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The New Anti-feminists: Have They Talked to Their Mothers or Grandmothers?

Today, in support of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., I am posting a blog I published a little over two years ago. It is more relevant than ever. I also want to call your attention to an Op-Ed piece written by Gloria Steinem that appeared yesterday in the Boston Globe. In it she explains how sexism and racism are intertwined and how equal rights for women and the fight for racial equality under the law came to be joint goals of the pioneers in the Women’s Movement for Equality.

 

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Thanks to the young bloggers I follow, most especially Natacha Guyot and Jennie Saia, my attention has been drawn to a trend among young women, who are posting photos on Tumblr and other social media sites proclaiming, in effect, that they are anti-feminists. The first thought I had after seeing these photos was a question: Have these young women spoken to their mothers, grandmothers, or aunts about what they encountered as women in society or in the workplace when they were younger? I can’t imagine they’ve had those conversations. As a woman who lived through the decades of the push for equality in the workplace and encountered anti-equality attitudes at various points in her career, I feel compelled to address these young women who don’t know what it was like to pursue a career in an unequal and unregulated work environment.

We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach—Gloria Steinem

 

I was graduated from high school at the time that Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were just speaking up for equal rights for women. It was a time when women in the workplace were expected to support the men, who did the thinking and the “important” work.  Women served in clerical roles, typing, filing, and making coffee and cleaning up afterwards. Yes, the world of Mad Men prevailed. You could have shone a light on any profession in the 40s and 50s, and the same ethos would have been apparent. In medicine, with rare exceptions, men were doctors. Equally bright, and sometimes brighter, women were nurses. In the Fortune 500 corporations, men were executives, and women were lucky to be administrative assistants or secretaries, wholly without decision-making duties. In Western society men were still considered the breadwinners and the women who worked were assumed to be marking time until they had children, or they had returned to work after their children were grown in order to earn extra spending money. And it was open season on women in the workplace. Sexual harassment was unfettered and unregulated by law. If you need film reminders of how women were treated in the workplace, just watch Nine to Five or The Apartment.

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During my senior year in college (1968 to 1969), I started looking for a position as a teacher. I was lucky to land an interview with the Superintendent of Schools in a town not too far from where I lived. He said he had reviewed my application and letters of recommendation and I appeared to be qualified for the position. He needed to know one thing, however. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No,” I stammered.

“Good,” he said. “At least I’ll get two years out of you before you leave to have babies.”

Can the young women, posing as anti-feminists on social media, imagine themselves in a similar situation during a job interview? Of course, the answer is no. Today, women are protected by legislation that was hard won by feminists who marched and organized and worked for equality—equality in pay, career advancement, and educational opportunities—as well as freedom from sexual harassment at work. These achievements didn’t come about overnight. It took years of advocacy to change the laws and to change the thinking that had created second-class citizenship for women.

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And the feminists worked for equality in more than just the work environment. They worked to give women control of their bodies and reproductive rights, equal financial rights, and protection from domestic abuse. A review of some of the protective legislation shows the far-reaching efforts of the feminist movement in the United States, as follows:

The Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Equal Pay Act mandates equal payment for equal work with provision made for seniority, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on any other factor other than sex. See the website of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII protects applicants and employees against discrimination. It prohibits employers from making employment-related decisions, such as hiring, firing, or promoting, where the decision is motivated by a person’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin Title VII is also the federal statute which makes sexual harassment unlawful.

Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court Ruling of 1965. In a landmark case the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected the right to marital privacy. The case involved a Connecticut statute that prohibited people from using a drug, medical article or instrument to prevent conception.

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Yes, if you are following, that means that birth control was prohibited in Connecticut until the Supreme Court ruled. I am hoping this glimpse into what feminists helped to overturn will open a few eyes among the young women anti-feminists, as well as their significant others.

Other equally important legal victories that the feminist movement helped to win included the following:

  • The 1967 Executive Order giving full affirmative action rights to women
  • The 1968 EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) decision that sex-segregated help wanted ads were illegal
  • Title X of the Public Health Service Act in 1970, creating the only American federal program devoted to the provision of family planning services
  • Title IX in 1972 and the Women’s Educational Equity Act in 1974 that mandated educational equality
  • The1973 Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that laws prohibiting abortion are unconstitutional
  • The 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act, prohibiting discrimination in consumer credit practices on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance
  • The 1975 law requiring the U.S. military academies to admit women
  • The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, banning employment discrimination against pregnant women, prohibiting firing, denying a job to, or failing to promote a woman because she is pregnant

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The feminists fought for equal status for women in society in general, within the educational system, the workplace, the home, and within the financial world. In the United States today a woman can qualify for a mortgage, buy a car, apply for credit, have equal access to the educational system, exercise control over her reproductive life, and pursue a career, as a result of the feminist movement. These are not rights to be taken for granted. They were neither my rights when I entered the workplace nor were they the rights of my mother or grandmother. Sadly, many women in too many parts of the world still do not have these basic rights.

