show they care about the world and want to help stop global warming.

Wear a black shirt on Friday to remind everyone to turn off the lights for Earth Hour 2009!
Help the Earth!
Turn off your lights for one hour on March 28th for Earth Hour, 2009!

24 March 2009

The Journey

Sent to me by a friend, who wrote, "This makes me think of you, and me, and other strong women."

I think this is a good perspective twist for most moms/women...that whole "put on your own oxygen mask first" idea. Not that you aren't then going to tend to the one next to you, but you simple can't if you have already passed out...especially when the PTA/Little League/acquaintance in perpetual need is knocking at your door asking you to volunteer again or you are comparing the size of your bank account/career aspirations/butt to that of your neighbor and on and on...

The Journey, by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

23 March 2009

recycle at Whole Foods

I know every community is different, but many do not accept #5 plastics & Brita filters.

Now they can be brought to Whole Foods to be recycled. The manufacturer Preserve is recycling them into razor and toothbrush handles. http://www.preserveproducts.com/recycling/

Whole Foods stores in NJ that accept #5 plastics and Brita filters -- look for "Gimmee 5" bins:
Red Bank
West Orange

Additional instructions for Brita filters:
1. Dry the filter by shaking off excess water and setting it in a dry place for at least three days.
2. Wrap the filter in a plastic grocery bag, which will be recycled at the Preserve Gimme 5 destination.
3. Drop the wrapped filter in the Preserve Gimme 5 bin.

Combine this with sending plastic bottle caps (which hopefully there are fewer of as many of us have switched away from singe-use water bottles) to Aveda via my local Girl Scouts & there is a lot less going to waste!

I wonder if that company (Preserve) would accept other water filters used by PUR or refrigerators?

Happy Recycling!!


I love witnessing situations where people just won't give up...my sons yesterday were prime examples. My almost five year old was on a huge, multi-story climbing wall and encountered a tough patch (an outcropping sort of area)...but he kept at it & made it to the top. My oldest, eleven, spent hours trying to get his "density tower" (layering of liquids, trying to get at least 5 distinct layers) to work for science class, writing up every time it didn't work...he might still be at it if I hadn't kicked him out so I could make dinner.

For most women who have a natural birth, it really comes down to this - shear will. Not every birth cooperates, but determination (stubbornness?) is a huge factor I think.

I'm counting on this for the triathlon in September!

(the picture is my youngest at his brother's birthday party last year - he was 3 at the time)

21 March 2009

dubious distinction - again

The CDC released the 2007 birth statistics.
NJ 2007 Cesarean Rate is 38.3%
Highest rate in the United States again. The 2007 national average is 31.8%.

of course many of our area hospitals are much higher than this average - and keep in mind that the current number is likely higher - these are 2007 numbers.

20 March 2009

grooming & soothing

I read something interesting today: right around ovulation women put more effort into their appearance (they studied it, but the details are tedious, so just trust me) - I suppose nature is trying to up our chances to conceive. But just before our periods (they also learned) we tend to do lots of grooming too - and this is thought to be self soothing...I think that's kind of sweet!

Rather than over-grooming myself this month (though I did polish my nails & inspect my slightly dry skin today!), I managed to water-log my heart rate monitor watch (I guess you are not supposed to change your own battery, lest the seal be forever-weakened, making it a sitting duck for the chlorinated depths of the pool), accidentally tossed my gym locker key in with my dirty towel (and thus got to sort through everyone's dirty towels to find it) and forgot to return some jeans within the store's policy limits...forget soothing - I apparently need something to blow out the cobwebs from my brain - maybe that compressed air-in-a-can in my ear?

19 March 2009

slow progress

Whether it's labor or a diet/fitness, slow progress is HARD. What's not hard is getting discouraged.
This week I've had a tough time. I've felt sort of trapped in quicksand, just really wanting to curl up and take a nap. I got a cold Monday & allowed myself to give in to it - to just be sick & rest. Tuesday I was back at it & it helped to exercise hard...but I'm feeling discouraged - it seems that everyone around me is getting better results. So I wallowed a bit yesterday.
Today I had to have a talk with myself, while working out...I realized that, as usual for me, I'm trying to control things too much. I'm actually not eating enough, I think...that's what I'm told anyway. I'm working on it. But just like labor, if you try to micromanage it gets in the way, big picture. I need to pull back & look at the amazing positive changes that are happening...someone can be laboring beautifully with all sorts of good stuff happening and it just takes a while to show up at their cervix. I have to trust that this is happening for me too.
I'm also thinking that I need to do some spring cleaning. There was a book out a year or so ago called "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat" or something...and it sort of makes sense - holding on to stuff that no longer serves us. Just like our stuff, our baggage, can get in the way of labor.

