Friday, September 19, 2008


Stretching has a plethora of benefits, such as increasing flexibility, stretching is good for your joints, promotes better posture, relieves stress, and can prevent injury. Of the many things we do throughout the day, attempting any task with supple muscles is best. Regular stretching as a daily practice lengthens muscles. Increasing circulation is another wonderful benefit. No matter what your age, you can stretch. Think of stretching as a way to be kind to your muscles for all they do for you. Aside from the obvious physical benefits of stretching before and after a vigorous workout, there is a spiritual side to stretching that can not be ignored. Stretching centers us. We feel a higher sense of well being afterwards. Whether through yoga, or our own particular way of stretching, we can open ourselves us to a soothing brought about by the increased circulation stretching brings. Poor circulation can result in lack of oxygen and nutrients.
Flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and pelvic muscles helps lengthen muscles to remove stress from your spine that causes muscle tension and lower back pain. Research also shows that doing prolonged stretching exercises, like yoga, will help reduce the cholesterol in the body. This of course must be done with a healthy diet at hand. This could prevent and even reverse the hardening of the arteries, allowing you to avoid coronary diseases.
Chronically tense and tight muscles contribute to poor posture, which in turn can affect the functioning of our internal organs. This tension throughout our bodies is usually stress related There have been reports of great improvement and sometimes complete healing from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, headaches, back/neck/shoulder pain, bursitis, depression, fatigue and even conditions like fibromyalgia.
Stretching guidelines include: Stretch the muscle to the point of its greatest range of motion, but do not overextend. You should feel very minimal tightness/discomfort (but not pain). Hold and control the stretch for at least 30 seconds (and maximum 60 seconds). Stretch all the major leg muscle groups (e.g., calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, groin, hip flexors). Stretch uniformly (after stretching one leg, stretch the other). Don't overstretch an injured area as this may cause additional damage.
Move your body, Ready, Set, Stretch!

Welcoming Autumn

The seasons shift and stretch, fall coming on the trail of summer. I stand outside, breathing in the scent of falling leaves. I open my windows and allow my home to inhale the sensual essence of autumn. I want to celebrate autumn by beautifying my home. There are many ways to infuse one's home with the beauty and earthiness of fall. Here are a few suggestions: Just yesterday, I noticed a trio of leaves, each at a different stage of turning colors. I brought them in and displayed them in a leaf bouquet in a small jar. Gathering pine cones, oranges, lemons, nuts, and pieces of evergreen and arranging them in an oversized apothecary jar is a lovely way to bring the autumnal into your home. Huckleberry, Southern magnolia, African boxwood, coastal redwood, Japanese euonymus cultivars, various species of acacia and various species of eucalyptus are some examples of species that provide ornamental foliage. Create a wreath from twigs, leaves, and branches. Tuck in pressed leaves and viola!
If you like the colors of autumn, why not bring out special tablecloths, napkins, decorative pillows, linens, and dcor that is expressive of that which you like. I prefer abstract paintings of leaves. The reds, oranges, and yellows are beautiful. A wall tapestry is another way to imbue your home with the spirit of autumn.
Create a centerpiece for your family table with gourds or pumpkins. Burn candles with the scents of fall, some have real leaves that glow when lit creating a gorgeous ambiance. . Hang a windsock or wind chime with a fall theme. Buy a few potted mums to line your windows. Try creating a rustic scarecrow., or make a pumpkin snowman if you dare. Stack 3 pumpkins atop one another, drill holes through the pumpkins and insert a large stick to secure. Add stick arms and decorate away! Wheat bundles make a rustic and elegant decoration. Gather a few and place them in a vase. I personally love my autumn tree angel. She oversees all of this autumn infusion. Cooking dishes such as squash is a wonderful way to fill your kitchen with the feeling of fall. For a more playful approach, use autumn themed cookie cutters for pancakes. You do not have to be a decorating diva in order to create a welcoming autumn feel in your home. With just a little effort and your natural creativity, you can bring the season of autumn inside your home, and your heart.
Learn more about this author, Sarah Elise Stauffer.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Help Pass Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act

