Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Eyes Have it


Do you ever think about your eyes?
To truly appreciate your eyes, the functioning of your eyes, you have to realize that your normal, healthy eyes are automatically triangulating your spacial relation continuously. That, in addition to detecting detail in even extremely low levels of light, distinguishing over ten million distinct colors, observing the smallest discrete motion, adapting to changes in visible light through changes in the pupil, automatic adaptation to light quality, focusing during movement from close objects to distant objects, continual focus with both rapid and slow object movement, observing three dimensions, and recognizing subtle patterns.

Our eyes are exquisitely amazing and complicated organs. *

The evolution of sight is also truly amazing.


Our complex eyes began long ago with a few cells that were capable of sensing light. These specialized cells detected light and that light was then detected by the brain. Most resources that I found date early sight and early photoreceptive cells at about 700 million years ago. Followed by greater and greater organ development: lenses, fluid-filled sac, optic nerve, etc. 

Following that, the fossil record begins to show all kind of differences in specialization of species. Those with exceedingly excellent night vision or distance vision, light waves that are completely invisible to human beings, under water sight, heck, even under water and above water vision at the same time. Some creatures with one eye and some with more than two eyes.  Some creatures still have incredibly simple optical systems while many creatures have exquisitely complex systems for detecting the visible.

And all of this got me to thinking about something.

About how the evolution of sight went on to create further evolution of species. With sight comes the need to hide better, to hunt better, to breed better, to feed better, placement of the eyes. As the various species develop, so does their need to camouflage or stand out: all bits of evolution spurred by the development of sight. 

Also, I'm wondering just how many times those initial photosensitive cells had to happen before something really took off and started a species or two to create more and more complex photoreceptivity. How many times did the process have to start over again as one species faded out, taking the advanced sight cells with them. These processes over millions of years just boggles my brain.

Did you know that there are existing organisms today with only the basic photoreceptor cells? The euglena has a photoreceptive spot that allows it to locate light. That's all it does and the spot allows the euglena to move towards light for better opportunities for photosynthesis.

In fact, the entire range of complexity of sight is traceable in organisms on the planet today, from the simplest of photoreceptive spots all of the way up to the most complex eyes in any organism, the mantis shrimp. Dude, there is so much to learn about sight.



I visited my father-in-law the other day for an eye exam because, yes, he's an eye doctor. 😊  I'm very fortunate because with all of my many questions about eyes he had all of the answers and, furthermore, is even more of a nerd than I am. So we had a fabulous talk as he checked out my vision.


 * The internet has many great websites that look at the process of the evolution of sight. 
      Please look at several sights for greater appreciation!

iscovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/eyes
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/eyes



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Parents' Weekend


This past weekend I was driving home from across the state. I stopped in Rolla MO in the early afternoon for lunch at Panera. Rolla is a university town, a technology university. Maybe it was Parents' Weekend; maybe most weekends bring the parents, longing for their children because every table in the restaurant was filled with families. A parent or two beaming at a young student or two as the students told their stories. 

The fathers, huge smiles, from ear-to-ear even, fully enjoying the humor of their growing sons. (Most of the students at this school are male.) The fathers' shining eyes watched their boys laughing over the soup and sandwiches.


The mothers? Longing. Wanting to touch. Wanting to sit closer, be nearer. I could feel it in every mother I saw, the longing. Quieter smiles, hands fluttering toward the part in her son's hair, his collar, his shoulder... A short break from her son's empty room, well-made bed, the full refrigerator back home. If only for an afternoon, until it's time to leave...one step at a time, walking back home...without him.


All of the rest of my drive home I thought that soon, one day soon, John will be far away and I will make that drive ...just to touch his hair.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

How Many People are Atheists?


Do you ever feel inundated with religiosity in the world? I do. So I got to wondering how many people on the planet are nonbelievers...I founds tons of websites with information on the matter. This website offered these statistics that comforted me a bit...thought I'd share it. I chose this website only for it's ease of readability.

Sadly the US does not rank high in nonbelievers.


Various selected countries, according to the Oxford Handbook, with the highest percentages of non-believers, include:

Czech Republic – 55% atheist/agnostic (actual number: 4,649,620)
France – 41%  (19,965,630)
Sweden – 39%  (2,800,152)
Germany – 36%  (24,564,226)
Netherlands – 34%  (4,303,110)
Belgium – 34%  (2,857,053)
Denmark – 32%  (1,369,512)
Norway – 32%  (1.146,464)
United Kingdom – 30%  (14,579,992)
South Korea – 28%  (10,419,885)
New Zealand – 28%  (866,000)
Finland – 28%  (1,172,404)
Japan – 28%  (29,766,356)
Hungary – 27%  (2,254,556)
Australia – 26%  (5,058,772)
Spain – 21%  (7,633,561)
China – 17.9%  (234,595,000)


COME ON USA, geez. Why are there not more?