As Jennie Saia pointed out in her blog on the anti-feminist postings, feminists fought for equality. They didn’t seek to diminish the rights of men. They wanted to be considered equal under the law and to have the rights guaranteed under the U.S. constitution. As a wife and the mother of a son, I would never support legislation that disenfranchised men or promoted women to the disadvantage of men. Like other women and men before me, I support equality and freedom for all.

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If we are going to become a society in which there is equal opportunity for all, we need to be vigilant to preserve the rights already won as we move toward winning rights for all disenfranchised groups. As Emma Watson said in her address at the United Nations, feminism is just a word. Let us look beyond the word, men and women together.

If you’ve been following the Feminist Friday discussions organized and promoted by GeneO’, you know that the latest round of posts related to feminism ended on Friday. If you missed this last round, check it out on his blog; then follow the links to the bloggers who posted. If you have something to say about feminism, say it. Send me a link to your blog when you do.

Kathryn C. Treat: Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Author, and Loving Friend. RIP

A year ago today Kathryn Chastain Treat died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. I published this post in her honor after I heard the sad news from one of her daughters. To mark the first anniversary of Kathy’s death, I am re-publishing my 2014 post.

Nothing prepares you for sudden loss. Not training, not faith, not personal fortitude. When loss occurs suddenly, the first reaction is disbelief, followed by a nearly all-encompassing paralysis of thought. At least, that’s how it was for me when Kathy Treat’s daughter Laura told me of her mother’s sudden death this weekend due to a cerebral hemorrhage. How could it be otherwise? A person I had known as a vibrant fully engaged human being, someone who had been a dear friend to me for over twelve years, was suddenly gone. And the only thing I could think of in that moment, the thought that was repeating in my mind, was that I had to write about her. That thought drove me to my computer.

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Kathryn Chastain Treat is the author of Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope. In her book, Kathy shared her years-long battle to recover from mold exposure in her workplace and detailed the various treatments she underwent, some of which worked and some of which did not. If there were dominant themes that tied her story of illness, survival, and triumph together, they were her out-sized courage and her decades-long quest to educate doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel about multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). And she was a great guide and friend to others with MCS. In her blog posts, she shared information about the various treatments that had worked for her and others, pointed a finger at the sources of pollution— industrial, commercial, and personal—that harm all of us, not just the chemically sensitive, and supported other bloggers who were helping to shine a light on the environment and health, as well as the increase in the incidence of MCS. She was also a loyal and dedicated member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, who served as the club’s first Membership Director until illness and the loss of her father required she take a less active, but still utterly engaged, role. Finally, and certainly most important to a retelling of who Kathy was, she was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

I met Kathy in January 2003 at Dr. Rea’s clinic, the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, under what were trying circumstances for both of us. I had been in Dallas since October 2002 under treatment for chronic and acute exposure to type II pyrethroid pesticides, which are still considered in the United States to be safe for people and pets. Kathy, who had initially been in treatment at Dr. Rea’s clinic for mold exposure in 2002, had returned to Dallas to have her uterus and ovaries removed in January 2003, an ordeal she wrote about in detail in her book. While a hysterectomy is stressful and debilitating for most women and recovery is not easy, Kathy’s was made even more so by the knowledge that her uterine and ovarian tissue contained high levels of trichothecene mycotoxins, toxic secondary metabolites or byproducts of mold.

Despite the obstacles to recovery Kathy encountered and the debilitating bouts of dizziness, compounded by anaphylactic reactions to medicines as well as to the testing of antigens that would eventually bring her allergic reactions under control, she remained determined to help herself and to be a friend to the other patients she met at the clinic and the Regina Coeli apartments, where we met.

As people do when they are joined in adversity, Kathy bonded with several patients, and I was one of those fortunate to meet and bond with Kathy. As she recovered from her surgery and became stronger, we shared the time we were not testing at the clinic, sitting in my apartment and not Kathy’s because in addition to MCS I had also unmasked for sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. In my apartment I was furthest from the strongest sources of EMF radiation in the apartment building, and I could manage best there. Kathy, considerate and thoughtful, made it her business to learn about EMF sensitivity and helped me with tasks I could not manage on my own.

One of those tasks was washing and drying clothing. I needed to avoid going into the laundry room when the washers or dryers were running. Since there was no schedule for use, invariably I found myself having to move my clothes to the dryer or take them out when someone else was already running a wash or dry cycle in another machine. I had been depending on friends I had made at the apartments, but finding someone at the right moment wasn’t always possible. Kathy said that Regina Coeli needed to have a laundry room schedule, and I agreed. We sat one afternoon working on a grid by two-hour time segments for the use of the washers and dryers in the laundry room. Later that evening when we had finished, I presented the grid to Earl Remmel, the proprietor, who loved the idea and hung up a grid-like sign up board in the laundry room for residents to fill in. EMF exposure problem solved! And it was Kathy’s idea.