Help Pass Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act Hundreds of thousands of children are victims of sexual abuse each year. Due to the sheer lack of resources, law enforcement is unable to follow up on the majority of leads they have.
The PROTECT Our Children Act will:
Authorize over $320 million over the next five years in desperately needed funding for law enforcement to investigate child exploitation. Mandate that child rescue be a top priority for law enforcement receiving federal funding. Allocate funds for high-tech computer software that can track down Internet predators. Act Now!Your U.S. senators will be voting on the bill soon, so it is crucial you contact them immediately.Go to to find contact information for the senators in your state. Search for your senator by name or state by clicking on the arrow from either dropdown menu. Contact information is provided here. To send an e-mail, click on "Web Form" below his or her name, and e-mail your letter to make a difference!
Call Your SenatorsIf you choose to contact your senators by phone, be sure to tell them, "Vote yes on Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act."
Write to Your SenatorsIf you choose to write a letter, fax, telegram or e-mail, you may use the following sample letter—and modify it how you see fit.
Dear Senator:
I know that you believe, like I do, that we must do everything possible to protect children from sexual predators. That is why I am asking for your help.
Last year alone, U.S. law enforcement identified over 300,000 criminals who were trafficking in movies and pictures of young children being raped and tortured. Experts say that one in every three of these criminals has local child victims. Child pornography trafficking over the Internet has given us a trail of evidence that leads straight to their doorsteps, but the vast majority of these children will never be rescued because investigators are overwhelmed, outnumbered and underfunded.
As your constituent, I urge you to do everything in your power to pass the PROTECT Our Children Act (S. 1738, Biden-Hatch). This bipartisan legislation passed the House 415-2, but it is now the victim of petty partisan politics.
Now that we know where these children are and how to protect them, there is no excuse for the Senate to fail to take action this session.
(Your name here)
Instructions for How to Copy and Paste the LetterTo copy and paste the letter into your senator's web form at, point your mouse arrow at the beginning of the text that you want to copy. Click your left mouse button and hold it down. While holding the left mouse button, drag your arrow to the end of the text that you want to copy. Release the button. The text should be highlighted. Place your mouse arrow over the highlighted text, click your right mouse button once and let go. A new menu should appear. Select Copy from the drop down menu. When you get to the message form field for your senator at, point your arrow at the beginning of the message field that you want to copy your text to and right click with your mouse. Click Paste from this menu. Submit your form and help our children!

Oprah Today

Dear Supporter:
We just got back from taping The Oprah Show in Chicago and wanted to make sure you, as part of the PROTECT family, tune in this Monday to watch Oprah spread our pro-child, anti-crime message to her more than 40 million viewers. We wanted to share some behind the scenes details with you here in advance.Special Agent Flint Waters demonstrated his computer software that tracks Internet predators and pornographers, leading investigators straight to these criminals' doors-and potentially leading to child rescue. PROTECT's Legislative Affairs Director, Camille Cooper, discussed our Federal bill that will award law enforcement the funding necessary to put this groundbreaking and life-saving new program in play. Ms. Cooper told Oprah and her audience of millions how hard PROTECT's members and supporters have worked on this bill for the past two years. Oprah will be calling upon her vast audience on Monday to demand the Senate passes this legislation.This has been such a long hard battle for many of us, but victory is in sight. In fact, within mere hours following the taping on Thursday, word reached Capitol Hill of Oprah's new role in our campaign, leading a to FOX News headline: "Hurricane Oprah Heading Towards Washington."And now, let's win this final round. Please click here to tell your Senators to stop playing politics and pass the PROTECT Our Children Act. --THE STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS AT PROTECT

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Grooming Children for Sexual Molestation

