Friday, April 24, 2009

Prom, Teens and Sex

We're driving home after dance class when m 16 1/2 year old daughter tells me she has booked a space for her after-prom, downtown. So I ask if the limousine is going to stick around and drive them home afterwards. No, but that's ok, she said, we're booking a hotel room.

I rapidly look over at her, and back on the road: What? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with you staying in a hotel room by yourselves.

Why not? it's just a bunch of girls.....(shifty look, sideways glance)

Can you look me in the eye and tell me there will be no boys there? I ask outright.

Mom! of course the girls with boyfriends will have them there, but no one else would be trashy enough to do that. What are you so upset about? Don't you trust me? I'm not some kind of whore....

What is it that bothers me? the fact that you're 16 and still a virgin....and by the way, not only trashy girls or whores enjoy having sex.

(we continue to argue for a while about the trust issue, about whether it's her or the situation I don't trust, then shelve the conversation for later, with her dad, who is infinitely calmer than I am).

Am I being too overprotective? perhaps. Did her brother have a prom night, a limo, and an afterprom party? yes, but he came home with the limo driver at 2 am and I met him in the kitchen - I had supplied a bottle of champagne for their after-party, and although he was a little soused, he was still standing, and not too ill. His date had left at midnight (probably a coach turning into a pumpkin, or a limo into a volkswagen rabbit). Is it different for girls? yes!

How to protect our daughters from unwanted sex from inebriated young guys on the look-out for easy pickings is probably the fear behind my protectiveness.

Was I sexually active before 18? you bet. It was the 70's after all. But these days, girls are giving oral sex as easily as a goodnight kiss, according to one author quoted in the Globe & Mail newspaper yesterday. ( Sharlene Azam has made a documentary about the ease with which some girls 'empower themselves' by gaining male attention through sex. Some are even exchanging sex for money, although they don't want to call it prostitution.

Of course, we have a responsibility towards our sons too, to teach them the value of healthy sex versus what they see in movies and on internet porn. Somewhere out there our values as a society have become very twisted - between 'real' life and 'movie' life the lines are blurred. How does a girl/young woman really want to be treated? does she want to be thrown away like a used kleenex? (apparently father-less girls are more at risk, but mothers cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend they don't see what's going on)

Girls may think they can have sex without consequences, without needing caring and affection in return, but they are misguided. It usually ends with a feeling of being used, of emptiness. We have it built into us to make bonds, create lasting relationships, not casual hook-ups.

I haven't decided yet what to tell my daughter - I need to discuss it calmly and rationally with her father - but we will be talking openly about self-esteem, self-love, alcohol and boundaries. Two close relatives of mine had teen pregnancies, and I suppose I am too aware that once is all it takes. Not to mention all the other consequences of unprotected sex....

I welcome any comments or helpful advice from readers on this touchy topic,


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Deep breathing for relaxation

According to an article written by Dr. Marcelle Pick, from, deep breathing is the fastest way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, through the relaxation response.

"Further review and analysis of research by Drs. Brown and Gerbarg resulted in the development of a new neuropsychological theory for how yogic breathing may affect the stress response system and calm the mind and body. Their recent article in Current Psychiatry shows how trained deep breathing can relieve trauma symptoms.

The sympathetic nervous system, which is stimulated in times of stress and anxiety, controls your fight or flight response, including spikes in cortisol and adrenaline that can be damaging when they persist too long."

Deep breathing is good for your blood cells, it oxygenates your body, it helps the lymphatic system drain our bodies of toxins, it helps beat anxiety and depression, as well as eating disorders. If you breathed more deeply, you could beat that fatigue that's getting you done, and clear up the mental fog. It also helps beat stress.

"As many of you know, chronic stress depletes the body of nutrients and destabilizes brain and endocrine chemistry. Depression, muscle tension and pain, insulin sensitivity, GI issues, insomnia, and adrenal fatigue among scores of other conditions are all related to an overworked sympathetic nervous system. What counteracts this mechanism? The parasympathetic nervous system.