Making Mountains of Molehills: A Hideous Parenting Moment


I'm posting this post again. I first wrote it in 2014.
 I recently had a conversation with a dear, dear friend of mine 
and our conversation brought the idea of this post to mine.
I hope you enjoy it.



I remember a hideous day from years ago when Elizabeth was just a few years old. It was while we were potty-training (Oh geez, she is going to hate it that I posted anything about this time!) and I was just beside myself with wondering what to do. I had no idea what I was doing and I was concerned that I was totally messing things up. She was about four years old, maybe. I know that I had a newborn at the time and he was born when she was three and a half, so yeah, about four years old. 

She just didn't want to stop wearing a the darn disposable. And when I asked her why she told me very simply and practically that she didn't want to stop playing to take the time she needed. It seems like such a small deal now but then I was just a mess about it for some reason.

I have to admit that I owe some of my anxiety from this time to a woman that I was hanging out with, I'll call her Betty. She and I had known each other a bit before having children and our daughters were the same age. I often talked with Betty about what I might do to encourage my daughter to...you know...

WHY I asked Betty for guidance I have no idea. She is one of the most truly neurotic people that I have ever had as a friend. She was a mess.
I wish I hadn't listened to her.

Betty's advice to me was that, each time Elizabeth would not go potty in the potty, she was to get a bath because it was dirty to go potty in her pants. UGH, I cringe just thinking about it.

Well, I only did it one time. There she was, my very beloved daughter, standing in the cold bathtub and I was shaming her with my words for not sitting on the potty; she cried.

Elizabeth doesn't remember it at all while I can't forget it!

While I have generally forgiven myself for what I did, what I still struggle with sometimes is making a mountain out of a mole hill. What things that we are struggling with today will become the mole hills of tomorrow? That's what I want to know. 

I realize now that another other thing that contributed to my behavior then was that I was concerned how my daughter's diaper usage somehow reflected on me and probably how these friends of mine would view me. I can say that now. I wanted to be a Good Mom and I didn't think that a Good Mom would have a daughter that age still in diapers.
So, yes, I did have alot to learn.

Today I know that a Good Mom does not need to explain herself to friends around her, doesn't compare her children with any others, and most importantly, a Good Mom is comfortable with her children as they are, not as someone thinks they should be. She also finds friends who share in her way of thinking rather than wallowing in self-doubt and confusion. 

It was a tough lesson. But I think I learned it.
And it didn't hurt to break up with that shaming friend of mine!!!


 WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD ISN'T ON TIME 

So let's say that your children aren't on time with tasks and skills. Unless a professional tells you different, here is what you need to do:  RELAX.

Few teenagers walk around wearing diapers. Few teenagers still suck their thumbs. Most teenagers can walk, read, talk to people, eat their veggies, tie their shoes, say their Rs right, kick a ball, and all of the many things that you, that WE, worry about. 

RELAX. It isn't a race. 

RELAX. The only thing that truly reflects on you is your happy child, sitting or standing, pierced or not, speaking in public or not, listening to inappropriate music or not, wearing inappropriate clothing or not, getting great grades or not, sexually active or not, giving into peer pressure or not, making immature choices or not.

All you can do is give them the tools to build their own mountains and, in the end, they usually do that:  build their own unique mountains.

Can You Relate?

I know you get it that this post does not speak to serious or dangerous practices.
 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Female and Atheist


When I was active in my belief and in my religion and in my church I often wondered why there were no women in places of authority in the church. Masses never included females in any role, from the officiant to the servers to the readers. The Catholic church is extremely male-dominated, while my experience with truly good believers was that the most amazing humans who I ever came across were female. Nearly every single person in my religious circles whose goodness and leadership blew me away were women doing their part for the religion, maybe even more for the humans in the religion.

When I look back on my days in the religion several women immediately come to mind. And no men, actually. It seems that the women that were active leaders in the church were more focused on the humans in the church while the men were more active in the power and control part of the religion. Hmmm. I just realized that. Anywho...several women immediately come to mind, women whose overall personas were far more religious, spiritual?, better people than most of the males I was in regular contact with...except for maybe one guy, Mike.

These musings come on the end of some reading that I was doing tonight. In the September 2016 edition of The Atlantic is an article by Leigh Eric Schmidt, Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis; the article is  Women Atheists Are Genuinely Considered Monsters. Really, that's the fricking title.


It's not bad enough that the majority of this stupid country actually says that they wouldn't vote for an atheist candidate. That's not enough. No, FEMALE atheists are genuinely considered monsters.

This is the country I am living in and you want me to love my country or not be able to consider myself an American. Well Screw you, Anyone Who Believes That Crap.

I get it. 
Women are supposed to be pious, loving, homemakers, virtuous.
Whatever.



I'm here to say that I am a PROUD, loving, caring, thinking, benevolent, good-natured, friendly, gentle person who is a completely OPEN and OUT ATHEIST.