Grooming Children for Sexual Molestation
By Gregory M. Weber
You're a thief—a con artist. You recently met an elderly widow with a good-sized bank account fueled by pension and dividend checks. In sharp contrast, your own financial engine is running on fumes. You decide to take her money.
So you befriend the lady. You run small errands for her. You buy her gifts. You listen to her stories and you comfort her when she feels lonely. You put your arm around her and tell her you understand her problems. You spend time with her each day. You tell her she's special. You gain her trust. Her natural suspicion disappears.
Only then does the conversation shift to money. You tell her about a tremendous investment opportunity. You offer her a chance to share in this special event. If she's curious, you play on that curiosity. You answer her questions and downplay her fears.
And your work pays off. She trusts you. She signs the check.
Three minutes after her bank opens, you're in the wind, cash in hand and ready to target your next victim.
But what if you're a child molester—a predator? What if the object of your desire isn't the widow's bank account, but her six-year-old grandson? What steps will you take to get what you want?
Not much will change. A predator will identify and engage his victim. He'll gain the child's trust, break down his defenses, and manipulate him into performing or permitting the desired sex act. If necessary, the predator will gain access to the child by employing the same techniques with the child's parent or adult caretaker.
The process is called grooming. It increases the predator's access to his victim and decreases the likelihood of discovery.
Anna C. Salter is a respected psychologist. She is an expert in the field of child sexual maltreatment, and she spells it out:
"The establishment (and eventual betrayal) of affection and trust occupies a central role in the child molester's interactions with children....The grooming process often seems similar from offender to offender, largely because it takes little to discover that emotional seduction is the most effective way to manipulate children."
These men are convicted child molesters. They, too, are experts in the field of child maltreatment, and they also spell it out:
"[P]arents are so naive—they're worried about strangers and should be worried about their brother-in-law. They just don't realize how devious we can be. I used to abuse children in the same room with their parents and they couldn't see it or didn't seem to know it was happening."
"I was disabled and spent months grooming the parents, so they would tell their children to take me out and help me. No one thought that disabled people could be abusers."
"[P]arents are partly to blame if they don't tell their children about [sexual matters]—I used it to my advantage by teaching the child myself."
"[P]arents shouldn't be embarrassed to talk about things like this—it's harder to abuse or trick a child who knows what you're up to."
Here's what the predators are up to.
Grooming is a process. It begins when the predator chooses a target area. He may visit places where children are likely to go: schools, shopping malls, playgrounds, parks, and the like. He may work or volunteer at businesses that cater to children. Other predators strike up relationships with adults who have children in the home—single parent families make particularly good targets.
Victim selection and recruitment are next. There is no prototypical victim of child sexual abuse. Any child may be victimized. Not surprisingly, predators often target children with obvious vulnerabilities. A child who feels unloved and unpopular will soak up adult attention like a sponge. Children with family problems, who spend time alone and unsupervised, who lack confidence and self-esteem, and who are isolated from their peers are all likely targets.
Predators engage or "recruit" their victims in different ways. Many use a combination of forced teaming and charm. They may offer to play games, give rides, or buy treats and gifts as tokens of friendship. They may offer drugs or alcohol to older children or teenagers. And they almost always offer a sympathetic, understanding ear. Your parents don't understand or respect you? I do. Other kids make fun of you? I know what that's like—it was the same way for me when I was your age. They don't trust you at home? Boy, I know what that's like—your parents never really want you to grow up. But I trust you. I respect you. I care for you more than anybody else. And I love you. I'm here for you.
Successful predators find and fill voids in a child's life.
A predator will usually introduce secrecy at some point during the grooming process. Initially, secrecy binds the victim to the predator: "Here's some candy. But don't tell your friends because they'll be jealous, and don't tell your mother because she won't like you eating between meals." Later on, secrecy joins hands with threats: "If you tell your mother what happened, she'll hate you. It'll kill her. Or I'll kill her. Or I'll kill you."
The forging of an emotional bond through grooming leads to physical contact. Predators use the grooming process to break down a child's defenses and increase the child's acceptance of touch. The first physical contact between predator and victim is often nonsexual touching designed to identify limits: an "accidental" touch, an arm around the shoulder, a brushing of hair. Nonsexual touching desensitizes the child. It breaks down inhibitions and leads to more overt sexual touching—the predator's ultimate goal.
The best way to recognize grooming behavior is to pay attention to your child and the people in your child's life. Gavin de Becker sensibly reminds us that "[c]hildren require the protection of adults, usually from adults. Their fear of people is not yet developed, their intuition not yet loaded with enough information and experience to keep them from harm." There are many demands placed upon our time, but nothing—nothing—is more important than the welfare of our children. When we blindly surrender responsibility for them to others without question, we invite trouble. Parents should know their child's teachers, coaches, day care providers, youth group leaders, and other significant adults in their lives. Make unannounced visits. Ask questions. Stay involved.
And please—talk to your children. Teach them to recognize grooming behavior. Teach them to be wary of any physical contact initiated by an adult. And teach them to trust you with their problems and their pain. The safest child is the child who knows he can bring his problems and concerns to parents and adult caregivers without reproach or retaliation.
Gregory M. Weber is an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin. He specializes in the prosecution of crimes committed against children. He may be reached at P.O. Box 7857, Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7857, or by e-mail at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Beauty Tree

When my first son was born, I began to flood with poetry. I think it is very healing for survivors.

Beauty Tree

The window holds the setting sun,

Orange marmalade burning through cold sky.

I watch my son cradled to sleep,

Vanilla face blooming into slumber.

Father's arms holding him tight as an orchid bud.

Ra bestows his ancient illumination upon

Our little prince, tiny sage, master shaman.

