Thursday, April 29, 2010


It says so, right here, in three different colors.

If I ever get super ambitious, I might do these over with a more pregnant appearance.  Right now, though?  Right now, I sleep.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Have courage to prove

I woke up the morning and discovered that I had gone to bed last night just in time to miss the morning MOSW post.  It was already loaded and leftover in my Echofon add-on from early this morning, so I could see it before the flood of other tweets from this morning came up.  So this is what greeted me.

"...You have an unproven pelvis."
Well, shoot.  You don't say.

Now this is kind of funny to me because my pelvis is quite entirely unproven as well, as any semi-loyal reader knows.  In fact, a lot of women's pelvises are unproven, and every last one who has ever given birth was at some point, too.  Throughout all history, the existence of the entire human race rests on a foundation of previously un-proven pelvises.  (Weird image, I know.)  The quote was a scare tactic to tell the first time mother that because she had never given birth, she really ought to do it in a hospital in case something goes wrong.

Don't get me wrong, I am glad we have hospitals to birth in, and obstetricians to be on staff.  There is a need for them in true emergencies and they definitely serve a purpose that I think any reasonable person can acknowledge.  The problem, as with so many things from sugar to medication, is inappropriate use or application of the hospital in birth, and the unnecessary involvement on a medical specialist in a healthy, non-medical situation.  Women head to the hospital more often out of fear that something could go wrong than having a statistically significant reason to believe it will go wrong.  In our culture, you have to prove that you can finagle your body into birthing vaginally a)in an unnatural position (lithotomy/"stranded beetle"), b)in an unfamiliar and often uninviting location (granted, many labor rooms look less like a biotech "clean room" than they did a few years ago) c)with unfamiliar people (who may or may not be good caretakers) swooping in and out to check on your progress d)which is monitored by the beeping machine next to your head that you're strapped to as it spits out an endless stream of paper, e)while you're likely being pumped full of any or all of the following: synthetic hormones, antibiotics, narcotics or other pain killers, and IV fluids because they won't let you eat or drink (so after a few hours your strength and blood sugar plummet.)  If you can get your body to still push out a baby with all of these factors against you, congratulations!  And please come back next time in case something goes wrong, even though it didn't this time.

If you can't manage to get your body to adapt to this highly technical and "managed" situation, that's okay!  That's why we have c-sections, right?  And that's why one in three American mothers has them.  Then there's the kicker; once you have your first Cesarean, your likelihood of being "allowed" to birth vaginally in a hospital is less than one in five.  So if you're a first time mother, and you enter this downward spiral your likelihood of ever having a normal birth in the hospital is hugely diminished, because somewhere along the line someone essentially told you "You can't do it until you prove that you can."  It's kind of like credit (as KDB said.)  This is not a supportive attitude and it is wrecking our ability to give birth.

What do I think the answer is?  Simple: Educate women long before they get pregnant.  Change the Sex Ed programs in middle school and high school to include education on options in birth: homebirth, waterbirth, birth centers, midwifery.  Teach girls and boys how birth can and should be; that continuous, knowledgeable support is critical, that interventions are to be kept to a minimum and applied only when truly necessary for the health of mother and/or child.  Then educate nursing and med students on the exact same things.  Most nurses and doctors have never seen a normal, healthy labor or birth, nor can they recognize them without the use of machines.  And it's not their fault because that's how their educated.  Education needs to change, or we will never see a difference in the lives of individuals until the damage has already been done.

And that's the crux for me as a childless birth advocate.  I feel very much like an oddity, an island in a sea dotted by island clusters of women with children and bad birth experiences.  I haven't been traumatized, and I don't want to be I would wager that the vast majority of birth advocates are women who experienced trauma in their first birth(s), put their foot down afterward and said, "I am not going through it again!"  But it doesn't have to be like that!  We can stop it before it starts.

Talk to your girlfriends before they have babies.  Talk to your daughters, your nieces, your cousins.  Talk to women at your churches, your synagogues, your mosques, your book clubs, your gyms, your coffee houses, your hair salons, your political gatherings (whether you're Red, Blue, Green, or I don't know, Orange-with-Blue-Stripes.)  Get the facts, learn what the normal process is, and talk.  This is a concern for all childbearing women regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, creed, political views, sexual preference, education level, language, or tax bracket.  Advocacy and education don't have to be complicated or brashly outspoken and in-your-face; in fact, on the day-to-day, person-to-person level, they shouldn't be.  Just talk.

