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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Unhappy Meal’s

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In a recent conversation with my brother, he stated that the topic of food is a dicey one for most people and boy was he right. My own attempts to talk to people about food has unearthed the fact that food is not solely a means of subsistence for these individuals, rather, food provides a link to their past as well as a feeling of independence. What people choose to ingest is a highly personal affair that most will defend at all costs, and while many acknowledge that their food choices are poor, they nonetheless remain steadfast in their right to eat as poorly as they choose. These defensive tactics exponentially increase when the focus shifts from adult to child. Unlike most adults, most children do not have the control over what they eat. Caregivers are typically at the center of the food that is shaping the type of diet that is contributing to the growing childhood obesity rates in the U.S. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation reports that about 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. Busy parents who state that they do not have the time to prepare healthy meals for their children is just one of the causes fingered for the rising obesity rates in children. Limited or no  daily scheduled physical activity among school aged children, school vending machines loaded with junk food, and the increased time spent by children in front of the TV are also targeted as major contributing factors to the rising obesity rates among children in the U.S.

Dipping his oar into the choppy obesity debate is Harvard pediatric professor David Ludwig who in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association article suggested that extremely obese children facing life- threatening complications resulting from their obesity be taken away from their parents and placed into foster care. The idea to place extremely obese children into foster care first blossomed when a then 3 year old girl weighing 90 lbs appeared at Ludwig’s obesity clinic. By the age of 12, the girl reached 400 lbs and had developed diabetes and cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. In this specific case, the state intervened and placed this young girl into foster care where she was placed with a family who gave her 3 balanced meals a day, a snack or two, and placed the girl into activities where moderate physical activity was involved. Over the course of a year, this young girl lost 130 pounds. While Ludwig cheers the success thus far garnered in this case, he is quick to say that the government should not get in the business of “swooping in” to remove obese children from their parents. The goal, Ludwig says, should be to create an environment that makes it easier for everyone to avoid the types of situations that lead to obesity. ” Ludwig adds that “intermediate options such as in-home social supports, parenting training, counseling, and financial assistance” should be explored prior to the drastic measure of removing a child from his/her parents” (Time magazine article, Should Parents Lose Custody of Their Extremely Obese Kids?) http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/13/should-parents-lose-custody-of-their-very-obese-kids/

Waves of sadness and anger wash over me whenever I see an obese child. I am saddened by the sight of children who struggle to walk because of all of the extra weight heaped on them by the cheeseburgers, fries, sodas, cookies, and all varieties of unhealthy food supplied to them by a whole host of sources. Admittedly, I have directed much of my anger regarding these children against the parents I see who fuel their children’s junk food lust at nearly every turn. I cannot pretend to know what types of pressures and demands are involved with being a parent. I believe most parents want the best for their children which includes good health. Like David Ludwig, I believe measures to educate parents about healthy food choices and preparation should be explored prior to any decision to remove a child from their home. The foster care system is no bed of roses and shouldn’t be thought of as the premiere measure to fight against childhood obesity. As overburdened as many parents are, they must simply roll up their sleeves and take a more active role in the health of their children which may mean less hours in the day to sleep and more time scouring the internet for healthy food recipes and coupons. For those who have no internet access, it may mean scheduling trips to the library to check out cookbooks and/or log onto the internet. Perhaps buying in bulk may help and/or cooking large meals to be refrigerated and eaten throughout the week, coupled with scheduling more physical activity for their children (i.e. turning off the TV and video game console).

The solution to curb childhood obesity is a multifaceted one that will look different for each family/child. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time on extreme measures like removing obese children from their homes, attention needs to be placed on the variety of strategies recommended to curtail the problem of obesity among children. One does not become obese overnight. Just as it takes time to become obese, it will take time to tackle obesity in a healthy and safe manner. Parents and children alike need all of the support they can get from family members, medical professionals, schools, etc. Feelings of anger (my angry feelings included) must be brushed aside to tackle this issue that is threatening the health and well- being of way too many children. The health complications and disease’s associated with obesity are far too alarming to get stuck on looking for people or things to blame. Children rely on the adults around them to carve out pockets of safety for them. Educating ourselves and children about healthy living is a vital step forward in the right direction in the fight against childhood obesity.

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Unhappy Meal’s

Posted on

In a recent conversation with my brother, he stated that the topic of food is a dicey one for most people and boy was he right. My own attempts to talk to people about food has unearthed the fact that food is not solely a means of subsistence for these individuals, rather, food provides a link to their past as well as a feeling of independence. What people choose to ingest is a highly personal affair that most will defend at all costs, and while many acknowledge that their food choices are poor, they nonetheless remain steadfast in their right to eat as poorly as they choose. These defensive tactics exponentially increase when the focus shifts from adult to child. Unlike most adults, most children do not have the control over what they eat. Caregivers are typically at the center of the food that is shaping the type of diet that is contributing to the growing childhood obesity rates in the U.S. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation reports that about 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. Busy parents who state that they do not have the time to prepare healthy meals for their children is just one of the causes fingered for the rising obesity rates in children. Limited or no  daily scheduled physical activity among school aged children, school vending machines loaded with junk food, and the increased time spent by children in front of the TV are also targeted as major contributing factors to the rising obesity rates among children in the U.S.

