Preach It!

No one can tell a woman what is best for her and her baby ... waterbirth, homebirth, hospital birth, doctor, midwife, Unassisted Childbirth (UC) or cesarean surgery ... it is for her and her baby to know. The best we can do is support her to access, trust, and know her own inner wisdom and communicate with the Being within her - the One whose birth it is through her womb and the man. - Janel Mirendah, Attachment/Birth trauma therapist, Filmmaker of The Other Side of the Glass.

Watch It! (The Trailer)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Zen Puddy Cat

Baby Puddy, here, communing with a grasshopper, is responsible for moving the "The Other Side of the Glass" from a dream to a reality.

I am blessed that the film is being felt and seen as as important I feel it is. After a thousand hits in just a few days, I was sitting at the computer watching that crazy Puddy Man sunning in the window and marveling.

Marveling at how touched people around the world are by the film and what if they knew one little old abandoned baby kitty in rural Missouri had such a big part of it.

I picked up him and tried to engage him in my awe and speak to him as an amazing soul, like I do babies. Well, he's a pretty amazing Being, but he's still a Puddy cat ... and with those lizard green eyes he gave me a bored, almost annoyed look. Maybe he was thinking, "It's no biggy" or just was it, oops, I forgot -- we cuddle when he's says we cuddle, and I interrupted his nap in the sun.

So what is Puddy's story?

From the beginning ... my daughter and I rescued Baby Puddy on October 16, 2006, the day my son's plane left the US for Iraq. After a frantically planned, then aborted last minute rush to Mississippi to see my son one more time -- look in his eyes, nuzzle his neck, smell him, kiss him, and tell him how much I love him -- we went out to visit a farmer advertising kittens. [My daugher later won a fiction writing contest based on the near-trip - My Brother, My Hero. She's working on a script of it now and I'll produce it -- if I can get Sally Fields to play me, Channing Tatum (Left, he was awesome in "Step Up" and "Stop Loss") to play my son (see the resemblance?), and a beautiful, young Bollywood star to play my daughter].
Read Mariah's Story on the Daniel Boone Library website

So, Baby Puddy and one sibling had been discovered in a field and no mama to be found. ;-( They were estimated to be about four weeks old. Shortly after arriving home, we discovered that he was full of fleas. I gave him a bath, calmly talking to him, telling him what I was doing and why, and giving him a chance to settle in to it -- just as I would a newborn baby. The fleas climbed in mass to his face to escape the water. I have never seen so many, especially on one tiny little body. Baby relaxed and seemed to enjoy it, and even seemed grateful. Later, he curled up on my chest to nap, purred like a lion, and occasionally reached up to pat my chin. He was so little he slept on my computer battery charger to stay warm.

Max, seen here, became Puddy's big brother. (Real men wear pink and beads!) I attached Max's leash to the railing outside the door so that they could play outside. As long as Max was there, Baby Puddy stayed and learned that this was home. He grew to enjoy the outside and people in the condos around me enjoyed him. My neighbor downstairs who had recently lost her very old cat adopted Puddy. She and the people across the walk way would fill me in daily on his antics and how he entertained them doing spins and chin ups on the limb of the tree before learning how to sleep like a panther on a branch; standing on his back legs barely able to lap up water in the bird bath, and stalking and chasing bunnies away from the flowers gardens that finally were able to grow.

A year nearly passed and Baby Puddy brought me great joy as I too watched him live life outside as a wild man and come in to be a cuddly, loving Puddy. I enjoyed watching him enjoy his freedom, to feel the grass under his feet, to smell the smells of his home, to enjoy the sunshine on his face and back, and to play. While my son gave up his freedom to enjoy the fruits of our society, forever changing his own life, for us to continue to enjoy our luxurious way of life, watching Puddy grow and enjoy life was a profound blessing.

So, fast forward through the hardest year of my life, and my son's fifteen month deployment ending.

First, though, today, in a gas station I saw a sign for two local MO teens, a girl and boy, both 16, who are missing. My heart went out to their families, especially their mamas. Trying to name "what's it like" to have a child go to war, I found that only that situation ... a missing young child ... comes near to the panic, terror, and helplessness that fuels the roller coaster: fearing and preparing for the worst news, while also having the most hope in the world. It took me to the depths, "to the crevices of my inner dark cave" to shine light on what was there, and to come back. That is the blessing.