Women with a legitimate medical need should seek out the care they require for the healthiest outcome possible.  Women without that need, even if you're a first-timer, even if you're not "experienced", I would encourage you to be brave.  (Edit:  By which I mean be brave in the face of possible/likely disagreement or disapproval from those who don't understand your choice, your research, or the reality of safe home birth.)  Hire a midwife.  Hire a doula.  (Don't skip hiring a doula, wherever and however you birth.)  Birth at home.  Birth at a center.  Keep your ability to walk, move, stand, squat, stretch, nest, eat, drink, pee, poop, shower, socialize (if you want), walk around in a nightgown* or nothing, cuddle with your hubby/partner, and everything women are typically discouraged or outright forbidden from doing behind the heavy double doors of a hospital maternity ward.

To the woman who posted the MOSW story that prompted me to write all of this down (and helped nudge me in the right direction to expressing what I meant above) , I salute you and I am thrilled that you got the birth you wanted and "proved" your pelvis on your own terms and in your own home.  I look forward to doing the same and encouraging others like us as well.
Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

*Free, unsolicited plug. I am in no way affiliated with Hot Mama Gowns, I just happen to like her product and follow her on Twitter.  And of course, you can wear your own nightgown.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Link List: April 26

Given my cutting back on Twitter and Facebook, this isn't a very populated list, but it's got some good stuff.  By the way, if there's any links you particularly want me to consider for inclusion on these lists, please DM or @ them to me on Twitter, and I'll be sure to check them out. My subject categories are: Fertility/Menstruation, Pregnancy, Birth, Breastfeeding, Child care and development, and Other.
  • Stirrups and Stories:  Reclaiming the OBGYN Patient Experience through Imagery and Words - It's a little like PostSecret for gynecology, and therefore awesome.
  • "Women's Hearts Damaged by Starchy Diets" from Vital Choices - Ahh, Spring Cleaning, time to reevaluate my diet.  Again.  Oy.
  • "(A More Real) Love Story" (video) by Anita Renfroe - This woman cracks me up.  Her William Tell Momisms is wicked hard to memorize and perform at speed, but so worth it.  Anyway, this is a great parody of Taylor Swift's "Love Story" (which, imo, is one of the silliest songs ever, and I'm not much impressed with the video, either.)  But Anita's parody is awesome, and much more like what really happens in everyday life from what I can observe from my unmarried, childless POV.  Definitely worth a watching.
All right, I think I'm gonna go load up my bike and go down to the park for a ride.  Cheerio!

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


This month has been a little crazy for me. Starting with the advent of Cesarean Awareness Month, I found myself launched headlong into a flurry of birth/breastfeeding/child care/health/religion/fertility/circumcision/feminism articles, attitudes, and advocacies. Some of my notions have been challenged, my perspective has been checked and shifted, and I find that in three weeks I've become a different person, a different advocate, and I hope a better both. (I know that's grammatically awkward, but work with me here.) I firmed up many of my beliefs and stances, I've found others like myself in many ways, spread the word on some causes, and realized that others I could live without jumping in.

Twitter and Facebook have played huge roles in all of this, sweeping me up in media scandals, bringing whole communities and movements to light, and introducing me to dozens of new people involved in the same causes I am. The internet feels like a much more vast place today than it did a month ago, even though intellectually I know it's almost boundless. Heck, I'm something of a blogger now, which I really wasn't before. I've been re-Retweeted by my favorite magazine and #FF'd for being "Here to empower women", both of which were kind of mind blowing.  I'm just a tiny corner of the web, a sole proprietor who's just passionate about bringing children into the world.

That sole proprietorship is what I find myself considering now.  I find the Twitter/Blog info-and-opinion-stream fascinating and informative and lively and... really, really hectic.  I tend to get up in the morning, check over the dozens (if not hundreds) of tweets and blogs my list has accumulated while I slept, tab up about 5-8 of them and start reading, while new ones are constantly coming in.  I am easily distracted, so I end up spending the majority of my days of late going through articles.  I currently have seven in my tabs to go through.  It's just too much.

I'm not a professional blogger or tweeter.  I'm a massage therapist and I should be concentrating on that, and completing my various in-process certifications.  There's so much to learn in this world, so much knowledge to be gained, and I find myself running frantically to catch up to it, but it goes too fast, so I'm going to stop.  I'm going to go through my Facebook and Twitter (especially my Twitter) and simplify my life a little.

There's a lot of big battles out there, for birth, for breasts, for bonding, for bodies, for baby boys, for all babies, for families; a great many of them are uphill.  I'm still going to be involved with these battles, but I'm going to be spending a lot less time online to do it.

