Thursday, August 25, 2011

Building a Sustainable Future

Due to a labor dispute, the Holistic Moms Network had to relocate our 2011 Natural Living Conference, on short notice, as described by Mothering Magazine founder and publisher, Peggy O'Mara in her recent editorial. Here, Emily E. LB. Twarog, Ph.D., a UNITE HERE member and fellow holistic mom, shares her guest post about supporting working-class mothers.

This month the Holistic Moms Network took a huge step in support of working-class mothers that could ultimately mean the financial ruin of the organization. They moved their Natural Living Conference from a boycotted hotel (the Hilton Long Beach) to the Irvine Marriott. In 2008, the workers at the Hilton Long Beach signed union cards and joined UNITE HERE Local 11, the union that represents workers in the hospitality industry in the U.S. and Canada. With poverty level wages (average yearly income of Long Beach hospitality workers is $19,000), a high cost of living (housing for Long Beach area hotel workers average 57.54% of their income), and limited access to affordable healthcare, the workers at the Hilton Long Beach believe that by joining a union their standard of living will significantly improve as they transform poverty jobs into middle-class jobs through collective bargaining.

Does this sound like an overstatement to you?

For me and many of my coworkers, it was reality. In 2002, I got a job as a waitress at an upscale hotel in downtown Chicago to support myself while I returned to graduate school. I joined the union – UNITE HERE Local 1. But our union contract was weak. Compared to other cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco, we made only a fraction of their wages and paid much more for health insurance. Under new union leadership, the members of Local 1 organized a citywide campaign to increase our wages and lower the cost of health insurance. And, we won. Almost overnight, hotel workers throughout Chicago saw the quality of their lives improve. For me, it meant that when I had my first son, I was paid short-term disability leave during the three months I stayed home after his birth. When I returned to work, I was able to demand time and space to pump so that I could continue to breastfeed my son. And, with contract language that required management to provide a regular work schedule, I was not scrambling to find childcare like so many other working mothers.

But for workers at the Hilton Long Beach this is not the case. In a survey conducted by the union, in one hotel 38% of the workers have used some form of public assistance, 39% did not have health insurance, and 24 % worked in more than one job. In fact, Long Beach residents experience two very different realities. For service workers like hotel workers, it is a reality filled with financial insecurity, housing shortages, and reliance on public aid.

Does this sound like a sustainable future to you?

The mission of the HMN is “to build a healthier and more sustainable future.” By respecting the boycott and supporting the workers at the Hilton Long Beach, HMN has done exactly that! What are you going to do? How are you going to build a sustainable future? Without your support, HMN will loose thousands of dollars because of their commitment to this mission, consider donating to HMN to help offset this loss. And, please respect hotel workers by not patronizing boycotted hotels. Next time you plan your trip, go to UNITE HERE’s hotel guide to see which hotels are keeping us from building a sustainable future.

Emily E. LB. Twarog lives in Chicago. She is a professor at the University of Illinois's School of Labor and Employment Relations, a union member, and a committed holistic mother of two very busy boys.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Unhealthy Food

According to GMO Compass, one in five people believe they suffer from a food allergy/intolerance. Rates of Celiac Disease,an intolerance of gluten, has been on the rise. "Since 1974, in the U.S., the incidence of the disorder has doubled every 15 years. Using blood samples from more than 3,500 adults, the researchers found that the number of people with blood markers for celiac disease increased steadily from one in 501 in 1974 to one in 219 in 1989. In 2003, a widely cited study conducted by the celiac research center placed the number of people with celiac disease in the U.S. at one in 133," according to Science Blog. The rate of childhood peanut allergies has also more than tripled since 1997, according to Science Daily.

What is going on? It's not an easy question to answer but more and more researchers are wondering about what is happening to the safety of our food supply. One such researcher is mom and activist, Robyn O'Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth. A Houston native from a conservative family, this MBA and married mother of four was not someone who gave much thought to what went on inside government agencies or about the additives and chemicals in our food. Until the day her youngest daughter had a violent allergic reaction to eggs, and everything changed. Robyn explains in her book:

"The more I learned, the more overwhelming the problem came to seem. I was stunned at how prevalent food allergies had become in the last ten years - at least one out of every seventeen children under the age of three suffers from them, more than double the number a decade ago. I was even more shocked to realize how little information there was about this rapidly growing condition and to discover corporations with vested interests in the issue were funding - and skewing - what little research was being done. It floored me to learn that the system that was supposed to guarantee us and our families safe, healthy food had broken down a long time ago and had been replaced by a revolving door between the FDA and the very corporations that it's supposed to regulate. In the course of my journey, I've learned a lot. I've discovered that one out of every three U.S. kids currently suffers from allergies, asthma, ADHD, or autism and that the number of children with peanut allergies actually doubled between 1997 and 2002."

What causes these allergies? Proteins in foods that are not recognized by the body are a fundamental cause for allergic reactions. Some have theorized that the increasing genetic modification of our food supply may be a contributing factor - and that allergies will continue to increase in record numbers as these techno-foods flood our supermarkets. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced. In fact, cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen.

We all need to learn more about GMOs and how they are impacting our health and the health of our children. We are honored to have Robyn O'Brien as a speaker at the 2011 Natural Living Conference coming up on October 1st in Irvine, CA. We will also have representatives from the Institute for Responsible Technology and Label GMOs on-hand to help answer questions for parents. Join us to learn more and to show your support for food safety!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Today I Feel Lonely

Just this week we posted a simple status on our Facebook page asking: Today, I am feeling so ________________ !

What caught my attention was how many fellow mamas were exhausted, stressed, and lonely. Having children is joyful – an experience of unparalleled change and love. But the side of motherhood we don’t talk about is the one that rocks our world. The one that turns us inside out, filled with confusion and frustration. The side that leaves us exhausted, depleted, and alone. And it’s time we stopped hiding it.

