Nourishing the Whole Self

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to nourish myself. I’ve been finding myself exhausted after work and getting into cycles of boredom, depression, and apathy. But I want to be awake to live my life outside of work. There is a whole lot to appreciate and not a whole lot of a time to live. I don’t believe in god, a supernatural, a collective human soul….or anything like that, but I’m still a person with emotions and mental health to take care of. It’s like I hit some type of disconnect with my atheism.  I forgot that even though I’m not partaking in nourishment through religion, I still need to take care of my whole self.  When I was a Christian, I believed I had to work to improve my relationship with god. I would pray more, read my bible, go to bible studies, go to church and all that stuff.  It never satisfied me, because none of that was real. But I was spending time thinking, reflecting, and even laughing. Now I’m trying to take some of those aspects and aggressively make them apart of my life. 

One key element I’ve found to nourishing myself is staying mentally active. Sometimes it’s so easy for me to just park on the couch after work and watch a Castle marathon for several days in a row, but the easy way is not always the best way. It’s been surprising what I’ve found when by tuning into my mental activity levels. I find that even if I’m exhausted, it helps me feel relaxed. It helps me channel my stress, let go of worries that don’t serve me, and connect better with those I’m close to. I’ve also realized it doesn’t have to be a daunting task to keep me mentally active. Reading comic books, having a good conversation, and playing certain video games are all good for keeping my mind moving. I’ve also realized pretty much everything I had on my iPhone (games, apps, Facebook) were poison for me and added nothing of value to my life (except Google maps, I’m always lost). 

I’m also trying to take care of my body. Getting sleep, eating right, drinking lots of water, and exercising regularly are all helping me nourish myself. I am a very moderate person. I don’t diet, I don’t restrict myself foods, and I don’t stick to a strict gym routine. I try to go to the park a few times a week, eat my fruits and veggies, but I still like to enjoy a doughnut now and again 🙂

As far as nourishing the spirit goes, I’m just trying to take some deep breaths, be kind to myself, and let go of stressing about things I don’t need to. I’m leaving work at work, and taking time to enjoy me and those I love.

m.c.

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Happy Fourth Of July!

American or not, I hope everyone has a very wonderful day this fourth of July! Summer is flying by here!!! I’m so thankful to have a full time job that I enjoy. It is so comforting to know that in less than a year when I am graduating college and getting married, (whaat?!?!!) I’ll have a well paying job. It’s not my forever job, but it is a great situation to be in. (Assuming nothing drastic happens…considering I work at a highly controversial organization).   

Just a quick post to say hi 🙂 My day off so far has consisted of buffalo wild wings, my first shower beer, and animal crossing on our new 3DS. Pretty successful, I’d say. 

stay adorable. Also, I’m having a lemon craving, so everyone should eat something lemon today for me. Unless you don’t like lemons, I don’t want anyone to be unhappy. 

🙂 M.C. 

Death

I usually manage to fall asleep at 3 am,  preceded by an hour or so of mind wanderings. The mind wanderings tend to be thoughts that I’ve thought 100 times before.  Occasionally though, I come across a raw, untouched thought that hasn’t been combed over, thought over, talked about, or processed. The other night, it was death.   Truthfully, I haven’t given death itself much thought. I didn’t either as a Christian. As a person, I have always avoided the thought of death.

I have been to exactly 3 funerals. The first was my grandmothers when I was 5. I didn’t understand why I didn’t have one of those “fun” bags with coloring books and snacks I got in church.  The second funeral I went to was for my late guinea pig Fluffy. The third was the funeral of my moms best friend Maureen, who I had only met a handful of times. She was a single woman, the same age as my mom, who had adopted a daughter from China.  Her adopted daughter was probably 12 years old when her mom died. And at the funeral I sobbed. I mean, I totally lost it. And I do not like to cry in front of other people, especially my family. I did not understand why everyone else at the funeral managed to keep it together. And an open casket?!?! I wanted to throw up.  I was surprised by my strong reaction to the death of someone I hardly knew, so I just tried to block everything from the funeral out.

About a year later, a close friend asked if I was afraid of death to which I answered with an unhesitating “No”. She was shocked by that. She wanted to know how I couldn’t be afraid of death. I said because I knew I was going to heaven, and once I got to heaven I wouldn’t miss anything on earth and everything would be amazing.  But my friend wasn’t asking about life after death. She was talking about dying itself. The process in which the human body stops living and breathing. And after I thought about it some more, I realized, shit, dying is scary.  Then I did my best to not think about it again.

