Thursday, September 26, 2013

♥ Day

It's the one year anniversary of my heart cath that led to three stents positioned within it, all thanks to my faulty DNA. I really hadn't planned on remembering this life-altering event nor writing about it today. Had it not been for a certain set of individuals called my family, I would have just glossed over this day. After experiencing some pretty strong emotions at the sight of flowers, my heart picture and the words in my card, not writing it all down was not an option. There goes all the other stuff I wanted to focus on today, oh well.

I awoke this morning feeling like I do most days, a state somewhere between refreshed from a night's slumber and not quite ready to be awake yet. But I brushed aside the desire to stay in bed a bit longer, I forced my legs over the edge and out of the bed I went.

Turning the corner into the kitchen, I was greeted with a bouquet of flowers along with a card and this lovely printed heart from my three men. I opened the card and immediately welled up. It was thoughtful, it was sweet and it tugged at my faulty heart. Obviously this day a year ago was pretty traumatic, I just never expected that my family would want to revisit it. But I guess celebrating the fact that I've made it for one year longer... well, that's worth acknowledging. 

Now that I've had my attention focused on the day that was literally life-changing, it brings up so many different emotions and thoughts. For starters, I'd like to forget that it occurred, but I'm thankful I made it through the procedure to be here longer. So glad that worse things, like a heart attack didn't happen before we found out how detrimental the state of my heart actually was during the procedure. Feeling loved and appreciated by my men that they took the time to share their feelings for me in the card. Oh, so loved... that's the part that made me cry. You think you know they love you, but it's those unexpected moments in time when declarations made solidify the connection you have to them.

I'm also angry. Because of what happened last year, I had to change my life in so many ways to ensure that my pre-heart attack state remained that way. Between forced daily exercise and medication, I could literally scream. People who know me, know that I despise working out. They know I like to stay active, but I'm not a big fan of having to schedule in physical activity, especially when there are so many better things to do. Plus the medication has done things to my body that I'm not too happy about. My skin is different. I have rough patches, eruptions I'm not used to and exposure to the sun (which I adore being in) has to be limited. I have a sunburn from June 2nd that has yet to completely fade and it's September! What the hell is up with that? Not to mention, you touch me in the slightest and I've got a bruise. I'm not sure, but I think I've also gotten klutzier, too. But that could be age, not medication.

There was a possibility that I could have died a year ago. I'm sure that it was a rather slim chance being in the terrifically capable hands of my doctor, but nonetheless, it was a possibility. Nobody could predict how things would go during the procedure nor exactly what they would find. So, I made important decisions, got pertinent papers pulled together and said some good-byes, just in case. Coming out of it the next day with a feeling of "I've kicked life in it's ass and I'm ready to go!" propelled me straight into doing all the right things. I showed life who was boss. Twenty pounds lost later, my blood pressure is down, the blood levels are where they should be and I had my strength and energy back again. It's all good news now and my goal is just to continue to feel better. If I can help it that is and hopefully my DNA doesn't throw me out another curve ball.

Having a year pass to reflect back on that day, all in all things turned out better than expected. Physically, I'm in much better shape. Mentally, I have a more defined clarity about my life than I did previously and emotionally, well... that's the supremely excellent part. There have been other emotionally charged events since that day and yet I feel like not handling them, falling apart is so not an option at this stage. If I can survive the possibility of death, then damn... I can handle anything. I may not like it, but I can survive it. The second bit about feeling more emotionally grounded is the fact that I know what is my shit to deal with now and what I have to let others handle.

The other bonus of these types of events is the closeness you feel to your family and friends. It makes you weed out those who add no value and eliminate those unhealthy life energy sucking relationships from your circle. Who's got time to participate in a life if it's being cluttered with unnecessary drainage of your happiness? I don't. My goal is to have my joy meter stay on the high side as much as possible for the remainder of my short life.

This morning I woke up like any other day. The bonus is I'm breathing... still. In addition, I got to cry happy tears about deep, special connections and say thank you to the universe for my ability to hang on just a little while longer with them.

