Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Broken Man

There was a Poetry Slam recently held in Southeast Nebraska.  The second place winner presented the audience a poem that was very telling about his prison experience.  Here is his winning entry:

Broken Man

Broken Man, Broken Man.
Look, everyone!
It is a broken man,
Existing in his broken world, surrounded by broken people.
As Broken Man attempts to rise above the broken system, he grasps for any nut or bolt a broken society will toss his way,
In hopes to repair his broken self.
Will Broken Man ever be whole again?
Or, is he doomed to be discarded by the broken system and labeled as useless, marred, rejected?
Has he not paid the debt of his actions that deemed him unfit for society in the first place?
Will that debt ever be paid?
Will the solitude and pain of isolation ever balance the scales to merit a clean slate?
Let us also not forget about the ones society has hired to calculate the size of the debt.  
Will they ever be satisfied?  
It seems they are never satisfied on the small everyday scale,
So how does Broken Man even THINK about satisfying them on the grand scale?
Are they also not broken?
Someone once shouted, “Have faith, Broken Man.  Have faith!”
Faith!  FAITH?  
Have faith in WHAT? A broken system?
Or, are you referring to blind faith?
And what about blind justice and good old rationalization and justification?
It is all mental masturbation-
You end up screwing yourself!
What about faith in Broken Man?  
How do you repair your broken self?
Forge your own nuts and bolts, piece yourself back together?
I can envision it all now…
Headlines!  Headlines!  Read all about it-
“Broken Man repairs himself.  Vows to repair the broken system.”
Look out, broken world!
Look out, broken world!

Tom gives us much food for thought.  We invite your comments.  It would thrill Tom's heart to know others have read his poem and have opinions about it.  Do remember  you are welcome comment anonymously.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Restorative Justice Summarized

The following post summarizes the Symposium featuring Restorative Justice, which was sponsored by the 7th Step Club at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

The Tecumseh State Correctional Facility hosted a symposium which was attended by 20 guests from outside the walls.  About twice that many inmates participated, as well.  The event was hosted by the 7th Step Club, an on-campus organization whose mission it is to eradicate recidivism.

We were warmly welcomed, offered hospitality and treated to four speakers who addressed the issues surrounding Restorative Justice.  These gentlemen were very well spoken and had completed the college level course in criminal justice taught by Professor Kelly Asmussen from Peru State College at Peru, Nebraska. The men who make up the 7th Step Club were so impressed with what they learned that they wanted to share their newly found knowledge.

We heard how the Native American community dealt with those whose behaviors was outside the acceptable norm.  The Indians did not punish their people for being sick in their spirit any more than we would imprison someone who had an infection.  They worked with the offender to heal the imbalance and create harmony in the tribe.   Other speakers shared their personal stories of transformation and how the college class had positively impacted their lives.

Restorative Justice works in much the same way as the Native American model.   The offender, the victim and the community work together in a spirit of truth and love and harmony to restore balance.  The offender becomes accountable; the victim has his needs met because he feels heard and understood and the community supports both in order to reestablish and maintain order and balance.  It becomes a win/win/win situation.

Following the inspirational addresses, the entire audience was divided into small discussion groups.  There were three burning questions for each circle to address:

1.    Is there a problem?
2.    What can restorative justice offer?
3.    How can restorative justice be implemented?

Our particular group was made up of people from every color and stripe, both men and women and was ably facilitated by one of the featured speakers.  We examined and talked about the problems and their solutions; every member of our group was candid and forthcoming.

Recidivism is an indicator that problems exist; prison overcrowding is another.  There is little or no opportunity for educational pursuits.  Even though parole or release is predicated on mandatory programs, those very programs are closed or unavailable to those who would participate.

What is now in place in Nebraska is Retributive Justice.  It is purely punitive.  There is no arrangement for personal growth or transformation.  There is no reward for enlightenment, education or transformation.  Punitive action does not create balance or harmony; indeed, it often feeds violence, more offenses, poor morale among the prisoners as well as their keepers.  Finally, it creates a climate conducive to recidivism.  Simple punishment affects all the stakeholders: the offender, the victim and the community ADVERSELY.

Society prefers to place offenders of every type of crime into pigeon holes and turn a blind eye to those who are incarcerated.  Perhaps this is because society knows no other remedy and John and Jane Q Public are fearful.

Our group was keenly aware that forging a career with a conviction in one’s past is nearly impossible.   Overcrowded facilities further complicate this issue; so does society’s reticence to accept felons back into society after their sentences have been served.  People who leave prison are often ill prepared to live outside prison walls because they lack basic skills for life on the streets and they do not know how to access resources.