When it was time for me to leave Dallas for an environmentally safe house in Santa Fe, Kathy and another friend, Anne, helped me pack up to leave. I had been in a healing crisis and was in too much pain to do much of anything except rest. In Santa Fe, Kathy and I kept in touch while she was in Dallas and after she returned home to Merced. Since I was still recovering from EMF sensitivity, we could only exchange handwritten notes. It was not until a few months later that I could begin to have telephone conversations, albeit short ones to limit my exposure to EMF.

As I healed from EMF sensitivity with help from Deborah Singleton and the healing team at A Healing Place, I could once again use a computer and speak on the telephone for longer periods. Then Kathy and I could exchange emails about the book I was writing and Kathy’s plan to turn her journal entries into the story of her battle with mold exposure. Kathy was one of my biggest supporters as I was dealing with the various stages of editing and proofreading with my publisher. In turn after she had decided to self-publish and had entered the editing process through a friend of her daughter Laura, we explored the many avenues to publication.

Kathy published Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope in August 2013. She planned and cooked for her launch party, choosing an outside setting, one that would make it easier for her to be in a large group of people. If everyone followed her request not to wear scent, then she could mingle easily and not be exposed to the outgassing of materials as she would have in an indoor setting. The party was a success, of course.

In December 2013 Kathy told me of a new online book club, of which she was to be a founding member. The brainchild of Nonnie Jules, Rave Reviews Book Club would promote Indie writers and their work. Although I was published by a small publisher in the UK, Kathy said I would be welcome, and she urged me to join. I am glad I did. RRBC has been incredibly supportive on social media and is a home away from home for beginning and seasoned writers. Their promotional activities have brought me and other writers followers on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress and increased sales.

The fact that I have a WordPress blog at all is due to Kathy’s guidance and help. When my book website was hacked and used as a phishing site, it had to be taken down.  After working with a young computer geek for several weeks to try to restore it, I realized that it was a lost cause. Kathy volunteered to guide me in setting up a WordPress blog. She helped me style my page, connect it to social media with the right widgets, and taught me in telephone conversations how to edit and post. Within a day my blog was running, and I began posting.

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Kathryn and her husband, Rick.

Just as she was a loyal friend to me and to others, she was devoted to her family. And they figure prominently in Allergic to Life. Anyone who reads Kathy’s book will learn of her devotion to her parents, sister, husband, children, and grandchildren. She writes movingly of her feelings when she was in treatment in Dallas and had to miss birthdays and other celebrations with her daughters back home. Her family returned that devotion and love in many ways. They were supportive of Kathy while she was in treatment in Dallas and at home. Kathy shared photos of family holidays in her blogs, where her family wore Tyvek suits to protect Kathy from mold exposure. They de-scented themselves for her and made their homes as environmentally safe as they could so Kathy could visit. Kathy and I had heard stories from other clinic patients whose families were not supportive and made no effort to help the person in treatment. We had both felt so grateful that our families had stood by us through treatment and afterwards.

Kathy was an ordinary woman who walked an extraordinarily difficult path with courage and determination. She mastered the technical terms of the health consequences of mold exposure and educated those who would listen. She was a role model for me and many others. Her kindnesses and achievements will not be forgotten.

Kathy, I will miss you, my dear friend and fellow author.

In Loving Memory of Kathryn Chastain Treat

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Kathryn C. Treat passed away on Sunday, December 21, 2014, at 2:20 a.m. (California time).  On Friday, December 19, after having a wonderful time at the Rave Reviews Book Club’s virtual Christmas party, in a virtual chat room with her fellow RRBC VIP Lounge members, Kathryn said that she was not feeling well and was going to leave.  Shortly thereafter, she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and then lapsed into a coma.

Kathryn was an honorary board member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, where she served as Membership Director from December 2013 until September 2014.  Kathryn is the author of ALLERGIC TO LIFE:  MY BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL, COURAGE AND HOPE  She inspired and encouraged many with this book, so if you have not had the pleasure of reading it, please head to Amazon and get your copy.

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Kathryn was a dedicated member of RRBC until her passing, and she was one of the most supportive members the club had…not just to one, but to all.  Kathryn leaves to mourn her husband, her mother, her sister, her two daughters, a son-in-law and three grandkids (whom she adored more than life), as well as her entire RRBC family.

Let us remember Kathryn and honor her memory by always being kind to one another and by always offering our support to another.  It’s what she did.  It’s how she lived.  It’s who she was.  In honor, many blogs across the world are memorializing Kathryn today with the same post that you see here.  If Kathryn touched your life in any way, please share your memories and comments below.  Since everyone who knew Kathryn may not yet know of her home-going, we ask that you also share this page on all your social media forums.

