Atheism, Spirituality, Religion & Raising Kids

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I am personally an atheist. I grew up Lutheran and had an extremely religious extended family. Through the first couple decades of my life, I did a lot of “soul searching” to figure out my place in organized religion and what I truly believed in. Throughout my twenties, I slowly transitioned from Agnostic to Spiritual and ended up an Atheist.

Now, let me make this abundantly clear. I do not like organized religion as a whole, but absolutely abhor so called “Christians”. I don’t hate Christianity, but considering 70% of the Christians I have met over my life are using the teachings of Jesus Christ to back up their hatred of immigrants, LGBTQ+, their racist ideals and hatred of anything different.. it’s fair to say I actively avoid Christians, Churches and any kind of ideology if not speak out against what I view as wrong or corrupt. I’m looking at you Catholics & Evangelicals. 

However, I believe that everyone, children included, should experience (and learn) about religion personally.. preferably more than one. This is why I have no problems driving the kids to church, or giving them highlights of different beliefs or pointing them in a direction to read un-biased information about another religion. I do not however, lie to children (unless they are super young, we’re talking about 5 and under) about what I believe in, or lack there of, or my thoughts on religion, if I am asked.

Which makes things interesting in my household. My daughter is pretty much agnostic. She has gone to a local Lutheran church, VBS, and has her own bibles. She has also discussed with me how science and religion often clash as well as having done some reading on her own about various other religions (primarily Islam & Paganism that I’ve seen). It’s not something I actively pursue talking with her about, but I’m open when she has questions for me.

My step-daughter however, comes from a very religious area. She listens to nothing but “Christian Music” and her real social outings are primarily to church. She prefers to listen to Christian Pop simply because she’s never been exposed to other music regularly at her Mom’s house. Naturally she has questions about different kinds of music we listen to here, as well as different kinds of books that I have on my bookshelves. I’m waiting for her to ask Noodle, why she doesn’t want to go to church as well. I’m essentially bracing for a load of questions from her, especially since she’s been hanging with my daughter listening to her kind of music, and Noodle has voiced her dislike of “religious music” as a whole. I visibly winced when I heard “American Jesus” by Bad Religion come across my daughter’s speakers.

As much as I’m not entirely looking forward to answering some of the questions that will inevitably come my way by the end of summer, I am happy to see a child be exposed to more religions, cultures, music, literature and ways of thinking. Everyone should be allowed to make their own choices when it comes to their faith, spirituality or lack there of. Most importantly, it’s always sad to see when children aren’t exposed to all this world has to offer because of their religious upbringing. So I’m happy I get to be a part of that.

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Music is the way out.

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One thing I am extra proud of in my family is the amount of different music I expose my daughter too.  Today I just started listening to the new Against Me! album and I’m definitely digging it.  The first thing that pops into my mind is that I can’t wait to get home and let Noodle listen to it and hope that as she gets older the message gets through to her head.  I’m excited that she likes a broad spread of music, from anywhere from The Distillers (She loves that there is a chick punk rocker) to As I Lay Dying to The Fray to Break of Reality.  It may make her the odd kid as she’s growing up, but I would much rather her be a well rounded kid than a sheltered one.  

So I’m still in the hole (and by hole, I mean hospital) and of course, we’ve gone over the 24 hour mark, so I’m antsy as hell.  I’m ready to get up and run a marathon (or at least a few laps around the nurses station.  The one benefit of being stuck here is that I am getting an obnoxious amount of writing and knitting done.  Not to mention the amount of music I’m discovering is ridiculous.  At some point I’m going to have to block out the irritating aide and just slip in my headphones when she’s talking.   Hell, I think In This Moment will block her out just fine.  

Music and writing are my ways of safeguarding my sanity… not to mention reining in my temper as well.  If I manage to do some writing and get some tunes going in my head, I’m a much more tolerant person.  I could be listening to the most brutal metal I can find and as long as that’s playing I can keep my cool and calm.  It’s a nice coping technique I picked up in a coffee house when I was a teen.  The perk I see though, is that my Buddha not only experiences the music I play, but she gets to learn that there are different ways of coping with your bad days beyond just “being happy” or “smile!”.  If I can instill anything, whether it be music, writing, art, SOMETHING, I will feel like I did a good job as a parent.   Hell, I gladly bought her a new sparkle pink glitter journal just for that reason.  If writing helps her sort out her feelings more than talking does, than I’m okay with that.  