All these factors contribute to the return of offenders to what is familiar: prison.  

Another consideration is the financial cost associated with incarcerating people.  Most experts agree that room and board for prisons runs in the neighborhood of $30,000.00 and upward.  That’s a pretty high rent neighborhood.  Our group offered that some  prisoners, with accountability and transition training, could be paroled or released in order to CONTRIBUTE to community coffers with their taxes, wages spent on goods and services; furthermore they could offer service to the community.

We posed this question: ‘Could we really eradicate recidivism?’  Furthermore, is it not possible, even advisable, to have offenders become accountable and transformed through Restorative Justice, become transformed and truly SUCCEED in life?

The good news is that Tecumseh State Correctional Facility will be offering this college credit course again, thanks to Professor Kelly Asmussen and his students.

Those of us from the streets who were fortunate to have attended that 7th Step Symposium featuring Restorative Justice will never be quite the same again.  We had been enlightened and our hearts were touched and inspired. 

The many comments we have received regarding this subject have warmed our hearts and we invite you to give us your feedback.  As always, you are free to remain anonymous.  

Connie Baum

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Restorative Justice: Small Group Discussions Continue

Our discussion group was not shy and did not lack for ideas!

Third in a series about Restorative Justice

If you have been following this series of posts regarding Restorative Justice, you know that there was an event at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.  Part of the program included small group discussions led by speakers featured as part of the afternoon’s presentation.  There have been so many items on our small group’s list of problems that one post was insufficient.  Hence, we continue today:

Our group was given three questions to ponder and discuss:
·    Is there a problem?
·    What could Restorative Justice offer?
·    How could Restorative Justice be implemented?

We weren’t a shy bunch; there were lively, animated contributions from every participant and much agreement.  You might recall that our discussion group was made up of offenders and people of every walk of life from the community at large.

What might Restorative Justice offer?

We concluded that Restorative Justice-bringing an offender, his victim, and the entire community together to have every need met, including discipline and education, as well as accountability-would most assuredly help to heal many wounded lives.  No one believed this would be an easy task.  Feelings run deep and healing the wounds caused by crime is not easily or swiftly resolved.  Those who would implement this type of justice in lieu of Retributive Justice-which is what is now in place in Nebraska-would need to come together in a spirit of truth and love.  Not everyone will be eager to do so.

Another feature of this concept will be a stronger sense of peace and unity throughout the community, including the prison population.  Relieving the stress of guilt and shame will help those who are incarcerated concentrate on their own personal transformation with higher levels of empathy for their victims and the community at large.  Victims who feel heard and respected will understand that their needs will be met, too, and that will be nourishing to them and their families.  Everyone will have hope.

How, then, might Restorative Justice be implemented?

This type of justice is hard at work in some areas.  It seems to be a well guarded secret, while media reports of crime continue to dominate headlines and newscasts.  Media’s job, after all, is to sell their product so they sensationalize the bad things in society and overlook the good news.

Our group agreed that Restorative Justice needs to start behind the prison walls, with every offender owning up to his or her crime and taking responsibility for their own actions.  From the inside out, there would ideally be programs in place to support what Restorative Justice calls for.  Then, and only then, would the victim feel respected and heard.  Following that, the community could then feel as if they could lend their support and help the process in any way possible.

What, if anything IS being done to implement Restorative Justice?

Former gang members who have drastically transformed their lives from criminal activity to contributing to society in meaningful and positive ways are already moving about in groups of students to steer young people away from gangs and get them into programs that are more appropriate. 

People who are interested in getting Restorative Justice to replace the punitive methods employed by Retributive Justice are working diligently with Nebraska legislators, city councils, youth groups, support groups, churches and ministers and clubs within prison walls to educate people.

As a shining example of community support, Omaha has myriad clusters of community based activities, such as weekly meetings to inform one another about the activities and goals of helping support youth and their families throughout Omaha.  There are a number of networks who help to reintegrate offenders back into the community by assisting with employment, budgeting, housing, and transportation so as to reduce recidivism.  There are people helping other people on a one-to-one basis to aid felons in continuing transformation of their lives.  There is a mountain of assistance available just for the asking in order to gain computer skills, to complete job applications, to find housing and become an integral, valuable, contributing member of the community.  Help is also available for obtaining help providing food and clothing. 