I need to expand in my local area, especially, and fight those battles here.  So here's to a formative three weeks and moving forward with new priorities.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Link List: April 19

I missed a lot over the weekend, I suspect, but here's what I did get to.  Happy reading!

Child care and development
"Fatal Distraction" from The Washington Post. (2010 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing)
Everyone. who has/will/might have a child or care for one should read this article, especially as summer approaches. (Warning: Graphic and heartbreaking.  Not a good choice for work or anywhere/time you'd feel uncomfortable crying.) Anyone can forget a child in the car.  I will definitely be offering these as soon as I set up retail at the salon.  Always check the back seat.
  • "The Daycare Dilemma" from Natural Child Project - Value motherhood.  Value motherhood more.  End of story.
  • "Retailer pulls girls' padded bikini" - from MSNBC - A)No child has any business running around in a two-piece swim suit, no matter how "cute" it is.  None.  B) There's a big difference between "padded" and "lined for modesty".  Makes me wonder.
More next week, I'm sure!

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Left in the car

I had an interesting experience last Friday. As noted in my previous post, I was visiting my grandparents this weekend to help with their annual rummage sale. I stayed up almost all night Thursday reading various articles, including "Fatal Distraction", which just won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. One of the last things I did was post a link to it on my personal Facebook and Twitter before finally going to bed. I knew I would only get about ninety minutes of sleep before having to throw my morning hygiene routine in a bag, eat breakfast, and hit the road, I was unconcerned. I would just sleep through the six hour drive and arrive more or less with a full night's sleep under my belt.

For the most part, I managed it. I woke up whenever we got off the highway to stop at a store or a restaurant, and a couple times when my neck lolled off at an awkward angle. However, our final pre-destination stop, I didn't wake up. We had planned all along to stop at the last town to pick up some barbeque to bring for dinner. Since I didn't wake up, my parents decided to leave me alone and let me sleep, considerately cracking a window for ventilation.

I woke up briefly after maybe ten minutes, just long enough to see that yes, the window was open and register the obnoxious mariachi music being blasted from the taco stand ten feet away. (Apparently mariachi music gives me weird dreams, too, but that's irrelevant to this story.) I dozed back off, only to reawaken fully ten minutes later, drowsily awake and parched with thirst. Fortunately, I had about half of a one liter steel bottle right next to me, and I quickly drained it. I sat there a minute, still a little out of it and realizing I was still warm. I was on the sunny side of the car and the two inch vent wasn't doing much for me. Of course I can't leave the car with that big of an opening in a strange neighborhood, so I stayed put and sent my Dad a somewhat disgruntled text requesting that I be given at least two cracked windows on future occasions so I could have a breezeway. I opened the door and waited, enjoying the fresh air outside, but not enough to negate the stifling air inside, or my dark wash jeans and black shirt. The temperature was only in the upper 60s or low 70s. After a third ten minute period, I called to see what was taking so long just as they were getting the food. They returned and we headed down the road the final twenty mintues to my grandparents. It took me more than that ride time to feel like I was able to fully cool down again.

The upside of this story is that I'm an able-bodied 28 year old woman and if I had found myself in true ditress I could have abandoned the car for a breezy spot with some shade, even begged or bought some water from the taco stand. I can be trusted not to wander into the busy street beside me if I do get out of the car. I know how to work a cell phone, car horn, and door locks if I need to alert my parents, or go out of sight of the vehicle. I was uncomfortable, but out of danger.

The downside would have been if somehow I was twenty-five years younger, give-or-take a few. Whether forgotten or intentionally left to rest with even a cracked window, a small child's poor self-regulation would have put it in danger far more quickly than myself. Even a child developed enough to get out of a car seat could have been in trouble without the knowledge of how to honk the horn or unlock the doors to escape (hopefully not into the street.) I know, because it happened to me.

When I was about three or four years old, my family was on another trip to visit old friends in Oregon. We decided to go to dinner one night, the group including my parents, my maternal grandmother, our hostess, and my siser who was about ten at the time. This was back before air bags and legislation insisting children sit in the back seat, but with so many adults in the car, I sat there anyway. (Only since the advent of passenger side air bags posing a danger to youngsters in the front seat have so many children been forgotten in the back.) Everyone got out of the car thinking that someone else had gotten me. No one had, and I still vividly remember watching them close the doors and walk away across the parking lot. I think at first I found it funny, until I tried to open the doors and discovered they were locked. I didn't know how to open them. I panicked, climbing into the front seat and pounding frantically on the window, screaming for them to come back. They never heard me, and I watched the restaurant door close behind them. My grandmother realized I wasn't there within about a minute, and they returned. They taught me how to work the door locks and the horn, in case it ever happened again. Fortunately, it never did, but if it had, I knew what to do, and the story had a happy ending.

