Category Archives: this grrrl’s life

A new hope

(and for those of you who recognize the geek reference in the title, you win)

Earlier this week I ended up in a long online discussion with an extended family member about religion. Now if you know me at all, you know that I don’t stray away from tricky topics.

At one point, this person said:

You will never find true peace, confidence and joy until you see who God really is. It’s a matter of your eyes being opened….right now they are seeing what you want them to see. I will never quit praying for you.

Now while I know that this was said with (mostly) good intentions, it’s still a sentiment that I really push back against.  I push back not because it’s something I’ve never heard before (I’ve heard it countless times) — and it’s not like I’m an extra-fragile person who can’t handle being patronized to.  I push back against statements like these because I think people need to recognize when they’ve crossed a relational line.

I wonder if any nonbeliever would feel confident enough to say such a thing to someone who believes in God: “You will never find true peace, confidence, and joy until you stop believing in a magic man in the sky.”  While I know there’s always some assholes out there, I doubt you would find many atheists willing to make such a pronouncement — and yet, for many Christians, this sentiment is easily said aloud (or thought to themselves).

While my conversation with this family member ended up with me feeling frustrated and the family member entrenching herself deeper in her belief system, a happy coincidence brought up an old email I wrote to a friend, 4 years ago. I would have posted it in my online conversation, but it was definitely time to walk away.

Here’s what I wrote:

The question you ask [Where do atheists find hope?] is such an important one! If there’s one misunderstanding between believers and nonbelievers, it’s found here. A couple years ago at the funeral of Jerry’s grandma, I can remember how bad I felt when his minster brother made the statement that “those without God have no real hope.” I don’t think that statement is true, at all.

1613902_10154081761120134_7782833434266106439_nI guess the best place to start would be to define what you mean by “hope.” So much of my past Christian hope revolved around an all-knowing, all-loving God who was actively involved in my life — or at least, so I thought. I also had hope in an afterlife, which is hope for the process of death. Now that I’ve rejected my faith, and am agnostic as to whether or not there is a God, my hope has changed to more of what *this current world* has to offer, rather than invisible hopes.

So I have hope all around me. I see the world changing, in terms of new opportunities for my little girl, and that gives me hope. There are moments when someone unexpected gives me help or says to me words of support, and I have hope there. I get hopeful when I think of how science is advancing, of the technology that makes our world better, of how borders are getting smaller and the world isn’t as segmented as it once was.

What’s different now for me as an atheist, versus when I was a Christian, is that I have to look around me for hope. It requires more of an effort, and not just wishful thinking on my part. And, there are days that can be dark and sad — but another part of having hope in this current world is that I know these bad days pass, and they aren’t due to something I’ve done wrong (necessarily).

 

So much hope to be had! And without any dogma baggage.

6 month hiatus

That’s the longest I’ve gone between updates. Hmmm.

Let me ‘splain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up: I’ve been busy.

10348225_10154070056030134_606639514420389183_nI’ve started my second graduate degree — a MEd in educational technology and design. To ease me into my return to studies, I’m taking a 6 credit course (usually spread over 8 months) and am doing it in 6 weeks. I AM CRAZY.

Thankfully, the prof for my summer course is one of my very favourite people in the whole world, so that’s helping me get over the PTSD of my last graduate school experience (thanks, narcissistic supervisor who scarred me for life).

More busyness of life:

  • Year 4 of community gardening is at hand! I’m currently the registrar of the Varsity View Bishop Murray Community Garden, and we also have a space at a local CHEP garden in town. New items this year: strawberries, kale, purple potatoes, and a new kind of squash.
  • Emma is finishing grade 1, and will be starting at a new Montessori school in the fall.  This new school looks to provide her with more opportunities than where she has been at — and as an added bonus, it goes all the way up to grade 8.
  • Later this summer we’ve got a 2 week holiday in Virginia and Tennessee — I’m looking forward to introducing my Mennonite boy to the heat and humidity of the South.
  • 10302168_10154054663720134_650421499259010348_nI’m still running around. I did the SK Marathon 10k in May, and I’m looking to fit in a couple more this summer. Goal: with each race, I hope to feel a little less awful by the end of it.
  • Jerry has started the process of getting his BSN degree. This means all three of us will be at school AT THE SAME TIME. Cray cray.
  • Speaking of the cray, work has been there over the last few weeks. First the firing of a prof with tenure, then the resignation of the provost and firing of the Usask prez.  Hopefully things have calmed down now, but I’m not looking forward to running into the fired prez in the hallways as my College colleague.

If you’re a longtime reader of the blog and want to have updates that are fresher than 6 months old, you can always check out my Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook accounts. I tend to post there lots more frequently than dusting off this blog of mine. (though between you and me, I’d like to get into a regular blogging habit again)

1st day of Xmas holidays!

photo(8)And only 2 days until the big day – which means I’ll be frantically wrapping Emma’s presents tonight and tomorrow night, but that’s how it usually goes.

December was a busy month, but then again, most months these days seem to be busy ones. Between final exams, Christmas parties, Emma’s winter singalong concert (featuring an absurdist version of the play Peter and the Wolf), work, and the occasional sleep — December is feeling a bit of a blur.

I’m struggling this holiday season to keep the cheer. I’ve had moments of it, but then there’s a hit of reality that too often follows, and I’m back to feeling Grinch-y and unappreciated.  It’s difficult to even vocalize this struggle, because I know it sounds whiny and ungrateful of all the good things I DO have in my life (and I know that #firstworldproblems applies to much of what I’m dealing with here).

But still, I’m not as content as I’d like to be this holiday season, and I wish there was something more I could do about it, other than beat myself up for it.