These kinds of things could happen in ANY community!  By coming together with open minds, open hearts and open arms, we can put Restorative Justice firmly in place.  When that happens, we can be sure to minimize crime as well as recidivism. The quality of human life will be maximized to the fullest extent possible.

What’s it going to take, then?
·    Offender
·    Victim
·    Community
Meet the needs of the above list of people in truth and love and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine situation.  Continue in this line of thinking and behaving and the old retribution system will be outdated, outmoded, and out voted!  It will slink away into the annals of history, unneeded.

It rather smacks of peace on earth.  Don't you think so, too? 

The next post will summarize this concept and the event that showcased it.  We so appreciate your comments, questions, and yes, even your criticism.  

You are always welcome to comment anonymously.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Restorative Justice: Small Group Discussions

Would we need so many prisons if we implemented Restorative Justice? 

 *Second in a series of posts about Restorative Justice

Previously we have explained that Restorative Justice is accomplished by joining forces with an offender, a victim and the victim’s family, and the community.  It has been demonstrated that by working together, much healing can take place.  The offender will be accountable, the victim’s needs can be identified and met and the community can feel safe because balance will have been achieved.

When the 7th Step Club at Tecumseh State Correctional Facility hosted a symposium to elucidate the public, there were presentations given by inmates and following these eloquent presentations we were divided into small groups to discuss the matter in depth.

Each of the speakers was a Group Leader and took careful notes from the group’s input.  We were asked to answer these three questions:
1.    Is there a problem?
2.    What can Restorative Justice offer?
3.    How can Restorative Justice be implemented?

Did our group identify any problems?

Our group agreed that recidivism indicates there are problems.  Prison overcrowding is an issue.  Punitive action does not help people “get better”.  Incarceration, by its nature, removes hope.  Simple punishment-aka incarceration-affects all the stakeholders, which includes the offender, the victim and the community.

What is now in place in Nebraska is RETRIBUTIVE Justice, which, by definition is punitive and not disciplinary or instructional.  This means there is little or no opportunity or encouragement for education, enlightenment or transformation.  

Society prefers placing offenders of every crime into “boxes” and forgetting about them or their needs.  This might be because society does not know any other remedy.

It is nearly impossible to forge a career with a conviction in one’s past.  There are issues surrounding education; one of the issues is logistically making room for educational pursuits.  Overcrowded facilities further complicate this issue, as do society’s hesitance to accept offenders after their incarceration.  In addition, those who are incarcerated lack many basic skills and tools to perform well in society.  They won’t necessarily have computer skills or they may lack training for various jobs.  Unless felons are successful in life “on the streets” they are likely to make their way behind prison walls again.

Are there resources in place as solutions?

During our group’s dialogue we learned from our fellow group participants that there are many community based programs available to help integrate offenders back into the community. The issue with these programs is that they are duplicitous and those returning to the community are not likely to know about their existence.  

Were there other considerations?

One topic that popped up again and again in our group was the issue of having programs mandated for inmates.  The inmates are instructed that they must have these programs in order to qualify for parole or release but those programs are unavailable or closed to them!  The excuses the inmates hear have to do with lack of money, lack of materials, lack of room.  The FEELING is that the system wants to keep incarcerated individuals in place in order to satisfy employment requirements at state-run facilities.

There are so many more items we addressed; further posts will continue in this vein.

Do YOU have someone close to you who has been incarcerated?  If so, you may be familiar with many of the issues brought to bear in our small group discussion.   You may have gleaned information, insights, and solutions that might benefit others.  There is much more to be said about this important topic; subsequent posts will address the above list of questions and a summary, so please return to read more about Restorative Justice.

It would be wonderful to have your comments.  You are even welcome to do so anonymously.

Connie Baum

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Restorative Justice

If an offender, a victim, and a community come together behind prison walls, can healing take place?    

*This is the first in a series of posts about Restorative Justice...

The Normanator and I were treated like royalty when we were part of a group of guests attending the Tecumseh State Correctional Facility, the site for a symposium sponsored by the 7th Step Club.  Members of 7th Step are working diligently to eradicate recidivism-return to prison.

We were escorted by officers of the facility to the gymnasium where a welcoming committee greeted us and offered us warm hospitality.  There was assigned seating, arranged in a circle and a simple program agenda waited on each chair.

This event was the culmination of a college credit class in Restorative Justice, taught at the prison by Professor Kelly Asmussen of Peru State College.  Fifteen students and fifteen incarcerated men met weekly to study Restorative Justice.  The prisoners were eager to share all they had learned with John Q. Public.