Now a quarter century later, I hear heartbreaking news stories every year about children accidentally left in their parents' cars, and I still think about my own experience being forgotten. It can happen to anyone, even the most intelligent, mindful, watchful, organized, caring, attentive parent or caregiver. It can happen to grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, next door neighbors, and parents' best friends. It can happen to a person who's alone, or it can happen to a group. It tends to happen in warm months, but it can also happen in winter (as we learned a couple Christmases ago with an unfortunate intended pet fish that was left in my sister's van over night. Poor fish.) It can happen anytime someone gets distracted.

Even if you never leave your child in the car, it is still wise to teach them what to do as soon as they're old enough. I don't know that I would recommend teaching very young children how to unlock the door. A young child who doesn't know better (or even one that does) could get panicky, overly confused, or curious and find their way into a street or parking lot, or wander far from the car in search of parents and become lost in unfamiliar territory. However, I do think that teaching a child how to work the car horn is smart, especially if they are able to learn how to use it in an irregular pattern. A regular pattern could sound like a standard car alarm that people tend to ignore without investigation. The horn gives a trapped child a "voice" that reaches beyond the insulated glass and metal confines of the vehicle.

Of course, that doesn't solve every problem. Most children caught in these tragic situations are tiny, infants and toddlers, too helpless to protest or escape in time to save their lives. I was fortunate, being old enough and able to move around the car; even if they hadn't come back immediately, I surely could have gotten the attention of some passing stranger. How do we protect our little ones and prevent these tragedies?

What if cars had ventilation fans? Self-contained roof units, powered by solar panels, could turn on whenever the internal temperature reaches dangerous levels, evacuating excess heat without the theft danger of an open window or sunroof and without draining the battery. This could be an independent function or linked with a child weight sensor in the seat. "Fatal Distraction" mentions that such weight sensors have already been conceived to set off an alarm when the engine turns off. Once I get my retail situation going at the salon, I will be offering simple but effective tags that can be hung from keychains or carrier handles (when out of the car) to act as a bright visual reminder of "Where's Baby?" There are certainly several ideas that could be successfully used to prevent these tragic deaths, so why haven't they been widely implemented? Why have they not burst as suddenly and universally across the auto industry as the air bags that brought this situation to prominence? Our cars should be safe for everyone, big and small, front seat and back seat, in motion or at a stand still.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Friday, April 16, 2010

Closed for the weekend

I'm going to San Luis Obispo in the morning to visit my grandparents this weekend. Everyone have a great few days and I'll catch you on Monday with the weekly link round up. (Hopefully; I kind of accidently deleted everyting. Joy.)

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My two cents on Breastfeeding in America

Caveat: I'm not a mother.  I have never breastfed a child, and I'm reasonably certain that I was never breastfed, myself.  I have every desire and plan to become a mother, but at present all I have for "experience" is what I've learned from my sister and my two best friends who have children and have breastfed, my education as a doula, and personal study.  I am not as expert in this field; if I'm anything, I am an informed observer, and what I have to say is likely not anything that someone else hasn't said somewhere else in a more eloquent fashion.  Nevertheless, here it is.

Most of the people who will read this article are aware of the study that just came out about how many lives and how much money we could save right here in the United States if 90% of women exclusively breastfed their infants for the first six months of life, the minimum time period recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for breastfeeding since 2005.  The publication and subsequent publicity of the study caused an uproar throughout the blogosphere, social networks, and news sites all across America, lighting fires in the camps of pro-breast and pro-bottle alike.  Those of us in favor of exclusive (even extended!) breastfeeding were elated; more validation for not only our cause, but for the instincts of mothers everywhere.  Who can argue against something so basic that could save 900 innocent lives and $13 Billion every year?

A lot of people, it seems.