Breath is the fastest medium by which these systems can communicate, flicking the switch from high alert to low in a matter of seconds."

"So often, women make time for everyone else, rising to meet the demands of others before they nurture themselves. Learning how to breathe more fully and deeply is a very small but vital way to honor yourself and your miraculous life. In many cultures and religions, breath is life — a divine connection to a force that binds us all to the ebb and flow of nature.

By taking a few moments in your day to really pay attention to the inhalation and exhalation that supports your life, you will slowly and surely move toward a healthier and happier place. Remember, small changes add up to big improvements — and what better way to begin than breathing?"

What better way indeed? if combined with gentle exercise like walking or yoga, you may have a winning stress-beating combination.

take care, and remember to breathe deeply,

here's the three part breath we do in yoga: (again, from Dr Pick's article, I love the womentowomen web site)

This yoga technique is very useful during times of stress, or at any time you need to relax. It is extremely relaxing and can be done before bed to assist with sleep issues.

Again, sit comfortably and close your eyes. With your mouth closed, exhale deeply through your nose. Imagine that you are pouring the breath out of a jug, starting at the top of your chest and moving down through your mid-torso and into your diaphragm. Pause for two counts at the bottom of the breath, then inhale through your nose.

Refill the “jug” slowly, counting to five (or seven if you can make it). Start at the bottom, expanding your diaphragm and belly, then your mid-torso, and lastly the top of your chest and lungs. Pause for two counts and exhale as before. Repeat 5–10 times.

There are many other ways to begin practicing healthy deep breathing. Visit the Authentic Breathing website for additional exercises and information. Your local yoga studio or health club may offer classes in breathing awareness techniques. There are many good books on the subject, including Dennis Lewis’s The Tao of Natural Breathing and Conscious Breathing, by Gay Hendricks.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Parties

there are tea parties with mad hatters, there are tea parties with mad republicans, and there are tea parties with mad as a hatter English artists, and then there are tea parties with genteel ladyfolk in Norfolk county

this is the kind of tea party we celebrated Easter Sunday in Norwich, with my sister and her friends, with gluten free jam tarts, fruit cake and hot cross buns, strawberries and cream, chocolate, hard-boiled eggs, and lots and lots of tea in a giant black teapot (provided by Eileen).

Thanks Sue for providing us with such lovely company, and hello to Margaret, Maggie, Tricia and Eileen and Magida.

Sue took us on a quick trip to the East Anglian seaside on Saturday, and through the fog and rain we glimpsed a bit of the sandy (or was that mud flats) coast from Blakeney to Cromer, ate real fish and chips in a pub, and drank more English tea. Rode the national rail back to London

where we shopped at Top Shop, a great discovery; Harrod's was an eye-opening experience (especially the luxury ladies room with perfume bottles out on the counter); we saw Les Miz, rode the Underground up, down and sideways, the London Eye and Piccadilly Circus, drew the line at mega line-ups at Madame Tussaud's, and ate a picnic lunch in Hyde Park, just after watching the ducks and swans in Regent's Park. On the way home, we stopped into the Beatles store and bought a t-shirt for J, the music lover, and saw Sherlock Holmes museum on Baker Street.

back on the express train to Heathrow airport, and a long flight home,
back to crocuses, spring in Montreal, and no more snow,
and a cuppa green tea chai,
to recover from jet lag,
and reiki and reflexology,

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

60 Million Girls Foundation

Share the Love is supporting local, national and international charities by having us vote for our favourites on .

Click on one in each category. and Vote.

You can vote once a day up until May 15.

I met Wanda Bedard, the founder of 60 Million Girls and invited her to come speak at our women's circle. She brought along a power point presentation of the work they do, supporting education for girls around the world. Each year they have a fundraising lecture and auction in Montreal, and each year they choose a worthy project to support.

Visit their website for more information at:

(there is also a French website).

Every one of us can help support girls in countries where education for women is a crime, or very difficult to afford.