“How did he sound, Cindy?” Margie was concerned about
Alan and how he would react to the news.
“I think I just blew his mind. He had no clue that
something like this could ever happen. You know how
macho he thinks he is. This is a royal blow to his ego,
unless he stops and thinks about what’s happening.”
“I think we should ask Alan to meet us. We want him
to feel comfortable with the situation.”
“Let’s see if we can meet tomorrow and discuss it.”
The girls tried to call Alan all afternoon and finally he
picked up the phone around six.
“Hey, Al; it’s Cindy. Margie and I want to have
brunch with you tomorrow. Are you up for it?”
“Sure, where do you want to meet? How about
O’Charley’s? I like their lettuce wedges and they make
“Sounds good. The lettuce wedge is a meal in itself.
We’ll see you around noon.”
Alan and the girls got to the restaurant at the same
time and met in the parking lot.
“How’s it going, Al?” Cindy said as she grabbed him
by the neck to kiss him. Margie was right behind him
waiting her turn.
“Well, if you would have asked me that question
twenty-four hours ago, I would have worn you out with
negativity, but I saw Jamie yesterday and he made me
realize that this baby knows what he’s doing.”
“Yes, he does.” Margie patted Al on the back.
Al opened the door and the threesome entered the
foyer. They were seated at the table in front of a massive
“Mase does know what he’s doing. Cindy and I have
had several dreams about him, and all I can tell you—
without your thinking we’re crazy—is everything is going
to be fine. Mase will be a challenge, but he’s coming into
our lives for a reason and it sure is going to be fun as well
as a challenge figuring out what that reason is.”
The brunch was buffet style with plenty of lettuce
wedges, so the three of them got up and fixed a plate and
continued their conversation about how they would deal
with Mase. They had four months to prepare and Alan
said he would do all could to help them when he was in
town. The time seemed to fly by and the conversation
about the baby and their responsibilities continued as they
got into their cars three hours later.
“I’m going to Taiwan tomorrow. I’ll call you when I
“Have a good trip, Al, and don’t worry,” said Cindy.
The girls kissed Alan goodbye and headed back to
their Georgetown condo to do more research on Down
“I guess we should think about moving at some
point,” said Cindy. “We need more room. Perhaps we
should move closer to Perception Farms.”
“I guess we should talk to your mom and dad and see
what they think. It may make sense to move to Perception
Farms since we spend so much time there anyway.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Cindy and Margie were always
on the same page.
The next four months flew by. Cindy and Margie
continued to do research and even set up meetings with
experts who studied Down syndrome kids. Realizing that
Mase would have enough to deal with by having DS, they
wanted to prevent any unnecessary birth trauma. Margie
was browsing the Internet when she came upon Sondra
Ray’s Web site.
“Listen to this, Cindy,” said Margie “It is typical in
conventional medicine for the baby to be removed from
the total darkness of its safe and warm environment of 39
degrees Celsius inside the womb into the cold surroundings
and bright, harsh lights of a delivery room. Occasionally, the
baby is violently drawn out of the womb with the use of
tongs, forceps, or other surgical tools. It may also be
under the effect of anesthesia, epidural, or other drugs
used during birth.”
“That’s terrible!” said Cindy. “It’s like being asleep
one night in your warm snuggly bed when someone drags
you out from underneath the covers and throws you outside
in the snow on a bright sunny day.”
“Yeah, and I don’t want anyone picking me up, turning
me upside down, holding me by the ankles, and smacking
my naked butt while everyone watches, either,” Margie
laughed, but only momentarily. “All the while the baby is
trying to breathe for the first time ever when the umbilical
cord supplying oxygen is cut.”
“Can you imagine the panic, pain, and confusion the
baby experiences in such an event?”
“And that’s if it doesn’t have tongs or forceps on its
head to help hurry things up. Sounds like the same kind
of force a dentist would use to remove a tooth.” Margie
“I don’t want this happening to our baby.”
“Sondra Ray says that the consequences of birth
trauma do not stop with the experiences recorded in the
physical body. They are experienced psychologically later on.”
“What can we do to avoid this?”
“I’m going to talk to Brenda Hicks,” said Margie.
“Who is Brenda Hicks?”