We have erected a memorial page on the Rave Reviews Book Club site that will remain.  Please stop by to leave your comments and memories of Kathryn, so that her family will get a sense of just how loved she was by so many.

THANK YOU!

PS:  As a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club and someone whose life was touched by Kathy, I am participating in the worldwide blog today as Kathy is laid to rest. My thoughts are with her family, and I send them love. In an earlier post I wrote about Kathy and her courageous fight both to educate others about multiple chemical sensitivity and to survive a workplace mold exposure that had turned her life upside down. You can access it here: Click.

 

Breathe! Inspiration from Arianna Huffington’s Book Thrive

41y2X6GOT8L._AA160_[1]I recently began reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. The book was a Christmas gift from my future daughter-in-law, Colleen Leddy, who had attended a Thrive workshop earlier in the year. She had texted me about her wonderful experience, and I made a mental note to buy a copy of Huffington’s book. One thing led to another, and I never placed that order. Consequently, I was really pleased when I opened the gift box and found Thrive. Since I was right in the middle of reading London by Edward Rutherfurd, a book I highly recommend to both seasoned and aspiring writers for a study of Rutherfurd’s approach to historical fiction, I couldn’t start Huffington’s book when it arrived.

Over the past three days, however, I’ve read about 150 pages of Thrive, but I’ve already found so much to recommend that I thought I’d take this moment to reach out to all of you who are celebrating the beginning of the new year. For many of us the end of one year and the beginning of another is a time for reflection on what has gone before as well as what is to come in our lives. Not exactly resolution making, reflection is a way to take stock and to dream or plan. I was thinking as I read those first 150 pages that part of Huffington’s message speaks to reflection in our daily lives through the mindfulness practice she recommends.

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The training I received at A Healing Place in Richardson, Texas, led me to incorporate mindfulness in my daily life through the practice of meditation. Living on a mountain, isolated at 8,000 feet, for nearly nine years after my introduction to mindfulness, or awareness, made that incorporation easy. Those of you who have read my book, Intentional Healing…or have been following my blog for a while know that I attribute my full recovery from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) not only to treatment at Dr. William J. Rea’s clinic in Dallas but also to the spiritual healing I received from energy medicine practitioners, Navajo medicine men, and the self-care awareness and energy balancing exercises I was taught at A Healing Place.

Obviously, my own experience with the health-enhancing benefits of mindfulness made me receptive to Huffington’s message that a successful life needs to be redefined from the current metric of working to career achievement through sleep deprivation and exhaustion to, instead, in the words of her subtitle, “creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder.” And to make this point, Huffington backs up her recommendations with a great deal of research supporting the benefits of mindfulness, not just to us but to the organizations, businesses, and institutions for which we work. The data are convincing. I highly recommend you read Thrive.

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What is mindfulness? If you’re new to the concept of mindfulness, you can think of it as paying attention to who you are and how you feel in the moment. It is as simple as paying attention to what you are eating and how you are eating it. A friend of mine attended a Natalie Goldberg writing workshop in France this past summer, where mindfulness was incorporated into every activity and task during the program. Eating in silence with mindfulness, paying attention to the scents of the foods, noticing how they felt on several levels as they chewed, allowed the writer participants to open their focus and their ability to write about the experience. Did I mention that they also had to be unplugged from social media—no smart phones, tablets, or computers except for a brief window each day? Something Huffington would have applauded.

Deborah Singleton, founder of A Healing Place, taught me that breath and thought are the two most important tools to enhance wellness in the bodymindspirit. Huffington has incorporated both of these tools in her approach to a successful life, one that is balanced between the planning and execution of tasks in the workplace and at home with living in the moment, which is what mindfulness is all about.

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You can take the first step toward cultivating mindfulness by focusing on your breath. As I was taught at A Healing Place, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. Think of letting go of all that does not serve you. And relax. Feel into every part of you—head, mouth, nose, throat, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, legs, and feet— as you sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Focus on your feet. Think: I let it all go. This is something you can do in the middle of your work day right at your desk. Even one minute in this focus will enhance health and improve concentration.

If you’re fortunate to be working at one of the companies mentioned in Thrive that provides meditation classes or quiet rooms for mindfulness, then spend a few minutes bringing yourself into balance by de-stressing through breathing. Enter the quiet room. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in one of your favorite places. Is it in a garden? At the seashore? By a lake? On a mountain top? Notice your surroundings in your sacred space. Feel a soft breeze on your face. Experience the warmth of the sun.

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Take a deep breath in through your nose and gently blow it out through your mouth. Feel your breath move from the top of your head through your body and into your feet. Send your breath from your feet into the floor below and down into the earth. Don’t worry about what floor you are on. Just see and feel your breath moving through those floors and into the earth. Feel your connection with the earth.