Sarah Elise Stauffer, 2004

What Barack Obama Means For the Fatherless

What Barack Obama Means to the Fatherless
By: Sarah Elise Stauffer (View Profile)
A good survivor friend of mine and I were waxing on this and he asked me to write a little about it, so my dear lovely here you go. (You are a wonderful man and father! Remember that!)
We took our kids to see Obama at a rally a couple of weeks ago. It was electric, amazing, and very powerful to do with our kids. We believe in teaching them to honor that they have a voice, to use that voice and affect change, to be opinionated, and not to be sheep.
“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer is to have kept your soul alive.”—Robert Louis Stevenson
Obama is sincere and eloquent, brilliant beyond an Ivy League level—he is emotionally intelligent. He is socially intelligent. And he alleviates my need for cynicism. I was raised by cynics. I threw that veil of shame—and many others—off years ago. I refuse to pass that to my kids. That will not be their legacy. Or mine. But I understand it and empathize with those feeling it. It is easier in some ways to remain cynical. It is safer than putting yourself out there, we think, because then we risk disappointment. Sometimes it means going against your own inherited family rules (It did in my case.), spoken or unspoken. My children have made me believe in life; they kind of pulled the rug out from under my very cynical nature. My hubby is the same—he went against his upbringing to become extremely positive, politically outspoken, and idealistic. Kids, they do the damndest things.
This country could use some hope. It’s as if some people are allergic to it. I understand. One thing he said that resonated deeply with me and especially with my survivor friends was that “Fathers in this country owe more to their kids—they need to stand up and be men and be a real father to their children.” He is using his personal pain as a fatherless child to affect social change. So important. I do not care if you are Republican, Independent, Libertarian, liberal, purple people eater, whattheheckever—this is a common universal need. Touting family values is one thing; valuing family another. Fathers need to be there for their offspring. Period. That your father was absent, abusive, nonexistent, or otherwise emotionally/physically not there must be faced. And felt.

This is of interest to all of us who either had abusive fathers, or nonabusive fathers. Every father needs to be more emotionally in tune and available to their kids. Fathers need to protect and provide, but they need to exhibit empathy and reverence toward and for their children. So many children, girls and boys, are growing up feeling a vague, uneasy sense of disconnectedness. They are acting out (criminal behavior, hurting others, etc.) or acting in (self destructive, my hubby and I both did this for years as teens) because of this: Just because you are a “father” and you bring home the proverbial bacon does not mean you are done.
My husband is a fabulous example because he shows the boys it’s good and right to feel, how to conduct oneself as a man, to empathize with another’s struggle, to express their dreams and hopes, to be kind and sensitive to women, children, other men, humans all over, to think about animals, to honor the life force itself. In this rigidly patriarchal society, we have lost the sacrament of the sensitive male. Fathers showing their feelings, imagine that. Golly gee. To their sons, to their daughters. What a novel idea. It touches my life so much that Obama is verbalizing this reality; fathers are not fathers just because they provide. That’s a provider. Fathers are not fathers just because they made a baby; that’s a sperm donor. A child knows when a parent is giving them their energy—it’s an energy, a connection, a soul feeling. They know it. It is a soul nourishment.
To all my survivor friends, I know this means something deeply profound to you as well. To anyone who has not directly experienced father issues, I know you can be proud of this as well. Obama is challenging the status quo by saying this. He is calling out those fathers who are emotionally lazy and do not want to own up to their own feelings about fatherhood. Kids are growing up feeling fundamentally flawed inside because of their parents’ issues, issues that they project all over the child, who then absorbs the crap as their own.

To me, that’s what Obama is about. Now, I am a proud Democrat, a very liberal one, although I do believe in the death penalty for child killers and rapists, but I say this as a woman, mother, wife, and daughter of two very inadequate, abandoning, abusive parents. I don’t care that Obama is more moderate than I might like—I don’t think he’ll be legalizing pot or confronting the failed drug war, putting nonviolent drug offenders in rehab instead of prison, for instance. Nor has any candidate gotten up there and said, “I plan to eradicate incest, because 1/3 girls and 1/5 boys are sexually abused in this country.” I’m still waiting on that.
BUT, that he is voicing this call for fathers to step up is why—among a zillion other reasons—Health care: we were personally affected by no health insurance when our first son was born. It was awful and everyone should enjoy a wonderful socialized health care system—it’s working beautifully for Australia, Europe, even Cuba); pro choice rights (it’s a decision that belongs to a woman; it is her body and that is that.); actually addressing sources of unwanted pregnancy and aiming to prevent it (fathers in the home loving their daughters would help this, too); sex education is the only realistic way to do this. Less warmongering, more diplomacy, ANY diplomacy at this point, more gun control (I don’t want kids getting their hands on guns; our country is number one for gun related death), just more control. You NRA folks just chill; for me, we need to screen people and keep guns out of the hands of kids like Dylan Klebold and prevent more Columbines). Shall I go on? I will proudly vote for him. Anyone who cannot find a reason to do the same I ask you to think about this, just this, the subject of fathers. It’s something I think we can all agree on.