Restorative Justice?  What IS that?

This subject seems to have been a well guarded secret.  You may  be familiar with Restorative Justice or you may know it as Reparative Justice.  By either name, the whole concept is for offenders, victims and communities to come together to mend the damage caused when someone breaks the law.  It may be a simple situation where resolution can come quickly.  It may require much time and a lot of hard work on all three sides.

Our group heard from four eloquent speakers who had participated in the professor's class.  One of the speakers, a Mohawk Indian, talked about how Native Americans deal with those who behave outside societal or tribal norms to heal the effects of their offense.  We were told that the offender is kept separate from the rest of the tribe.  The one who committed an offense might live with the Medicine Man to receive herbs and other remedies to heal his Spirit and bring balance in to the offender's life and balance to tribal life once again.  This example was given: If a young man had been murdered, the offender would be required to care for the parents of the dead man for the rest of their lives in the manner the couple's son would have done if he had not died prematurely.

Sick Spirits vs Sick Bodies

The speaker reiterated that people who are sick with physical ailments would not be jailed for their illness; so, too, should it be that people who commit crimes because their Spirit or their Mind is troubled needs to be healed, not imprisoned.

Other speakers mentioned  life experiences which contributed to the commission of their crimes.  They explained how they learned to set aside resentment and bitterness and become the people they were meant to be.  They have taken responsibility and provided accountability.  They have all done various things to right the wrongs they have caused and have rewired their brains so as to contribute to society and behave correctly when they are released from their sentences.

Group Participation

The entire audience formed small groups after these inspirational speeches.  The goal of each group was to discuss what we had heard and respond to a list of questions the group leaders posed.  That portion of the symposium will be the thrust of the next post.  

As always, your comments and questions are most welcome!
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Emergency Preparedness Because Mother Connie Sez!

Does your family have an emergency preparedness plan?

There are many events going on around the world.  Recently some bad storms have hit close enough to our home to make us blink and wonder if we are really ready in case of an emergency.  One of our local television stations provided their viewing audience with a handy dandy list and we have it here for your perusal, along with Mother Connie's candid commentary:

1.  Water—one gallon per person, per day *3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home.
We are the proud owners of a Nikken Aqua Pour.  It is portable, so we can simply pick it up and carry it to our vehicle, even in a rush.  We'll need jugs of distilled water, though...

2.  Food—non­perishable, easy ­to­ prepare items *3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home.
We're good with peanut butter.  Better make sure there's a knife for spreading it, though.  We could easily grab bags of fruit from the fridge.  Might be a good idea to make up some sammies ahead of time,  for the freezer, too. Oh, and think of all the snacks provided by chocolate chips, packages of nuts and dried fruit!

3.  Flashlight
This will only be practical if The Normanator remembers to get a fresh supply of batteries.

4.  Battery­-powered or hand ­crank radio *NOAA Weather Radio, if possible.
Does the car radio count?

5.  Extra batteries 
Better hope these are fresh.  Is it true they keep well in the fridge?

6.  First aid kit
There's one under the front seat of the car.  Do those ever expire?

7.  7 day supply of medications and medical items
Presumably this would include food supplements, as well.  Good thing we keep ours together in a basket on the kitchen table.  Handy, handy...

8.  Multi­purpose tool
This no doubt refers to The Normanator's Swiss Knife.  And our favorite manual can opener.

9.  Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Supposedly this would include tooth brushes and ToothSoap, which are always at the ready in their own cute travel bag. When I was 13 it would have included cosmetics, which, thank you, God, are no longer necessities.  grin  Mother Connie strongly suggests having a coffee can with a tight fitting lid for use as a "porta-potty" if need be.  AND DO REMEMBER TO INCLUDE A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER.

10.  Copies of personal documents-medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies.
Recent events have brought this into sharp focus for our family.  MAKE CERTAIN you have your Living Will current!  Make extra copies "JUST IN CASE" because your life will be far less complex if you have the foresight and the forethought to take care of these details when you are not emotionally stressed.

11.  Cell phones with chargers
If you have ever forgotten your charger on a trip, you know how frustrating this can be.

12.  Family and emergency contact information
This is a good time to use "ICE"-- be sure to program 'in case of emergency' numbers into your phones.  That way emergency responders will know who they should contact on your behalf.

13.  Extra cash
I can only presume this is a cruel joke.  In the first place my own wallet currently has 15 cents in nickels and what would I buy if there were an emergency?  Seriously, a family would be wise to have some folding money and a full tank of gasoline on deck.

