Friday, January 29, 2016

Video: Having fun with My Baby, Video, Pics

These past few months have been CRAZY BUSY! My husband and I are so happy to have our healthy little baby :) I still have a lot of weight to lose but working on it slowly.
P.S. We have tons of trips already planned for this year: Sicily, Malta, Japan, New Orleans etc!

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Monday, December 21, 2015

ANXIETY: Stop Saying "TAKE A DEEP BREATH" or "CALM DOWN"


On behalf of those of us who suffer with ANXIETY, do you know what is worse to us than the anxiety?—Being told to “calm down”, “relax” or, my all time favorite, “Take a deep breath”.

I think this woman sums it up quite well in her blog post here http://www.xojane.com/relationships/i-will-not-calm-down-at least in terms of how it effects her when people want to quash her excitability.

My own Thoughts....

But…

 if you’re interested in trolling someone who has anxiety, or, you simply get your spikes of dopamine via sociopathic maneuvers, by all means, go ahead and tell an already-anxious individual to simply “Take a deep breath”.  Problem solved. People with anxiety have never once thought of these suggestions on their own and I’m sure they would appreciate hearing your clever advice.

When interacting with someone who appears funny, “off”, nervous or jittery—or any behavior that isn’t an exact representation of your own behavior, it is always a good idea to point this out to said individual in a public setting and start lecturing. This will put your anxious friend at ease. Make certain that everyone else is aware of this person’s deviant behavior. The person who suffers with anxiety will no doubt feel reassured by your caring, public gesture. Now that more people are glaring at this person, more people can offer their assistance and proceed to tell this person to “relax” or “take a deep breath”. It always helps when more than 2-3 people tell the anxious person the same thing. The more times they hear it, the more likely it will work, right?

You could even step it up a notch and tell your anxious friend, “Go find a corner, count to ten, and then take a deep breath.” People with anxiety always appreciate knowing that you really care. And, even if you were being intentionally patronizing, they would not be able to tell anyways. Never.

I’m only kidding, of course. People who suffer with anxiety are not actually trying to bother you. I know it may seem like it, but they’re not. We do know, however, that our behavior is deeply infuriating to you.  It isn’t, you say? Then why must you keep on commanding us to “Take a deep breath”? It certainly isn’t solving our anxiety. Let me tell you something—your antics are worsening our anxiety, not helping it. We get that you’re a control freak and haven’t expanded your social encounters to approve of those of us who violate what is normal in even the slightest degree. We get it that you’re a Type A, standing for Asshole-Type-Person.

We fully understand that we have our own idiosyncratic personalities. Furthermore, many of us have done everything in our powers to develop mindfulness; a self-aware stance so that we can behave in a manner that puts others at ease. But apparently, after all of these years of self-monitoring…of constant efforts to stay within the straight jacked of normalcy, we have failed.

I’m here to finally say “Knock it Off”. If our composure, mannerisms or the intensity in how we act or express ourselves makes you uncomfortable, then that is your problem, not ours.

I have never once corrected anyone for how they “should” compose themselves—in my entire life. I might argue with ideas or words that are said, but I don’t make commentary on body language. I realize that how people act and compose themselves is largely a product of their brains chemistry and structure. While innate patterns of behavior can be altered and improved upon, many of the individuals who have these patterns are already fully aware that they have them and are making strenuous efforts to overcome them or act in ways that fall within the normal range of acceptable behavior (whatever that is).

The next time someone tells me to “Take a deep breath”, I’m going to tell them “Why don’t you take a deep breath? Why don’t you go to the corner and count to ten?” After all, you’re the one who appears to be affected by me enough to want to manage my behavior and assert your control over me. Next time I won’t even allow your dictates to enter my consciousness and I will ask you “Is everything okay with you? You don’t seem to have any kind of authority on “balance” or “mindfulness” either.

 Commanding someone to “Take a Deep Breath” isn’t helpful. It is equivalent to telling someone to “Calm Down!” or “Lower your Blood Pressure!” Telling someone to calm down has never once helped someone calm down but has instead served to increase their level of agitation. In fact, if you really want to stir up someone’s wrath, just tell them to “Calm down” or “relax” when they are already in a vexed state. Just see what happens…

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Common Theme Between Christianity and Buddhism...?