Notice areas of tension in your body. Breathe through those parts of you and think: I let all tension go. Feel it move into your feet and down into the earth. When you feel relaxed, gently bring your focus back to your breath as you leave your visit to your favorite place. Within yourself, express gratitude for your moment in your sacred space. Remember that you can return there whenever you want.

When you are ready, open your eyes. Nurture your body with a cool glass of water and a healthful snack such as fruit or nuts. You will return to your tasks refreshed.

Every day take a few minutes to be in the moment, noticing how you feel and relaxing the tension in your body through breathing. Over time, this refreshing break will develop into an automatic reflex that kicks in when you are feeling stressed. As you continue to practice mindfulness, your awareness of who you are in any moment will enhance your health and allow you to see other people in a more compassionate light. The benefits for you, your employer, and the world at large will grow and grow.

Blessings to all!

My thanks to Google Free Images for the wonderful visuals in this post.

Good News? and Bad News About Pesticides in U.S. Waterways

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In a New York Times article on September 12, 2014, Michael Wines reported the results of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey that collected data on pesticides from 1992 to 2011 at over 200 monitoring locations. The bad news is that the study found pesticides and herbicides in nearly every waterway in our country.

The good news, however, and decidedly the good news is for only two types of waterways, is that levels declined from the first decade of the study to the second in agricultural streams and other streams other than urban streams. As Wines writes: “From 1992 to 2001 17 percent of agricultural streams and 5 percent of other streams had at least one pesticide whose average annual concentration was above the maximum contaminant level for drinking water. But in the second decade, from 2002 to 2011, the survey found dangerous pesticide concentrations in only one stream nationwide.” And the reason for this decline? Regulations to control the monitored pesticides forced manufacturers to focus elsewhere.

Before you start celebrating, however, you should know that, as Wines points out, this decline was a decline in name only. In fact, as the use of pesticides became more heavily regulated, manufacturers turned to substitute chemicals. In urban streams, pesticide levels above the threshold for aquatic life jumped from 53 percent in the first decade to 90 percent in the second. Part of this jump was attributed to two pesticides—fipronil and dichlorvus, both heavily used in household products, such as flea collars, roach killers (fipronil) and no-pest strips, and dog de-wormers (dichlorvus). As the use of other pesticides became more heavily regulated, manufacturers turned to fipronil and dichlorvus as substitutes. Thus the sudden increase in those pesticides during the second decade. Furthermore, the U.S.G.S. study did not monitor pyrethroids or glyphosate (brand name Roundup).

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Although I have no experience with Roundup, I can speak to pyrethroids from firsthand experience. In Intentional Healing: One Woman’s Path to Higher Consciousness and Freedom from Environmental and Other Chronic Illnesses, I described my acute exposure to deltamethrin and delta dust during a visit from exterminators. Let’s start with some background: Type II pyrethroids, such as deltamethrin and permethrin, are sold to the public as safe for domestic use. Safe for children, pets, the elderly, for humans in general. How do they work? They attack the nervous systems of insects through sodium-ion channels. The principal effects of pyrethroids as a class are various signs of excitatory neurotoxicity.

Humans, as mammals, have many more sodium ion channels than insects. And the symptoms I experienced when the exterminators started working—tachycardia, inability to organize my thoughts, breathing difficulties, burning that began in my scalp and spread throughout my body— seemed to indicate that my nervous system was being affected. I later found out at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas that my nervous system had, in fact, been affected. Despite the assurances I had received that pyrethroids are safe for humans, I was harmed by them. Just as the nervous systems of insects are attacked by pyrethroids so, too, was mine.

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What does the EPA have to say about pyrethroids? The EPA has found no harm to human beings, situational harm to pets (that is, if products are not used correctly), and a great deal of harm to aquatic organisms. The following was copied directly from the EPA website:

Pyrethroids are highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Because the pyrethroids can accumulate in sediments, risk to sediment-dwelling organisms is an area of particular concern. Recent water quality monitoring efforts in California have identified pyrethroids in sediments of water bodies adjacent to residential/urban areas. These monitoring data, coupled with additional pyrethroid-specific data submitted to the Agency, highlight existing concerns regarding residential uses of pyrethroid pesticide products and movement into non-target areas through runoff or spray drift that may occur during applications.

To reduce exposure to water bodies from non-agricultural and agricultural uses of pyrethroids, the Agency deployed the following labeling initiatives.

Environmental Hazard and General Labeling for Pyrethroid and Synergized Pyrethrins Non-agricultural Outdoor Products – Revised February 2013 – To reduce exposure from residential uses of pyrethroids and pyrethrins products, EPA implemented a 2009 labeling initiative, with minor revisions in 2013, requiring revised Environmental Hazard Statements and general Directions for Use for pyrethroid and pyrethrins pesticide products used in non-agricultural outdoor settings. The label statements spell out good stewardship and best-management practices and clarify how these types of products are intended to be used.