I spent that fifteen months, longer really, the year before when I knew he would go. I began my descent into what I would call the "dark night of the soul" when I grieved profoundly for my son.  I cried more tears that fifteen months than I had in the 49 years before. Every morning, determined to stay drug-free unlike the mothers in the support group, I did yoga, tai chi and trance dance - blindfolded to native drumming. I literally rolled out of bed on to the floor and moved and cried and processed every bit of years of stuffed maternal, woman, and girl violations and losses. I felt like I had spiritual food poisoning. I felt myself being turned inside out, like when I had food poisoning and swore my stomach was inside out within me, to get every last bit of the bad stuff.

During that time, unwilling to subject any babies to my own stress, I did not see clients. I would get up off the floor and write. I wrote the Safe Baby Resolution that was introduced into the Hawaii Legislature. I wrote 600 pages on my blog, Hospital birth debate aka Making Birth Safe in America. I dreamed of, wrote about, wrote plans and budgets for, and looked for resources to do the film I had been thinking about for two years. My film was to be a sweet, simple little film comparing THE BABY at home and hospital birth and infusing it with the info about babies as sentient, aware, feeling beings and the psychology of it, and the healing of mama-baby separation.  I wrote the resolution in the pool of feelings about my son's own birth and our separation, about what we could do to stop war: Birth humans kindly.

The first six weeks and the last six weeks are the hardest for families for a variety of reasons and the most dangerous for the soldiers. They are most likely to be seriously hurt or killed during this time.

As the anticipated date of return in mid October, 2007 rolled around, during the last six weeks, an odd event began unfolding. One night about 11 pm - because I am a night owl and clearly for a specific purpose not yet known to me - I decided to go out and check my mail on the corner. As I walked down the walk-way, Puddy came blazing by and I heard a woman scream, "That cat's fixin' to be killed!" I couldn't help showing my disdain and referencing her lack of intelligence, and called out, "FIXin' to be killed? WHAT are you talking about?" She proceeded to rant about how he was killing birds. I said, "Yeah, well, that's what cats do." When she threatened to kill him for killing birds in her yard, I told her that he is an animal and doing nothing wrong.

She persisted and finally I tried to appeal to her compassion. I told her that I got him the day my son left for Iraq and that he brings me much joy seeing him outside. "THAT's YOUR CAT?!" She had not realized that he was my cat and she began backtracking her statements of killing him but threatening to catch him to take him to a farm or the pound. Clearly, I had intercepted a covert night mission. I realized she was the author of a vicious note on my dad's truck parked in her second spot the winter before, threatening "I will find you and make you pay". I said that I realized who she was that I would no longer talk with her.

I attempted to keep Puddy inside over the next few weeks because she threatened his life, and he was so miserable. A few times he sneaked by Mariah, and sometimes I'd let him  out at night. Several times a week when I got out of my car at night, I'd hear her voice across the street screeching through the darkness, "Your cat killed a rabbit today." I couldn't resist. I asked, "Do you eat meat?" The response, "Yes" and I continued, "Someone had to kill those animals that you ate today. How many animals died for you today?" After a few exchanges on different nights (she ignored my presence in daylight), I decided to not participate in Jerry Springer relationship with her and ignored her. She continued, adding the threat to turn me into the condo association. I thought, so what? He's been outside for a whole year now. Against condo rules, she had put up three birder feeders (cat feeders) and that is what lured him over to her yard. Bottom line, in my world, my son's return to American soil was my constant thought; while my cat killing birds was very small on my radar.

Throughout this time, I chose to see this woman as a Divine Soul, on her path, here for her purpose and suddenly and dramatically engaged with mine. I wondered .... what has brought her into my world? What is she reflecting to me? It has to be for my higher good and learning. I still had no clue how to go about getting back on my feet. I had sunk into poverty. Literally. But I was ready for something!

My older son, young daughter, and I planned to go to Mississippi to meet my son's unit in October 2007. He had chosen not to communicate with any of the family and this had been a big part of the deep grief I felt. My son who got the most of what I believe, teach, and live, attachment mothering from conception forward, except for his hospital birth, was gone.  We learned when his unit arrived in the states that he was not with them. He had reassigned and flown directly from Kuwait into Afghanistan. I had no place else to go but up. Something snapped. I realized that he was living the life he came to live, another level of me embracing my belief that "my children come through me. I do not own them."