Dipping his oar into the choppy obesity debate is Harvard pediatric professor David Ludwig who in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association article suggested that extremely obese children facing life- threatening complications resulting from their obesity be taken away from their parents and placed into foster care. The idea to place extremely obese children into foster care first blossomed when a then 3 year old girl weighing 90 lbs appeared at Ludwig’s obesity clinic. By the age of 12, the girl reached 400 lbs and had developed diabetes and cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. In this specific case, the state intervened and placed this young girl into foster care where she was placed with a family who gave her 3 balanced meals a day, a snack or two, and placed the girl into activities where moderate physical activity was involved. Over the course of a year, this young girl lost 130 pounds. While Ludwig cheers the success thus far garnered in this case, he is quick to say that the government should not get in the business of “swooping in” to remove obese children from their parents. The goal, Ludwig says, should be to create an environment that makes it easier for everyone to avoid the types of situations that lead to obesity. ” Ludwig adds that “intermediate options such as in-home social supports, parenting training, counseling, and financial assistance” should be explored prior to the drastic measure of removing a child from his/her parents” (Time magazine article, Should Parents Lose Custody of Their Extremely Obese Kids?) http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/13/should-parents-lose-custody-of-their-very-obese-kids/

Waves of sadness and anger wash over me whenever I see an obese child. I am saddened by the sight of children who struggle to walk because of all of the extra weight heaped on them by the cheeseburgers, fries, sodas, cookies, and all varieties of unhealthy food supplied to them by a whole host of sources. Admittedly, I have directed much of my anger regarding these children against the parents I see who fuel their children’s junk food lust at nearly every turn. I cannot pretend to know what types of pressures and demands are involved with being a parent. I believe most parents want the best for their children which includes good health. Like David Ludwig, I believe measures to educate parents about healthy food choices and preparation should be explored prior to any decision to remove a child from their home. The foster care system is no bed of roses and shouldn’t be thought of as the premiere measure to fight against childhood obesity. As overburdened as many parents are, they must simply roll up their sleeves and take a more active role in the health of their children which may mean less hours in the day to sleep and more time scouring the internet for healthy food recipes and coupons. For those who have no internet access, it may mean scheduling trips to the library to check out cookbooks and/or log onto the internet. Perhaps buying in bulk may help and/or cooking large meals to be refrigerated and eaten throughout the week, coupled with scheduling more physical activity for their children (i.e. turning off the TV and video game console).

The solution to curb childhood obesity is a multifaceted one that will look different for each family/child. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time on extreme measures like removing obese children from their homes, attention needs to be placed on the variety of strategies recommended to curtail the problem of obesity among children. One does not become obese overnight. Just as it takes time to become obese, it will take time to tackle obesity in a healthy and safe manner. Parents and children alike need all of the support they can get from family members, medical professionals, schools, etc. Feelings of anger (my angry feelings included) must be brushed aside to tackle this issue that is threatening the health and well- being of way too many children. The health complications and disease’s associated with obesity are far too alarming to get stuck on looking for people or things to blame. Children rely on the adults around them to carve out pockets of safety for them. Educating ourselves and children about healthy living is a vital step forward in the right direction in the fight against childhood obesity.

A Second Look

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“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
Sir Francis Bacon

Last night’s report by Chris Cuomo regarding the despicable lapse of judgment, effort, and professionalism on the part of all of those involved in the release and alleged supervision of Philip Garrido was extremely disturbing. The pathetic cast of characters involved in the failure to detect Jaycee Dugard in Garrido’s backyard for over a decade is an embarrassing and all too common example of the type of individuals who are tasked with securing the public from animals like Philip Garrido. For 18 years, Jayecee Dugard was held captive and suffered repeated sexual and emotional attacks by a mad man who should have never been released from prison. The failure of the criminal justice system to keep someone like Garrido behind bars was furthered compounded by the poor supervision Garrido received upon release from prison. Inexcusably, several individuals deemed Garrido fit to be released from prison, emphasing that Garrido posed no danger to society. The idea that someone with such a blaring record of violence against women like Garrido could ever be deemed not to be a threat to society is ridiculous at best. Additionally, the fact that the Department of Parole visited Garrido’s home 60 times throughout the years, along with the visits made by local law enforcement following calls from neighbors regarding the children living in Garrido’s backyard (children conceived from the repeated sexual assaults committed against Jaycee by Garrido), with no search of the backyard is baffling. Had just one effort been made to search Garrido’s backyard, Jaycee’s 18 year long ordeal of sexual and emotional torment would have been cut short.