Motherhood isn’t always joyful. It can be overwhelming and disorienting. For many of us, motherhood is one of many life ambitions we have but when we get there, we lose ourselves. We lose our professional identities, our personal time, and our social connections. We feel alienated within the walls of our homes, struggling with little or big challenges, like sleep, showering, and eating. We love and adore our children – we carry them and wear them, breastfeed them and cuddle them – and then we feel guilty for wanting some space and needing “me” time. So we forge ahead and often let ourselves fall by the wayside.

And we believe that we are the only ones in the world who feel this way. We wonder why other moms seem to be managing so beautifully, with such ease and grace. We wish we could do better, feel better, be better. We beat ourselves up. We shut down. And we feel tired, depleted, and alone.

And this is exactly why we need support. This is what community is all about. Real community. Connecting with others who understand our journey. Who can walk in our shoes – even a for a little while. We can spend hours on discussion forums, poring over Facebook statuses, or Tweeting our dilemmas, and sometimes that helps. But we don’t feel that surge of energy, share a laugh, cry or hug, or feel empowered without personal connection. We can watch girlfriends getting together for coffee on TV, but it’s not nearly as fulfilling as doing it ourselves. Even for a moment, an hour, a few hours – personal connection feels good. It can inspire us for days to feel better about ourselves and our parenting. We can be assured that we are “normal” and that the challenges we have are not unique. We can enjoy the company of another adult, some mom-to-mom conversation, and a shift in our routine. And it fills us up.

Whatever your community - whether Holistic Moms or another moms group – value and treasure it. Participate and be active – find the support and connection that can get you through the hard times, as well as rejoice with you through the happy ones. It is so easy to feel lonely in this digital age and so hard to remember the power of personal engagement. Finding your way to connection and community is that HMN is all about. We wish all mothers could feel empowered and connected each and every day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mom Bloggers: A Chance to Win!

The annual Natural Living Conference of the Holistic Moms Network is rapidly approaching! This is the first year we have taken the event to the West Coast - to Irvine, CA to be more specific - and if you have never attended, you will want to! The event is packed with amazing Keynote Speakers, workshops, holistic living resources from Holistic Moms Network Sponsors and Exhibitors, plus hundreds of moms and dads who are passionate about holistic living. The one day event will give you plenty to blog about and now you have an opportunity to win a free admission!

We’re giving away TWO FREE ADMISSIONS to the Natural Living Conference!

Follow the contest rules listed below and blog about the upcoming Natural Living Conference, highlighting any of the interesting topics being featured, our speakers, workshops, and more! When your blog post is live, fill out the form with your blog link and upon verification, you’ll be entered for a chance to win!

All blogs will be listed (with link) on the Holistic Moms Network website (a great way to share your blog, too!!!) in the order in which they’re entered.

Two blog posts will be chosen at random from all eligible entries to win one free admission to the 2011 Natural Living Conference. Visit our website at the following link for details:

We've even got topic ideas, images, and more that you can use!

Don’t have a blog yet? Now is a great time to get started! You can even blog live from the Conference if you're a winner!

Not a blogger? You can register for the Natural Living Conference online (use code 15OFF from Aug 15-17th to save $15 off registration, too!).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

#BigBFParty: Tweeting About Support - Press Release

Founding sponsor Holistic Moms Network, along with co-sponsors Motherlove Herbal Company, The Leaky Boob, The Willow Store, Bamboobies, Hygeia, PumpEase, Best for Babes, and Mama Pear Designs announced today the success of the World’s Largest Breastfeeding Twitter Party, which took place on August 2nd, at 10 pm EST, hashtag #BigBFParty.

"Our intent in hosting the party was to highlight how important support and community are for breastfeeding success," said Dr. Nancy Massotto, Ph.D., founder of Holistic Moms Network. "Together with our co-sponsors, we hosted what we believe is the largest Twitter party ever about breastfeeding. We look forward to doing it again next year and including even more parents and breastfeeding supporters."

The party, held for one hour during World Breastfeeding Week (, included 562 participants and generated 5.6 million impressions. Participants answered the question, "I support breastfeeding because…" and talked as a group about sources of support and why finding a community is vital to meeting breastfeeding goals. In the 24 hours surrounding the party, over 760 participants generated almost 8 million impressions.

World Breastfeeding Week ( is celebrated the first week of August in more than 170 countries worldwide. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), founder of World Breastfeeding Week, is a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide. WABA action is based on the Innocenti Declaration, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the Global Strategy for Infant & Young Child Feeding. Its core partners are IBFAN, LLLI, ILCA, Wellstart International and ABM. Find out more at the WABA website.

"Communities that support breastfeeding are everywhere," said Massotto “but new moms and moms who are struggling can have trouble reaching out or finding the right specialized support. Social media and online communities have stepped in to fill the need for 24/7 encouragement and information, but also vital are in-person opportunities to meet with like-minded parents."

About the Holistic Moms Network:

The Holistic Moms Network is a national, membership-based and managed, non-profit organization with more than 100 chapters across the US and Canada. The organization is headquartered in Caldwell, New Jersey and launched its first chapter in 2003 in Essex County, NJ. The purpose of the Holistic Moms Network is to provide awareness, education, and support for holistic parenting and to offer a nurturing, open-minded and respectful community for parents to share these ideals. Members’ interests include: natural health and wellness, nutrition and organic whole foods, integrative/alternative medicine, natural childbirth and breastfeeding, positive parenting, and non-toxic, eco-friendly living. Members can participate in educational meetings, local playgroups, and social events in local chapters across the United States. For more information, please visit: or contact HMN at 877-HOL-MOMS.