Saturday, December 21, 2013

Are The Ducksters Decent? You Decide
The Master Duckster feels safer with people who carry bibles.  My response? Get off your fan base exploiting pedestal!

Guess he never read or any of the other sensationalized stories of bible thumpers who have committed atrocities, nor bothered to acknowledge that the highest percentage of people in jail are Christians!!! The truth, as I see it, him trying to sell the fantasy about how morally superior Christians are and ignoring the truth about everything is about only one thing... what will gain him the most attention, the most followers and the most money.

The actual truth is religious people DO NOT have the market cornered on decency! If anything, they are worse!!! Aren't Christians supposed to tell the truth? Aren't they supposed to just be all about love? Aren't they supposed to be against being stinking, filthy rich? When he chooses to perpetuate lies based on a faith that only benefits him and his family, HE is the one who is is indecent!

I actually would have some respect for him and tolerance of his views if only he would act like a supposed honorable Christian would. But he won't and neither will his family, sitting pretty in their ever growing pile of money that will continue to sustain them... and their 'beliefs'.

But hey, your right to free speech... er, hate speech is protected. And you've got one thing going for you. The West Boro Baptist church is on your side. Aren't you lucky?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cotton Ball Happiness

Ryan McGinty
Every time I look up into the sky and see beautiful sunshine filtering through and around white fluffy clouds it sets a tone in my mind that pretty closely resembles ease, peace and harmony. I'm not sure if it's the sun or the majestic beauty of the clouds layering above the gorgeous nature below it.

There really is nothing else to do but smile and go.... Ahhhhh!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Drunk Writing

Here goes... something in a completely different fashion. No holds barred, decided to do something I normally, actually never do, write drunk.

I am currently extremely inebriated, 2 drinks and 4 different types of alcohol later... here I am writing. I've been told that Christopher Hitchens did his best writing while he had been drinking. This is my attempt. :)

The boiler-maker I'm working on now will mean 6 types of drinks. The goal of which is for you to determine if my writing is better or worse now that I'm under the spell of alcohol rather than just thought.

They say that only people who tell the truth are drunks, children and I don't remember the third category... and can't find it on my damn FB page right now either! Well I AM  drunk, listening to nature sounds and writing.

My problem is I don't know what to actually write about. So I guess whatever just pops in my head right now and that is.... also, I will edit like I normally would do.

I think I want to take another drink of the next boiler maker!!!! YAYAY!!!

Seriously, my sons are home. They are upstairs. SHHH! Do not tell them we are talking, they would be embarrassed that I'm even writing about them! Really. They do not want any mention, they want complete anonymity! Makes me wonder where I took a wrong turn along the way of child-rearing... actually not. When I consider the fact that I did not REALLY give them instruction on how to be REALLY free humans until I, myself, knew what that actually meant. Thanks, JT!! It will take some time before they unlearn all the bullshit I taught them before 2010!

Thinking about being true to myself, I really wish I would have been more ... jeez, this nature background is annoying! Just stopped it... now I only have the heater going at my feet noise. Yay! Make its easier to write this for actual publication and I will be publicizing this WHILE I'm drunk. hiccuping and all! And fingers kinda numb feelings.  :)

Android Device Manager! Get it! Seriously! It will help you locate your phone when you think it's lost, specifically when it's right next to you!! Drinking impairs your ability to find something because really you are clueless... really clueless!! I found it! My phone was not on me, but charging and now I have it, thanks to my son! YAY! I told him about my project/experiment. Good job, great that I can count on him to help me. True love. :)

Okay, let's us pretend we are actually talking about an actual subject.

I've just received an email about my Internet bill. $77.16. How much does anyone else pay?

Still have not received any input as to what people like to know more about. :(

Talk about multi=tasking - listening to a speech - David Tamayo from Skepticon 6, saying good bye to younger son, looking up bill from Internet/Phone service for cost and trying to understand what to write about?? I don't know what is multi-tasking??!?!?!

I'm sitting here talking to my son. He says lack of creativity whilst drunk.. he says it's too cold in here. I say, fuck it. I'm not cold, are you???

So what shall we talk about??It's not been a failure.I love my kids! I really do!!

Even when I'm really been grammatically correct. I love it. I'm not a mean drunk, nor am I vicious, just cute.  :) This has been an incredible experiment. My son, Sean, has been sitting here and watching me work, if you can call it work, and judging me... relentlessly. It's been fun and enjoyable. :)

Still waiting for others to provide a topic, not happening... yet, buy now I have a few. Nelson Mandela and his death. Still not sure that I can comprehend it happening as I'm really not even engaged... ya know. But I will speak to coming out.. as an atheist.

Being yourself... SO FUCKING IMPORTANT!!! I want everyone to understand that drunk or not, YOU SHOULD always be who you FEEL on the inside. Don't let anyone tell you who you should be or how you should feel. I'm so sick of others dictating what I know for myself! I'M not wrong, whatever the time should be in my life, about who I am at that moment. If I only let it be public, that is who I am and whether you like it or not, that is what I feel at that very moment. Take it for what it is, accept it whether you like what you are hearing or not. This is who I am.

This is the topic. Acceptance of what we decide to put out there. Like it?

If not, I fucking decide to not like you. Really, what is wrong with people being who they decide for themselves who they need to be when they are in a place of total acceptance of themselves? Really. It's like saying they don't matter when they finally reveal who they are to the rest of the world. YOU, person, suck, I say!! I may not agree with who they are and even feel a bit uncomfortable with their presentation of who they are, but I will not be upset with THEM when they decide... this is who I am! They give me the opportunity to decide for myself whether I want to agree or disagree, but in any sense, it does not mean I disparage their effort to come out and be honest with who they are! I hate that about haters. Fuck you for publicly saying that just because they don't measure up to what you think is appropriate, it's ok to dis them in public. How many times have you done things that are not ok, but we let you slide because we are afraid to say... YOU SUCK!!! Fuck you!