As I lay in bed at 3 am, I realized that I have to accept that I am going to die. That it might hurt. That it might be sad. That (hopefully) other people will be sad and miss me. One day I will cease  to exist and so will all of my family and all of my friends and all of the people I don’t like.  There will be a time in my life when I have to go without someone that is very close to me everyday.

Overall, the whole idea of death is much more peaceful as an atheist than as a Christian.  Heaven and hell cause so much grief in families and relationships. You’re told life in heaven will be better than you could ever imagine, and you won’t miss your friends or parents or even your spouse. You don’t get to be married in heaven. You don’t get to have you dog in heaven. Everything you know to be wonderful and happy in your life is diminished by saying that really, in comparison, it’s nothing. What’s even the point? As an atheist, I don’t worry about what will happen to me when I die. That’s peace. Peace isn’t knowing that I’ll be floating around not missing everything that I have that is wonderful while at the same time someone I know and possibly love is eternally suffering for not pleasing a jealous god.

I am content with the life I have. I seek to fill it with as much happiness and love as I can, and then one day I’ll die.  The End.

M.C.

Advice to a Younger Me

As a disclaimer, as I write this blog post to myself about some wisdom I’ve gained over the years, I have a stomach full of macaroni and cheese I asked my parents to mail. So I’ve grown up some, but not enough to abandon the disgustingly artificial delight of mac and cheese. That just seemed like a relevant fact. But I write on.

Someone recently asked me, if I could give a piece of advice to my 15 or 16 year old self, what would it be?

Now, there were not nearly enough rules assigned to this hypothetical. I am going to assume my 15 year old self finds her 20 year old self giving her advice to be perfectly normal. I wasn’t sure how much time I had either. If it’s like, a drop a line in her sub-conscious type thing, the one liner is:

 Don’t believe everything people tell you, even if they seem really smart, convincing, and convicted.  

Now, if I get to ya know, take her out to a nice dinner and have a good conversation, I would say something  more along the lines of this:

Don’t believe that your faith makes you any more moral than someone without faith or with faith in another god.  Don’t think that it makes you better and don’t think that it makes you happier. Just because it seems like all the good people you know are good god loving Christians, don’t assume there aren’t plenty of amazing non-Christians out there. Take time to really really put yourself in the shoes of other people and other perspectives.  When you are searching and searching for the right answer, instead of trying to forget about it, settle, push it away, or tell yourself that having unanswered questions is part of your relationship with god, just try to think of life from the atheists perspective. Not from the biased perspective your church and friends and media are telling you about atheists, but as objectively as you can. And even if it’s uncomfortable keep trying. You are not better than anyone because of your faith. And I know you know that, but take a second look at your actions and beliefs. Just because someone says what you’re doing is selfless and good doesn’t mean it is.  Be more objective, seek more answers outside of Christianity, and always wear your seat-belt.

What would you say to a younger you?

stay adorable,

M.C. 

visit me on twitter 🙂

Religion and Walls, Actual Walls: My Visit to Belfast

Hi Everyone,

I went to Belfast, Northern Ireland over the weekend.  I won’t pretend to be an expert on Irish history or politics in this post, I promise. (Listening to Irish peoples sometimes overbearing take on American politics has been quite exhausting, so I do not want to do the same.) But, in case you aren’t familiar with the topic, the north of Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, using British money.  The Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union, and uses Euros.  The Republic of Ireland is mainly a catholic country, whereas Northern Ireland is Protestant.

The Irish Republican Army, or the IRA is/was a Catholic affiliated group that promoted (with terrorism…) that Ireland be united as one country, not divided between the north and the south.  The Protestants up north however, wanted to remain a part of the UK, who they identified religiously and historically with.  And from what I understand of the “troubles” in the 1960’s and 70’s there was a shit ton of bombings, murders, terrorist attacks, and arson out of anger between the protestants and the Catholics.

My program director, who showed us around the city is from Belfast, and was also raised catholic.  He told us stories about his brothers involvement in the IRA, the police arresting him and asking him to be the spy, and other horror stories about growing up in such a turbulent time and place. He told us that the city is peaceful now, but I can rarely remember feeling so anxious and nervous as I was in West Belfast. I felt less creeped out in Juarez, Mexico.

I would not define Belfast as a peaceful city. There is a HUGE wall dividing the catholic and protestant neighborhoods. And there is NO movement for it to be taken down. In fact, the last addition to the wall was 8 MONTHS ago. The schools are completely segregated. The hospitals are completely segregated. Catholic pubs are totally gated off with cameras outside, so you can’t get in unless you are recognized. The old “joke” goes is that they would check you for a gun at the door, and if you didn’t have one they would lend you one.