“She’s Dr. Benson Cartwright’s married daughter.
She also serves as a midwife to women who give birth at
the farm. She is very holistic in her approach to childbirth
and patient care.”
“I remember Dr. Cartwright. He’s the specialist who
handles adolescent and adult DS cases. We met him at a
“Yes, and he’s going to be Mase’s doctor.”
Margie made her routine visits to Doc Mathews.
He and Brenda agreed to work together to help Margie
and Mase have the most blissful birth experience possible.
They would be prepared for anything. Margie stayed active
throughout the pregnancy as she and Cindy continued to
walk each morning before breakfast. They both gave up
red meat, alcohol, and fried foods, and lived on a diet of
fresh vegetables, salads, and fruit.
Perception Farms continued to address the needs
of the ever-growing homeless population. The Russell’s
approach was completely foreign to the status-quo thinking
about the homeless at that time. Warren and Claire knew
that the lack of money didn’t create homeless families
and individuals—there were many internal factors that
contributed to this social stigma. They believed it was
rooted in self-worth issues that stem from a deep-seeded
feeling of loneliness within the psyche long before the
homeless ever become homeless. Naturally, these issues
lead to drug and alcohol abuse, but those substances
are only vehicles to cover up the separation that is so
prominent in the human belief system. The Russells were
violently awakened to their separation of self; it took a
near-death experience to bring them back from the brink
of self-destruction and they understood that the homeless
go through similar traumas to close the gap that exists
within the self. The couple understood that everyone creates
their own experiences. Some people choose homelessness as
the vehicle that awakens them to their own inner world.
Even though the Russells were raised in a religious setting,
they knew that God does not create social issues; men and
women create their own life experiences through their
belief systems. Religion is another belief that people use
to close the brokenness they feel within themselves, but
religion may not be the vehicle that everyone needs to
close that gap.
Warren did some research on windmills and wind
power and found that the wind could provide all the
electricity they needed to keep Perception Farms warm
and well lit. He constructed a prototype windmill using an
empty milk carton, a drinking straw, a cork, a paper clip,
two or three feet of thread, some sand, and a sail made
from cardboard or paper that resembled a pinwheel.
He filled the milk carton with two or three inches of sand
and made a hole on two sides of the milk carton so he
could put the straw through the two holes. Then he put
the cork on one end of the straw and the sail on the other
end and tied the thread to the paper clip and the cork.
He would blow on the sail, and the sail and the paper clip
would go up and down. The prototype helped him design
a windmill using wooden posts and four balsa wood
blades. The shafts of the blades were attached to a
large break wheel that was attached to a gear box. The first
prototypes were primitive, but with the help of Ralph
Morales, one of the new residents on the farm, he got the
project started. He started building wind turbine-type
structures in some of the pasture fields.
Whenever Warren needed advice about a product or a
service or had to build something for the farm there was
always a resident available who knew something about it.
George Fulmer was an ex-marine and a construction
foreman who went to pieces and lost everything including
his home when his wife divorced him. He still wore his
hair regulation length and was now living and working on
the farm. He was the first line manager in charge of building
new residences. Tony Delgado, the Al Capone look-a-like and
sheet metal expert, could make just about anything.
He was in charge of utilizing scrap materials as well
as selling or recycling them. Wilma Ventura, the
former accountant and long distance runner who lost
everything because of heroin, became the first bookkeeper
for the farm. One resident after another had the expertise
to make a contribution to the farm and they were
elated when they were given a chance to contribute.
Another one of Warren’s brainstorms came after he
read about Francisco Pacheco from Bolivia. Francisco
had been working on the concept of a hydrogen generator
for years. Warren saw a show on 60 Minutes in 1980 that
highlighted Francisco’s invention, but the interview didn’t
show the full potential of the generator. Warren knew
it had to work, so he got a copy of the patent and asked
for the rights to build them. It was a perfect product for
Perception Farms. The farm needed them and could sell
them to other individuals and businesses when the time
was right. These same energy-saving concepts were in the
preliminary stage of development around the country, but
Warren knew that this type of energy would be the future
of Perception Farms as well as the country.
Warren also developed a system for growing algae,
which he believed was the perfect biofuel of the future.