These label statements serve to reduce the potential for runoff and drift to water bodies that can result from applications of pyrethroid end-use products in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial areas, applied by both professional pesticide control operators and residential consumers.

Pyrethroid Spray Drift Initiative – In the reregistration process for permethrin and cypermethrin, the Agency determined that the existing spray drift language for pyrethroid agricultural products needed to be updated to comply with FIFRA. Because of similarities in use patterns, and concern for exposure to aquatic resources, the Agency believes that this updated label language is necessary for all pyrethroid products used on agricultural crops. In a letter from the Agency (PDF) (6 pp, 75k, About PDF) dated February 21, 2008, registrants were instructed to incorporate the revised spray drift language onto their agricultural labels, and submit the amended labels to the Agency.

Do you now feel protected from toxic runoff? I don’t.

It may be the height of folly, or just another example of the hubris we exhibit toward our place among living organisms, to think that a substance that is deadly to any living creature will not pose dangers to ourselves. I know I am not a lone case. Since the incident in our home in 2002, I’ve met many others who were harmed by pesticides thought to be safe for humans. At the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, thousands of patients have been treated for exposure to toxic chemicals. And the EHC-D is only one of hundreds of clinics and medical practices around the world devoted to treating people who have been exposed to toxins.

If we want to safeguard the environment for ourselves, our families, and the generations that follow us, we need to adopt a new way of thinking about unregulated and regulated pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals. If we think that everyone who uses chemicals will do so in a responsible way, then we are closing our eyes to human nature. If we accept that the substances used to kill insects won’t harm us or our children, if we believe that the pesticides and herbicides we spray on agricultural fields that eventually work their way into our water systems won’t harm aquatic life or the animals (ourselves included) that eat fish, then we will continue to degrade ourselves, the earth, our oceans, and every living creature.

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If, like me, you want to regulate strongly the manufacture and use of chemicals by supporting the watchdogs who work to protect us, then get involved by following the work of organizations that inform us and petition for legislation to protect us. Here are just a few of those groups:

The Environmental Working Group—www.ewg.org

The Sierra Club—http://sierraclub.org/

Greenpeace—www.greenpeace.org

Mother Jones—www.motherjones.com

Earth Times—http://www.earthtimes.org/

Environmental Health News—http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/

Through these organizations, you’ll have access to the latest environmental developments and political news related to the environment as well as to online petitions so that your voice can be heard. I urge you to take a stand. Speak up for the earth and all of her children.

My thanks to Google free images for all but the last of the visuals in this article. I photographed this nature scene in Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore during one of my meditation walks.

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Feminist Friday: What Are Strong Female Characters?

As part of the Feminist Friday postings organized by GeneO, I am posting Hannah Givens’ contribution. Let’s keep the discussion going. Please visit her blog and leave a comment.

Hannah Reads Books

You may have noticed I’ve been blogging about female characters all week! Well, there’s a reason: I want to discuss the concept of “strong female characters” today. That phrase gets thrown around a lot, but people have widely varying ideas of a) what a strong female character is, and b) what a strong female character is supposed to accomplish in the real world. So, let’s compare notes.

We Are All Wonder Women Prints available on Etsy.

In its most casual usage, the phrase seems to mean either a female warrior or a female character who gets a lot of “screentime” in the story. Both of these things can certainly be important. Women are traditionally not portrayed as warriors or physically/emotionally “strong,” and as we talked about two weeks ago, the Bechdel Test illustrates that women are often only present as token supporting characters in a male character’s story. (There’s nothing wrong with telling stories…

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Feminist Friday: “It is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it”

Here is another contribution to the Feminist Friday discussions. This one focuses on Emma Watson’s plea for gender equality at the United Nations this week. Join the discussion!

Feminist Friday: How Valuable is the Bechdel Test?

I have been following the Feminist Friday discussions organized by GeneO,’ and today I am posting the first discussion from the new round of Feminist Friday offerings. I thank Natacha Guyot for introducing me to the series. Please go to Victim to Charm to join the discussion.

Victim to Charm

Think about the last movie you saw. Were there two or more female characters? Did they talk to each other about something besides men?

The Bechdel test, created by Alison Bechdel, examines female roles in movies by asking three questions:

  • Are there two or more women in the film?
  • Do they talk to each other?
  • Is their conversation about something other than a man?

alison bechdel, dykes to watch out for From Alison Bechdel’s comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” (1985).

The test seems simple—women talk to each other about things besides men all the time in real life—yet a surprisingly high number of movies fail to represent this basic activity.