As quickly as we could raise our voices in jubilation, voices in protest answered back, screaming about maternal guilt, and how dare we make mothers feel bad for not breastfeeding their children!  I'm sorry, what?  We are trying to make mothers feel bad?  Oh, because they can't or don't breastfeed and they're tired of being made to feel guilty because of that choice or inability.  Here's a few things that come to my mind when I hear that:
  • First of all, the study talks about a 90% breastfeeding rate, not 100%.  That gives one in ten women free pass for insurmountable physical inability in herself or the baby: excessive pain that cannot be treated; milk supply that cannot be increased through diet, increased nursing, or pumping; undiagnosed or untreated tied tongue; damage to milk ducts or nipples; HIV/AIDS or other communicable diseases, or medications that would pass to the baby; soft palate defects; adoption; etc.  There are many physical obstacles to breastfeeding that can come up, but their incidence is relatively low and should fall well below that 10% allowance.  (Please correct me if I'm wrong, with appropriate source citations, but I haven't heard anything about such a glaringly obvious hindrance to our living up to the 90% as a nation.)  The remainder of the 10% allowance is technically up for grabs, either by choice or other life circumstances.  It's an ideal, and (to paraphrase an acquaintance) those are stars to steer by, not sticks with which to beat ourselves.  There's really no pressure here, which brings me to my next point.
  • No one can make you feel guilty or feel like a failure.  No one.  With the exception of real chemical or psychological imbalances, you own your emotions and you are responsible for them.  Yes, there are a lot of voices that genuinely do try to frighten or guilt mothers for their own gain, but you make the decision whether to comply and be afraid/guilty or to trust your instincts.  Having said that...
  • Mothers should not feel guilty if they cannot breastfeed.  As mentioned above, there's a lot of legitimate, physical reasons why it doesn't happen sometimes.  There's a lot more circumstantial reasons, and for the most part, that's where we can improve.  A lot of those circumstances are partially or completely out of a mother's control, from where and how she gives birth, to aggressive in-hospital and media marketing by formula companies, to the lack of mandatory paid maternity leave in America, to social pressure about nursing in public (covered or uncovered).
  • Some women, in spite of ability, still choose not to breastfeed, either exclusively or at all.  Technically, that's their right, but I just want to say this: any time you take something originally intended as a life-saving measure and apply it unnecessarily, there will be some consequences.  Formula was originally concocted in the hopes of saving an infant's life in the absence of its natural food source: human milk.  Sometimes, it didn't work.  Sometimes, it still doesn't work.  Granted, in America these days an infant is more likely to live than die, but they just aren't as well off as they would have been with breastmilk
  • At the same time, formula feeding doesn't mean you're a bad or abusive mother or a failure.   Whatever your circumstances or choices, you're still caring for your child, still feeding it, still caring, and no one can argue with that.  I wasn't breastfed myself because I was adopted as a newborn after a brief foster period, and I would never vilify any of the women who bore, cared for, or raised me because I was formula fed.  It has affected my life, but those details are for another post. 
When it comes down it, our system inherently fails every single day in supporting nursing mothers, and it does it with gusto.  I could spend the next several paragraphs explaining how, but I'm just going to refer you to the article linked below my signature because it's already done and I can't possibly say it better.

The vast majority of us who are pro-breast are not out to brow beat women into submission or tell them they're bad mothers for not being in the ~12% remaining at the six month mark still exclusively breastfeeding.  The failure is not in women, it's in the institution, in the way we live and work around birth and breastfeeding.  We need to stop yelling at each other about this and turn that energy toward changing minds, hearts, and policies. (Read the article.)

Encourage, educate, empower, and reach out to the public and help change perceptions of breastfeeding in public places.  Help return breastfeeding to its status as normal, natural, and healthy.  Talk to the children in your life, boys and girls alike.  Teach them that nourishment is the natural function of breasts as much as locomotion is the natural function of legs, and that it's neither shameful nor sexual; it's what they're for. 

To succeed in reaching a 90% breastfeeding rate, we need free and easy access to Education, Support, and Resources.  Women and their partners need to know what is normal, what isn't, what's supposed to happen, when, and how, and what to do when it doesn't.  They need to know whom to call upon for reliable information, support, and assistance.  They need the freedom and flexibility at home, at work, in public, in private, with strangers, with friends, and with family to know that they'll have what they need to care for their offspring in the best way they can provide in all circumstances.  (Read the article.)

Once again, 90% is the ideal, a star by which we can steer toward a healthier future.  This change can be made.  We excel at overcoming challenges on this scale when we have a core of passionate, empowered people who believe in what they stand for and strive for it.  We can save lives, we can save families, we can save our future as a people, starting with something as simple as a new generation of children being nourished and nurtured at their mother's breasts.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

The article to read: "Motherhood and the $13 Billion Guilt" by Melissa Bartick, at A Peaceful Revolution from The Huffington Post.  Vital reading for anyone interested in breastfeeding, and especially this study.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Link List: April 12

This time, I've included some links to blogs and articles which I did not post, but that I found otherwise significant.  Happy reading!



Child care and development

And beyond...

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Should I change over my website?