My son's choices blessed me with fully living.  I realized, with a shake and shudder, seriously, "It's time for me to live MY life too!" That weekend I went to a showing of "The Business of Being Born" at the local Rag Tag theater. I was numb and I saw it through intense pain and sadness. A year later I'd see it again and be surprised at what I'd missed.  But I was inspired.  What I did get out of it was the amazement that the film I wanted to do, comparing BABIES' EXPERIENCES at home vs hospital birth and the disempowerment of fathers, picked up where "The Business of Being Born" left off.
It was a seed illuminating within me. At this point, my son not coming home, I realized my unraveling, cleansing, grieving time was over. I realized he was doing what he came here to do and was probably in his prime; working towards becoming an officer "to change the world", our mutual passion, but from different perspectives. I realized it was time to integrate and reweave my life, for me to LIVE MY LIFE and to do what I am supposed to do. But what? How to pick up the threads and weave my life back together? I was too ... too ... tired and overwhelmed ... to figure it out. I had literally cascaded into poverty. The answer came easily not even a month later.

On November 13th I arrived home to find my daughter in tears. She was holding a letter that she found taped to the door. She said, "We've been kicked out." From my daughter's story, I know that I smiled, realizing that something much bigger was happening. Apparently, I had missed the first letter  telling me that there was a condo association rule against cats being outside, and warning me that if my cat was out again, I'd be evicted. According to the letter, "Your cat was seen outside on October 26 and November 2nd" and I had thirty days to vacate. Yeah!! I was being released from a place where I didn't want to live and had nine months left on the lease. Yay!

Within seconds I knew that this was a gem of an opportunity and within minutes I knew it was time to go do the film and/or work on the Safe Baby Resolution in Hawaii that I had worked on that year. I could do it if I didn't have the expense of a home. I was reminded -- AGAIN -- of Carolyn Myss' book, "Anatomy of Spirit" that I had read ten years before, and my young new-mama neighbor and I had been watching "The Secret", one of the laws of attraction I'd followed for years. Both tell us that when we wish for, think about, plan, and dream about what it is we want, the universe conspires with us to bring it about. Sometimes, it comes in surprising ways that may be misunderstood as losses or failures, and that doesn't look exactly like we'd planned it, but as Byron Katy says, "Whatever happens is always for our good."

One of the things I had "stumbled on to" as a direct result of my son's deployment and my working through it was I joined the Community Access Television station in June of 2007. I began learning filmmaking. I had the homebirth footage and the hospital birth footage. So, I knew immediately that it was time.

I didn't have any money after the year that put me into "poverty", thanks to my unraveling, being unable to work with babies, and my ex not paying child support for 2-1/2 as retribution for "living off him". I did not have money to re-rent another apartment. I could be "homeless" or  I could be "on a mission."  I put our household belongings in storage and after a huge gala 14th birthday party for Mariah in January, we headed west. I left for California "to do a film" without a camera. Nine months later, here we are, my trailer has just "viral." It's been one of the most enriching times of my life.

I am doing the film for Andrew, my grandson, the baby born in the hospital; for my daughter; and for her husband and her first son born by cesarean. I am doing the film to bring healing to my family. If it heals others and prevents trauma, it will be a great blessing, and an honor to have participated.

Poor Puddy. Sometimes doing a great act for humanity also takes a great sacrifice! He was boarded at the vet's for two+ months while Max got to go to Grandma and Grandpa Great's. Puddy was so happy to see us and to be home. "Home" was a 3 bedroom duplex that a friend "donated" to me for the time I was in Missouri learning the editing program and editing the trailer.

So, here he is, in the middle of the night, in August, "helping" me edit the trailer -- and me trying to get away from the camera. What a cat.

"All Creatures Great and Small," not "or". That's Puddy. He's little, but he is mighty. He moved a mountain for me.

And, oh yeah, he did kill the grasshopper. He's such an animal.

A few weeks ago we heard a baby rabbit screaming. They sound like humans! Out in the front yard, we found a wild-eyed Puddy with a bunny hanging from his mouth, and begging for his life. Mariah was upset with him. I reminded her, "Well, now you know why the steak-eater was so upset. It's one thing to see it under plastic wrap at the store and quite another to hear it, a baby screaming for it's life."

Mariah convinced, or rather forced, Puddy to drop the bunny and immediately an owl swooped down out of the tree and snatched the bunny and was gone. Seriously. (I swear I am gonna start wearing the camera on a holster.)

We learn again, don't mess with nature.

Post note: Puddy went on the road with us in November 2008 when we left again for CA and AZ. He enjoyed a month here and there in Surprise, AZ and lived mostly in my room at my daughter's or was outside. His presence resolved a nasty pigeon problem on the peak of the roof over my bedroom window.  Once a bird eater, they know it!!

Every other month we spent in CA ... LA, Topanga, and northern CA, twice. There on the Chamberlain's Nevada City mini-ranch Puddy loved the friendship of Beethoven, the stray cat, a few neighbor dogs, and prowling around the woods.