And YOU, who would shout from the rooftops that believers are superior are wrong, You Monster! **



* Sorry for being so bitchy but I'm kind of feeling it lately and I'm calling it.
**  I'll be my normal self again sometime soon.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

My Unpopular Opinions


My opinions are generally quite liberal.
I definitely have opinions that are unpopular and I don't mind if other people don't agree with me or share my opinions. It's nice that way.


For example, I don't have a problem with the font Comic Sans. I think it’s OK. 

I think anyone who wants to get married should have that right. Any colors, genders, races, WHATEVER. As long as a person is an adult, their life, their decision. Consenting adults.

Marijuana should be legal. Stupid murderous alcohol is legal. Ridiculously poisonous cigarettes are legal. Marijuana isn't even close to being as toxic as those two substances. 

Feminism. I don't think most people understand what it is. It's not freaking hatred of men. It's about equality.

David Bowie. Yuk. Not a fan. I don't like his voice, his persona, or his music.

I have no problem with suicide. If, at some point, you think your life is ready to end, it should be entirely within your right to end it. I especially am OK with PAS, physician-assisted suicide. I do NOT want every teen to run out and kill themselves; I'm only in favor of adults making that decision. I perfectly understand it if adults with mental illness or difficult circumstances make the decision to end their lives. I'm sure this is offensive as hell to some people and I'm sorry for that but I have strong reasons why I feel this way and I've given it alot of thought.

Virginity. It is stupidly a thing. Listen, I don't want my children out screwing indiscriminately, but I don't value virginity as a thing of value or anything. Intact hymen doesn't suggest character, goodness, or anything of value. I consider virginity expectations a total shame game we play with females to control them.

Cloche hats. I SO wish they were still a thing. They are fricking darling and adorable and go with everything. Mostly.

I'm absolutely OK with disco. Not a fan of 80s music. At all.

Not a fan of  Disney in any way. Tangled, Frozen, Whatever.

Sports. I simply don't care. But more than that, millions and millions of dollars are made and spent over games. Players are payed ridiculously overpriced salaries. Owners of teams pass so much cash around it's irresponsible. What a stupid thing to spend money on. What a time waste. What is with the hype? I was raised in a sports household; I know what I'm talking about.

Coffee is truly disgusting. It smells good, I'll grant you that. But it's nightmarish on the stomach. And spending five bucks on a cup of coffee at Starbucks? It's unfathomable. Spending that kind of money on something that destroys your stomach.

Columbus Day is embarrassing and ethically wrong.

Nationalism makes absolutely no sense. 

Human life here on Earth...not impressed overall.
I often think that our species, as many good qualities as we have, could disappear and the planet would be all the better for it. The other life here on the planet would benefit from our absence. Secondarily, a world-wide decimation of 80% of humans would be OK with me. 


I simply do not understand the value of diamonds and gold. So much money, so much violence. Just wear other gemstones. Bling away.


Am I simply spewing negativity with this post?
Well, maybe.
But I had the comic sans thing had it coming...

😉

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Karen Armstrong


I have a serious question for all readers of this post and I hope you leave a thoughtful comment below in the space for thoughtful comments:

What is the single most influential book you have ever read? 



If you are a reader like I am, that question is probably super difficult. I can think of at least a dozen books that have moved me and that have meant something to me...the kind of book that gets me reading more, researching, wanting...needing more. I have several books that have served as tremendously meaningful turning points for me. 

There is one book that was hugely significant for me and very influential in my transition from believer to nonbeliever. It was about the year 1997; I was working part time at this place where I had some time to read/reflect/write a bit. That's significant because I had a newborn at the time and reading/reflecting/writing aren't typically possible in the life of a new mother. 

My sister was living in Dallas at the time and she and I were writing to each other daily (We had no email or any social media at the time so think snail mail.  😊 ), mostly about whatever we were reading at the time. She was reading a book by Karen Armstrong, a British author and commentator of Irish Catholic descent known for her books on comparative religion. The book was a 1993 title A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The book details the history of the three major monotheistic traditions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with some Buddhism and Hinduism. The evolution of the idea of God is traced from its ancient roots in the Middle East up to the present day.

Armstrong's highly intellectual and authoritative work was exactly what I needed at that point, a book that took me on a detailed and illuminating journey to the roots of modern day religion. I'd already read several other books that endeavored to take me there, including Elaine Pagels' Gnostic Bible, but none of the other books was as instantly compelling as History of God for me. As a history buff, I was looking for solid bedrock. I found it in this book.

History of the monotheistic beliefs, but more, history of the rise of religion as an institution. At the time I was still struggling with doubt and questions; my religion was still important in my life but I knew that there were problems that I could not ignore. I had been reading and talking with people for months when I got my hands on this book. I started reading it with a highlighter in one hand and a notebook in the other. Long, long letters snail mailed their way back and forth between my sister and I, both of us coming to similar conclusions about our "beloved" religion.

Some of what she says
is utter CRAP.