The idea that any of the bungling idiots involved with such a failure of epic portions are still employed by any of the agencies tied to this fiasco is beyond comprehension. There is no satisfactory explanation for this sort of tragic and gross oversight. Disturbingly, tragedies like Jaycee’s occur on various levels throughout the many city, state, and federal agencies the general public relies on to keep itself and the most vulnerable of its citizens safe from harm. I’ve lost count of the many news stories I’ve read concerning dangerous criminals who are astonishingly released from prison despite the nature of their crimes and the statistically proven likelihood that they will re-offend. My stomach has been twisted into a thousand knots over stories of Child Welfare agencies who ignore and/or fail to follow- up on reports of the abuse of children. It is shocking that following so many stories of incompetence and abuse that nothing has effectively put a stop to these actions. Understandably, these agencies are overburdened and undermanned, however, greater and increased effort and resources must be pooled into eliminating even one of these sorts of tragedies which includes the weeding out of individuals who repeatedly failed to protect those they have been hired to serve.

The one bright spot amid all of the darkness and tragedy resulting from this event is Jaycee Dugard. This remarkable young woman embodies the true essence of strength and love. There is no way I can ever try to imagine the hell and utter despair she must have felt at various points in her captivity. No doubt Jaycee still struggles with the aftermath of her captivity, but she is determined to forge ahead, creating a life for herself and her children, a life that she will joyfully share with the mother, the source Jaycee credits for her strength. As for Philip Garrido, he is finally behind bars where he belongs. Sadly, monsters like Philip Garrido will always be among us, it is the beacons of hope and strength like Jaycee Dugard that we should remember and learn from. I look forward to seeing what Jaycee has in store for the world and I hope nothing but the best for her and the work she will doing on behalf of missing and exploited children.

A Second Look

Posted on
“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
Sir Francis Bacon

Last night’s report by Chris Cuomo regarding the despicable lapse of judgment, effort, and professionalism on the part of all of those involved in the release and alleged supervision of Philip Garrido was extremely disturbing. The pathetic cast of characters involved in the failure to detect Jaycee Dugard in Garrido’s backyard for over a decade is an embarrassing and all too common example of the type of individuals who are tasked with securing the public from animals like Philip Garrido. For 18 years, Jayecee Dugard was held captive and suffered repeated sexual and emotional attacks by a mad man who should have never been released from prison. The failure of the criminal justice system to keep someone like Garrido behind bars was furthered compounded by the poor supervision Garrido received upon release from prison. Inexcusably, several individuals deemed Garrido fit to be released from prison, emphasing that Garrido posed no danger to society. The idea that someone with such a blaring record of violence against women like Garrido could ever be deemed not to be a threat to society is ridiculous at best. Additionally, the fact that the Department of Parole visited Garrido’s home 60 times throughout the years, along with the visits made by local law enforcement following calls from neighbors regarding the children living in Garrido’s backyard (children conceived from the repeated sexual assaults committed against Jaycee by Garrido), with no search of the backyard is baffling. Had just one effort been made to search Garrido’s backyard, Jaycee’s 18 year long ordeal of sexual and emotional torment would have been cut short.

The idea that any of the bungling idiots involved with such a failure of epic portions are still employed by any of the agencies tied to this fiasco is beyond comprehension. There is no satisfactory explanation for this sort of tragic and gross oversight. Disturbingly, tragedies like Jaycee’s occur on various levels throughout the many city, state, and federal agencies the general public relies on to keep itself and the most vulnerable of its citizens safe from harm. I’ve lost count of the many news stories I’ve read concerning dangerous criminals who are astonishingly released from prison despite the nature of their crimes and the statistically proven likelihood that they will re-offend. My stomach has been twisted into a thousand knots over stories of Child Welfare agencies who ignore and/or fail to follow- up on reports of the abuse of children. It is shocking that following so many stories of incompetence and abuse that nothing has effectively put a stop to these actions. Understandably, these agencies are overburdened and undermanned, however, greater and increased effort and resources must be pooled into eliminating even one of these sorts of tragedies which includes the weeding out of individuals who repeatedly failed to protect those they have been hired to serve.

