on worry

Happy Father’s Day! I’m lucky to have had a great dad. I’m also even more fortunate to be married to a man who’s the best dad to my little girl.

Here’s a letter F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his little girl —  it includes advice relevant for us all:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about…

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

So I’m giving a ‘sermon’ next week …

‘cept I’m not calling it a a sermon.

this is the stepping stone project I made for our VVBM community garden art project

I’ve been asked to lead a talk at the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon next Sunday.  I’m recasting the talk I gave in Regina in February, “Growing up Godless: Strategies for the 21st Century Family.”  This time around I’m hoping to make the service a little less-traditional, working in some music and group activities. Jerry has agreed to sing “The Circle Game” during the service, and I’m hoping to get people talking about ways to *make meaning* in their families through ceremony and ritual.

One part of the service I struggled with was finding hymns to accompany what I wanted to talk about and do. Thankfully there’s quite a range of songs to pick from, and I came across the song “Everything Possible” by Fred Small.  I judged the song primarily by its lyrics, and even now I have a hard time reading them aloud without getting a bit choked up.  Here they are:

Everything Possible

We have cleared off the table, the leftovers saved,
Washed the dishes and put them away
I have told you a story and tucked you in tight
At the end of your knockabout day
As the moon sets its sails to carry you to sleep
Over the midnight sea
I will sing you a song no one sang to me
May it keep you good company.

You can be anybody you want to be,
You can love whomever you will
You can travel any country where your heart leads
And know I will love you still
You can live by yourself, you can gather friends around,
You can choose one special one
And the only measure of your words and your deeds
Will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.

There are girls who grow up strong and bold
There are boys quiet and kind
Some race on ahead, some follow behind
Some go in their own way and time
Some women love women, some men love men
Some raise children, some never do
You can dream all the day never reaching the end
Of everything possible for you.

Don’t be rattled by names, by taunts, by games
But seek out spirits true
If you give your friends the best part of yourself
They will give the same back to you.



I love it. And I love that my little girl will hear these words from her mama, her whole life.

Here’s what the song sounds like (it’s worth the 99 cents on iTunes!)– on Sunday two of my friends are going to sing it for us.  If you’re around on Sunday, come check it out!

Hi there.

If you’re visiting here after listening to this week’s Unbelievable? broadcast, welcome across the pond!

This weekend I’m off camping with a bunch of families with the Saskatoon Secular Family Network, so I won’t be around until late Sunday night.  Feel free to check out the entries I’ve had about my interview experience, and leave some feedback.  If you don’t see your comment posted right away, it’s probably because I’m off in the woods, and haven’t gotten your comment out of moderation.

I’m not the praying type, but if I were, I’d be praying for no rain this weekend!  ttfn


realization: size doesn’t matter

[oh I can only imagine the spammy comments that title will generate]

Tonight I met with a reading group for the Saskatoon Secular Family Network that I help facilitate.  There were only 6 of us (2 of them being under 4), but we had a great time of connecting and sharing ideas/miseries associated with being parents.  Times like these really charge me up, and confirm for me the passions I have for building smaller communities in the larger atheist/freethinking/skeptic movement.

Right now I facilitate 3 groups/sub-communities in Saskatoon:

It’s funny how each of these groups reflect a passion of mine: family, (rejected) faith, and feminism!

When I first started up the SSFN, the first meeting we had had a turnout of over 20 people!  I remember being stunned at how seemingly-popular this group already was, after only its FIRST meeting.  But as cool its first turnout was, though, I really think that it derailed me in my “mission” (for lack of a better term) in establishing these smaller communities in the larger movement.

After such a high turnout, I spent the next several months feeling bad that each consecutive meeting would have lower numbers — I started questioning myself, as if the reason people were staying away was because of something I had said/did in leading these meetings.  Looking back on those first few formative months of the SSFN, I can still feel the frustration and uncertainty.

Thankfully I smartened up, and realized that my perspective was ALL WRONG.  It wasn’t about hosting “big events,” with monthly themed talks and the like.  The *point* of a secular parenting group is to find support among other parents and family members who are choosing similar parenting approaches.

Since that ah-ha moment, it’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I’m just as happy with a turnout of 5 as I am with one of 50 (though it does help to know ahead of time the 50ish turnouts!).  I recognize that there are amazing connections to be made in the smaller meetings that could never happen in a larger crowd.

And while there are still big, fun events to throw (insert Darwin Day and Camp Hoodoo), I’m just as happy sitting around a table of 4, drinking coffee, and talking about a parenting book with others.

I’m where I need to be.

December Secular Parenting meeting

Oh the dilemmas of being a nonbeliever in December! What do you do if you are a faithless family in the middle of a month full of religious holidays? This last Tuesday the Saskatoon Secular Family Network got together to celebrate the whole month of December, and learn all about the different ways human beings commemorate the darkest month of the year.

When I was planning the activities for this month’s meeting, a part of me struggled in determining the balance between educating the kids about the religious rituals/meanings found in the various holidays versus inadvertently condoning the religious ideology implicit in the activity.  For example, I asked myself: if I set out a bunch of nativity sets for the kids to play with, am I reinforcing the idea that there really was a virgin birth?

I think I may have been overthinking things a bit — especially considering most of our kids were more interested in spinning the dreidel than debating the pros and cons of the Torah.  But I’m glad that I have these inner struggles when it comes to raising my little freethinker.  I want to raise my little girl with an awareness of how human beings have used faith and dogma in an attempt to answer life’s hard questions — but I also want her to have the critical thinking skills to recognize where these faith systems have failed in their answers and have hurt others.  Teaching her about religion isn’t the same as indoctrinating her into a belief system.

But, back to our holiday party!  For activities, I set up different centers for the kids to check out and learn about the three main holidays of December: Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and Christmas.

For Kwanzaa, we read the book It’s Kwanzaa Time! and colored pictures that showed the Kinara (the candle holder used in the Kwanzaa celebrations). Here are a few links I found that may help your parenting group, if you’d like to talk about Kwanzaa this month:

To learn more about Chanukah, we played with dreidels.  The median age of the kids for our party were fairly young (preschoolers), so we didn’t get into an in-depth discussion about the history of the game.  Mostly the kids just spun the tops for fun — but if you have older kids in your group, I could see this game getting quite animated!   I also found the history behind the game quite fascinating Chanukah links:

To commemorate Christmas, our group had a “cookie potluck”, where each family brought their favorite Christmas treat to share with others. We also did a Christmas ornament craft, and there were plenty of nativity sets for them to play with.

Christmas links:

This year our December celebration didn’t cover the Winter Solstice, but it’s on the radar for next year.  In case you’d like to forgo learning about the religious rituals of December, here are some links for the Winter Solstice (December 21):

And just for fun, here are some other special days you can commemorate this month, if you aren’t a fan of the above:

  • Festivus, a holiday for the rest of us! (December 23)
  • Newton’s Birthday — Crispness (December 25)
  • and Dale wrote about Krismas here (December 25)

Happy however you celebrate this month!