😊
I can't say that this book was the end of my belief...no, that honor goes to the Holy Bible, King James version. But History of God was the beginning of some of the most erudite reading I was able to find on comparative religion, and Karen Armstrong's other titles were a large part of that year's reading...the year where I tossed man made religion into the rubbush. Her writing was so accessible, so scholarly, so polished. She plainly put into words many of my doubts and questions and put all of in into a context that really meant something to me; I felt incredibly comforted, moved, and informed by her book.

I can't say that Armstrong doesn't have her detractors, she does. Nor can I say that she and I are both atheists, she is not. Nor can I say that I agree with all of her views, for I surely do not. But I can say that her scholarship is impressive as hell and I can highly recommend her books to others who are interested in a study of comparative religion.

 A God who kept tinkering with the universe was absurd; a God who interfered with human freedom and creativity was a tyrant. If God is seen as a self in a world of his own, an ego that relates to a thought, a cause separate from its effect, he becomes a being, not Being itself. An omnipotent, all‐knowing tyrant is not so different from earthly dictators who make everything and everybody mere cogs in the machine which they controlled. An atheism that rejects such a God is amply justified.  ~Karen Armstrong


Monday, October 30, 2017

Fair Warning





This is Life: A Reminder


Sometimes it hits me, the darkness, the silver lining. I can't find the door behind which I wait. I feel empty and I feel full. I feel wounded and I feel surrendered. I feel uncertainty and I feel conviction. I feel confused and I feel discovered. I feel bound and I feel untethered. I feel all of it at once. 

I lay my head down on Jerry's lap and feel his instant connection, gentle fingers in my hair, weighted arm about my waist. He allows me to express it all and to feel empowered by it. Tears, snot, words, sounds, the man creates a holding place where my outpourings are held gently and where I am strengthened through it all.

This is life, he will say in a whisper, it is complicated and you, you must not be afraid to feel it.

Then gently, in waves, it passes through the two of us and I am warmed and reminded that this life comes in in a rush, and this too shall pass. It is a reminder to appreciate the absolute beauty and certainty that is my life. I am again reminded of the substantiality of my role in this life, of the connections that bear me forward.

It is the connections that save me, as well as my personal integrity. And my antidepressant and my sun lamp and my  husband and my other loved ones. It is my connections. For it is the connections between each of us and our beloveds that makes this world tolerable, joyful, even transcendent. It is my hunger for peace and love that will save me.

These days will pass and I will, again, find my way. I am certain of it for I have found my way again and again in my 54 years of life. The cycle comes around and, soon, I will be back to myself. I do not fear these days because, truly, this is a part of the humanness of being alive. You and I know that imperfection is the norm, not the falseness of TV and movies and social media. This is real.
All will be well.



I'm Weird. I'm Real.


The truth is, I'm weird.
I'm awkward. It's particularly obvious at the moment because I'm struggling with depression right now. I don't fit in. I can join in to most groups, but never really stay there. I sometimes crave a box to fit into but would never be able to live like that. I crave fitting in at times, but know I never really will 


I'm not afraid to be the lone voice. 
I'm comfortable being alone. I generally silence when others disagree with me. I don't require agreement. I read too much. I have a zillion and one things that interest me and I'm never bored. I see more than most. 
I am intuitive at times. I notice things. Sometimes I misread what I see.

I am authentically me. Always as real as possible in any given moment...and that's not weird or awkward at all.

I say the thing that others won't say. I say the truth I am living. I'm politely wild. I won't be what I am not. I make many mistakes because I'm not afraid of them anymore. I want to know more, always more. I'm enthusiastic about stuff. Fuck people's fears that enthusiasm is weird.

Knowledge is one of the currencies that I crave. The other is connection; connection, authentic connection is the one thing I crave above all things. Knowledge and connection. Yeah, that's so me.

I live on the fringes of all things creative. I'm not afraid to try new things, walk new roads, travel, but I don't like being lead. I am attracted to people who are different from me; this is often seen as extra weird. I don't care. Don't tell me what to do. I love the adventure of meeting people who are generally outside of my white, middle-class, American person... thing. 
My oddball personality is unavoidable because I think for myself, of course this leaves me on my own quite often. I think I turn people off.

I require deep emotional connection, something few can offer or understand. I tend to be quite sensitive to the feelings of others: more weird. 
And sometimes I'm quite wrong.

When I'm feeling stressed, I'm particularly emotional. Emotional enough to bring discomfort to the mix. I tend to give too much which can make friendships uncomfortable.


I am who I am be you king or pauper. 
But I'm weird and not afraid to be so.
I guess that takes some courage. I honestly think the world needs people who are unafraid of being less than. So here I am, sharing my reality with you.


Today feeling particularly less than...a bit too isolated...a bit too TMI... What to do about it?

Do YOU dare?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

You Seem to Hang Out Only with People Who Think Like You Do


I have a friend who accuses me of this. That I hangout only with people who think as I do, or that I only expose the kids to other atheist, or people who think as we do...

And I have to laugh!