Ok, I'm done on that subject, next.

Coming out as... whatever. Be proud, be LOUD... soooo important!! YES!! Most definitely!!! I've kept my mouth shut for 48 years (until I felt comfortable around friends). NO ONE should feel as if they don't have a right to feel good about who they are. Many times, our friends and even family make us feel like we shouldn't just BE who are are. I'm tired of thinking that who I am is some how supposed to feel like I can't be who I feel like being. Our friends and family( and especially anyone outside of that cirlcle) DO NOT have the right to tell us how we are to act, feel or be. Period.

Subjects have been suggested on FB. How much do I know about addiction. I'm thinking it was facetious, as I'm doing this drunk. I don't think I'm addicted to alcohol, just so you know. Addiction does run in our family, unfortunately, but I like to say that I like to drink but it does not run me. Some of my relatives, blood or not, were run by alcohol, but alcohol does not run me... I decide whether I want to get beyond what it means to be an in control of my life situation. Currently, I WANT to be drunk because I think it will make for interesting reading. Other than that, it happens when I want to add to the fesitivies that are occurring and at times just because I've had a fucking hard day. THAT is rare. But when it does, I decide to imbibe to help feel relaxed. Alcohol does not rule my decisions, I rule the decisions that precede me picking up that drink. Done, next.

Rape complacency - not even sure what that means. I've never been complacent about my reaction to rape. Let me look that up. I'm drunk you know and not something that I've been associated with. Just so you know, I'm not complacent with the idea of rape. If someone is raped, anyone, it's wrong and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!! Period. If you disagree, why are we friends?

Nelson Mandela died today. I'm sad because he had a lot to contribute to the dialogue of freedom but also activism. He spent a shit ton of time in prison to give a voice to the injustice that not only he, but millions were suffering. Props to that man, sad to hear that voice was extinguished. We so need many more voices like his!!!

Criminality in our justice system - a friend of mine is currently going through a situation that affects his family in a rather bad way. His son, even though he feels is innocent, is having to endure what he feels is criminality in our justice system. And I would think, rightly so! The law enforcement system is doing what they think is correct, he is doing what he feels is correct and believe me, I side with him. I have a huge suspicion of people in authority. Many times they get it wrong. They may legitimately be trying to make sure they are doing it 'right', but in the process they hurt those who are really right and not actually the criminals that the law would like to make them out to be. This is why it is SO important to make sure that we continue to hold fast to the understanding 'innocent until proven guilty" edict and FACTS! Many of the people we'd like to convict in the jury of public opinion just are not guilty, even as much as the media would like to make them out to be. This is also where skepticism, and learning how to think that way, come into play. Stop judging people because of headlines. The people who report the news don't always get it right if they are going for sensationalism rather than just reporting what is understood at that time.

And lastly, a friend of mine suggested I comment on her posts. She had about 15 of them, I exaggerate, but they were ALL funny! So here's to her.. they were awesome! Thank you for the entertainment! We need more of her!  :) I say this not because I've been drinking, but damn... can't everyone just lighten up a bit?!?! I really enjoy all my Facebook friends who seem to have a sense of humor.

I'm getting soberer. My son is checking on me. He's leaving soon, eating is important you know. :) Geez the video he took of me takes so damn long to load up! You guys are going to enjoy this when it finally can get published.:) I just want you to know that I edited while I was drinking and not sober. I'm thinking I did a phenomenal job. LOL

This is the end of my blog. See ya! :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On Being Accepting

Tolerance Without Anger/Frustration = Acceptance

Maybe one of these days I will truly get to that point of complete acceptance of others. When I'm engaged with people who struggle to change my point of view because they don't approve of it, I have a real hard time being tolerant. I've never been one to enjoy being told what to do or what to think. When I was much younger, I not only had absolutely no desire to understand how others did things differently than me, but I was also all about making sure they started doing it my way. In some instances, with my husband, I still insist! Just ask him. But he'll tell you it's ok, she's smart.

Maturing through life experience has helped me understand that this journey we all take is a two way street. There is much to be said for not always having things your way. When I learned that I wan't always right and love/harmony/peace was worth going for, well that helped me a lot when I was finally ready to accept that nugget of information. Having said that though, life and situations don't always go so smoothly just because you want them to. It takes effort and patience, something else that has taken me some time to add to the armor I wear on the inside.

I can't say I always want acceptance either. Many times it's because I'm truly not invested in that person. So, simply said, their acceptance of me just doesn't matter. In other instances, peace of mind comes from not engaging with someone I know is really only out there to start trouble for the sake of hearing themselves speak. For the most part I can tolerate and even be accepting of another person and their viewpoints, specifically when they respect me enough to understand I deserve the same treatment. However, I still struggle with the frustration of others dictating what I should naturally want to be according to them. They obviously are more of an authority of who the best Susi should or could be. That raises the hair on my neck a bit and sets my jaws to clenching. My TMJ is not pleased.

That last bit of not getting rattled, that's the one thing that I will probably work on until the day I die. It's that thoroughly independent streak in me I've had since I was little; old habits die hard, I guess. DO NOT TELL ME WHAT TO DO!! I imagine a small blonde wild child in my head saying this; this old bird feeling it through and through, still. This was and still is, literally, the hardest thing for me to not see red about when it comes up for me in my life. When I feel like someone is trying to control me either through their actions, words or tone, it sets me off. Try being accepting of that other person after that happens! It's not easy.

But I think we should try. When I look at this world today and even after I read about our history, there is some much we could gain if only we could drop the desire to control situations and other people. I want to attain more peace as I get older and enjoy life rather than struggle with people who have a whacked idea about how I should lead my life. I want to learn how to let go of the frustration and anger; in its place, maybe pick up some joy instead.