I've been paying for a website for nearly four years now, and I've spent over $1,500 to have and promote it (not counting business cards and other physical marketing tools.) It has brought in maybe $200-300 in that time, and that's a generous estimate of its direct contribution. Obviously, this is a gross inequality as a cost-benefit analysis. (I'm not sure why, but I enjoy using that term. Anyway.)  However, my site did just earn me an invitation to participate in a Mother's Club event in May.

So, I'm seriously considering moving everything on the site either to constructed pages here or Wordpress.  I think I find Wordpress websites a little more interesting to look at, from what I've seen.  There's a guy at church who's business is creating websites with Wordpress, so I'll probably talk to him about it some.  Then again, this blog is already here on Blogspot, so I'm not sure I want to bother switching.

I also admit to having considerable feelings of customer loyalty to my hosting service; I'm their customer #12, I've been with them since they were a start-up in 2006; they've been good to me, bumping my service costs down twice; and my not getting business with their service isn't really their fault.

What I really want from you, dear readers, is your thoughts.  I've placed a poll on the left side of this blog, expiring at noon on April 14.  Please vote, give me your input, and put any comments in response to this post.  I want to hear your experiences in working with Blogspot, Wordpress, and/or any other similar (free) website/blog services; experiences in switching from one to another, if you've got it; your opinions on the visual appeal (or not!) of sites/blogs hosted on these services; or any tips on better using the pay site I have to get people calling or e-mailing and ultimately walking through my door.

Thanks all!

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Friday, April 9, 2010

I forgot to mention

Yeah, so I got my CAMTC certificate and carry card on Monday, March 22nd.  The certificate is present on display in my room, and the card is in my wallet.  WOO HOO!

I need to get my camera fixed so I can take some proper pictures of everything.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Anti-antiperspirant Experiment, pt 1

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, I'm sure you've noticed that I take life with a pronounced natural/alternative tilt to it.  This extends all the way to my underarm hygiene: I don't shave them hardly at all anymore unless I'm really getting stinky or the hair starts to pull, and for years I tried dozens of different deodorant products, with varying success.  I gave up antiperspirant while going to massage school in Arizona (of all places to give up sweat protection!) because I wanted to stop piling little bits of unhealthy things like aluminum salts and petroleum products into my body as much as possible.  Oddly enough, I didn't stink (which I attribute to the increased intake of liquid chlorophyll in my diet as a prescribed treatment for anemia) even when sweating, which was a common occurrence for a big gal like me in the dry Arizona heat; however I also seemed to sweat less, which I appreciated.  During that time, I could get by with some good old Tom's of Maine and be hunky dory.  Well, long story short, things changed, I changed, my body chemistry changed, and I gave up the fight and returned to using antiperspirant. I wasn't happy about it, but at least I didn't smell (because I'm American, dang it, and I can't smell!  Right?)

Then about 5 weeks ago, I started my "no 'poo" hair experiment, which is going great.  I love the fact that I'm not spending gobs of time in the hair aisle or gobs of money at the check out to find the next thing that's going to transform my hair experience.  It's simple, it's easy, my hair looks great, but every week or so, even with washing, it gets a little greasy up top.  So, I started using corn starch to absorb the excess oil and then brush or rinse it out.  No problems.  And that got me thinking; all I really need is odor and sweat absorption.  Could corn starch be the answer I've needed all these years?

So here I am.
Day 0
Last night I busted out the cornstarch and aloe and experimented with mix ratios.  A 1:2 (cs:aloe) produced a very fine film of cornstarch once dried, almost invisible, possibly ineffective.  I went to 1:1, which produced a thick, visibly white and persistently clingy layer once dried.  I am currently experimenting with the 1:1 ratio.

Day 1
Washed my underarms to start with a clean slate: no antiperspirant, no stink.  Cut a small hole in the bottom corner of the baggy to pipe on my goop.  Note: A little goes a long way, a lot spreads beyond your armpit, even after being thinned out.  It felt a little weird at the very first, my hair felt stiff and crackly but the feeling faded quickly.  The result is a pale patch of cornstarch visible around my axila (pit) that doesn't appear to shed or sprinkle too much, though there is some "snow".  I'll let you know how things turn out later.  I've got errands to run.

By the end of the day, the patch of cornstarch was gone from sight.  I walked downtown for almost an hour, got a little warm, didn't notice any smell.  By time for bed, noticed maybe a tiny whiff of my natural odor coming through.

Day 2
Applied about a nickel's worth on either side and rubbed in.  No extra-axila spread or excessive white residue: looks identical to application of regular antiperspirant.  I do get a thick film on my hands but it's easily washed off.  Have to lotion up, though.  See you after work.