So I'm kinda tired of this prodromal action and want to move into active "labor" and see some real progress that I can measure...but I will try to have patience and breathe and trust...and not be jealous of the woman down the hall with the 3 hour labor!

18 March 2009

RIP, Natasha Richardson

Of course it's sad, the death of anyone - a mother, someone young and beautiful. But I'm not sure why I'm so troubled by this story. I've been checking the news frequently since I found out yesterday of the accident.
Perhaps it's that I am a skier. That I skied Mont Tremblant last year. That she was only a few years older than I am. That we are both mothers of sons. That my son just had a minor ski accident and broke his arm.
Whatever it is, I just find this story so unbelievably sad and frightening. She could have worn a helmet - I do and have for at least 5 years. That might have helped. But I've fallen and hit my head hard. And I read that helmets, regular helmets of us mere mortals & not the pros, only protect up to about 17mph or less ...people who are good skiers ski much faster than that (but they still really help).
But sking isn't the issue...this could happen walking on an icy sidewalk.
Still...I am chilled to the bone and wishing peace for her soul and for her family.

11 March 2009

back to it

I'm back from vacation! Although I had internet access, the blogger screen was en Espanol & though my conversational spanish is pretty good, it does not extend to blogging terms! Plus, I decided to really be on vacation...that meant that I even gave myself a break from taking my camera everywhere - unusual for me on a trip. It was great - just us my husband & me on the beach with my new Kindle reader and really awesome service...it's sort of hard to come back to reality and not have everyone around just know that I am "Senora Collins" and hoping to make sure that "everything is perfect" at all times. I will try to post a picture of me swimming with dolphins! sigh...

But since I'm back, it's time to jump further into triathlon training. Friday begins swimming lessons to improve my stroke and figure out how to breath and maximize distance for effort expended. I missed a "chi walking/running" meeting but hope to attend a workshop on it...here's a sample:

03 March 2009


Heading out for a mini vaca to Mexico...will try to blog at some point from there if possible...should be fun!

seize the day!

My friend/neighbor called today to ask if I was up for a spontaneous lunch between her writing deadlines & my appointments with clients and all my broken-armed & sick kids, who were temporarily covered by a sitter. I said sure - it was perfect timing, so we had a little Japanese food. As soon as she sat down, she said she had a proposal...hmmm.
We had joked yesterday that we wished the kids had gone to school instead of having a snow day so that the grownups could go sledding. SO: she had brought a big two-person inflatable sled, hats & gloves...if I was up for it, that is.

Of course I was & it was such fun - you can't help but giggle when you're sailing downhill on a sled! Turns out that it was her birthday (note to self for next year) & she wanted to be sure to do something not grown-up! Nice one!

Happy birthday Laura!!

02 March 2009

End of an era

When I was a kid, my parents were in the music business & we traveled all over. We mostly lived on the road in hotels & I was home schooled until 4th grade when we settled down for good in our house in Nashville.

Because of this, I think my dad tried to create some continuity through radio. No matter where we were, we were able to listen to several things on the radio and feel like we were "home". Paul Harvey was a consistent voice from my childhood. I don't remember him for his politics, but for his quirky, comforting voice.

Good 'ay, Paul Harvey, rest in peace.

01 March 2009

lean times can mean lean babies

In reading the Birthing From Within newsletter today, I saw an address from Pam England in which she mentioned a study (no citation):
25,000 women were included in the study.  In families where one partner has lost a job, a pregnant woman is more likely to have a low birth weight baby.  If both partners (or obviously if she is a single, unemployed mom) are unemployed, the chance is even greater.  A pregnant woman may eat less from stress even if there is plenty of food, may insist that her other children eat more while limiting her own intake or may just not have enough to eat. There could also be the other end of the spectrum, in which too many empty calories are consumed because the food is cheaper per calorie than nutritious food.

Additionally, stress can impede the immune system and can lead to preterm labor and birth & thus low birthweights.  
According to this source:
"For pregnant women, stress is a risk factor for preterm delivery, very low infant birthweight (less than 1500 grams, or 3.3 lbs.), and subsequent infant illness.

Stress is thought to play a role in inducing preterm labor by its debilitating effect on the immune system. An economically stress-weakened woman may be less able to fight infection during the course of her pregnancy, a condition that increases her risk of premature delivery.

Very low birthweight infants account for just 1.2 percent of births. However, very low birthweight accounts for 64.3 percent of infant deaths in the US, according to the study. The results of the research appear in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior."
Something to think about for those of us who work in birth, certainly, but really for all of us to consider.