I really do appreciate the gushy warm feeling when I read the words and sentiment in the picture above. It reminds me that peace and acceptance emanates from us when we choose to look at those things that have nothing to do with control of another human. Appreciation of the humane-ness we all have to offer gives us that ease towards one another. We have to show it for one, but if we choose to see it in others then we can both feel better about our interactions. Somewhere inside we have to look for the peace in ourselves and others in order to have tolerance without anger and frustration. But there has to be a willingness... on both parts.

For now, I will say that I will do my best to achieve what I need... a calm interior that doesn't automatically jettison feelings opposite of what I'm trying to remain and attain. Namaste

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Not A Car, But Insure Me Anyway

You've heard the line "Obamacare is being rammed down our throats! You can't mandate insurance on health care!" along with the follow up statement "You can only do that if you own a car or a house because it's optional! You choose to own either then you have to get insurance!" Applying their logic about cars and houses to humans would infer that we indeed can mandate insurance because our bodies are owned by us and we have no other option but to be here if we choose to be sticking around on this planet. Common sense would tell me their argument just went flat.

We are required by law to have insurance on a home or a vehicle should we choose to own either of them. Meaning we are responsible for any event that would potentially destroy those things or somehow affect them in a way should they no longer function properly. Insurance, any insurance, is designed that way. So why wouldn't it make sense to see that all people are insured? Isn't that the responsible thing to do, especially when we feel that insuring our houses or cars is the right thing to do?!?!? How many times have I heard someone complain about an uninsured motorist after a horrific auto accident when their insurance had to foot the bill, but yet the Affordable Care Act... its intention is bad. SMH

Being sick and not being able to take care of being able to function properly, in other words be healthy again, is exactly what insurance was designed to correct! If people have insurance they take care of themselves because they can afford to go to the doctor much easier than if they don't have insurance. Being healthier means less cost. It's not that hard to figure that one out. The burden on taxpayers is higher when sick people wait till they have no other option but to go to the emergency room and then can't pay their bills afterwards. But the financial impact, that's another discussion.

Back to my original point... Does anyone else own me? No. This is what the Constitution has protected: my individual freedom which comes from my consciousness inside my human form. It actively seeks my right to my pursuit of happiness and liberty in this country. Along with that I bear a personal responsibility to making sure the impact I have on this planet, financial or otherwise,would be as minimal to my fellow man as possible. Isn't that part of what accountability is about? Doing the right thing for oneself while doing right by others?

When we all debate this question about whether having mandated insurance is appropriate or not, I wish we would take this into consideration. It seems that many are. Those are the ones in support of the legislation. But I would ask those who are in opposition of mandated health care... How can we not be thinking this through and supporting it? It's just illogical and frankly inhumane on some levels.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm Going With Deluded

Artwork from mentally ill Russian patients
Suffering from delusions is a mental illness. People who believe in a god for whom there is no proof are delusional. Ergo - people who believe in a god have a mental illness.

Many would disagree, and my guess would be that as many, if not more, would enthusiastically agree the statement above.

Mental illness doesn't allow you to think intelligently or rationally. Actions following out of an unstable thought process are truly playing out on the flip-side of sane behavior, too. So another reason to support the notion that those who would believe in a god have a mental illness. I would tend to think (of course) that the overwhelming majority of believers do not pose a threat to us; rather are just annoying as hell. But should believers really be exempt from being considered mentally ill?

There are some who are truly suffering from a mental illness. We've all seen the headlines where religious fervor motivated their actions. Andrea Yates who killed her five children being just one of many such examples. This is just one of the many nationally publicized cases, the majority however are buried in the local news, never really telling the true story of how prevalent religion plays in such cases.

Our current understanding of how the brain functions has shown us that mental illness and the delusions associated with some mental illnesses can be potentially harmful to those suffering from them and to others who are in close proximity to experience that disassociation with them. Our society recognizes that we must take care (although frequently, not) of those vulnerable due to their inability to be rational when the delusions take over where reality should exist.

But for the sake of this argument now, I would say the overwhelming majority are just suffering from a conscious and intentional decision to hold that their belief is just a strong conviction despite strong evidence to the contrary. Exactly what the definition of delusion is, but in their case the delusion is one they welcome or one that has become comfortable for them because of childhood indoctrination; too comfortable or safe to let go of or challenge.

Challenging that strongly held conviction (which we as skeptics or atheists frequently do) that their delusion is real gives them the opportunity to double-down on that delusion. The stronger their reaction, the stronger hold that delusion has on them. And they will hold and fight that their position remains the correct one. As do we, I might add. But our position is always the one that will adapt with conclusive evidence. Something believers never do, even when presented with things called conclusive evidence or at something, at the very least, that should make them want to investigate further. Putting their beliefs on hold for just a moment to investigate the validity of something... unheard of; dare I say something that never happens? I've never experienced it. Please do tell me when it does.

Based on the definition of what delusions are, I stand by my interpretation when I call out all those who would say they believe in a god. As much as I love or like you as a person, or care about you as a human being, if you believe there is a god based on what we know so far about jesus christ or god... I think you are deluded. And I know there are close friends who would be upset (actually have been upset with me because I called them deluded) when they read this piece, but I would ask them to read their dictionaries and tell me I'm incorrect in my thought process. Again, this is not an assault on their character or our friendship rather on their thought process about an idea about a god. So cut me some slack... would ya? Your position on this subject is the only reason I even question it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Deaf, Dumb and Blind

My love is good... when I can show it.
My love is true... when I want feel it.
When I give of myself, you benefit

You lock yourself away from me,
not wanting me anymore.
What's wrong with you???

You must be deaf, dumb and blind....

Don't you hear the anger in my voice?
Can't you understand it's no good anymore?
Don't you see there's no more love?

I can't want to talk to you anymore,
I can't want to touch you anymore,
I don't want to go on anymore,
Not like this...

What happened to the ease we felt,
Together we were strong.
Our friends were jealous of what we had,
Now we're just like them.

Where did the feelings go?
Please help me understand..
Is it me, is it life, is it you??

You must be deaf, dumb and blind....