In Topanga, CA housesitting for a friend up in the mountains, Puddy had to stay in the house or risk becoming coyote food. He did not even try to leave the house. The coyotes seemed to move closer every night and neighbors said it was because they knew the two small animals were there. By the end of the month, the last two nights they were right outside the house, even in broad daylight. It's as if they knew their potential dinner was leaving. We spent a few weeks in Rivierside, CA and Puddy stayed in my room. It was May 18, 2009 and we were heading back to Missouri in time for my dad's birthday.

In the middle of Utah around midnight Puddy was howling like he does when he needs a break. A small town with two exits was convenient. He was behind me howling as I approached the exit. I told him we were almost there. He was quiet. When I got to the gas station he was no where to be found. The window had been cracked so that he could sit on top of luggage and get fresh air but it was not enough for him to get out .... so we thought. Apparently, he'd quieted so quickly because he jumped out the window. We were devastated.

There was hardly any traffic so we went up and down the freeway slowly, calling for him. There was no sign of him. We were relieved to not find him severely injured or dead. Earlier in the day we'd had a tire blow out in the middle of the desert on the hottest day of the year: 107 degrees. If you look on the map there is a small stretch of freeway that is the farthest northwest corner of Arizona, where Nevada dips down and coming from Las Vegas you go through a short road in AZ before going into Utah.

We were still in Nevada, just before you enter Arizona. We sat in the desert for four hours while a mobile tire unit came and got our two back tires, left us with ice and water, car on jacks, to drive back to Mesquite and put new tires on the rims and then return to put them on. Car doors open, blankets blocking the western sun, Puddy laid with us and panted. Mariah she said this must be like labor ... the process of breathing through it. Not once did he even attempt to leave the car. And then, hours later, in the chill of the night on I70 he jumped out the window.

We finally decided that he had made that choice, and I choose to believe he had other work to do. Someone else to help maybe. I had to grieve my son again as my attachment to Puddy was so connected to rescuing him and having him in our lives since the day my son left. I believe my animals and my people come into our lives for a time and a purpose, that they have their own needs. Other than biological family, I don't have any lifelong exclusive people in my life; why hold back an animal has always been my belief.

Animals must have their own needs met, and they too leave when it is time. It was very sad. He had on a purple collar, but not the one with his name tag and number on it. It had been lost while in Missouri. Back at that temporary duplex for the time in Columbia, Mariah found it in the yard ... Puddy's collar, and all over again, we felt the loss of our friend, and the little man who helped me through a very rough year. We do believe he had others to help ... we believe he is alive and well in Utah or wherever he ended up. Maybe he was rescued again by a traveler at the truck stop and is busy facilitating other miracles.

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Buy It!

Part One: The Other Side of the Glass: a Birth Film for and About Men officially released in digital download format on June 2, 2013. Go to to purchase a digital download.

Men have been marginalized in birth for a long time. The old joke is that a man was sent off to boil water to keep him busy. I believe they were making the environment safe. Birth moved to hospitals and for forty years women were separated from their partners who was left to wait in smoke filled waiting room. Finally, he would see his baby from "the other side of the glass." Now a man can go in the birthing room and even get to hold his partner's hand during surgery. But they are still marginalized and powerless, according to the fathers I interviewed around the country.

Historically, birth has been defined by the medical establishment. The midwifery and natural birth movement now advocate for need "to educate and prepare men to protect their wife and baby" in medical environment. Seems logical ... if we process with the same illogic that got us here.

Through the voices of men - and doctors and midwives - men share heart-touching stories about how this is not workin' out. A man is also very likely to be disempowered and prevented from connecting with their newborn baby in the first minutes of life.

Now is the time for men to take back birth.

The film is about restoring our families, society, and world through birthing wanted, loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Donors, check your emails or email me at for info to download. Release on DVD is not planned at this date.

FREE online! watch Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 10 at

"Doctor's Voices" - Stuart Fischbein, MD - Part 1

Doctor's Voices - Michael Odent, MD

Human Rights Violations

Resources - Healing Birth Trauma

"The Other Side of the Glass" has the potential to open up feelings that have been denied and ignored for a very long time. How to heal the trauma of birth at any age will be addressed in the film. Meanwhile, these are pioneers in the field.

Raymond Castellino and Mary Jackson -

David Chamberlain, Ph.D. -

Judith Cohen -

Myrna Martin -

Karen Melton -

Wendy McCord, Ph.D. -

Wendy McCarty, Ph.D. -

And, many, many more all over the world at
In both relationships and life trust begets trust.
Generosity begets generosity.
Love begets love.
Be the spark, especially when it's dark.

--Note from the Universe,

"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so children have very little time with their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world." - Mother Theresa