14.  Emergency blanket
Maybe each family member should have his own?  And might sleeping bags be good for this purpose?  Our family members would each want his own pillow too.

15.  Map(s) of the area
The Normanator will be only too pleased to have a map.  Under ordinary condtitions, he almost sleeps with the Atlas...Might be wise to have a pencil with that map, too.

We've taken a rather lighthearted look at a potentially critical subject.  You might want to consider becoming prepared.  It couldn't hurt and it might make all the difference.

You can buy good sized plastic totes that hold substantial quantities of items.  Creating a plan and getting your emergency kit together might make a good family projec.   Gathering all your supplies and thinking through an escape plan might be a fruitful learning experience for everyone in your family.  

Let's hope you never have to utilize any emergency plan or open that emergency kit, though!

Connie Baum
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mother Connie Sez: Home Remedies Might Work...

Looks as if Grandpa has some doozees...Dr. Joseph Mercola has a fair share, too and we want you to know about them:

Dr. Joseph Mercola offered these timely remedies for us to consider on his website, which is featured at the bottom of this post.  We thank Dr. M sincerely!

Healing practices of yore; natural remedies that were passed from one generation from another, lost a lot of footing with the advent of modern medicine that has a pill for every possible ailment. But does that mean grandma, and all the women before her, were all wrong

Of course not.

In fact, many of the ailments you experience can be addressed using very simple, natural means. Yahoo Health offers up seven different folklore remedies for common problems. Below I will review my own recommendations for these ailments.

Motion Sickness
Olives may be of some help here, but ginger is far better. It's traditionally used to treat nausea, but also seems to work quite well against motion sickness. To make a tea, simply slice off a small amount of fresh ginger and steep it in hot water for 30 seconds up to several minutes. Ginger is very potent, so taste it at regular intervals of about 30 seconds—it can get very strong fast!

Alternatively, for a quicker but less elegant solution, just take a half teaspoon of the fresh ginger and finely dice it with a knife and swallow it whole. It has worked every time I have had the need for it. It probably is the most consistently effective herbal food that I have seen work nearly every time.

In addition to ginger, the University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests using peppermint and black horehound, which is actually a traditional remedy for motion sickness.

These herbs can be taken as:
• Dried extracts in the form of capsules, powders, or teas
• Liquid extracts or tinctures

To make a tea using dried herb, put about one teaspoon of the herb into a tea strainer and place it in a cup of hot water. Avoid adding sugar. If you absolutely need some sweetness, try a couple of drops of liquid stevia instead.

Another excellent method that you can do whenever and wherever motion sickness strikes, is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It balances your subtle energy system and calms your motion sensors, and this will calm your symptoms of motion sickness and allow you to finally enjoy the pleasures of travel.

Bad Breath
The devil is in the details when it comes to the recommendation to use yoghurt to combat bad breath, because most of the yoghurt you find today is loaded with sugar and made from pasteurized milk. You do NOT want to use these commercially available yoghurts as they are more likely to do more harm than good.

Only use traditionally fermented yoghurt, such as kefir made from raw milk with no added sugar. Another alternative is to consume traditionally fermented foods (such as natto or tempeh), or take a high quality probiotic like Complete Probiotics.

How is it that these types of foods and bacteria can help against bad breath?

Because halitosis, or bad breath, is typically caused by systemic diseases, gastrointestinal and/or upper respiratory tract disorders, and microbial metabolism from your tongue, saliva or dental plaque—all of which are indicators of systemic unbalance, which can be remedied with probiotics in the form of an oral supplement or fermented foods.

In addition to reseeding the beneficial bacteria in your gut, I highly recommend limiting the primary fertilizer for the bacteria that cause bad breath, namely SUGAR and grains that rapidly break down to sugar. That automatically means cutting down on processed foods (which are high in both grains and sugars/high fructose corn syrup), as they cause bad odor-causing bacteria to grow out of control.

Beware that mouthwashes are only effective against bad breath caused by intraoral factors. Gargling and swishing can't help you much if your problem stems from an imbalance of bacteria in your intestinal tract, for example.

Definitely do NOT use sugar for hiccups. There are many better options that do not involve spiking your insulin. 

One interesting method that seems to work is to have someone hold down the tragus of your ear to close off your ear canal while you drink a FULL glass of water. This has been the single most effective remedy I have ever used for hiccups. It is the rare occasion where it doesn't work.