What must happen is that I mention being in a group of all atheists or freethinking people whenever we are, somehow, in a group where atheists are in the majority. It's absolutely noteworthy to mention it because it's rare. Exceedingly rare. And nice.



The thing is that this claim (or is it an accusation?) by this friend of mine is another way for people to express their underlying disapproval. Message received..."Friend".

Think about it. Do you know Christians or other believers who comment on their lovely time with their Christian friends? Are they, then accused of hanging out only with people who think like they do? Not to mention the zillions of Christian homeschool families who isolate their kids from the real world...but I'm doing a disservice to my kids?!  LOL


See. It's a total double standard and another sign of Christian privileged in this country. It's interesting thing is that when I comment thusly to my friend she states her concern that she is just worried for the kids, that they are not learning to live in this Christian culture. HA. 



Other atheist and freethinking parents, 
please, in the comments, set my friend straight.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What I've Learned from Readers of this Blog


I have now written over 900 blog posts, have had over 1,200,000 visitors to My Own Mind blog, and have kept the blog for nearly eight years. When one blogs as I do, one tends to give the process of blogging a bit of thought. Otherwise I would be unable to continue. I'm weird like that.

Does this blog mean something? Am I a work in progress? Am I full of hot air? Do I have a niche? Are my words still viable? Is there more to say?

Listen, it may be true that I think too much, or that I have a bit too much time on my hands at the moment, hence this blog post. I'm thinking about what I have gotten from keeping this blog and I'm wondering who visits here and why.

For the most part, visitors here seem to be looking for the exact thing that I strive to put out there: real life atheist parenting, a positive world view, maybe a sense of community, and authenticity. I think. Comments from readers that appear both here, on FB, and to me privately nearly always refer to their difficulty in finding relatable information when it comes to raising wonderful children in a world gone mad with religious extremism. I can't say that I have the answers to the religious extremism, but I am definitely optimistic about the ability (and the mission) to raise good, strong, solid, logical-thinking, children with good hearts.

Parents also visit this blog looking for religion-free homeschool connections. I have that too. As a long-time homeschooling parent I have fought the Christian homeschool model and image for almost fifteen years. But that group of people dominates the internet and almost all social media. That is why I felt it so essential to maintain this blog...so that reasonable people could also find a home with homeschooling. Even with my relentless blogging in those days, I'm still an incredibly obscure, back-water blog that has fewer than 150 followers and less than 400 views a day, and almost no ongoing notoriety. Not that I care about notoriety. But...I don't know.

But I have learned that my small voice has value. Those few people, friends, who do follow my blog have found value in what I offer: support, encouragement, genuineness, and a sincere belief in the human spirit...especially in really determined parents! I've learned that my atheist parenting memes (and others) have been repinned literally millions of times on Pinterest, yet few people are interested in the human connection of a blog for some reason. I've learned that people far far prefer commenting to me privately then here on my blog's comment section. I've made in real life friends from readers of this blog. I've learned that, with a very small bit of encouragement, steadfast and loving parents will make the leap into a rich and rewarding lifestyle of homeschool and/or of raising atheist/humanist/freethinking children. I love being that encouragement.




With my own children growing up (too fast) I have entered a different place in my life. I'm no longer the parent of small kids or teens, but rather college students with busy lives of their own. I'm floundering a bit, I don't mind telling you. I'm not at all certain where I will go or what I will do...but I'll continue to share my thoughts of parenting and/or of atheism and/or of my thought process right here at My Own Mind blog until it no longer makes sense to do so.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bibles, Bibles Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink


I've been cleaning out Mom's house this month. It has been a physically- and emotionally-exhausting activity. Many items were given to friends and family. Much was donated to various places. Much has found its way into the landfill, sadly. And much, much, even more sadly, has found its way to my home.

I must thank my husband for his unfailing support and time in all things connected to this job.


In my down time I have been going through Mom's private correspondence, cards and letters, files, pictures, keepsakes of all kinds. I have done quite a bit so far and there is more to do ahead of me. The interesting thing that I have brought home is a large collection of bibles. The b-i-b-el-e. Two copies are the boxed momento-type bibles from other relatives who have died, barely touched books in wooden boxes that Mom kept in a drawer. They smell weird...yeah, those bibles. One white leather-bound book is from a very beloved aunt who died several years ago. One black, serious-looking number is Mom's personal book.

It was in that book that, just about five or six weeks ago I was showing Mom the many passages that mention unicorns, in the undefiled and perfect word of the Lord. Mom was not amused.

Anyway, I find it interesting that I have become the holder of these books, not without a small amount of irony that I have become the benefactor of these items.

The other day my son John and I were looking at one of the books and marveling at the red ink that is purported to be the real words spoken by the Lord. John was almost in hysterics reading those words. Not to mention in awe at the amazing memory of the person who wrote it all down so accurately. But he was never moved. Never touched by anything as exciting as a noodly appendage. 