Growing up, going through the death of my mother, and of course though the turbulent teenage years, everyone told me that I needed to “talk through it”.  That if I could just open up to people I would be able to be “happier”.  No matter what was going on, I was force-fed this bullshit lie that I must talk, that I must interact and pour myself out to other people via verbal word.  So I tried, and I failed… and I learned to wrap up all of my feelings inside of my head since obviously people expected me to be happy.  It wasn’t until I got mad one night in my pre-teen years, that I sat down to write in my journal and I just let it all out.  All of it.  I wrote whatever I wanted to, instead of what I thought I should be writing about.  I wrote about everything.  That night, I discovered that that was the way I cope.  Up until about a couple years ago, I still didn’t know how to open up to people well… hell, sometimes I still prefer to keep my words in my mouth and flowing through my fingers.  Writing in journals/blogs/letters gave me an outlet to reach people through.  I had a hard time telling someone how I feel, I could just write them a note.  It helped, it still helps, I just wish someone had told me that was okay earlier.  

Speaking of though, I’m going to go write in my journal… the literal one.  

 

Smooth out the stress.

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Sometimes stress can get the better of you.  Financial stress, crotch-fruit induced stress, work stress, you name it.  Having an anxiety disorder compounds all of that and causes it to explode.  If I don’t keep my anxiety in check, it has the potential to come raining down on me and cause a long-lasting-anxiety attack.

Usually I deal with my anxiety through music, and seeing as how I have been a bit overwhelmed today the music was cranked up high.  Created a new station on my Pandora One and dubbed it “16 year old Sarah”.  I spent most of the day tuning said station to all of the nasty gnarly punk rock I used to listen to.  Just hearing all of those songs brought a smile to my face as well as many a memory.  So tomorrow is officially Punk Rock Thursday.

Things have been pretty good lately, the boyfriend has been helping work on the house.  He has installed 1 (out of 2) ceiling fans he’s gotten me, brought me 2 different sets of shelving for my converted mini-library.  Oh and a new thermostat and area rug, not to mention the wrought iron candle set.  I’m pretty sure the fun just leaked out of me and I showed my age… but hey! I’m excited that my house is looking better by the day. :)

Other than that it’s just been the same ole shit.  Trying to get ahead at work, cleaning at home, and spending time with my kiddo as well as our little dysfunctional misfit family.

At the same time though I’m dealing with the same ole stressors as well.

My Crohns is active again, and I’m still a couple weeks out for another Remicade Infusion… and my fistula is STILL there more than a year and a half later.  I’m putting off surgery until after April, when I finally accrue vacation/sick time at work.  I hate calling off work as it is, but I think half days for my infusions are acceptable… however, a few days for recovery?  Not so much…. not only that, but if you’re familiar with the budget of a single mom, I can’t afford to lose that much money out of my paycheck.  The boyfriend and my family have promised to help me out if I decide to have the surgery, but still, I hate depending on people.

Other than that there is the (seemingly) never ending debt.  I’m still working on paying of random debt… and I will be for a long time.  Just seeing my list freaks me out, but I know it’ll pay off in the long run.  My goal is to get my credit high enough so that when it comes time to sell this house I can afford to finance a much bigger sum.  That’s a long way off so I have quite a bit of time to work on it, but still.

Don’t forget the every day triggers.  Today I was stressed because of the amount of running around I had to do to help the boyfriend.  I’m not much one to do anything after work, much less spend that much time in the car.  I don’t mind helping out per say, but when all you want to do is relax, driving for a couple hours is not pleasant.  Ohh well.  That’s over for now.

I can’t wait until the weather warms up a little.  I could sure use a run in the forest preserve… not to mention the drive to the lake house and the hours out on the lake.  This time I can bring the boy.  I can’t wait.

 

I’m Not Alone

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a video I like, so here ya go!  Not Alone by All That Remains.

This one is for the boyfriend.  This song reminds me of him because through the past handful of months he’s been there for me anytime I needed him.  Whether I just had a bad day, wasn’t feeling good, or medical appointments.  Anytime I’ve needed to talk to someone he’s been there.  Anytime I needed help, he’s been there.  I’m grateful I met him and I have him in my life.  Here’s to not killing him and stashing him in my trunk! :)

Savior by Rise Against

This one is for my friends.  I have many many memories with this song, no matter when it comes on, which friend I’m with, there is singing and laughter and smiles.  I love you guys.

Parallels by As I Lay Dying

This one I love because (one it has an awesome guitar solo) it reminds me there is more to life than just trying to survive.  :)

You don’t have to look up at the stars…

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Music will always blow my mind, there is something about finding that song that just does something to you.  That voice that touches the inside of your heart.  Those notes that just relax your shoulders, loosen your grip on your problems.  There’s something about it.  Something about a new discovery that makes life just that much more bearable.