A really simple, inexpensive way to relieve the hallmark itch of eczema is to put a saltwater compress over the itchy area. You'll want to use a high quality natural salt, such as Himalayan salt. Simply make a solution with warm water, soak a compress, and apply the compress over the affected area. You'll be amazed to find that the itching will virtually disappear!
You also want to make sure your skin is optimally hydrated. Skin creams are rarely the answer here, but rather you'll want to hydrate your skin from the inside out by consuming high quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in your diet, such as krill oil. I also find it helpful to include a bit of gamma linoleic acid, typically in the form of primrose oil, as this works remarkably well for eczema. 

Products like "krill for women" are good for both sexes for this condition as they have both fatty acids.

(Plant-based omega-3s like flax and hemp seed, although decent omega-3 sources in general, will not provide the clinical benefit you need to reduce inflammation and swelling in your skin.)
Additionally, food allergies play an enormous role in eczema. In my experience, the most common offending agent is wheat, or more specifically, gluten. Avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing grains is therefore a wise first step.

Avoiding grains will also reduce the amount of sugar in your system, which will normalize your insulin levels and reduce any and all inflammatory conditions you may have, including inflammation in your skin. Other common allergens include milk and eggs. I recommend you do an elimination trial with these foods as well. You should see some improvement in about a week, sometimes less, after eliminating them from your diet if either of them is causing you trouble.
Last but not least, vitamin D in the form of sun exposure can be your best friend when dealing with eczema and other skin conditions, such as psoriasis.

Ideally, you'll want to get your vitamin D from appropriate sunshine exposure because UVB radiation on your skin will not only metabolize vitamin D, but will also help restore optimal skin function. High amounts of UVB exposure directly on affected skin – but not so much to cause sunburn! – will greatly improve the quality of your skin.

If you can't get sufficient amounts of sun during the winter months, a high quality safe tanning bed can suffice. A safe tanning bed will provide the optimized forms of UVA and UVB wavelengths, without dangerous EMF exposure.

Toenail Fungus
Interestingly, about five years ago I posted a video with the dubious recommendation to use Vicks VapoRub to treat toenail fungus. The response from my readers was amazing—hundreds of people wrote me to confirm it really does work!

My experience tells me that when such a large number of people anecdotally confirm something, it probably has some merit. So, although I can't explain why it works, it certainly seems harmless enough to give it a try. If you've ever had a toenail fungus, you know it can be a vexing problem that can last for years with no obvious solution, so this simple remedy could be a welcome boon for many.

One way to reduce your risk of fungal infections is to cut down on sugar, which feeds the fungi. Spending time in the ocean on a regular basis can also help.

I have also struggled with this problem and never found a prescription or natural approach to work until I started spending my winters in the sub–tropical environments. About 1 ½ years ago I had a recurrence after wearing neoprene "Five Finger" type shoes for six months with no socks.

However when I spent the winter in the subtropics wearing no shoes and having my toenails receive hours of direct sun exposure every day the problem disappeared. The UV rays were more than enough to solve the problem. No Vapo Rub required. This does take 4-6 months though of nearly daily sun exposure to work, in combination with wearing sandals most of the time so there is no moist environment for the fungus to grow.

If you're prone to headaches, I strongly advise you to evaluate your lifestyle to determine the root cause. There are many types of headaches, each with its own set of triggers.
For general headaches that do not appear to be due to tension or poor posture, I've found that avoiding wheat, grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, and all fluids but water seems to be particularly effective. Those suffering from recurrent migraines would also do well to heed this advice. Just remember to stay the course, as dietary changes do take some time to work.

Migraines are also another common type of headache and it has been my experience that artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, trigger them in many people. So avoid all diet products.

Two methods that offer more immediate relief include intravenous magnesium and the Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT in particular is usually very effective for relieving pain of all kinds, oftentimes removing your pain in as little as a few minutes.

Upper Respiratory Infections and Sore Throat
There's a mountain of evidence showing that vitamin D plays a key role in your immune system, so maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is your number one defense against infections of all kinds, including upper respiratory infections.

The wintertime deficiency of vitamin D (which your body produces in response to sunlight) has been implicated in the seasonal increase in colds and flu, and a number of studies have suggested an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of respiratory infections. For detailed guidelines on optimizing your vitamin D levels, please see my article Test Values and 
Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.

Another really simple and inexpensive treatment that is surprisingly effective against upper respiratory infections is hydrogen peroxide.

