I Was Wrong

by holli on January 27, 2016

Tonight my eyes burn from exhaustion. It’s one of my longest days of the week where I’ve had to be “on” all day – you know, presentable to adults at a meeting at 7:45am, then chauffeuring my Girl Scout, then rushing home to cook a dinner from scratch and put them to bed almost on time.

But, as I was washing the dishes, I couldn’t keep my mind to myself any longer. Thankfully, my husband was able to hear me out and help me vent about what has been nagging at me for too long. So, I’ll sit up to write it all out, because I can’t stand it any longer. My tired eyes will wait, and hopefully I’ll feel less burdened about not speaking up.

I have three friends selling supplements through a network business model, kind of but not like Amway. The burning concern I have is with the products that claim to cure almost everything.

I know it is easy to get excited and want to help others when you think you’ve found some answers. That is how I fell into confirmation bias. In psychology, confirmation bias refers to a tendency to seek out or interpret information in a way that aligns with your pre-existing views of the world. This means that you’ll find support for your perspective and expectations, even where there may not actually be any. This is where all of those attention grabbing info graphics come into play on social media. They keep reinforcing misinformation or just the parts that support one view or another that aren’t providing grounding in any way.

So, let me tell you how I fell into this trap…

A couple of years ago, I went looking for sources of Mercury in our home and neighborhood. My son had alarming test results with 5x the limit for kids his age showing up in his blood. It was scary.

I was also told to look through the house for any mysterious metal ball joints or pieces from old appliances. There were none to be found, but I also shared this personal roller coaster with close friends who share information, and helped me consider the industrial pollution.

I paid closer attention to any information about Mercury in our modern lives. I saw CF light bulbs mentioned many times by “natural news” sources and articles.

My studious self set to work to scour for research to really understand where all of this Mercury could be coming from to get into my son’s body.

And, guess what happened next? I found a reputable scientific article reporting on a study about CF bulbs and Mercury content. I read the article, and then wrote about it explaining that CF bulbs emit 30% of their Mercury. That’s what I read. And then, I had a stranger correct me on a friend’s Facebook comment. He simply said something like, “that is not what is written.”

I was hurt by this comment, because I spent hours looking for answers and I was sure that is what the article said. So, I re-read it, and didn’t see it. Then, I read it aloud, slowly. I was wrong, and in my emotionally charged quest had missed the most important detail, “when broken” – the bulbs sitting alone didn’t emit Mercury. When they were broken they did.

Now, I realize that may not seem like a big deal, because bulbs break eventually. And, Mercury never disappears. So, eventually, the bulbs break and emit Mercury into the environment. BUT, the point is that I read words that reinforced the previous assumptions I had already formed. I wanted something I could remove from my home to make my son healthier. In reality, it wasn’t the light bulbs.

So, the post was edited, and I thanked the guy for correcting me. I had learned a very valuable lesson. The truth is often hidden because we want clear answers. When it comes to health, there are not very many clear channels to find those answers. We’re bombarded with false advertising and just plain old misinformation.

What I later learned is that my son’s Mercury was alarmingly high because he and I have a gene mutation that inhibits the body’s natural ability to filter heavy metals out. In a normal person living in our shoes, the body would eliminate it over time. What we did was take very specific supplemental pills to bind the mercury so they could be eliminated out of the body naturally. This was done under a doctors care and only for specific amount of time. Follow up blood test showed that our son’s body was able to get rid of it!

I’ve learned the long, hard way that our health is complicated, and looking for answers is hard when you want an easy answer.

My personal opinion is that vitamin and supplement companies are guilty of preying on this confirmation bias trap, and dragging others down with them. If I can fall into it, it’s easy to see how others can too.



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Mommy, You Should Write A Book!

by holli on December 13, 2015

At dinner this evening, my daughter said I should write a book called “The Mother’s Story,” so I could share the ways I’ve learned to be a mother for her when she grows up. She is seven, and doesn’t really understand that Motherhood feels like an evolving series of tests. Or that I don’t have any qualifications except experience behind me.

I like to think of this blog as such a thing where someday my kids can look back and have my recipes, and learn a bit more about me…which made me realize that I do love to write, but life has a way of keeping me from it.

My last post was more controversial than I imagined, and it sort of stung. It stung in the way that a bee sting teaches you to treat bees with caution. And so it feels with writing here in a public place, I’m not sure how honest and true to write anymore. I feel compelled to write from the heart at times, and at others because I have a passion for the truth and a deep desire for some of my story to be a branch to let other’s know they are not alone. That is the power stories hold: to help each other through this journey called life. It’s crazy and wonderful, but often we feel like we’re the only ones living our story. I think the truth is that many of us are walking along in tandem, or only a few paces behind or ahead of each other. So, our stories can give us hope and strength to keep moving forward…

There are certain bloggers who have been pivotal in my own path. With this being the month of giving and gratitude, I knew I had to make time to write again. While I am writing directly from the heart and looking back with gratitude, I want to share those with you so that you may find others whose stories can be a beacon for you too:

Chris Guillebeau – He first caught my attention with his book, The Art of Nonconformity. I couldn’t put that book down! In between breastfeeding, changing diapers, cleaning, cooking and putting kids to bed, I read the book within 24 hours. What I needed to hear at that moment was the idea that there is no right way to live life, and that you can make it despite your circumstances. By making it, I mean, living the life you want instead of thinking you must follow part A to get to part B, etc.

Lisa Jo Baker – I found her through a photographer friend, a Mommy/Faith blog. From a Christian perspective, she shares about motherhood, real struggles and how her faith grounds her. Instead of the traditional Bible quotes, she shares the compassion and love that it encourages. The way she weaves the unglamorous yet beautiful moments of every day living has always made me feel grounded. When I’m having a bad parenting day, I go read her blog. There’s always a latest post that I needed to read.

Michael Nobbs – Michael’s blog, Sustainably Creative, was one of the first blogs I followed, because though our lives are dramatically different, we share the same constrictions of very little time for creative endeavors. His “One Thing Today” podcasts helped me jump back into my love of photography. When I thought I didn’t have time for my art, this helped me realize I could dedicate 20 minutes per day to doing something, whether drawing, photography or simply jotting down notes for an idea.

Seattle Seedling – Stacy is a charming, fun, creative Seattle woman who inspired me to get gardening in any space I could find. Before we could be accepted into our P-Patch (long wait list), I found a friend who let me grow vegetables in part of her garden. Stacy’s blog posts helped me learn how to maximize my time, and her creative posts encouraged me to keep making time for my own projects. While I did make the difficult decision to take a break from gardening in the P-Patch this year, I continue to be inspired by Stacy’s passion for gardening and living life to the fullest.


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Skeleton Stories: When I Was Ten

July 9, 2015

EDITED: Ah, the power of the Internet. My Dad read this and we had a long talk. I have judiciously edited this for more accuracy. I have no intention of slander, but rather to highlight that abuse and dysfunction happen. When we keep these secrets, they perpetuation the problems for generations.  We all have skeletons […]

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A Hard Lesson From A Photo Of My Kids

June 28, 2015

It’s been 2 weeks since I found myself shaking from anger and shame. A friend of mine posted to my Facebook wall about my kids’ photograph on an article through an advocacy news website, inquiring about my permission for it’s use. The article didn’t bother me – it was the use of a photograph I took […]

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