Don't you hear the anger in my voice?
Can't you understand it's no good anymore?
Don't you see there's no more love?

I can't want to talk to you anymore,
I can't want to touch you anymore,
I don't want to go on anymore,
Not like this...

Do you want to go on?
Is our relationship worth saving?
You need to tell me with your heart
or my heart will break for good...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Letter To My Son

"Set the thermostat of your life at the temperature that suits
 you best and let those around you dress in layers."
Claudia Trupp

What do you tell someone about a future that is uncertain at this stage of his life? You talk to your friends, their parents, watch the news…. It’s all the same… it looks bad and it might hamper what could be the start of a brilliant life for you.

I guess my message to you now would be please don’t listen to all the bad news, misinformation and the people who have given up on the ability they have inside of themselves to succeed and then try to make sure that those around them don’t succeed either. You know misery loves company and I don’t want misery for you… I want a life full of adventure, joy and jam-packed with the things that help you become the best man you can be. 

I say - Own your strengths and let them take you to the places you want to go in your life. Having a good life is about defining what makes you the best you are AND believing that to be true. That’s the reason I love the quote above and hope that you will always take that to heart. And I think for the most part, you already do! You are a head-strong person and that nugget will serve you well in this life, but like we’ve said before… use your evil for good! And I know, deep down, you will. 

We, as your parents, have tried to give you the basics of making good decisions and guiding you to really knowing what it is you want for yourself to be happy. These basics will help guide you in making decisions in your life that will benefit you. As you move forward in this journey, keep in mind how those decisions impact those around you, not just the people closest to you, but all people, places and things. You never know how something you say or do will come back to you. There are soooo many good resources to help you in your journey… keep yourself open to it all!

Over the years, I’ve come across many good quotes that reaffirm my beliefs. One that I enjoy is this one…. “Demand of yourself, what you expect of others”.  Dad has one, too….“Always be true to yourself and honest to others." Good words, as you step out more and more in this thing called your life as an adult.

My dear boy…. now a man, where has the time gone?  As your mother, I wish for you a life that YOU can be proud of! Just so you know…I’m already proud of my son just for being my son. We’ve had struggles over the years and I can accept those; that is a part of life. I’m sure there will be more, humans tend to create controversy wherever they go. But as long as we decide that we are important enough to each other, we will overcome those struggles. I’m sure of it. As my son, I want you to know that who you are to me is what I care about the most and what I’m looking forward to is seeing what great accomplishments you will enjoy in your life as this man I helped to create and nurture to adulthood.

Know that if you need me or this family to help you in your journey, we are always there for you. So, I hope that as you venture out further, you know that the best thing you’ve got going for yourself is you… use yourself wisely, take care of yourself – mind, body and soul and remember to nurture the goodness inside as the rest of the world gets to have a piece of you.

And just so you know…I loved you when you were born, I love you now and I will love you forever… with all my heart.   

Full of Love, But Then Empty

Nobody tells you how devastated you are going to feel. 

Your experience is one of joy, of knowing that you will bring a product of love into the world. The pregnancy is a combination of all that’s good about you and the one who made you feel the need to offer yourself as a vessel for that love. Oh, it feels right. You’ve made the best possible decision you have ever made and it’s growing inside you. The love you feel for your man, the union you have and the child you’ve made together – it is bliss, magnified times ten. At least, it was for me.

You feel giddiness and a depth of emotion like no other in the beautiful moments of planning your future together, and in sharing your expectations with each other. All smiles… so much love… you feel like you’ll just burst with excitement. Wanting to experience every rich moment, but longing for the time to speed up so that your dreams can finally manifest. Everything you feel, you think and what you know in those precious moments before the dreams are realized is that everything is positive and the experiences are all good. Even the not-so-good moments because the end game is you’ll have produced the child you have pictured in your mind and carried in your heart.

My period was notoriously predictable. The pregnancy test I’d done only three days after being late confirmed I was right about my physical state. We were pregnant!  And we were so happy. I wasn’t very far along, maybe six to eight weeks pregnant when the bleeding started. My imagination, of course, took me to the worst possible outcome. And I was right. I usually enjoy being right, but this killed me.

No one is ever prepared to have their dreams challenged. It takes your breath away to go from a deeply involved state of happiness to feeling utter emptiness; one that seems to preclude resolution.
When I received confirmation that I wasn’t pregnant anymore, the ache of feeling so alone without the little person who filled all those visions of my future made my insides feel raw. My thoughts were tinged with so many emotions, feelings of inadequacy and guilt about letting my partner down. 

Where would we go from here knowing what we had already invested emotionally and mentally, was not to be? How would we, as a couple, previously filled with so much joy at the prospect of bringing our child into this world be able to relate to one another again? Especially, when I, the person whose primary responsibility it was to bring that child into the world, had just lost it. The guilt and the inability to forgive myself about the loss was so wounding for me.

I sat with this information and all the emotions that went with it for a bit before I made the phone call to my partner. Sobbing, yelling, beating the bed with my fists as well as silent tears in between during the lulls of emotion that were wracking my body; I felt suspended in an impenetrable bubble of feelings. Time passed, emotions eased up a bit and I realized that it wasn’t just about me in this tumultuous event. I needed to call my partner to let him know about the change in our reality.

Not having fully worked through all that goes with this devastating news, I think I did the best I could during that phone call. I thought I was brave and had pulled myself together. I wasn’t and hadn’t, really. After hanging up the phone I went back into the isolation and emptiness that I had been experiencing after I got the call from the doctor. The sobbing resumed.

Instinctively, I just did the next thing I had to do in my normal routine of the day – I got in the shower. My tears flowed out of me joining the stream of water from the shower head. I could only heave deeply as sadness hit while the water ran over me. It's as if the stream washing down my body kept me connected to being alive, but in my head though, nothing felt real. I only felt a deep sense of being alone, where before I felt like two and we were a part of something bigger.