I got rather warm today, as warm as I ever do on a normal Spring day.  I did not stay dry all day, which is slightly disappointing (but not unexpected for the small amount of mix I donned this morning) but I did not stink.  This is promising and progressive.

Of course, by the evening, I did notice a particular aroma shortly after my period arrived.  Ah, body chemistry, how I love and adore you. (Okay, I shouldn't be so sarcastic to my body.)  This is good, though; This will be a real challenge to this idea I've concocted to see if it'll work.

Day 3
All right, some of the odor has dissipated.  I've added about a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of orange flower water (hydrosol) to the goop to thin and perfume slightly.  The aroma doesn't last very long after drying with a hair dryer, though.  More later.  I'm off to run errands again.

I can conclusively say that this thin layer of cornstarch really does nothing to absorb significant amounts of sweat.  Surprise surprise.  Thought I detected a little funk, still, toward the end of the day.  Bought chlorophyll, and introduced it back to my diet in the evening.  This will be Experiment aspect 1.2.

Day 4
Now attempting method of just smearing to distribute rather than rubbing in, in the hopes of attaining a thicker layer of starch.  Doing two massages today.  Let's see how it goes. 

There was a minor funk at the end of the day, and quite a bit of wetness, but they weren't in proportion.  Thus far it appears the cornstarch is blocking/absorbing odor, but not much wetness.  Interesting!

Tomorrow is an antiperspirant day because I'm volunteering and working with the public, so this is a good time to enter the log thus far.  Unless I am still sick/sore tomorrow (I woke up with a cough this morning), I'll resume on Sunday.

 Peace be with y'all.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

P.S.: Sorry about the run-on sentences.  It's part of my charm.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Product: Keen shoes

While this has nothing strictly to do with massage, doulary, birth, or any of the other topics I typically cover in this blog, Keen shoes and bags are typical parts of my daily wardrobe and my equipment as a massage therapist and doula, and I can't say enough about them.

I don't remember how I first discovered Keens, but I'm fairly sure it was while I was shopping for a comfortable, durable pair of everyday shoes that I could wear for a long time.  I've tried a lot of very expensive shoes in the past six years to fill this role, some of which apparently are no longer made.  The Berkeley by Keen is the most recent entry in this list, and I'm about ready to kill my second pair.  Each has lasted in excess of a year of daily wear without socks.  I've had a Brooklyn purse (in a discontinued brown/orange scheme) for about two years as well, and it fits almost anything I need to carry: wallet, lips balms/rouge, keys, business cards, checkbook, pens, cell phone, point-and-shoot camera, iPod shuffle in carry box, notebook, small calendar planner, and various knick-knacks.  I even have room leftover for a handful of small groceries.  My doula bag is an Alameda, which holds my folded rebozo, birth ball and pump, 1/2" binder for client paperwork, a couple books, water, cell phone, etc, with room to spare, in a shape that doesn't take an extra arm and can easily be shoved out of the way.

I hate socks only a little more than I hate wearing shoes (which is just ahead of how much I hate to wear a bra) so if I'm going to be stuck in them everyday, you can dang well bet anymore that they're well made, they fit me, and I'm comfortable.  Most of the shoes linked above have fallen short on one or both of those last two criteria for me, I bought them anyway, and resumed the search shortly thereafter.  My biggest problem is that I have wide feet, so many brands that don't carry wide widths just don't work for me.  Also, living on the Rubenesque side of life puts a lot of wear and tear on my feet and legs if I stand for a long time.  It's been a challenge to find good shoes.

Now I've found Keens, I've been wearing them almost exclusively for over two years now, and I love them.  The only shoe need Keen doesn't fulfill for me is dress shoes.  They do not come in wide widths, but many styles are built wide regardless.  Many of the materials used are recycled and/or sustainably sourced.  The styles and colors are attractive, modern, and functional.  The footbeds are smooth, supportive, and springily comfortable, so I can walk or stand for hours with almost no discomfort compared to even my Ecco sneakers.  I'm a big fan of the toe protection, especially on the sandals.  This makes them versatile for everyday, water, and even some hiking.  Another advantage of Keens, especially in the Waterfront collection, is the great traction.  I can plant my feet and not worry about wasting energy because they're sliding to the side.  I also worry less about oil/lotion spills and migratory hair trimmings from the salon slipping me up.  My Venice H2s are especially useful on this front and I've been wearing them a lot lately in lieu of my Berkleys that are ready to give up the ghost. 