Wall Separating Catholic Belfast and Protestant Belfast

I wasn’t expecting to see a wall like this. I mean, I remember my parents telling me about the Berlin wall and growing up hearing about that. I know that there is a lot of segregation in the world, but I wasn’t expecting to see such stark division here. I have been  living in Ireland for about a month now and overall it is pretty comparable to the US.   It was just so sad and depressing to hear about the violence and segregation caused by religion.  I hate violence. I find it detestable.  I don’t subscribe to a world view that everyone in the world should get along and be friends, or that we will ever be without conflict. But I don’t find believing in a slightly different religion to be a good enough reason to bomb and kill each other.

Most bombed hotel in Europe–the Europa in Belfast

On the walls separating the city was some graffiti that said “a good argument for atheism”, and I could not agree more. It’s so ironic that these walls are sometimes referred to as “Peace walls”.  Peace is not closing gates to the catholic area between 10pm and 7am.  Peace is not terrorism. Peace is not celebrating “heros” of the IRA or the Volunteers who murdered innocent people.  Religion ruins everything.  I would recommend the film Shadow Dancer–it is an Irish political thriller focusing on the IRA and the Troubles. I would also recommend reading God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. He talks a bit about the political atmosphere in Belfast in the book.

A good argument for atheism

On a side note, the most frustrating part of the trip was when some fellow students h started taking funny pictures next to the walls. I was nearly moved to tears, realizing that I was on a street that was once burned down because of religious conflict and here these girls stood–making fun of Asians eyes in front of a modern day tragedy.  I have some dignity, and some hope that I can be even a very small part of a world that moves towards peace and rationality.

be kind,

M.C.

Failure to Communicate

Do any of you have that one thing that you always struggle with? And you think about it and you try to practice, but it just always seems to elude you. Yet you see other people doing it so flawlessly. They try to help you, instruct you, and give you so much help, yet when it comes time to execute, you find yourself flat on your face again?

For me, it is communicating by talking.  I have a lot of ideas in my head that I want to say. I have a lot of things I need to say, but every time I open my mouth something different seems to come out. Put a keyboard under my hands and suddenly I feel like I can express myself perfectly. But put me into a discussion position and suddenly I’m way off track, rambling, and all around a hot mess.

I started noticing this problem in classes as early as elementary school. And in my first semester of college I had so much I wanted to say, but I just learned to stay quiet because I never seemed to be able to defend my position. And sometimes I came across as a real jerk, because I was always defeated by a counterpoint to my argument, yet I would remain adamant on my position and just say “uh..well, um, blah blah blah something off track.” Or, on the flip side of that, in situations where people were taking intellectual discussions and turning them into personal low-blows, I was never able to point out what they were doing or try and bring the conversation back to a good place. I mean, freshman year of college was rough. I think I cried after my stupid globalization day almost everyday because I was so frustrated.

Getting nervous and doubting myself doesn’t help much either, because I am always mumbling and talking way too fast. It’s annoying as hell to listen to, and makes whatever I’m saying pretty much worthless  I’ve made a lot of progress in this area, more so than staying on track or saying what I want to say, but I still slip into it quite a bit.  I am not a quiet person. I do enjoy talking and being social. I am far from my brother who answers everything with a grunt that means yes, no, and I’ll have cheese on that. I can be very comfortable going out for coffee and having a conversation, but put me in a situation that is actually important and watch me squirm!

It is just so frustrating, because I’m at a point in my life where a lot of important conversations need to be had, and I get so off topic or distracted that no sort of resolution is ever met. It’s actually becoming quite a hindrance to feeling like an adult.

In addition, I know sometimes atheists don’t always have the best reputation, but in my mind they are extremely good debaters and communicators. I myself have been lucky enough to be surrounded by hilarious, kind, and extremely eloquent atheists. Hearing their reasons and arguments about god, no god, ethics, or other points of interest inside and out and upside down make me feel so inadequate! I have just always been so envious of people who have the ability to put into words the thoughts in their head.

Just something that’s been on my mind today, let me know if you can relate.

Stay Adorable,

M.C.

Open Up Your Own Door

Today, while perusing Instagram, I came across this:

Image

My thoughts were pretty well summed up in this comment.  “Or you can just open the door yourself and not wait around for “supernatural” beings to determine your life for you.”

If you don’t like how life is going, do what you can to change it. Trust yourself and your decisions. Don’t sit in the hallway until you hear some “divine” voice telling you what to do. It’s your life, live it.

that’s all, stay adorable,

M.C.