It's a good day, after all.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spaghetti Served Up Well in Omaha

This was my first attendance at Apostacon, the 5th annual convention of the ever evolving name of the Omaha event. I predict this will be its permanent moniker. It was an experience I'll not soon forget and one I look forward to in the coming years.

This write up could really just be one continual love fest about the speakers, the location, the hotel, the attendees and the substance of it; those who attended could attest to what I'm saying. For those who did not, I would urge you to make plans for next year, if at all possible, to experience what I hope will be a repeat of this year's positivity or even better, if that can even possibly be done.

For me, it was a great experience from the time I left my house the Thursday before the event until my eventual return the following Monday. Driving time included, hands down the easiest road trip ever. Everything, and I mean everything, was such a positive experience, even when the topics delved into the in-fighting in the movement or speakers highlighting what we still face in the realm of religion in our politics. I had the opportunity to make new friends, catch up with old friends and connect in person with those who were previously only friends on Facebook, endearing them to me even more now than just what they post there.

Hearing and meeting many of the speakers for the first time was especially thrilling, seeing previous ones again was not disappointing either. The topics were interesting as well as enlightening with new information to digest and ponder. I always do love learning. The information whore that I am had me squeeing all weekend. Let's just say they scored a ten with the substantive presentations that were showcased during this weekend.

I'll touch on a few of the speakers that really left an emotional impact on me. One speaker in particular tore at my emotions, and I don't think I was the only one. He made me cry, really. During Seth Andrew's talk I welled up more than just a few times and in looking around, there were others dabbing at their faces, too. His passion and empathy were palpable. Afterwards, I just had to hug that man. Then I was sobbing. I could barely get my words out to tell him what he did so right and urged him to not ever stop making a difference. Hopefully, he understood. At least I think he did. He hugged me back and looked a little moist around the eyes when I let go. When the videos are up, take a moment to view this one. I do not think you will be disappointed.

I was glad, but saddened to understand more of Sarah Morehead's struggles that brought her to Recovering from Religion. Having to endure the emotional and physical events in her past has certainly touched her in a way to bring the best out of her now; she adds tremendous value as its Executive Director specifically because of the terrible insight she has. I'm proud to call her my friend and glad to be working with her to further the organization's mission. Religion and the effects of it won't be going away any time soon. It's great to have an organization in place that can help those people who are in the process of abandoning a religion, but also how to overcome what religion has done to them.

Nathan Phelps, son of Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church now Executive Director of Center for Inquiry Canada, Canadian author and avid activist for LGBT rights, shared his story with us. Fascinating but frightening insight about the WBC left me just shaking my head so many times. Like Sarah, he went through unimaginable horrors and came out the other side a wounded and worse for the wear individual. But he then, in spite of his past, created a better, more loving future for himself and his family. And chooses the path of sharing and educating to further impact his world in a positive way. Just an awesome experience to hear him and go through that journey with him. After enjoying a wonderful dinner and spending some time with him at the hotel restaurant I'll add that he is thoughtful, genuine and exudes such a loving quality about him. You just wanted to hug him all night. He's a big teddy bear in a human suit. If ever you have the opportunity to hear him speak, do it.

Two days full of speakers with so much information on so many different topics. The ineffectiveness of prayer, separation of church and state issues, political action to be taken, how to organize, getting good at doing podcasts and so much more...and a break from it all with entertainment provided by Matt Dillahunty. Richard Dawkins Skyped in to be with us, too. It was all just wonderful! If I touched on all of them, this blog would be a book! So, if you didn't attend, I'd highly recommend that you watch all the videos! I'm not kidding when I say there was valuable information to learn from all the speakers. Their personalities and humor brought to the subject was just bonus. Do a marathon session of Apostacon videos and it will just feel like you were there with us. There truly is so much to learn!!

I'll end this by saying to all the organizers of the event - FANTASTIC JOB GUYS!! If this level of awesomeness is what we can expect every year, count me in! See you next year. :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm Waiting, I'm Aching

You could pull me back in... if only you tried.
I'm open, I'm willing... I'm waiting.
The moments present themselves, the silence is deafening.
Show me what you've told me... when you had to.
Let me agree with the words.
I'm not seeing it, feeling it... yet.
I'm still waiting for the words to come true....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Being Forever

Immortality is only guaranteed in the recollection of your force in this world.