Many patients at my Natural Health Center have had remarkable results in treating colds and flu within 12 to 14 hours when administering a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into each ear. (A bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 3 percent solution is available at any drug store for a couple of dollars or less.) You will hear some bubbling, which is completely normal, and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation. Wait until the bubbling and slight stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then drain onto a tissue and repeat with the other ear.

To treat a sore throat, few remedies are as tried-and-true as honey. Just make sure you use raw honey, as the vast majority of honey for sale in the United States is highly processed or refined, which, like most other refined foods, can promote disease and damage your health rather than help.

A simple recipe using all natural ingredients, such as raw honey, spices and herbs, can be found at the bottom of this previous article. 

*Mother Connie gently reminds you that The Healing Codes lend themselves well to self healing and can remedy difficult conditions by using techniques and protocols developed by Dr. Alex Loyd and those techniques  have changed the lives of many, including Dr. Ben Johnson.

Connie Baum
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mother Connie Sez: Closets? Really?

Let's begin by saying that the house where we live is generously blessed with closets.  The sliding doors have exquisite wood grain and the house was built in the 1960's, so closets were not overlooked.  Each bedroom has ample closet space and there is a coat closet near our front door.

That said, if you stopped by, you'd never know there's a closet in the place!
We seem to live like teenagers.  When we come in from the paper route, we are tired and want our coffee, so we peel off our layers and hang them on the corners of the chair at the desk in the living room.  We take off our boots; Norm lines his up along the china cupboard.  I tuck mine under a chair near the computer desk.  Hats, scarves and gloves go in a heap, wherever they land.

As our day progresses, Norm's jammies hang on one of the posts of the bed.  His shoes are lined up beside the bureau.   My jeans might wind up on a doorknob.   

Were my mother still with us, she would have a COW.   From what I know about Norm's mother, I think SHE also would disapprove of these sloppy habits.

We do know better.  We just don't take the time to hang things up properly.  We fancy they are "handier" and more convenient as we pile them around.

My own mother was fastidious.  She was a stay at home mom of one and she took great pride in her homemaking skills.  She had a place for everything and everything was in its place.  I'm not sure how I've strayed so far from my upbringing.  But to be fair, my mother did not have a paper route during the night and she did not blog by day.  grin

There was a time-I must have been about 4 years old-when my mother and father disagreed about who should pick up whose dirty clothes and put them into the hamper.  I remember coming out of my bedroom one morning to find my mother's hosiery draped over a lamp and across the back of the sofa.  Her shoes were on a table.  Her dress hung from the light fixture in the ceiling and her unmentionables were stuck under the cushions of the chairs, just so they were easily seen.  

I asked what had happened, for I was sure we had been invaded by fly-by-night closet re-organizers.  My mother and father exchanged looks and I knew I should never have brought it up.  But after that demonstration my dad was careful to pick up his socks and place them in the laundry hamper on a regular basis.  I never noted that he got a hernia from doing so.  That subject never came up again, either.

When 2011 rolled in, I vowed to simplify my life.  Perhaps I've carried that a wee bit too far.  It could be time to rethink my bad habits. . .But what are the chances of Norm going along with me?  I have a cousin who is a professional organizer.  I guess it's time to pick up the phone...

Connie Baum
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Mother Connie Sez: Never Say Never?

Do you wear eyeglasses?  Contact lenses?  Maybe you have had the Lasik surgery that's so popular now.  Family members of mine have had it and are glad they did.

Mother Connie has been sporting contacts since being courted by The Normanator.  They have worked like a charm and there was never any "fogging" of lenses that came into a warm house from a cold winter's day.  No smears to wipe away, either.  Best of all, I could clearly read the clock if I woke during the night!
As time has passed, the need for more power became apparent as i reached for "cheaters" more and more often.  I dearly hoped that was not an old lady thing.  You KNOW how I've been 33 for all these many years...

Well, age has caught up with Mother Connie, more's the pity.  Cataracts, which I swore never to have, made their appearance rather suddenly.  There is a date for the eye surgeon who removed my parents' cataracts to remove mine.  Dr. Proffitt is legendary for his work as a pioneer in eye care.  I'll be in good hands.
I went to my tell-all book about disease.  I wanted to understand WHY I have these little monsters growing where they are not welcome.  What IS the lesson I'm to learn?  Here is what the book says:

"Cataracts are caused by not wanting to see what the future holds in store."