In fact, in summing up his reading of the red ink, he replied Hmmm, I'm sure that happened.


My Skeptical Lad


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Got a Teen?


I found this online this morning and I had to share!
Thank you to my friend Julianna for posting first.


This piece was written by Gretchen Schmelzer PhD; I hope she doesn't mind that I'm sharing it here. 

About the author: Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD is a licensed psychologist, trained as a Harvard Medical School Fellow. She is a trauma survivor, who has worked for twenty-five years with the complex issues of trauma, integration and behavior change across every level of system from individuals, to groups, to large systems and countries, including her role as the expert consultant Frontline for their documentary on Alaskan survivors of priest sexual abuse (aired April 19, 2011). Gretchen is the Founder & Editor of Emotional Geographic, a web-mag created to support healing from long term trauma. www.emotionalgeographic.com


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Birthdays


This past month is one of those times of the year when our family celebrates many birthdays of many loved ones. Most of the adults are a bit uncomfortable with celebration in their honor while most of the kids dig the moments of being treated as special and given gifts. 

I think human beings love ritual and celebration. Still I find it interesting that we celebrate the day we were born. When I had kids myself I felt the desire to celebrate becoming a mother to each kid, but that's not really the same thing as celebrating them. Although it did become a celebration of them.

What I'm wondering is why be continue those celebrations into adulthood. Why do we almost universally celebrate with cake. Where did the candles come from? Just...what the heck is this all about? I went and read about the history of birthday celebrations; that still doesn't explain why we do it.


My own birthday is coming up soon and people are already asking me what do you want to do on your birthday? What can I buy you?

The truth is, I don't want anything. I never want anything. 
I don't even like cake!

THIS is what I want
for my birthday.
I love the thought of the people who love me. I love the fact that the kids get enthusiastic about showing me their love. I love that they plan special things for me. I used to LOVE the homemade cards and gifts. But they won't do those things anymore. It is no longer about what I want, but what they want to do for me. If it was for me they would each get a piece of paper and write loving things, draw or make something for me, and simply spend the day with me. Time. Time is the ultimate expression of love.

Instead they wish to buy me stuff...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Radio Flyer: Stop Wagon My Heart Around


When the kids were very small my dad bought Elizabeth a Red Radio Flyer wagon. The wagon, the best toy ever. Can be used in a zillion different ways by every single kid. You're only limited by your imagination. Jer and I used to go for fairly long walks pulling that wagon with toddle Elizabeth all wrapped up in padding blankets and warm mittens.


Leave it to my kid.
I remember the day when the kids were quite young, John was maybe 4 and Liz was 7ish. Elizabeth was angry at me for something and had decided to run away. And John was going with her, blindly following her, as he used to do, letting her call the shots.

The two of them loaded up the wagon with their important things, including special stuffed animals, snacks, juice boxes, and coats in case it got cold at night on the road.

Someone else might have tried to talk the kids out of running away. Or followed them on a bike or something. Someone else might have fretted. But I was mightily entertained. They were on an adventure...down the block and around the corner pulling their red Flyer Town and Country model wagon. Laughing.

While preparing to run away together, Elizabeth's anger was gone and John was contributing to the project with his enthusiasm and good ideas. She and John were having conversations about what to take, what they were going to go on their trip, where to go. They were psyched. The kids were in this thing together; they were on an adventure.
They started off down the street as I sat on a seat on the front porch, watching. Of course they came back within a very few minutes. Once they turned the corner on that sparkling, sunny day and lost sight of the house they realized that they were on their own and the fun was reduced quite significantly.

They returned home and unpacked their Radio Flyer.
Today they talk about that adventure like it took hours.

Worth it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rediscovering the Love of Homeschool


In the past week or so I've (still) been looking through old boxes and cleaning off my shelves. Many of the boxes contain our homeschool files from 2005 to now. I kept work from all disciplines in nicely organized folders.
*pats self on the back.

It is obvious that I don't need to keep all of these papers, but I have to keep some of them!!!!! The adorable early efforts at sentence writing, paragraphs, essays, stories, artwork, etc. Drawings of self and family and home. Doodles, attitude, and boredom. Some of these papers I would walk through a burning house for because they are a chronicle of the development of my children's identities. It's remarkable to see from this vantage point.

While looking through each file folder and reading page after page of the kids' work and page after page of my own notes, I feel like I've rediscovered a few things that I want to pass along to you if you are still in the early throes of homeschooling.

For example:

Doing lessons with kids is so much fun if you let it be. You truly don't have to struggle and stress about every little thing. You are in the process of teaching your children how to think, NOT what to think. You are teaching them that they may sometimes disagree with you, that they may stand alone at times and there is value in that, that learning/knowing more is FUN and feels amazing, that popular opinions aren't always the only options available, and you are teaching them that they have the ability and the responsibility to learn more, always more. They don't need to memorize state capitols and presidential dates. Learn the facts, yes, but learn the facts within the context of learning and thinking humans.