Be memorable.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Afternoon Interruption

Exhausted, again
Rest comes in stolen moments
Life on hold, again

Some Minds

Open to knowledge
Wanting to understand life
Freedom gained in thought

Thursday, September 5, 2013

God Is Not Better Than Me

"Worship is a humbling denial of your own value in order to inflate someone else's worth."
Dan Barker - The Good Atheist

We've all seen the videos of quivering bodies, hands raised, full on "I'm so into you jesus" worship. It makes me feel so sad for these people and especially the multitude of children who are pushed into that behavior.

The adults want to feel a connection to their lord so bad they create this fever-pitched ritual and call it real. The children emulate and then hope for praise. "Was that good mommy?"  understandably the subconscious reaction to what is going on around them.

The other troubling aspect of this is the complete denial of their own personhood. Over and over again, this steady mantra believers insist on - we're sinners, we're evil, only god is awesome - this  reinforces the lack of value they feel about themselves. They are but a shadow in the greatness of their one true god. Yuck. No wonder there are so many, the ones with low self-esteem to begin with, who fall into religion so smoothly; the rituals are designed for them in mind. Stockholm Syndrome, another version of slavery.

Church leaders who promote submission unto the lord understand what this means. It's power over their flock and they use it oh so well to their advantage. Look at the mega-billion super churches and those who run them. They are living the lifestyle while they watch the dutiful worshipers go ga-ga for jesus. They even egg them on further and deeper into this silliness. And they call it good. For who? Not the parishioners as their wallets are being emptied. The only thing they are left with are the endorphins they themselves brought into existence. They are happy... for the moment.

The faithful will tell you that all this is worth it, but is it really? Well, some would say that he has made it abundantly clear to them. Of course he has. Right and if I believe that then I'll buy any bullshit story... like the truly faithful do, over and over, in so many different religions, sects and cults.

What does worship of an imaginary figure actually do for their one existence here on earth? Nothing and that's the point. All they want so desperately is to be received by a figure that won't make themselves known to them until after this life has extinguished itself. They want the promised glorious after-life. "Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire." from The Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons by David Fitzgerald. Good book, I'd highly recommend it for further understanding. So, what he wants, nay demands, is complete and utter submission of his flock and dutiful worship of his being the grandest of them all. What a fucking narcissist.

My hope is more people would question this submission/domination relationship that is being encouraged. Think about this - who decided people have no value? For those who believe in god, well then, he did, actually. And this is the person they want to worship? He thinks people are beneath him and must be saved, but he's the one who created them. So doesn't that make him imperfect for creating something that has no value? If he decided to create imperfect people intentionally, well now he's seriously just fucking with people. How do followers not take a moment to question this whole set up? It boggles the mind. Makes me glad that I use mine.

Committing to worship fervently, allowing yourself to believe that you have less value only hinders you from fully enjoying and accepting yourself as you are, good and bad. It stymies real personal growth when you feel you will never be better than the one who created you. You are a slave to tradition, not stepping out of line and never questioning; faithful now and until you reach the goal of the after-life with the big guy. Ugh, what a waste of a life here and now.

A few years back, I wrote a piece about being self-led and independent, in actions and thought. It has served me well in this one life I am leading. I continue in this journey gaining more understanding with every event and connection I make in this world. It gives me personal strength knowing every challenge overcome is one I  was able to master. This is value and every conflict or problem handled continues to add more. Handling life on its own terms does not require me to worship something else. Being here requires me to understand myself, my fellow inhabitants, nature and how to best navigate my short time in this life. It means being fully engaged, not down on my knees or submitting a puny version of its alleged creator in prayerful worship.

I Don't Tremble ...

  •  while reading a book among believers about atheism.
  •  wearing an atheist themed t-shirt in public.
  •  while staunchly presenting facts against fantasy.
  •  when you mock me.
  •  as you spew hateful things about me.
  •  when you shut me out.
  •  when you replace friendship with animosity.

... like you do.

Nor will I ever apologize for it. Real ease comes from acceptance. Get some.