5540832_origThe test is so basic because it’s a standard that should be easy to pass. The fact that so many movies fail to achieve one, two, or all three of the test’s clauses highlights the rampant misogyny of the film industry. If a movie can’t…

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Kicked Out of the Garden: Interview with Author Kim Taylor

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It is my pleasure to host Kim Taylor, author of Kicked Out of the Garden: Embracing Diversity As a Way of the Heart. Kim’s book was published by Changemakers Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing, Ltd., my publisher as well. Kim’s book, as well as being the story of how she found faith, is a meditation from the heart, a healing balm. You must read it to experience its richness. Here is Kim in her own words.

 

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What motivated you to write “Kicked Out of the Garden”?

I think my biggest motivation for writing this book was seeing how the people I know and love relate to faith and their religious beliefs. Their faith seemed to be directed so strongly by fear, guilt, and shame.  When I read and thought about what Christ said, I knew these emotions were not of God.  This always made me wonder what we were missing. So much of who Christ seemed to be as he walked this earth was very different from what I experienced in people who claimed to be his followers, myself included.  I began my quest in college when I came to the deep realization that I seemed to have no faith or love, as I understood these two traits through the Born Again Evangelical Church. These two traits are the foundation of Christian religion, and I thought they were so limited in me. I was living my life by the rules I was raised with in the Church. I had been told that if I followed these rules I would find God’s love.  I seemed to find only separation and disappointment in myself. As I stepped away from the rules, I began to experience a freedom and joy that was so new for me, and through that, my love and acceptance finally began to reflect the love of Christ.  And so I wanted to share this with others, hoping that my journey might open them up to new possibilities of faith and, perhaps, to the limitlessness of God. We can only find God’s true nature by looking within ourselves and seeing through our hearts. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you. So all that we need to know about the Great Mystery can be found within our body, our thoughts, our feelings.

 

Your book seemed like a meditation to me. Do you meditate? It also seemed channeled in parts. Would you consider any of it channeled?

Yes, my book is a combination of channeling interwoven with my own experience.  I have always sourced from the Divine Creator and the Christ energy.

And yes… I love to step out of time and into that meditative state. For me I do not follow the general rules that go along with mediation.  I have no set time or steps in how I get there. I can fall into mediation when I am drinking my tea, when I am sitting in traffic, or cleaning my house. It has become a way of life for me, not something that I choose to do and set aside time in the day for. It has become who I am.

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Were you a writer before you started this book?

No, the last time I wrote anything before my book was in college.  I struggled in school. My writing skills never seemed to be able to keep up with my creative mind, so writing was always frustrating for me.  It never came out the way I thought I had created it. All I can say is thank God for computers and spell check.  The computer has allowed me to slow down my creative process, as I am slow at typing, but speed up my writing skills, allowing me to feel my work in a way that hand scribing never could.

 

Who inspires you?

In my book I talk about how my mother was the biggest inspiration for me.  I love my mom very much, but I saw her go from this amazing spiritual person when she was young to a bitter older woman.  I always wondered why? She lived her life in service to God and Jesus, and yet it did not seem sustainable as she lost so much of her beauty as she grew old. Watching her made me afraid to grow old. Something seemed to be missing.  I wanted to finish my life well, and I did not want my children to be afraid, as I was, to grow old. I had to figure it out for both children and myself.

 

Who are your favorite authors?

Neale Donald Walsch is one of my top ones.  I love how he makes me think about what I really believe, and Alberto Villoldo’s writing has been very influential in my life.

 

During author talks, what do people want to know about your book, your writing process, and you?

Most people ask me about my metaphoric interpretation of the Garden of Eden.  When you interpret this passage metaphorically, it is not about eating the apple. Rather, it is about hiding, which causes separation and duality. This state keeps us from knowing our soul and touching other souls. It keeps us from living in our hearts as Jesus did when he was on this earth.  I have found my heart holds the unlimited love of the Creator of all there is.  If I live by my heart, I find the fruits of the spirit flow freely.  Every moment of every day we have the choice to live in the garden by the Tree of Life or out of the garden by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This is a very different interpretation than what I heard growing up.

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How did you find Changemakers Books?

So I finished my book when I was still living in Ohio on my farm, and I heard all the horror stories about how difficult it is to find a publisher.  When I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2012, the first week I was in Santa Fe I met author Marsha Scarbrough, a Changemakers Books author.  She invited me to send her two chapters of my book. She said if she liked them, she would send them to her publisher.  After reading the excerpt, she asked me to have it edited. I wondered whom I could ask, but the Universe had already figured that out. I ran into an old friend who had been an editor for thirty years. She agreed to work on my manuscript. I sent the edited excerpt to Marsha, and she, in turn, sent it to Tim Ward, publisher of Changemakers’s Books.  He liked it, and coincidentally, he was coming to Santa Fe. We met, and I traveled with Marsha and Tim as he was marketing his book Zombies on Kilimanjaro.  I must say we had a lot of fun, Marsha Tim and I.  And the rest is history.  When you are on your path, it is amazing how everything lines up.  This is what I experienced with my book. The path in many ways was effortless.