My life is controlled by music, whether I like it, which I’m definitely not arguing.  If it wasn’t for music, I would’ve lost my mind years ago.  Those tracks, those songs have got me through the hardest times in my life, other tracks have pushed every good mood I’ve ever had into exhilaration.

No matter the moment, no matter the memory, I can attach a song to it.  If I remember something, remember a part of my past, the first thing that comes to my mind is the songs I’ve attached to it.  For each moment in the present, I have a song in my head, like a sound track.  I can say “this reminds me of this song.” Then it’s packed away in the box that is my mind.

Believe it or not, writing aside, I have a really hard time expressing myself in words.  I could have the worst day of my life, want nothing more than to wrap someone’s arms around myself and pour out my soul… but when it comes down to it I slam to a halt.  I sit there.  I stammer.  I lie and say it’s fine.  I change the subject.  It’s one of my biggest faults as well as one of the reasons most of my relationships ultimately fail.  The only ways I’ve ever been able to express myself to the fullest extent has been through written word and through music.

If you ask me what I’m feeling, chances are I’m much more comfortable playing you a song than I am telling you.  I could write it down, but even then, as I’m writing, the song that describes that feeling inside is playing in the back of my head.  Music is easy.  Music talks, you just have to know how to listen.

The Difference.

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I spent this afternoon relaxing, I sat on my front step, watched my kid and all the neighbor’s kids play.  I drank my tea and read more of a very good book.  I enjoyed the breeze and talked with my so-called-adopted family (neighbors to the left).  I watched life pass me by.

This afternoon I was content despite my current life’s situation.  Despite all the stress and disease, despite the loss of friends and interaction, I was content.  I am content.  I plan on spending my evening curled up with my cup of tea, writing and delving into my book.

I got a phone-call about an hour ago.  One of my boys found me a babysitter and wanted me to come out drinking.  I declined, instead I offered him a bonfire and some beers in the yard.  He declined.  No big deal.  Then I hopped on facebook.  Everyone and their mother is at the bar tonight, which is fine, it’s Friday night after all.  It just occurred to me that I’m content being in tonight.  It occurred to me, that it seems like I’m the only one who is actually okay with being in.

I don’t know quite what I’m getting at here.  Today is one of those days that I feel different than everyone else.  Don’t get me wrong here folks, I love a good night out dancing, but not every night.  Staying in or stopping by a friends house is good too!  I guess I just hear it a lot, you know, everyone’s plans.  Most of which sound great!  I love hearing about trouble I can get into, but when it comes to my life, my priorities, no one seems to be on the same level.

Which makes me.. I guess in the end.. a tiny bit more alone than I was before.  Which isn’t a bad thing, but good god, what I wouldn’t give some days to have someone to chat with over coffee… talk about the books we’ve read and what music we’ve discovered.  I miss that.  I miss having input about something not regarding relationship drama, drinking, and fighting.

I’ve had some friends in the past who were similar in regards to my taste.  Two passed away, and the others, well, we drifted apart.  Now?  I don’t know really too many people who even read lol.  Much less listen to anything I haven’t already listened to.  Even less than that people who like hanging out over a cup of coffee.  There’s a couple I guess, but everyone is so wrapped up in the negativity of their lives, whether it be work related or relationship related (which trust me I’m right there with everyone else) that they all forget to take a couple hours for themselves.  I miss those friends, I do, but you can’t force anything.  This I’ve learned over the years.

I think my biggest wish, more than even my health, is to live in a house, surrounded by woods on the outside, covered in books on the inside, with someone as passionate about life as myself next to me.  Ho Hum.  Back to my books.

Dancing. Running. Dancing.

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FML

Dancing.

Dancing is what keeps me sane.   I unfortunately don’t get to do it that often anymore.  (Which is why I’m excited for SmartBar at the end of the month) I mean I still get little stints of dancing here and there, the occasional Saturday night at the Pub… or if I want to make my friends feel reeeeally awkward at the pool hall.

You can bet your ass that I dance at home.  My daughter and I will blast some music, whether it be some industrial/ebm, breaks, house, whatever.  You can even catch us rocking out to rockabilly.  My daughter can two step.  Ha.

If you asked me to pick a favorite out of Music and Dancing, I couldn’t.  They go hand in hand.

There is just something about a good night out dancing.  I do believe (music aside) that I love the physical exertion involved.  I love that after a couple hours I can feel my muscles straining.  I can feel each muscle stretch over the bone depending on which way I move.  And assuming I haven’t had any drinks, my rhythm is dead on, then through the strain of my own muscles I can feel the beat of the music.  The beat becomes part of my body.

Now that’s what I call getting high.  It’s like runner’s high.  You push yourself and pull yourself, physically, you feel your body getting ready to quit and then… high.

I love dancing as much as I love music.