Ah well. I have a little girl who is SO EXCITED for the big day that she’s already talking about waking us up at the crack of dawn to open presents that Santa (!!) will bring. Maybe I’ll work harder to look at this time of the year more through her eyes, rather than the tired and resentful eyes of her 36 year old mama.

EDIT: Turns out today is Festivus, so maybe my “airing of grievances” is excusable, if only for today.

Emma and BFF Daphne, meeting Santa

Emma and BFF Daphne, meeting Santa

Our "family portrait"

Our “family portrait”

Mama's new ornament

Mama’s new ornament

A little something for me to remember

Every now and then I come across some wisdom, and I hope I can remember it when the time comes. Today’s two bits of wisdom comes to you from a friend’s Facebook feed and a mailing list I’m a part of.

From a friend’s FB page: “Dr. Carmella’s Guide to Understanding the Introverted.”  Now that I’m fully embracing the “I” in my INFP personality, I’m understanding myself a lot more. The best part of this infographic/illustration is the statement of how introverts gain their energy — rather than becoming energized from people interaction, introverts need time to recharge (mainly because we find interactions to be draining).

YES.

I also love the bit that says “interaction is just expensive and they don’t want to spend it on something annoying (read: wasteful).”

YES AGAIN.

I’m starting to give myself more permission to say no to relationships and activities that I find to be annoying and/or wasteful. Maybe it’s because I’m finding myself more and more drained? I chose a career path that forces me to be out there with people for most of the time, so when I’m home (or on the weekends), my battery levels are dangerously low. I guess I don’t want to bother myself with people who aren’t edifying and are difficult to be with.

The other item I want to remember is from last week’s “happiness tip” from Dr. Christine Carter: Quit Something. I think this tip goes pretty much hand in hand with my earlier “avoid annoying, draining people” realization — I’m trying to get better about only being involved with activities that I love and find important. If I don’t have that driving passion or investment, I’m giving myself permission to quit.

Granted, there still tends to be a lot of activities I find worthwhile and want to be a part of — but I am trying to be more selective about where and what I do with my time.

So – quit annoying people and quit annoying activities. Check.

(sounds easy to type, but I’m sure my people-pleasing tendencies will betray me more often than not)

juːθ

That’s the pronunciation for youth, in case you’re wondering.

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oh the good ol’ days

One of the best experiences I had growing up was being a part of my church’s youth group.  I honestly don’t think I would be who I am today if it weren’t for all the time spent with friends and leaders — going camping, hanging out, traveling, being silly, being serious — all of it. My youth minister and his wife still hold a place in my heart that no one will ever take the place of. I’m still friends with many people I grew up with in youth group.

And despite some of the theological baggage I’ve had to work my way through, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything — and this is coming from someone who pretty much rejects all of the religion I came out of.

Which brings me to where I am today. I’m back in a youth group! Except this time I’m not a member of it, I’m one of the advisors for it. One of the main ways I’m involved with the local Unitarian group in town is through my volunteering with the youth group. And, I LOVE IT.

It’s different than what youth group was like for me, in a traditional evangelical sense. UU youth are more autonomous, and the adults are there in an advisor capacity, not so much in a “leader”- sense. It’s the youth’s group, which means many of the decisions for activities and topics are directed by what they want to do.

At the end of this month I’ll be one of the facilitators for the OWL (our whole lives) weekend — OWL is the sexuality education program for UUs. This last August I went down to Boston to get trained to be able to deliver the program. The OWL curriculum is great, and I’m already looking forward to spending more time with everyone. (and part of me wishes I could gone through such a program in my formative years)

I’ve only been involved with these teens for a couple months now, and I can already say I’ve had my heart both inspired and broken. I’m inspired by how kind these kids are to each other, and how funny and insightful they can be (often simultaneously).  But I’ve also been heartbroken by seeing some of the difficulties and injustices they have to face — and I wish I could do more to make it easier for them, other than being there and listening.

My heart is full.

 

Progress!

So I could have wasted mucho energy tonight arguing over the internets. Instead, I smiled and just hit the “block” button and walked away.

Progress, people!

I’d much rather spend my 2nd night of my long weekend rewatching the Doctor than butting heads with someone with a hate-on.

‘night :)

Cold confessions

We’ve had snow on the ground for a week, so I guess it’s time to admit the inevitable: Winter is Here.

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One of the favourite pastimes of Canadians is complaining about the cold – so for your reading pleasure, here are some winter realizations that are (and sometimes aren’t) spoken aloud during this time of the year:

  • This time of the year begins the shuffle-walk of pedestrians (read: walk/glide over icy patches of sidewalk). As this is my 12th winter up here, I think I may have finally perfected it.
  • Driving now sucks more than usual on SK roads.
  •  Despite the -20 windchills, you will still see people eating ice cream in DQ. Yeah I don’t get it either, but now I want a Blizzard.
  • Even now, I find that there is something beautiful to waking up and stomping around outside in a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow
  • …until you go to brush off your car and inevitably get snow inside your boot. Wet socks ≠ fun.

I remembered I wrote a similar list from years ago — here are some gems that still ring true, almost 10 (!) years later:

  • Having any liquid present in your nose instantly freeze, making it feel crunchy
  • Taking off 2 layers of clothes and still being fully dressed
  • Knowing the meaning of “dry cold
  • When you get an “ice cream headache” — just from going outside!
  • Waiting at a crosswalk and seeing a car skid, 20 feet away, in order to stop right in front of you
  • Having to start your car 20 minutes before you go anywhere

And of course, there’s this:

  • Sheer bragging rights for surviving it
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Nothing tastier than the first snow of the year.