And there is math and science and art and music in every single day.
And you are teaching them that they can trust in you, trust in logic and reason, and ultimately trust in themselves. I recognize that it was my interactions with my kids that they took away from each lesson, in addition to the content of the lesson.

Did I leave them with:
You can do this, Momma, Dadda. You have the love, willingness, and heart that it takes to see your child as a unique individual with unique skills and challenges. Noone else can do this as well as you can with your child. Have patience with them. Have patience with yourself.

Tomorrow is another day.

Your thoughts on this?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Our Estate


So with Mom's very fast death, I've had alot on my mind. She was so ill and unable to breathe at the end there that her final breath was a real relief for her. It was painful to watch her trying to breath.

With my very pragmatic siblings making the decisions, Mom's house went on the market a few days later. And sold.


Suffice it to say, it has been alot to process in a very short amount of time; our heads are spinning.


In the meantime, as we are all being called on to figure out what to do with Mom's things, I started thinking about the things that Jerry and I own.  
Our estate. We truly have alot of shit. Closets, garage, basement, spare rooms, storage rooms... The thought of our kids going through our boxes of shit, looking at each other with quizzical looks, sniggering, pointing to the trash container, and rightfully pitching our shit has been keeping me up at night. I immediately got busy.


I've already emptied four boxes of papers into recycling.

In going through the many, many folders of homeschooling work from my kids, I've got a few reflections on the kids, their work, homeschooling...the works.

First, and I've been telling my kids this all week, the kids were amazing students! Their work was average, above average, exemplary. I was, again and again, amazed at their ability to do the work in their clever, determined, inimitable ways. Their individuality almost always shined through every page they were asked to write. I will probably never throw away the writings I asked them to do; I love the minds of my kids.

Second, I was a decent homeschooling mom. I devised clever ways to get my son to put pencil to paper. I created pretty cool unit studies that both engaged and informed the kids. When I look back at my work, of which there was ALOT, I'm impressed with myself. It's very clear that I gave their lessons a great deal of thought and generally had a method to my madness.


Third, I am convinced that the kids had a very good, comprehensive, and unique education and that they are both well and prepared for college and for life. 

Fourth, I loved homeschool and the kids have both told me again and again that they were very pleased with their education and with the homeschooling lifestyle. We wouldn't change a thing.

...and that's all quite a gift from one little estate.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

8 Guidelines to Being Bad Ass


Everybody's got goals.
One of mine is to be Bad Ass.
I spent dang near fifty years wanting to be a Good Girl and I've found that pursuit to be completely disappointing and dull and not even the slightest bit rewarding. I've decided to change my entire approach to life and to become Bad Ass!

It's going to be a journey because I still have Good Girl baggage to shed. I still want people to like me. I still want to be considered Nice. I'm not good at voicing dissenting opinions. I can't post things on Facebook that are unpopular or that some might consider bitchy. I definitely can't spout uninformed opinions without doing the research. And I know some people who have very very inaccurate images of me because they have gotten their information from other people and I can not and will not address their misconceptions.

I'm 53 Years Old!!!!!!! I can do this. I can break these milquetoast habi... erm, personality traits and I can take the risks and state my opinions loudly and proudly. I can be unabashedly myself without regard for how certain people will view me...because they misunderstand me no matter what I do anyway, right? Also, because the myself I am presenting to the world is pretty worthy.

Now that I'm on a roll...what IS Bad Ass? Well, I did a little bit of research:

The Urban Dictionary defines a badass as someone who does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants. You won't find him on Facebook because he is probably out being cool somewhere. He might be on a motorcycle, but it's probably not a Harley or a crotch rocket because he won't spend that much money to be accepted. He feels no obligation whatsoever to justify his beliefs, values, convictions, morals, etc., with anyone. He likes his music because it sounds cool to him. You won't find him if you look for him because there is no sure way to identify him. One does not think that he is badass; he KNOWS it, and that's that. Alternatively, a badass is the complete opposite of a douchebag.

I honestly think the Urban dictionary thinks that only male paramilitary douchebags can be bad ass...furthermore I don't think that the person who wrote that definition is bad ass. So I will read some other words on the interweb because, obvs the Urban Dictionary has alot to learn about who and what is bad ass. At some website called Nooga.com I found an article called Eight Traits that make you a Bad Ass. That sounded promising. In brief the suggestions are:


  • They say yes first, then figure out how to deliver
  • They think differently than everyone else
  • They speak up
  • They have a replicable skill that others can learn
  • They live by their own code
  • They have the audacity to do things that others only wish they could do
  • They never, ever, ever give up
  • They don’t listen to the haters

OK, I like that, but something is rubbing me wrong there. I don't think I have it in me to not listen to haters and dissenters. There can be wisdom there at times, at least there can be opportunities for learning...I think. I'll read some more.