What I didn’t know or even thought of was that my partner would understand. And forgive; even though forgiveness is not what was required. While I stood in the shower, he came home to console the woman he loved. He instinctively knew what I was going through, he understood how I would feel and he came home to help make it all better. His own hurt couldn’t and wouldn’t stop him from recognizing how it would impact me and what I needed in order to get past it. That day I learned how much he really loved me and what my happiness meant to him. That love is what got us through that day as well as other emotional upheavals in our lives together. I love that man for what he saw in me that needed attention, and for the strength he gave me then; what he continues to see and contribute to my well-being is a comfort and something I can count on. His care and nurture helped set me up for success in handling all the other hurdles we have endured in our lives. He helped me realize our relationship, its strength, was the something bigger part of my life, too; just like our child would have been. A baby is a wonderful part of it, but not the only part. Yes, there is a loss, but we had a foundation that is just as important to preserve.

When I look back on that moment we lost our first baby, it feels like a distant memory now, but one that still evokes incredible emotions. Tears fill my eyes as I write this. The pain I (we) endured was heart-breaking, but it created a bond with my partner in ways that I never thought, even in that moment, would cement our relationship as it did. Time, distance from the event and life experiences have taught me to be very thankful for that. That bond filled the emptiness the loss created; his love helped heal the injury I experienced to my psyche.

Mourning the loss of my unborn child was such a powerful emotion for me; the pain cut deep, but I learned an incredible amount about my relationship and its value. I can’t imagine what parents go through after the loss of a child they’ve had born to them and watched grow, but I think I can understand the ache of emptiness they would feel. I hope they have someone or people in their lives that show them a love that fills that space; open and raw becomes healed and soothed. Going on in life and thriving becomes a possibility then.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friendship Defined

Friends at ease 

Friendship (Wikipedia) is a form of interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association can be thought of as spanning across the same continuum.Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:
  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one's counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion
  • Trust in one another (able to express feelings - including in relation to the other's actions - without the fear of being judged); able to go to each other for emotional support
  • Positive reciprocity - a relationship is based on equal give and take between the two parties.

There comes a time in your life when you realize who matters, who won't anymore, who never did, and who always will. So don't worry about the people from your past, because there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.  ~ Author Unknown
Initially this blog was supposed to be about a raw nerve that got exposed with respect to some past friends, but it seems this is going to end up, primarily, about what being and having a friend means to me. The definition above is a pretty good description for my current friends, new friends who haven't had the opportunity to mess up anything on that list and a handful of really good friends who hit all those criteria on a constant basis.
Whether on-line or in person, this definition of friendship certainly sorts out the acquaintances from those we consider 'real' friends. You know those people we just don't feel like they qualify to be considered friends? We either have to interact with them because of our jobs and even have them on our Facebook list just because we know them. And we know enough about them to understand they just don't make the cut.
I think positive reciprocity is the biggest reason potentially awesome people don't become friends even though they hit all the other examples of what makes a good friend. They, for whatever reason, are unable to engage in a mutually beneficial way that is supportive of the other person. They may prefer just knowing you at a distance, can quite possibly just be too lazy or they disagree with what you represent even when most of the above criteria is their state of being. I won't stay friends with those types because when I'm a friend, you'll know it and I expect the same in return. Face it, you really can't have the trust part either when you don't have that and eventually you lose the rest of the qualities, too.
Social networks put us in a position to possibly having way more acquaintances than real friends specifically because many might be people we haven't met in person. We don't get to see how they really engage with others. But that often isn't a great gauge either because we know people can misrepresent, for whatever reason, on-line and off-line. It's true that I may not really know them, but I've seen behaviors that can tell me a lot about their character and how they fit in that criteria above. I've been very fortunate to meet many people on my page who requested my friendship and then been very pleased to call them my friends. When I interact with them, when I can share experiences with them and see their humanity play out and they are consistent, I know I was not wrong. There are quite a few of my on-line buddies that I can truly call good friends. You know who you are. :)
I really adore most of my friends not only because they mostly adhere to the qualities above, but because I've understood for myself that I have to give in order to receive. It sounds corny and almost borders on sounding religious, but, for me, it really rings true. My friends and I aren't always overlapping in each other's lives, but if there is that ability to give as much as you can, both of you, and give genuinely what the other needs; that is what positively impacts how you really feel about the other person when you see what comes back your way.
In those relationships where I've felt that it was unbalanced and I've just given way too much of myself and nothing returns, letting go is generally the option for me. I'll try to explain it to them, but after it's already been pointed out to that person that the friendship is somewhat lop-sided and still nothing... well, it's really kind of over for me at that point. I've only got a few more good years left in me and I will not waste my time with people who aren't deserving of it.
So no matter how many friends or acquaintances you have, what you qualify them as, I would always recommend that you start with positive reciprocity. They may possess the other qualities, but more than likely, won't share them with you until you can show that you know how to give what they need. And as you continue to give, the deeper and more stable that friendship will become... and it will last.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Road Trip Reflections

Matt Champlin -
Five hours of drive time recently produced a hell of a variety of thoughts...

This weekend I learned more about philosophy than I'd previously known. Dr. Richard Carrier always does a great job of educating with style. One take away - "Philosophy from the Greek words - Philo + Sophia = Love of Wisdom"

A long time ago a friend of mine, from Greece actually, remarked "I didn't know you were such a deep thinker." Not until I lost my job in 2011 and watched my kids need me less and less did I realize how much I adore understanding myself, others and the world around me. Getting to the truth, asking questions and discerning appropriately; deep needs of mine, only recently understood. There is an energy that comes with seeking and sharing knowledge, but also a sense peace that comes with clarity. This is why I pursue wisdom. Never would have thought of myself as a philosopher when I was younger. My age, dotted with so much life experience, and currently having the time on my hands to investigate it deeper and more thoughtfully; this period in my existence will be colored richly with understanding and depth previously lacking.