 I find it interesting that both Buddhism and Christianity have negative things to say about the notion of “desire”. According to Buddhist teaching, the idea of desire or “wanting” is a condition of the mind that should be overcome and banished. Desire is an unbalanced state. It is the feeling of being unfulfilled or “needing something more”. It is from this mental state of desiring something that we experience unhappiness, unsettling thoughts…anxiety. Desire is the root of all the unhappiness that we experience. Nirvana is the condition where desire is placated, pacified. Nirvana is the absence of desire. Nirvana is the state where we will feel whole; but, ironically, through (almost?) self-annihilation. 

In Christianity there is a scripture verse that comes to mind about desire:

“But each one is tempted when, by his own DESIRE, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after DESIRE has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown gives birth to death.”  James 1:14

Another verse comes to mind regarding this "losing of the self".

"Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 10:39

So, according to Christianity, it is also desire that leads to sin, unhappiness…a corrupt nature. Adam and Eve desired the fruit in the Garden of Eden. They acted upon their desire and it led to their downfall. This led to the Fall of the human race. Heaven is like Christianity’s Nirvana, where there is no more desire or sin and where those who end up there feel complete--and we do this by losing the self for Jesus.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Me Blathering with My Mom about Christianity



Recently I had quite the lengthy discussion with my Mom about Christianity. As usual, I don’t know how it came about. It seemed to unfold before me so quickly that I became decidedly assertive in my responses.

Perhaps it started with her telling me that “I should be reading my Bible more” and that “My Biblical understanding was “PITIFUL”. She insisted that I must “Look to God for guidance.”

While I usually brush her suggestions out of my mind and off my shoulders, today I decided to engage. I told her that I have read the Bible. I understand most of the basic premises and doctrines threaded throughout the text. To that, she scoffed and said, “You don’t know anything!” She started laughing uncontrollably. The thought of me merely “thinking that I had a basic understanding of even one verse in the Bible” made her cackle.

I asked her, “Okay then. Please tell me exactly what it is that I don’t know or understand about the Bible. Be precise here. Is it that I don’t understand Salvation enough? Propitiation? Justification? Communion? Baptism? What underlying theme or doctrine do I not understand according to Protestant, Fundamentalist Christianity?

She was hesitant to respond but said, “You don’t understand that Jesus is in every book of the Bible!”

“Let me tell you what I do understand”, I said. “Christians believe that Jesus is symbolically interwoven into every book of the Bible—including most books in the Old Testament.  For instance, in Genesis Christians will suggest that Adam was a “precursor of Christ”…a symbol of Christ. I understand the Christian idea that “Jesus was the second Adam”. Adam’s sin ushered the world into the spiral of sin and damnation. Jesus—the Second Adam—brought the ultimate solution—his act of death on the cross would restore the relationship humans would have with God. Unlike Adam who sinned, Jesus would lead a sinless life. At the end, he would lay down his life as a living sacrifice for the sins of the world. All humans could be reunited with God again. We would now have access to eternal life instead of divine retribution in hell. This is where “free will” comes into play. Humans would have to exert their own free-agency to accept Christ into their hearts in order to be redeemed back to God.
Please tell me what I’m missing here? Yes, I think I understand Christian doctrine…theology.”

 I understand how Christians think and their interpretations of scripture. I took both Old Testament and New Testament Survey in college back in 1999. Remember?

Furthermore, I understand that Christians want to get to the heart of the issue—that Jesus is the centerfold of the Bible—and that everything comes back to him. “It’s not about knowledge and intellect it’s about the state of the heart” Christians will repeat endlessly. Christianity is the only belief system which has “God looking out to man” instead of “Man looking out to God”. I also fully understand this.  I know these basic premises of Christianity but I reject them based on the idea that I first, and foremost, do not see evidence for a God—and certainly not for the Christian God or Muslim God.

 She proceeded to tell me that I should, “Open my heart and stop rejecting God!”

I said, “You’re looking at this the wrong way! I’m not rejecting God or Jesus. I am no longer within the confines of your world-view. I think very differently now. I have a hard time rejecting something that I don’t believe in.”

I could just as easily say “You’re rejecting Mohammed” but to that you would reply, “I don’t believe in Mohammed (and his claims). You see how that works?”
  “Guess what?” My Mom interjected, “Mohammed was a real person and he believed that Jesus was a real prophet of God.”

“Okay then, fine.” I said.
“You’re rejecting the leprechaun who wants you to embrace him.”  Why do you keep on bringing up the subject of Leprechauns?” My mother said, incredulous.  There is no organized, developed system of belief with regards to Leprechauns. There is no text. The Bible has been around for millennia, the beliefs from it have sustained themselves over centuries and it is still one of the most quoted books of all time. It has been influential in many aspects of human history. “Yes”, I agreed. But it still doesn’t mean it is true. Supernatural claims require extraordinary evidence.