I've been living in slip ons for years (another correct-shoes-finding challenge) and plan to continue to do so as much as possible.  For this reason, I'm looking at the PTC slip on and the Cimarron.  I'm leaning toward the latter for the lower heel and breathability, but I like the Keen.Cush insole on the former.

Whichever I choose, Keen Footwear is the "official shoe/bag of Abundance Massage", and I am proud to be a Keen girl.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

A compendium of recent articles and blog posts

Lately I've gotten into the habit of passing on numerous articles via Facebook and Twitter that I've found or had passed on to me, mainly because I didn't want to clutter up my blog with a ton of small posts.  Instead, I think I'll start doing a regular (weekly? bi-weekly? monthly?) large post of links with comments on various subjects for the sake of convenience for myself, and everyone else.

  •  April is Cesarean Awareness Month.  Visit the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) for more information. My comments:  "Cesarean section is a wonderful, useful surgical tool that can save both the lives of mother and child when it's needed. However, it has become a catch-all litigation avoidance mechanism in our country. Approximately 32% of women give birth by section in the United States, by FAR the highest rate in the industrialized... world and 2-3 times the rate recommended by the WHO, with a VBAC rate of <8%. Sometimes c-section is necessary. Too often it is not. April is Cesarean Awareness Month. For more information, resources, and education, go to"

  • Two articles relating to the same study: One shorter and one longer$15 million per year is a tiny, tiny amount compared to what formula companies can lob at us in that amount of time, but if it goes through, it's a start.  Women need Education, Resources, and Support on personal, familial, and community levels.  Breastfeeding, public and private, needs to be 100% legal (with government, businesses, and society), 100% recognized as normal, 100% supported, and practiced in as close to 100% of mothers as possible.  $13 BILLION ANNUALLY.  Just to exclusively breastfeed for six months.  Imagine the added impact of extended breastfeeding to two years and beyond (as recommended by the WHO) in health and savings.   And to complement this, I have...
  • This: "On Being a Wetnurse".  "It sounds so "Jane Austen" or "Charles Dickens" to us now, doesn't it? But you know, considering the last two articles I posted, this ain't half a bad idea for getting that 90(or 100!) percent breastfeeding rate. Definitely something to think about."
Raising children
  • April 1-7 is Autism Awareness Week.  From a Note I wrote on Facebook:
    Autism is not a disease, it is a different way of being in and interacting with the world. But it is also epidemic. I admit, I do not know very much about autism except the way my family has had to work with it and the controversy about whether it's caused by vaccines and/or vaccine overload from the sheer load given to very young children very quickly. I know it needs more research. I know people who have it need love, understanding, and kindness, just like every other human being. People with autism are amazing, even if they seem a little quirky. (Heck, I seem a little quirky, too!)

    Don't tease. Learn. Don't ignore. Engage as much as possible. Don't tolerate others who, through ignorance or mean spiritedness, devalue those with autism. We are all children of God, and we deserve better.

    Love you, Brandon.

    Your proud Auntie,

  • The Dark Secret of an "Un-Schooling" Family.  (Unschooling?  What's that??)  Read and learn moreI have to say, I'm intrigued by the concept of un-schooling.

I hope you learned something new today.  Take care of yourself and those around you.  (And support Breastfeeding!)

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

Friday, April 2, 2010

My first experiences with the bodyCushion

My bodyCushion arrived the day of my last blog post and I've had the chance to use it a couple of times now.  The first thing I noticed was that I had to lower my table a lot.  The legs are on their second lowest setting, and  I'm considering putting them all the way down, something I haven't done in six years since my Structural Bodywork courses.  Not only will this will make it easier for clients to climb onto the table, but it will also make my body mechanics a little better.

Speaking of body mechanics, one of the primary reasons I bought the bC was the purported 50% reduction in therapist energy expenditure.  For me, that's a huge difference, and I have to say that I did feel like I wasn't putting out quite as much force to do my work.  I still have to fine tune my technique in working with this new tool, but so far I'm optimistic.  I also enjoy a few minutes flopped on the contraption, myself.  It's still pretty comfy, in spite of my considerable size, and it's the most gently effective lumbar stretch I've ever had.  I want to buy one for home use, honestly.

That being said, the contraption did not work for my mother in either prone or side-lying position.  I tried several adjustments for her and nothing worked better than the face cradle on my table, flipped up on the table top to support her face or a foam pillow (depending on her position.)  I really wanted it to, but it was not to be.  Alas, it's not for everyone, but what is?  However, I think working on my nail technician went very well, and I can't wait to get her feedback on the experience later.

Hopefully as I work more with this product, I will have much more to say.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage