Finding comfort in yoga

I just stumbled across an interesting article on Gaiam's website about an autistic boy and his new love for yoga. Andrew Benisek, a nine-year old boy diagnosed with pervasive developmental delay found some old yoga tapes that belonged to his mother and was instantly hooked.

Stories like this always remind me that we're still searching for, not a cure per se, but something to help those diagnosed within the autism spectrum. I'd say we lucked out with my brother. Sure, he has his speech problems and sometimes has trouble interacting in social situations but he's very intelligent and capable even with his disorder. I don't know what it's like to have a "normal" brother but I wouldn't trade James in for anyone else. I would like to help him though. He understands that his speech isn't where it should be and I can see that it frustrates him. For that reason I'm always wondering what I can do for him but I always come up empty.

Boy is he in for a surprise when I spring yoga on him! I would have never thought to introduce him to the practice but it makes total sense. He's always all over the place (of course he's a 13 year old boy) but I think he can learn a lot about himself through yoga. The article also mentions that yoga practice may help with focusing and concentration (both of which my brothers needs). Along with the soothing voices, sounds and breathing techniques (and the cool sounding 'warrior pose') I think he may like it. I guess we'll find out once the school week is over...

For more on the article check it out at
Until we meet again =)

Can't we all just get along?

There is so much health-care hullabaloo (I like that word) going on right now that I think my head may explode. I'm pro health-care reform 100%. On one hand I don't have health insurance and I wish I could go to the Dr without paying an arm and a leg but on the other hand I believe more in natural medicine than anything else. I have a distrust of prescription drugs since they rarely do anything but mask the problem. Nevertheless, I don't expect everyone to feel the way I do about natural medicine so I fully support cheap insurance run by the *gasp* government. Yes, the government is not my favorite institution but I find it doubtful that it will make us a *gasp again* SOCIALIST COUNTRY. I don't understand every one's horrific fear of socialism. As if capitalism is the best form of government out there. Please.

I was reading an article, Guns That Talk (which I highly recommend) from the Huffington Post that made some great points. Many health-care reform crazies have been having conniptions about their gun rights being taken away (who the hell is even talking about that?) and how in order to be patriotic one must bring a gun to the protest! Yes, and sing the national anthem with banners of Obama looking like the Joker or Hitler. Pick one. The writer points out that if this were during the Bush years and people were bringing guns to a Bush speech...dear lord imagine the repercussions. For just wearing an anti-Bush shirts people were escorted off the premises Interesting. Robert Koehler, the writer, points out:

That was then: "Free speech zones" were the norm; protesters were routinely whisked out of sight at every Bush appearance, even though, you know, we have a First Amendment and all.

This is now: A dozen guys with guns gathered outside a convention center in Phoenix on Monday as President Obama spoke. At least two of them had assault rifles slung over their shoulders. "Phoenix police said the men carrying guns at Monday's event did not need permits, as the state of Arizona has an 'open carry' law," the U.K. Telegraph reported. "No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested."

What is the mentality of these people? I cannot believe that they actually feel so threatened by health-care reform that they think a revolution is in order. I am ecstatic about their protesting name though: Tea-baggers. Priceless.

But for Obama being such a Nazi socialist he is being awfully nice to all the people who are attempting to defy him. Does that seem like Hitler behavior to anyone? These gun toter's say they're merely practicing their 2nd Amendment rights. But what does it mean when you bring a gun to a protest? What will these people need protection from? Themselves? Especially the guy who held a sign with a Thomas Jefferson quote about watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants...Yes, nothing aggressive about that.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm completely for protesting passionately for what you believe in. But to rage and blither absolute nonsense while toting a gun, well, that just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. If these people maybe had better information and better sources (ahem: Fox News, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush that enough?) then maybe I'd be more inclined to listen to them. But I don't believe in aggression or guns for that matter. At least until I'm being threatened with the same. That's not the case here though. All we're asking for is help. For the people who can't afford insurance or who have been turned away by money-hungry insurance companies. Studies show that in 2007 nearly 46 million Americans were uninsured. Between 2008 and 2010 nearly 7 million more people will also lose their coverage. I can only assume that these town hall protesters just don't care about those figures or anyone but themselves for that matter. I guess they're okay with the thousands that die yearly because they can't afford medical care. You betcha!

So where does all this craziness stem from? I read another fascinating article from the Huff Post, this time from Johann Hari, who makes some excellent points. She covers basically all of the right-wing lunacy dating back to the Bush years. Lunacy based on, no not facts, but well...lunacy. Here's an excerpt:

You have to admire the audacity of the right. Here's what's actually happening. The US is the only major industrialized country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves -- and just under 50 million people can't afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can't access the care they require. That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being "killers" -- and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.

The Republicans want to defend the existing system, not least because they are given massive sums of money by the private medical firms who benefit from the deadly status quo. But they can't do so honestly: some 70 percent of Americans say it is "immoral" to retain a medical system that doesn't cover all citizens. So they have to invent lies to make any life-saving extension of healthcare sound depraved.

These claims have become so detached from reality that they often seem like black comedy. The right-wing magazine US Investors' Daily claimed that if Steven Hawking had been British, he would have been allowed to die at birth by its "socialist" healthcare system. Hawking responded with a polite cough that he is British, and "I wouldn't be here without the NHS." Frank Laffer, the right-wing economist lauded by David Cameron, claimed on CNN that it would be a disaster if the government got its hands on Medicare, the program providing healthcare for the elderly, paid for entirely by... the government.