Algae uses sunlight to produce lipids or oil and can
produce more oil in an area the size of a two-car garage
than a football field of soybean plants. Warren started by
dedicating an acre to constructing eighteen-inch-deep
algae troughs. He used wastewater from the dairy cattle
and he then let the sun do the rest. He found that the algae
not only produced oil, it could be used to feed the cattle
and the other livestock on the farm.
In 1987 there were one hundred formerly homeless
people, including families, living on Perception Farms.
The budget had grown from seventy-five thousand dollars
in 1984 to one hundred seventy-five thousand in 1987 and
the Russells believed that the project could support itself
Cindy and Margie spent a lot of time educating the
former homeless residents of Perception Farms; in fact,
it was more than a full time job for both of them, but
they loved the challenge. They even set up a transportation
service so the residents could go to the local market to
buy small items. The transportation van would make
trips to the store at nine in the morning and at seven at
night. Carolyn Woods was one of the residents who found
herself homeless when she was faced with overwhelming
debt due to an auto accident. Carolyn broke every bone
in her body including those in her face. The insurance
paid some of the cost but she had to sell everything to pay
her share. The surgeries left her with a new face and fear
issues that included driving a car again. With the help
of Cindy and Margie she decided to face her fears and
became the first van driver for the farm. The job helped
her overcome her fear of driving a car again. Warren
arranged to purchase thirty old cars for three thousand
dollars from a used-car dealer. The cars were originally
going to be sent to the Virgin Islands to be refurbished
and sold, but the car dealer knew Warren and wanted to
help him. The cars changed the transportation dynamics
on Perception Farms once the resident auto mechanic got
the vehicles running.
The internal structure of the farm was in place and
functioning, but the community was growing quickly.
So the family focused on educating the residents in order
to maintain a healthy growth pattern. Cindy and Margie
set up a school designed to help residents get in sync with
their emotions and inner self. This self-awareness school
touched on different topics that pertained to self-limiting beliefs.
These misperceptions were discussed and examined from
a personal perspective. Since the school focused on self
responsibility, a plaque hung over the doorway of the
converted hay barn. The words written by Aristotle were
the school’s mission statement: Education is an ornament
in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.
When Margie and Cindy were not working on the farm
they were studying about Down syndrome. Their research
showed that one in eight hundred babies are born with
DS. They also discovered that older mothers only account
for twenty-five percent of the babies born with an extra
copy of chromosome 21. Most children with DS have
an IQ that is considered mild or in the moderate range
of retardation (DS is the most common cause of genetic
retardation). Some of them grow up and live independent
lives and are gainfully employed. Medical problems
like congenital heart disease, hearing and vision loss,
and hypothyroidism are frequently experienced by these
kids. The girls talked to parents of kids who have DS
and the kids themselves, plus they read about the health
guidelines that pertained to them. They read about the
advantages of breast feeding and visited with clinics in
the Nashville area that specialized in treating these kids.
They found a National Down Syndrome Society and
discovered that a lot of these kids do what we would
consider exceptional things like becoming excellent athletes
and artists. The women spent hour after hour learning about
what they thought Mase would have to deal with in
physical life. The rest of their waking hours were dedicated
to the homeless and Perception Farms.
It’s always exceptionally humid in August in Nashville
and 1987 was no exception. Margie was feeling the heat
and tried to rest as much as possible. She managed to
keep her weight in normal pregnancy range but the heat
was a challenge. When September first arrived Margie
was more than ready to have the baby. Claire and Warren
couldn’t wait to see their first grandson. Kathleen was
excited about being an aunt. Blake was also excited, but
was too busy being a doctor to think about children,
although his new wife, Nancy Elgin, the former Kentucky
beauty queen, was anxious to start a family. Margie’s
family was gone, but she had a few friends from the
rescue mission, the farm, and of course Darlene and Alan
were part of her family now. Alan made plans to stay in
town the week of September eighteenth, so he could be
around when Mase arrived. Darlene had a flight booked
and planned to spend a week with the girls and the baby.