I feel like I'm at a crossroad. Change, then healing has to happen. I'm about to commit
 coming out on the other side of my own indecision.

Haven't we all been there? Problematic situations that don't seem to have any solutions or sometimes, many to choose from. That icky feeling of holding back, not moving forward, stuck in your own head more than you should be; changing whatever needs to be changed seems tantamount to jumping off a cliff. More often than not, change or decision-making has resulted in better outcomes than where I was stuck. I'd highly recommend you give yourself that needed push to do what needs to happen next.


I'm always at my best... in every moment; the bad ones and the good ones.

It doesn't matter if I'm wearing make up or not, going through a rough time or not, having a really good time or not; the person I am is always my best... that I can be right then. The things that life throws at me do not change that mindset. The actions I sometimes take may not be the best, but I am doing the best I can do at that very moment. If we can accept that in our worst moments then we are still achieving the best we can. Maybe, just maybe, if we thought that and committed to that mindset we'd recover quicker to more exceptional 'best' moments.

Life and Bullies are alike. At their worst, both can fucking suck and being on the receiving 
end is horrible and almost devastating at times.

If you can get through the harshness of it all, coming back on the other side of it can make you stronger and an inspiration to all others who go through it. Life and bullies can try to destroy us physically, emotionally and mentally; choose gaining strength and power over being defeated by them. Tell life and bullies "Give it your best shot! I'm NOT going down without a fight!"


Life is like fruit in an orchard. 

I've had sweet experiences, tasty ones, even rotten to the core ones. Occasionally, a not so appetizing and obviously unexpected addition came along with the experience.


Nothing is as bad as the fear they want to spread.

It's fear mongering, in whatever the subject matter may be; avoid it, dismiss it and research it. Seeing the reality of any situation will naturally allow fear to dissipate. Fear is an appropriate emotional response, but only when there is really a good reason for it. Question the scare tactics, always.


Forgiveness is not only about understanding and accepting that things can't be 
any different than what they were or how they happened, but it also means
 identifying the emotions that keep you from forgiving someone.

How many times have we said "I forgive you." only to still be in limbo with that relationship? A space where you acknowledge they did something wrong, but you hold on to the anger and/or the hurt caused by them. You forgive them enough to create some peace between you, but no true peace for yourself. In order to heal the relationship (if that's what you want) then letting go of the hurt feelings is in order for it to not cloud future happiness.

Random thoughts creep into my mind, new ones bouncing off each other, the direction never quite a straight line. More like a circle with zig zags.

ADD is something my son thinks I might have. Maybe I do... have I defined it correctly?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Haters Gonna Hate - Love Is Gonna Win

Revolution of Love
When and UNTIL your god magically updates every single bible in existence and all future versions contain what you now call 'traditional marriage' between one man and one woman, and only when that happens will I listen to what you have to say, maybe... well, probably not because you know... knowledge about the validity of the bible and things. In the meantime, I will respectfully ask you to STFU! You use that book to support your position of disgust to deny the LGBT community marriage equality and I, along with millions of other people, demand that you stop using that book that you wave and continually cite during this struggle to achieve equality for this community.

Read your book again before you wag your tongue and wave your righteous finger. If we were truly doing 'traditional marriages' then our nation would NOT be what it is currently. One man and one woman bound by a desire to be together is what has evolved in these modern times because where we started with, that which is represented in the bible, is reprehensible. And contradictory to what you say the bible preaches today. Knock it off and get real.

The states in this country are moving (and quickly), one by one, into the direction of extending the same rights that current marriages enjoy to those who currently don't have them. The revolution of love is occurring whether you like it or not. Think about it. You've dissed the bible in favor of much more loving relationships by agreeing that your current 'traditional marriage' is more desirable... so do it again and stand with us. Stop fighting what is right and what will ultimately happen! Marriage Equality will happen in ALL states. Your protests are useless. And your bigotry and hate only injuring your own emotional health. If you replaced it with love and acceptance, just imagine what a kinder nation this would be.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Persecution My Ass

The idea of Christians being persecuted in this country now... well, it's bullshit. Plain and simple. That may have been the case hundreds of years ago after leaving their countries where they were persecuted for practicing their religions, but not now, not today. Not when we have a Constitution that protects their freedom of religion.

First off - YOURS IS THE PREDOMINANT RELIGION IN THIS COUNTRY!!! That alone precludes you from being persecuted. Find another topic to get your panties in a bunch about!

The only thing that is going on is one of three things - those nasty anti-theists (and some theists) are politely expressing their opinions, consistently pointing out irrational things and/or sending you the message "Back the fuck up!" through the court system. Check the Constitution - You are asked to take your dang hands out of schools and stay the hell out of politics! Along with that, keep your religious icons off public property unless you are prepared to let them share the stage with the other thousands of religions out there.

No one is telling you can't pray, you are free to pray wherever you choose, but preferably you will do it in your head. A silent conversation between you and your god, not in the aforementioned venues. There isn't a war on Christmas as you can still celebrate that tradition however you'd like. Your cherished traditions can be celebrated in your home, with your other believing friends and in your church, but not by proselytizing in public schools or on public land.

You want to know what real persecution is? Women being raped in war-torn countries, angry acts of bigotry focused on the minority community, the ongoing genital mutilation of women in under-developed countries, atheists being killed in foreign countries for thinking differently, members of the LGBT community losing their jobs or being terrorized, tortured and even killed in some instances, beheadings and honor killings in traditional Islamic countries... just to name a few examples. Some pretty nasty stuff and nowhere near what you think you are going through just because some people are questioning your precious religion. We write about it, we discuss it, we disagree with believers and we legislate against the efforts of you and your buddies that would encroach on the rights of others... THAT'S IT!

So, deal with it. And Google persecution for the correct definition. You aren't being persecuted. You're just annoyed that everything isn't flavored Christian anymore.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You Don't Know Me

How many times do we take assaults against our character before we react?