I'll be dipped in dew!  Now, if only we could find the book showing what the lesson is to be learned from this.  Stay tuned; I may figure it out.  OR, YOU MAY KNOW WHAT I DO NOT AND YOU MIGHT LIKE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER.  Leave your comment, won't you?  Thanks oodles.  I still have the ability to read mail.  grin

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mother Connie Sez: Shea Butter Has Many Benefits

Beautiful Ghana Women shown with their Shea butter

You have met my Ghana friend, Boat.  He sent me this photo of Ghana women gathered around a good supply of Shea butter.  Their colorful garb is as interesting to me as the baskets filled with Shea butter!  And look at the joy in their faces!

Boat shared with me some of the properties of Shea butter.  I know it is a wonderful emollient for I have used it when I was working as a massage therapist.  I have used a plethora of oils and lotions and potions.  Shea is my all time forever fave.
"Shea butter has been known to work well against stretch marks. It also benefits those suffering dry skin, dermatitis and sunburn.  It is effective because it protects the skin against the harmful  rays of the sun. Since Shea butter is well tolerated by the skin, it usually does not trigger off any allergic reactions.  It  is an ideal agent for use by persons with sensitive skin.

This is a partial list of conditions that may be helped by the application of Shea butter: 
  • Fading scars  
  • eczema
  • burns
  • rashes
  • acne
  • severely dry skin
  • blemishes
  • dark spots and skin discolorations
  • chapped lips 
  • wrinkles
  • may lessen the irritation of psoriasis"
Boat says that  in Nigeria, Shea butter is used for the management of sinusitis and relief of nasal congestionWouldn't that play well in the USA, too?  No doubt that would be due to the properties of hydration, which would help relax the tension in the face-that would ease respiration.  Golly, it even SOUNDS relaxing!

There are some serious admonitions about Shea butter, dear readers.  Those will come along with the next post, rest assured.

If you HAVE some Shea butter, go use it now.  If you do not, please wash out your mouth with soap...TOOTHSOAP, that is!  

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly

Mother Connie Sez: Shea Butter is Sheer Luxury

Shea butter is Mother Connie's emollient of choice for massage work.

You aren't likely to think about massage work as often as your humble blogger does.  Even though retirement came along, the things learned over three decades of body work do not fade into oblivion. 

As you know, the internet has replaced massage work for this kid.  Social Networking led me to Twitter.  That's where I met a young Ghana man I call "Boat."  It turned out that I became his online mom and we have kept in touch over the past few years, popping in with instant chats and Tweets to make sure we stay in one anothers' loops.  His latest news is that he is very interested to showcase Shea Butter.

Boat hit the Hot Button!  Shea Butter is the ultimate in body care.  It comes from Africa, where it is extracted from the Shea nut.  It has traditionally come from West Africa but some is coming now from East Africa.

My friend, Boat, who lives in Ghana, has written to me about this product.  He is in hopes that people will learn about its benefits and get as excited about Shea butter as the two of us!  Here is part of his message to me about Shea butter:

"We all know of Shea butter as children growing up throughout Ghana.  What I think is that most of us have not  yet realized the importance of Shea Butter to the World Market and the economy today.

Women  of Ghana spend comparable  monies as other societies  on cosmetic products that only contain about 5% of Shea Butter with the other 95% made up of synthetic compounds to give a desired texture and scent.  

Compare the price of a kilo of Shea Butter in Accra against the price of an imported jar of cosmetic containing 5% or less of Shea Butter. Would it not be prudent to take that kilo of Shea butter and add your own preferred infused scent?

Why not design your own skin cream? Collect a variety of wild flower petals; select the scent of each one that you like. You can even go as far as blending different scents together until you get the right one.  Finally, get a piece of light, white cotton material and make a small medicine bag to hold your petal mix.

Put the required amount of Shea Butter and medicine bag of petals into a large clear glass jar with a lid, leave it in direct sunlight for at least  2 weeks.  Every evening open the jar to test the strength of the scent. If need be, add some more petals.

From this humble beginning you could possibly go on to achieve a cottage industry with a Product designed on the uniqueness out of the garden of Ghana. Please let Mother Connie know about your successes so she can let me know how you enjoy using Shea butter!  Just leave your comments in the comment box below this post, where it says "comments"."

Boat was so gracious as to send a list of Shea butter's benefits.  We will continue our discussion on this topic by revealing those in the next post!  Do stay tuned!

Connie Baum 
PS/Using Shea butter on your body and ToothSoap on your pearly whites will be the ULTIMATE in body care!
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