Joy Everyday

So, I really thought the excitement of being an atheist would have worn off by now. Not to say I expected to get bored with it, I just expected it to become routine, normal, and be ingrained in who I am. And it is, but it is also like getting a little present everyday. I’m always having new moments of excitement brought on by realizing just how much I like being an atheist. Sometimes it comes from not having to defend my faith as reasonable justification for god in philosophy class. Sometimes it’s meeting someone who agrees that it’s not right to raise children by telling them there is a god and we believe in the right god. It’s realizing how small my world was when I was a person of  faith, and seeing just how big and limitless it is now that my focus is on rationality and happiness. It feels so good to sit down with “God is Not Great” and feel impassioned and interested about something.

When I was a young teen, I remember leading a bible study on the difference between joy and happiness. I think that the point was that joy was a pleasure that came from god. It just seems so silly to me.  Tell all these people they won’t have true happiness if they don’t commit their lives to this narcissistic and arrogant god. I feel that faith always left me reaching for more and feeling confused, but every now and again when I was all pumped up with adrenalin and really nice things being said either in church or at a bible study I would feel “joyful”. Or anytime I felt really happy and I would attribute it to god instead of attributing it to my friends and or family who were bringing me happiness.  I guess now I feel things, both happy and sad, a lot more genuinely.

I hope everyone is doing well, and staying away from large politically and religiously charged crowds.

Stay Adorable,

M.C.

I kissed the blarney stone and did not get the gift of the gab. I got a sore throat.

Relationship Ramble

Hi Friends,

I cannot believe it has been nearly a month since I last posted! Getting ready to study abroad and then getting settled in Ireland really took up my time. I’m adequately settled now though, and ready to resume the blogging life.  So, greetings from Ireland!

It’s fucking windy

What I want to write about today is not particularly related atheism, but it’s related to my life.  As I’ve mentioned before, back at home in the states I have a wonderful fiance named Patrick. (He’s an atheist). I’ve known him a little over 4 years now, and I couldn’t be happier that I’m marrying him. But being with him has opened my eyes to my relationship with relationships. And I’m not talking just romantic relationships, I’m talking any personal relationship.

Let me tell you, my children will NOT be getting dating/relationship advice from the public school system, and certainly not the church. Because they seriously fucked me up.  Between school, church, my parents, and random other adults who had influence in my life, the message I was constantly berated with was, “Don’t spend too much time with a boyfriend. Don’t ditch all your friends to have a boyfriend. Go on fun and exciting group dates! Really, never be alone with a boy.” I even read this Christian book Dateable. Here’s a nice quote

“It will not last. You heard me. Whatever relationship you are in right now, whether you are 14, 15, 16, or even 18 years old, know this: It will not last! Period. The end….You will break up. It will end. It will hurt. It will get in the way of your purpose in life, and it will complicate things and distract you from your passion and destiny.”

It was a long time ago that I read it, but I’m fairly certain the book also mentioned that girls should never ask guys out because they will take the rejection too personally, and if a guy says anything nice it’s because he has used it on so many other girls and is a player (You asshole Patrick, you must have proposed to so many different girls),  and of course, the typical “the only reason a man looks at you is so he can hopefully put his penis in you”.

And that’s just dating advice. The friendship advice always seemed to be, don’t just do something because your friends are doing it. Do things alone or independently. Always be making new friends. And as I got older, if I ever spent a lot of time with one or two  friends, my parents would tell me that maybe I should spend time with some of my other friends. Still to this day my mom points out to me that I’m probably hurting old friends feelings blah blah blah.

And when I went off to college, everyone starts to talk about this NY Times article titled “Ditch Your Laptop, Dump Your Boyfriend.” I’m not going to go into too much detail about it, but just because someone printed it in the NY Times doesn’t make it fucking gold.

Now, 2.5 years into a happy relationship, I still struggle to act fully committed. Patrick and I spend WAY fucking less time together that I think we should or want to.  I have been SO manipulated throughout my life to be both the  socialite and totally independent. I have been so scared that being in a close relationship would mean not being fulfilled and internally miserable.

But guess fucking what?  I am capable of determining what amounts of time to devote to whatever and whomever I want in order to  create my optimal happiness without this stupid advice.

I am so sick of hearing this advice given to people. I am so sick of the church promoting this culture of never getting too close to someone of the opposite sex. What is the point of telling people to spend less time with people they care about and enjoy being with?  Stop being so afraid. Stop telling people they won’t enjoy life or “find” themselves if they don’t backpack around Europe by themselves meeting strangers. The one thing I wish I would have done is spend more time with the people I care about and not be so concerned about chasing this magical and mythical idea of the perfect young adulthood filled with adventure and fulfillment.

I wish people hadn’t spent so much time scaring me about close relationships and instead showed me their value and taught me that they take effort. I’m so sick of living a life where as soon as a relationship starts to require effort I move on.  It’s not fulfilling.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stay adorable,

M.C.