This tendency to simply deny inconvenient facts and invent a fantasy-world isn't new; it's only becoming more heightened. It ran through the Bush years like a dash of bourbon in water. When it became clear Saddam Hussein had no Weapons of Mass Destruction, the US right simply claimed they had been shipped to Syria. When the scientific evidence for man-made global warming became unanswerable, they claimed, as one Republican congressman put it, that it was "the greatest hoax in human history", and all the world's climatologists were "liars". The American media then presents itself as an umpire between "the rival sides", as if they both had evidence behind them.

She believes most of the right-wing crazyness stems from religion which seems agreeable on my part but we'll leave that for another post. Until then I will continue to watch the madness and hope that change will prevail.

Until next time.


Every experiment, by multitudes or by individuals, that has a sensual and selfish aim, will fail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson


From Eco-chick:

Crude is the story of a community of 30,000 tribal members in the Amazonian jungle of Ecuador who hold a corporation to bear for its crimes against their land, their livelihood, and most importantly, their lives. The film follows the intricacies of what has been called the “Amazon Chernobyl.”

The indigenous population claims that Chevron, the parent company to the former Texaco, spent thirty years contaminating the air, land, and water of an area the size of Rhode Island which is now called the “death zone.” Cancer, leukemia, and birth defects are among some of the effects of Big Oil. The film was shot and edited over a period of three years, with Berlinger and the crew sacrificing their own safety by facing both environmental (toxic fumes, disease, searing equatorial heat) and man-made dangers (shooting near the Colombian border where drug runners and FARC rebels are very active) to capture a story they felt must be shared with the rest of the world.

Berlinger’s cinematic sensibility paints a picture that captures the lush vitality of the Amazon, the horrendous atrocities endured by the tribespeople, and the complicated path that social justice must traverse, all the while avoiding cliche and stereotypes. Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Foundation have both been instrumental in bringing the Ecuadorian devastation to the public eye.

Trudie Styler, Sting’s wife, and noted activist, appears in the film to lend celebrity to the cause. Repeatedly referring to the Amazon as “the lungs of the earth,” Styler and others point to the far more serious nature of the toxicity than mere dollars can assuage. If Ecuador is in trouble, we are ALL in trouble. If tribe members cannot fish or swim, that affects us directly. Transnationals can no longer act in a vacuum of backyard antics.

Vanity Fair featured an article in the 2007 Green Issue on the case in Ecuador, and attorney Pablo Fajardo, who passionately represents the plaintiffs. In one scene in the film, Fajardo notes that he is not intimidated by the high powered legal team because he has truth on his side, which makes his work that much easier. He doesn’t have to work diligently to create lies about what is happening.

Without sensationalizing the health effects of the toxic sludge left in the Ecuadorian jungle, Berlinger simply allows the water to tell the tale. The water, the rivers, the streams, and pools appear fresh from a distance as children play, women wash, and people drink. Once approached, the rainbow sheen of petrol catches the light and the scent of gasoline sends heads reeling. The ground is soft sludge as the pollutants work their way through the soil and into the Earth. One of the Texaco/Chevron representatives claims: “this is not contamination, this is industrial exploitation that your government permitted.” Amazing. This film must be seen.

In order for this film to have a chance of being seen by the rest of the country, it must nearly sell-out in NY, LA and SF, so tell your friends, blog about it, spread the word…go see this film. Because the film doesn’t have huge marketing dollars, it’s up to people like you and me to spread the word online.

Here are some important screening dates: for locations click here
-NYC: September 9-22
-L.A.: September 18-24
-S.F.: September 25-October 1
-D.C.: October 23-29

Day 6: Red Rock Crossing

(Late, I know...)

Today was absolutely amazing. We visited Red Rock State Park and hiked up an amazing trail to Cathedral Rock. The terrain was mainly rocky and we had to cross Oak Creek to continue on. The hike was a whopping 1.5 miles round trip.

But it felt like 3. At least.

We weaved back and forth on the open path, surrounded by all sorts of local vegetation and funny looking lizards. We also encountered some mountain bikers who made my jaw drop. I couldn't even imagine trying this trail myself with a bike of all things. Once we got closer to the peak we had to climb up slabs of jutting red rock. At some points I even had to go on all fours to make it up. We brought 6 liters of water for the 5 of us and once we got close to the peak we started running out, effectively cutting our trip short (the Arizona sun is HOT). Even without making it to the very top the view from where we were was nothing short of breathtaking. We felt like we were on top of the world and it felt exhilarating to make it as far as we did.

Taking a dip in the creek afterwards was the perfect remedy for a much overheated Derek and I (he even got to fly off of a rope swing...lucky). I was too afraid of hurting myself further so I passed on the rope.

After lunch we dragged ourselves to do some shopping in the local village where Derek got me a wooden, locally made flute. The saleswomen was pretty convincing once she whipped out her own flute and played us a few tunes. I was sold after that. I find the sound of the flutes so mesmerizing and relaxing (I’d wanted once since I’d seen a man playing one whilst sitting on a rock wall at the Grand Canyon).

On our way back to the house we stopped at the popular Chapel of the Holy Cross which was inspired by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright more than fifty years ago. The chapel was built into the red rocks of Sedona and apparently took 18 months to construct. It was definitely a sight to see. After doing some research I found out that Arizonans chose the cathedral as one of Arizona’s 7 wonders. For good reason too. The inside was pretty majestic as well with tall ceilings and two long windows spanned from floor to roof. I wish I had snapped a photo of the front but I felt so exhausted from our hike and my head was pounding to the point that I could barely enjoy it.

We took our leave after a few minutes of oh's and ah's and headed home for a much needed recharge.

Want advice for relaxation and recharge? Hot tubs!! Especially in Arizona, at night, with no roof above your head. The stars are incredible.