Doctor Benjamin Mathews was on standby since he had
agreed to let Margie deliver her baby in the birthing cabin
at the farm with the help of the resident midwife. He would
come to the farm and be present during the birth in case
something went awry. He would also make the initial
evaluation of Mase’s health. Margie and Cindy had done
their research on natural childbirth and had decided to
allow Mase to choose his own birthday. Margie refused to
have her labor induced or allow herself to be confined to
the harsh environment of a hospital. Anesthesia, epidural
spine injection, as well as any other substance, poisons
the pure system of the newborn baby. Only if the baby’s
or her health were in jeopardy would she allow conventional
medicine to intervene with the most natural process in
the world. Women have been giving birth since the world
began; there was no need to hinder the wonderful wisdom
of Mother Nature and create birth trauma for baby Mase.
On the evening of September seventeenth, Margie
knew Mase was ready. She was having a few mild contractions
when she went to bed. She told Cindy she might wake her
early in the morning, and that’s exactly what happened.
Margie rolled over in bed trying to get comfortable when
she was taken by another contraction—this one was the
strongest one yet. Then, it happened.
Margie nudged Cindy at four-thirty in the morning.
“You better get up unless you want to swim!” she said.
“What?” Cindy opened one eye.
“Either my water just broke or I’ve wet the bed.
I’m floating over here.”
Cindy jumped out of bed. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Just soaked and so is the bed.”
“I’ll call the midwife and Doc Mathews.” Cindy reached
for the phone.
Margie stood up and was taking the sheets off the bed
when another contraction made its presence known. She sat
back down on the side of the bed and started breathing
the way the midwife had taught her.
Cindy brought Margie a fresh gown. “Doc will meet
us at the birthing cabin within the hour. Brenda is there now.
She had an intuitive hunch about you.”
“Thanks. I’m going to take a shower.”
Cindy called Darlene, suddenly realizing it was
two-thirty in the morning in L.A. Darlene picked up
“It’s Cindy. Sorry to call so early, but we’re on our
way to the birthing cabin.”
“Great! My flight arrives at eleven. Is Alan going to
pick me up?”
“I just left him a message to remind him. I’m sure
he’ll be there.”
Cindy finished taking the wet sheets off the bed and
dropped them into the washer. Then, she called Alan and
finally her parents.
Claire answered the phone with a groggy, “Hello.”
“Mom? Margie’s water just broke. We’re on our way
to the birthing cabin. I’ll see you and Dad down there in a
little while. I don’t remember if I told you, but Mase’s full
name is Mason O’Brien Russell.”
“That’s wonderful news, dear. I’ll wake your father
and we’ll see you shortly.”
“No rush. The contractions are about ten minutes
apart and Margie is doing great.”
“Ten minutes apart, my foot!” Margie was
holding on to the bathroom door frame and puffing
through another contraction.
Cindy put Margie’s bags in the car and came back
inside to help Margie make it to the car.
Mase arrived at 6:45 a.m. weighing five pounds
and four ounces, and measuring a mere fifteen inches.
Margie’s midwife delayed clamping the umbilical cord to
allow more cord blood and crucial stem cells to transfer
from Mama Margie to her baby. Researchers at the University
of South Florida’s Center of Excellence for Aging and
Brain Repair agreed with this practice in an article
published in Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
After the baby was allowed to bond with Margie and
take nourishment at her breast, Doc Mathews went into
action, checking Mase over from head to toe. While the
baby had some mild characteristics of DS, he seemed to
be in fine health. He arranged for the pediatric DS specialist,
Dr. Steele, to come by the next day to examine Mase and
conduct the necessary tests.
Mase had already changed Margie and Cindy’s life,
and now they wanted to share him with the rest of the
world. By mid-morning Alan, Darlene, Warren, and
Claire were gathered in the lounge area of the birthing
cabin, patiently waiting to see the mama and the baby.
Alan had a mini soccer ball in one hand and a black
monkey with blinking eyes in the other, and Darlene had
a stuffed teddy bear in her arms. Warren was holding a
bouquet of colorful balloons of various shapes. Claire,
with tears rolling down her cheeks, held a photo book.
On the front cover, “Mase O’Brien Russell” was engraved
in bold black capital letters. She handed the book to
Cindy and hugged her tightly.
“Here, honey. Pictures are worth a thousand words.”