The one bright spot amid all of the darkness and tragedy resulting from this event is Jaycee Dugard. This remarkable young woman embodies the true essence of strength and love. There is no way I can ever try to imagine the hell and utter despair she must have felt at various points in her captivity. No doubt Jaycee still struggles with the aftermath of her captivity, but she is determined to forge ahead, creating a life for herself and her children, a life that she will joyfully share with the mother, the source Jaycee credits for her strength. As for Philip Garrido, he is finally behind bars where he belongs. Sadly, monsters like Philip Garrido will always be among us, it is the beacons of hope and strength like Jaycee Dugard that we should remember and learn from. I look forward to seeing what Jaycee has in store for the world and I hope nothing but the best for her and the work she will doing on behalf of missing and exploited children.

Chapter 2

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“What though the radiance that was once so bright, be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.”

William Wordsworth

Last week, my mother passed away. My mother and I have always had a complex and oftentimes volatile relationship. Her death came on the heels of one such volatile episode. Right now, the shock of her death has somewhat shielded me from the inevitable full- blown guilt that is sure to hit me like a ton of bricks. I am sure that my mind will do somersaults around all of the time wasted going toe to toe against all of the jabs my mother has thrown my way throughout the years. In my own space, I have asked my mother to forgive me for my role in the dysfunctional dance we were stuck in dancing all of these years. Somehow, someway, I hope that she has heard my pleas for forgiveness and that she is now at rest with my father.

Today is my mother’s birthday, something that for me underscores the fact that my mother was entirely too young to die. Especially difficult to reconcile is the fact that she was in such severe physical and emotional pain, the physical pain stemming from her aliments, the emotional pain emanating from the loss of my father, her husband. My father was the center of my mother’s universe. My mother didn’t have any close friends and had only a couple of close family connections. Her connection and dependence to my father was such that it trumped any friendship, family connection, and sadly, relationship with her children. Propping up any human being above yourself, family, children and/or friends is never a good idea. We all need a sense of ourselves, along with our own sense of connection to people, talents, gifts and dreams that are unique to us and our space in the universe.

According to my aunt, my mother has always been introverted and somewhat hesitant to step outside of her self-imposed zone of comfort. In some ways, I have constructed a zone of comfort around myself that has halted any attempt and belief that I can break away from the limiting beliefs that have been passed down to me from various sources. However, I am no longer going to indulge in playing the “blame game” and instead am committed to taking active steps to forgive and change. I can no longer chain myself to the past and must rather find a way to forge ahead with the reality that my parents are no longer on this earth.

Despite all of our differences and squabbles, my mother was my mother and I respect and honor her as such. I deeply admire everything that both she and my father did for me and my brothers. In the end, my parents did the best they could with the knowledge and resources that they had, realistically, this is all that any of us can expect of our parents and of any human being. I am sure that not a day will go by where I don’t think of both my mother and father. I will miss them and I hope that one day I will see them again.

Chapter 2

Posted on
“What though the radiance that was once so bright, be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.”

William Wordsworth

Last week, my mother passed away. My mother and I have always had a complex and oftentimes volatile relationship. Her death came on the heels of one such volatile episode. Right now, the shock of her death has somewhat shielded me from the inevitable full- blown guilt that is sure to hit me like a ton of bricks. I am sure that my mind will do somersaults around all of the time wasted going toe to toe against all of the jabs my mother has thrown my way throughout the years. In my own space, I have asked my mother to forgive me for my role in the dysfunctional dance we were stuck in dancing all of these years. Somehow, someway, I hope that she has heard my pleas for forgiveness and that she is now at rest with my father.

Today is my mother’s birthday, something that for me underscores the fact that my mother was entirely too young to die. Especially difficult to reconcile is the fact that she was in such severe physical and emotional pain, the physical pain stemming from her aliments, the emotional pain emanating from the loss of my father, her husband. My father was the center of my mother’s universe. My mother didn’t have any close friends and had only a couple of close family connections. Her connection and dependence to my father was such that it trumped any friendship, family connection, and sadly, relationship with her children. Propping up any human being above yourself, family, children and/or friends is never a good idea. We all need a sense of ourselves, along with our own sense of connection to people, talents, gifts and dreams that are unique to us and our space in the universe.

According to my aunt, my mother has always been introverted and somewhat hesitant to step outside of her self-imposed zone of comfort. In some ways, I have constructed a zone of comfort around myself that has halted any attempt and belief that I can break away from the limiting beliefs that have been passed down to me from various sources. However, I am no longer going to indulge in playing the “blame game” and instead am committed to taking active steps to forgive and change. I can no longer chain myself to the past and must rather find a way to forge ahead with the reality that my parents are no longer on this earth.

Despite all of our differences and squabbles, my mother was my mother and I respect and honor her as such. I deeply admire everything that both she and my father did for me and my brothers. In the end, my parents did the best they could with the knowledge and resources that they had, realistically, this is all that any of us can expect of our parents and of any human being. I am sure that not a day will go by where I don’t think of both my mother and father. I will miss them and I hope that one day I will see them again.