Oh GEEEZ...some more ridiculous advise is given to young searchers on a website called LovePanky.com: Your Guide to Better Love and Relationships. Apparently a bad ass requires a person to have a wicked stare, to speak in six word sentences, and to never blink. Or smile. Or show emotion. Good grief, who writes this schlock? And who is the poor young person seeking guidance from these sources? Surely the same people who used to read the ragmag Cosmo when I was younger.  Slowly raises hand with a blush.

Without giving Wiki a single whiff of mojo, an article there called How to be a Bad Ass seems to think that Clint Eastwood and being cocky is the same thing as being a bad ass... CLEARLY my quest is not going to be complete by reading bullshit expected to be consumed by skinny boys in high school who are already bad asses by being themselves but who think that muscles and assholery is bad ass because stupid social media misinforms... UUUGH, those young boys will have tons of mind mush to wade through to get to themselves. How discouraging. This online search is not helpful at all.

And for the love of all things holy, don't read this bullshit.


Looks like, a usual, I will have to figure it out for myself. So what do I mean when I say I want to be a Bad Ass? Because this has been something I've wanted for decades now; seems I would have figured it out by now. I see certain people and I think Man, I want to be like that! They speak their mind and take no names! (Hello Rayven) Or I think She is so smart and cool; I want to be like her! (Hello Mary and Megan) Or I notice my own reticence to say certain things in a public forum and I wonder why I am so wishy-washy...but I also know that words have power and there is consequence to their use...and I care about those things.

Actually, I guess I have figured it out because there are a few qualities that are essential in badassery, in my opinion, qualities that have absolutely nothing to do with black leather, cigarettes hanging out of your mouth, steady stares, preferring scotch over fooffy drinks, or having muscles on muscles. There is no short cut and there are no accessories necessary. Fooffy drinks are delicious. And every skinny person, heavy person, lonely person in the High School of Life can be a fricking Bad Ass according to my Eight rules of Bad Assery. Just remember, when I say rules I mean suggestions. Do your own thing. Because FUCK rules.

  • Embrace your Interests with a Passion.
    Is it the Civil War reenactment? Writing historical fiction? Anime'? Archery? Etymology? Cosplay? Weight lifting? Debate? Chess? Softball? Get into it and enjoy it with gusto. Not everyone can do that and many people don't have the intellect that it takes to enjoy it. So YOU enjoy that, be enlarged by it. Embrace your very own interests.
  • Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.
    The truth is, people tend to judge and short-cut-think and hide in groups. Having the courage to stand alone, to be misunderstood, to quietly have integrity is SO freaking bad ass. And so is pushing your own envelope. Trying things that are difficult, speaking up with a quivering voice, approaching someone with an introduction and risking rejection...that, My Friend, is bad ass.
  • Fall Five Times, Get up Six.
    Resiliency can be one of the most difficult qualities to develop because you are only called on to be resilient when there is failure, depression, loneliness, discouragement, humiliation, public stuff, and fatigue. And no one else is there to see it, the reboot. No one but you. Being able to get back up and begin again in a very internal and personal decision...and is so so bad ass.
  • Remember that Social Media is Full of Shit.
    Don't be taken in by the artificiality of social media images and claims. No one looks like that. Everyone chooses what they show in public. Everyone has doubts. No one shows their B game. Being human is the same for all of us; some people just have a better ability to flaunt and exhibit their sleight-of-hand image. Everyone. And good looks are both fleeting and insubstantial. Internal beauty always always always means more.
  • Be Your Own Best Friend.
    That's right, talk kindly about yourself. See your own efforts. Recognize your good intentions. Build yourself up instead of focusing on the stuff that didn't work. We all, all of us, have failures and growth areas. We can acknowledge those growth areas and encourage ourselves to be better tomorrow than we are today...that is the way to bad assery. Not perfection. But self improvement.  Self empowerment. I'm not kidding about this. When you build yourself up, when you put your own breathing mask on first, you are able to do for others...
  • Avoid the Kardashians.
    Whoever the hell they are. Unless you like them. Real substance, real information, real education, real knowledge. That is the stuff of the real bad asses. The person walking on the moon didn't get there by learning about who the super stars are dating. They got there by personal growth and integrity, by learning about the sciences, and by looking up. And by being resilient. Because even astronauts puke...only they do it in the presence of other astronauts.
  • Say NO to that which does not Feed you.
    People and activities that drain you emotionally, financially, spiritually, or any other way are generally options in our lives.  Choose what brings you growth, love, goodness. Because being a bad ass means not letting people kick you when you are down. And learning to say No is a real ass kicking thing. Some people never learn it...but you can.
  • No One is Fearless.
    Feel the fear. It often informs us somehow. Then step up to the plate and do it anyway because facing it is Bad Ass AF.

I'm sure there are more, but this is a great start.
And, as it happens, when I use this guide to being a Bad Ass, I see that I am already a bit of a Bad Ass...and getting badder every day.


 
http://carinloathin.blogspot.com/2016/12/8-guidelines-to-being-bad-ass.html

Are you IN?
Will you be a Bad Ass too?