I'm finding that it takes less and less time for me as I grow older. Along with a strong sense of who I am, I now also possess the desire and ability to articulate against those who think they know me. It stirs the mind when they attempt battle against me. My character is in question, their anger wants to wound... it doesn't. Because I do know myself. They haven't a clue who I am while they sit on their throne of condescension. Nor did they ever care to fully understand anything beyond their initial assumptions of me.

What gets me the most is what they don't want to understand, whether it’s me or the subject matter. The more they raise their shackles against me, the harder I will protect my character. I'm finding that it's more about their own weaknesses they defend than it has ever been about me. But yet, I'm the bad guy. It can become a battle, truly, but it's one that needs to be defended against. At least it feels that way as I get older.

For too many years, I've sat back and let people walk all over my character out of fear or hesitated when they struck because of my own insecurity, lack of words or a fire in the belly that's needed to come up against those who are stuck in their ignorant minds and supported or rallied around by others who share their mentality. No more.

I deserve to be heard. That's it. Bottom line. Everyone has a voice, and everyone should be given the opportunity to speak what they feel they need to say. The only restraint one should show is the benefit of the doubt that the person receiving the message might not have heard it correctly, initially. But if after a few rounds the conversation deteriorates to name calling or insinuating falsehoods, then we have a responsibility to ourselves to stand against it. If attacked in person, one has the right to defend against it; in a forum where it's online, the same should be expected. I will and they'll wish they had known me years ago rather than now.

When we, as individuals, speak up about anything, we challenge the opposing person with a different thought process. Questioning their logic or their authority is an off-putting situation for them. So what? Do it anyway. There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with investigating or challenging things further. That is the point of education and understanding. If we didn't question anything we'd still be living in the stone-age. Some would like it if we were, but I know the majority of us kind of like where knowledge leads us.

My skills are still being refined and I don't necessarily always handle things the right way, but I'm learning and I think I'm getting better at handling myself at public assaults against my character. My primary goal is to ensure that the information or anything, for that matter, is accurate. Character assassination isn't my first instinct to pursue, and even when attacked, I don't usually go for the jugular. Sometimes I'm just fed up and I give as good as I get. I really don't like when it devolves to that and the majority of the time I say my last piece and move on. It's not worth it to me to continue if I my blood pressure rises. No one, no matter how mean or stupid they are, are worth it to me putting my health at risk.

Sometimes… most times, I even just laugh at the insults implied with tone and written with such emotion. I hope I can always respond that way, but I know I won't always. The subject matter might be something I'm really passionate about or their insults just too slimy not to respond appropriately. At those times it only raises my willingness to counter with more honesty and correctness. It seems to piss them off even more. And a round or two or three we go. But I’m the bad guy because their immaturity won’t allow them to see that someone else might have not only a different opinion as well as possibly be correct in that thought process.

Initially, I usually give someone the benefit of the doubt, unless of course I’ve been subjected to their immaturity in a previous discussion. They are getting to know me and probably make some assumptions before the first word comes out of my mouth. We, as humans, have a tendency to do this. I can forgive that and move on in the debate. But this venue - the Internet - gives us some anonymity, and I've seen some hit others so hard with such hatred, it surprises me immensely that we have people like this amongst us who feel justified somehow in their actions. I guess I shouldn't be considering all the inhumane things we hear about on the news every day. Nonetheless, it still takes me aback at times. Who raised these people?

I want my debates and discussions to be mature, interesting and something where I can learn something I never knew before. My position will be defended until new information comes my way to deter me from continuing to hold that position. In the meantime, what I strive for is civility, the introduction of accurate information only and having a sense of humor. My intentions are always start off by taking the high road, calmly and sharing what knowledge I have understood to be correct. I struggle with difficult people who, in certain situations, get me to a point where I will fail in pursuit of my intentions. At those times, I allow myself to degrade to their hostile level. I'm working on it and strive to do better because I don't want to be like them.

If only people really knew that about me maybe they wouldn’t spit their conversations out with such venom. Maybe not… maybe they are just douche bags from the get go. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Team Red

This is so not an original thought but indulge me anyway. Practicing a religion and the description of the blue pills of The Matrix are the same. It would seem followers want a blissful, pleasurable relationship with their maker and an existence created not by them but by him/her/it. Just like the pod people in The Matrix, they are deceived into thinking this is the reality.

Red pill people (or atheists), like Neo and his rescuers, understand that reality is not always what we would want. They choose to live life on their own terms and decision-making, and they do not want to or need to be chained to a creator. What freedom that is!!

Go Team Red!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Some Get It
Ten easy steps to being a good person. You know, the right kind of person in the eyes of the lord. Out of these steps, three deal specifically in how you are to kiss its ass. Highly important! He is the head idol and shall be idolized... no excuses!

We don't know exactly when they were produced, but we can guess it was thousands of years ago. A time when most people didn't have an education and probably didn't read. I guess that's why it's only ten commandments. Easier to remember when you only have a few lines to process. But seriously, how was that working for us in the world when all it knew was religion? Pretty awful when you read the bible as well as history books.

Click here for full version
Fast forward to 1948, mere mortals tried their hand at defining what it means to be a decent inhabitant of this world. What they produced was the in-depth Universal Declaration of Human Rights, leaving god out of the discussion except in the idea that people were free to believe what they wanted. Example after example is listed on how to treat each other with dignity and be humane towards one another, helping to increase the quality of life during their brief stint on this planet. The desire being to lay down the requirements for a civilized society.  

"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the people of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, 

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation withe the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge..."

It would seem the thinking humans not only go a lot further in understanding what it takes to be good, but they do it in a fashion that recognizes a universal goal; a fair and just world bringing together all varieties of cultures. They task everyone with the responsibility for themselves as well as instructing us that all freedoms and rights are inherently due each individual in order to achieve a world-wide peace. It doesn't require a god and kissing its ass, it requires recognizing that just as you deserve to have a quality life, so does the next guy. 

