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 that 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 while we enjoy sincere friendships and relationships with people of many differing belief systems...but I'm doing a disservice to my kids?!  LOL

See. It's a total double standard and yet another sign of Christian privilege in this country. The 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.  

Ha ha ha ha ha 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...anything? 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.

According to blog stats, 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 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 blogger who 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. I just know that my blog is a small one.

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.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


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 we 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?