 

On the Cusp of Change: Guest Blog Post on the Forces of Transformation

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Today I am reblogging a post written by my publisher, Tim Ward. Tim is the author of Zombies on Kilimanjaro: A Father/Son Journey Above the Clouds, What the Buddha Never Taught, Arousing the Goddess, and Savage Breast.

For over twelve years I have been living with and observing the transformation Tim writes about. Those of us who have been watching this process unfold view the societal shifts, the intranational conflicts, and the natural disasters of the past decade as the natural consequences of the individual transformations that are taking placing within us all, from head-centered living to heart-centered living. This is the transformation that I have been writing about in my blogs—a transformation from a third-chakra orientation (will center) to a fourth chakra orientation (heart center).  If we see the earth and humanity as energetic entities, it is easy to recognize how their energies can intersect and influence each other. The changes that come from within us fuel the changes that we see around us. How many times have you heard from relationship counselors that if you want to make a relationship better, you cannot seek to change the other person? You must seek to change yourself. Change that comes from within is lasting change. As more of us view ourselves as citizens of the world with a collective responsibility to ensure a wholesome earth environment for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, we can raise our voices for clean air and water, responsible and sustainable farming, and equitable sharing of natural  resources.

 

Thank you to Esther-Maria Lindner for this representation of the Hopi prophecy.

Thank you to Esther-Maria Lindner for this representation of the Hopi prophecy.

Guest Post by Tim Ward:
On the Cusp of Change

I believe we are living on the cusp of massive planetary change, upheaval that may rival the six great extinctions of previous eons. While previous cataclysmic shifts were caused by events such as asteroids, this one is different for three reasons:

1. It is being caused by a single species – us.
2. It is happening in slow motion (relatively speaking)
3. The cause – us – is not a blind force. We have the power to change its trajectory.

In my other job, I’m a communications advisor for international development and environmental organizations. In this capacity, I am constantly studying the drivers of human change – how to create it and how to direct it. What we’ve learned is that awareness of a problem alone is seldom enough to get people to work together to solve it.

You need three ingredients:

First, the problem has to create dissatisfaction with the way things are. Sometimes this can be through a vision of a better future or a greater opportunity that can be realized through making a change. More often, though, dissatisfaction comes when we realize our current path is going to lead us to more suffering than we can tolerate. A toothache is a great example. I often put off going to the dentist, even though I know it’s important. But when I feel a stab of pain in a tooth, I make an appointment, because I know more suffering is coming if I don’t deal with it. That’s human nature.

Second, you need realistic hope that if you do act, things can be different. If the problem is overwhelming, it’s easy to fall into despair and apathy. I go to the dentist because I know he can deal with my tooth and make the pain go away. If I knew I had terminal cancer, well, what would be the point of going to the doctor for check ups? Hope is what moves us towards the future we want and makes us ready to work for it.

Third, you need a sense of urgency. Without urgency, we keep putting things off, even important things, figuring we will eventually get around to them, but we never do. I have a basement closet in need of emptying out that can testify to this fact in my own life.

When it comes to the planet’s impending, human-caused catastrophes, we actually have a perfect mix of these three ingredients: dissatisfaction, hope and urgency. For example, with climate change, we are already seeing the effects of increased hurricanes, droughts, floods and sea level rise. We know the pain is going to get worse. We have the hope of solar, wind and other clean energy technologies. My environmental clients stress that just by switching to today’s current green technologies (never mind future breakthroughs) we could reverse the trends of Climate Change. Finally, climate scientists believe we have a window of about twenty years to make it happen. After that, melting icecaps and permafrost, dying rainforest and a host of other drivers will take Climate Change out of our control, spewing massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and putting us on a path of no return.

This is one of perhaps a dozen or more areas where we as a species are facing global disaster, but we have the choice, the power, and the motivation to make the change.

Now is the moment for change makers, agents of transformation, catalysts, and visionaries to raise their voices and inspire humanity to choose the future we want – not the one we are headed for.

And this is the purpose of Changemakers Books, to provide a platform for Changemakers to share their practical wisdom, to show us a better path, and to motivate us to act.

I believe change happens from the inside out and the outside in, and so some of our authors focus on the spiritual and psychological dimensions of transformation for the individual, while others focus on moral and social transformation for all humanity. These must go hand in hand.

In fact, it is my belief that no one approach has the sole right answer. So I encourage my authors to connect and interact with their readers, and to help each other by promoting other authors’ works through their own social networks. It’s my intention that as Changemakers Books expands, it will draw to it Connectors – bloggers, journalists, radio hosts, TV producers, academic institutions, and other publishers so that we can create an ethos of conscious transformation large enough to move humanity into the future that could be, if we choose to make it so.

Tim Ward
Publisher
Changemakers Books
publisher@changemakersbooks.com