But I'd ask again, how's this working for us in today's world? We still have many countries that occupy Earth experiencing situations who certainly don't uphold the articles listed. There is still much disregard for the rights of individuals as well as the intentional destruction of people's lives, whatever the reason, even today. Are we less barbaric than we were in ancient times? I'd like to think we are, but when I see evidence of slavery, sex trafficking, wars, gang violence, gun violence, rape, child abuse, hatred and bigotry abounding... how can I think we are better than we were? What the hell is wrong with us? I'm sure it's not a simple answer, many variables contribute to our inhumanity.

One might think that superstition and clinging to out-dated traditions is keeping some of the Earth's population uneducated and adhering to religion rather than developing an understanding of the world and leaning towards reason and empathy. I would think that, as would many of my friends. Poverty being the biggest reason this cycle is hard to break. People will believe anything when you feed, clothe and shelter them. Why do you think missionaries are so important to the growth of a religion?

But it's not just being ignorant or accepting of the natural world, it's an attitude of us vs. them when you are dealing with the thousands of different religions in our world, still. That thinking alone informs me it's understandable why we still have so much strife in the world. One sect thinks they got it right and adhere only to their edicts. The expectation is the rest of us agree rather than them understanding and accepting that we are individuals with different ideas about what our quality of life looks like or how we'd like to experience it. 

I think the people who were involved with the creation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights understood so much about what would contribute to a better society and world, but we have many who just don't. I'm hopeful that more will as they drop the veil of religion from their lives, opting for education, inquiry and understanding instead. We become more humane when we truly have better insight about ourselves and our world. Empathy only exists when we can truly understand others and their situations rather than dictating how they should live their lives.

Ten demands from a god does not a humane person make, we know that because of our human history. Thirty articles from a concerned group of humans does not a humane person make either, but at least they were on the right track. Where we get better, eventually... hopefully... is when we drop this insistence that a god, who we are to adore, is somehow responsible for how we care for each other in this world. Only we are responsible for the quality of this world and its people. And sadly, only some get it.


The American Humanist Association really gets it! Thanks, Adam Brown, for posting this gem today.

A MUCH better ten commandments to live by...

Humanist Ten Commandments
(American Humanists Association)

1) Thou shalt strive to promote the greater good of humanity before all selfish desires.

2) Thou shalt be curious, for asking questions is the one way to find answers.

3) Harm to your fellow human is harm to humanity. Therefore, thou shalt not kill, rape, rob or otherwise victimize anyone.

4) Thou shalt treat all humans as equals, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, identity, orientation, physical ability, or status.

5) Thou shalt use reason as your guide. Science, knowledge, observation, and rational analysis are the best ways to determine any course of action.

6) Thou shalt not force your beliefs onto others, nor insist that yours be the only and correct way to live happily.

7) If thou dost govern, thou shalt govern with reason, not with superstition. Religion should have no place in any government which represents all people and beliefs.

8) Thou shalt act for the betterment of your fellow humans, and be, whenever possible, altruistic in your deeds.

9) Thou shalt be good to the Earth and its bounties, for without it, humankind is lost.

10) Thou shalt impart thy knowledge and wisdom gained in your lifetime to the next generation, so that with each passing century, humanity will grow wiser and more humane.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Delicious Words

One of my favorites is intimated. I'm not sure why, but I like how it rolls off my tongue, how it infers meaning ever so slightly, seductively. The core word, intimate, may have something to do with it; intimacy is always a good thing. But regardless of its meaning, I like how it feels when I say it in a sentence.

It got me thinking that others have favorite words, too. A good friend of mine loves the word egomaniacal. I can understand why. It has an unusually good flow about it, never mind about what its definition is.

Being a writer (I fancy myself one), words are very important to me. I like hearing them, digesting them when I read and letting them fully hit my brain with their meaning. The impact can be quite great at times. They create a tone, an understanding and ultimately a connection. That impact can be with another person giving a speech or with characters in the story, but also individuals during conversation. The words people use help me to understand them better, either bringing me closer or tainting what their outer appearance may indicate about them.

Words are used to describe things, they identify what we are trying to talk about. They give clarity and direction. They obviously serve the purpose of being able to communicate with other individuals. It is a rather banal task, but for me it never seems that way. Words are juicy, entertaining and really... just wonderful. :)

Either in this blog or elsewhere, the goal is that readers get me. But they may not. Hopefully I will leave them pondering and coming back to hear more. The words I choose deliberately will set the tone for future engagement with others. I like that. And for that reason, I choose my words carefully, but also purposefully. I have a voice with a distinct message, that is what my writing is about. Or at least that is what I'm trying to convey.

Interestingly, for many years I thought I just loved good music for it richness and ability to weave a melodic current that I connected with. I certainly enjoyed good combinations of instruments and a melody that produced that oh so special quality that kept me physically involved, but I realized that in order for me to truly be sold 100% on the song, it had to have the right lyrics. They had to make sense, they had to fit along with the music and they had to convey some sort of message with the wording. If a songwriter can appeal to my sensitivity to words used well and the music backing it up is original as well as inducing a physical reaction... well, then they are good in my book.

Bottom line... That is all. I didn't really realize that until writing became my focus. When I reflected back, it's always been about the words. I remember when I was younger, the dictionary held my attention quite a bit. It wasn't unusual for me to read it diligently for quite some time after I'd found the word I needed to look up for better understanding. I could actually just read the dictionary for no other reason than for enjoyment. Spelling was my favorite thing in English class. I usually got an A on our weekly tests. Book reports were second in line and listening to oral presentations rounded out my top favorites in school. I truly enjoyed words... listening to them, understanding them and then utilizing them correctly. Interestingly, this didn't dawn on me until I was much older. It's funny how sometimes we don't figure out things about ourselves until we involve ourselves deeply in our passions. I would definitely advocate that we all do that.

What do words do for you? Do you have favorites, too?