The conversation continued until I finally asked her if she would ever be willing to admit that she could be wrong. She insisted “Never. I would never give Satan a foot-hold by allowing the possibility for doubt.” At that point I said, “And that is where we differ. I will admit that I could be wrong. I will always be open to changing my mind.” This is where intellectual humility and honesty starts. If you can’t admit that you could ever be wrong, then…where can we go from here? You are, at the beginning, already asserting that you are right, THAT YOU ARE CERTAIN. The truth is, neither of us can be justifiably certain in our metaphysical positions of reality.



Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm Attending a Christian Women's Book Club


I recently began attending a CHRISTIAN WOMEN’S BOOK CLUB. Three-dimensional, corporeal female friends can sometimes be hard to find and I realized that this was the best I was going to get. My good friend hosts the book club. She is exceptionally intelligent, creative and an extraordinary communicator. She is married, has a degree in Architecture, her husband is a successful Oncologist and she has a two- year old son. Like me, she is pregnant with a baby girl and we both happen to be in the same trimester.

The moment I met her I could see that she enjoyed the pursuit of intellectual discussions, controversial ones…challenging ones. She wasn’t your typical boring woman who would talk incessantly about movies and television shows or “what she did yesterday” or “how funny her dog/cat is”.  She liked ideas. She would discuss world events and hypothesize about their effects. She wasn’t opposed to seeing things from a different angle. Furthermore, she composed herself with kindness and humility and had a “free-thinking” flow to her thoughts.

 I DID NOT introduce myself to her as an atheist, though I did mention that I was “no longer religious”. I didn’t want to excommunicate myself from the get-go.

We became friends almost instantly and have spent time together going to Flea markets or having tea in her kitchen. She is ambitious and has amassed quite the cohort of female friends—many of them pregnant or with young children and all of them are devout Christians.

We are currently studying the book, “The Envy of Eve”. This book exposes a common vice of women: Envy, Covetousness…Jealousy.  The book is written from a Christian woman’s perspective.  The general thrust of the book is that having these negative emotions steals your contentment in life.  The resolution for the negative trait of envy, of course, is to be more appreciative of what you do have. It is harder to let discontentment and jealousy seep in if you remain grateful for the wonderful things in your life—like having two working legs, being able to use your (limited) brain and having clean water to drink.

Abolishing jealousy comes back to mindfulness—approaching situations and navigating your feelings about them by being continually mindful. While feelings of jealousy can be easily aroused it is important to stop and recognize these emotions as they appear…and then dispense of them. Jealousy comes when we are constantly comparing ourselves to the success of others and then feel bitter that we are no where near as successful.

 Of course, this book is written from a theological standpoint and is drenched with scripture verses and the insistence to “stop and pray”. As usual, it seems that prayer and Biblical meditation are the prescriptions for having a jealous, covetous mind-set.

What struck me most about this Christian book study was how practical and useful the message was. From my vantage point as an atheist, I see things like jealousy and covetousness from a psychological or biological perspective and no longer from a Biblical perspective.

A major reason why jealousy exists among women comes back down to our human (biological) desire to find a long-term mate and reproduce with this person. Women can be jealous of other women because they are in competition with other women to secure a long-term partner and push their genes into the next generation.Thus—there are biological—not theological—reasons why women are jealous of other women. Women are also jealous of other women who are more successful in their career than they are. Competition begets jealousy—I think.

Anyways, it will be interesting to learn more from these women at the book club. I will just have to start reading the book. HA!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"Sorry Ladies, there really is a Man Shortage" Article


Just stumbled upon an interesting article:

http://nypost.com/2015/08/25/hey-ladies-here-are-8-reasons-youre-single/

I posted my own thoughts on this issue (somewhat related) in my most popular blog post (based on # of views) here:

CHRISTIAN MAN SHORTAGE-- MY OWN THOUGHTS HERE  :)

Dating is a Numbers game-- My other blog post

I don't have much more to say on this--well I do--but I'll spare you them today. The only thing I will say is this:

Many young women (under the age of 35) still want to get married (or, at least find a long-term monogamous companion). Conversely, the percentage of young men who wish to do the same is far less. This trend only seems to be getting worse especially as we consider the statistics of who wants to get married in today’s world compared to who wanted to get married in previous decades. 

See additional links below:

Yes, statistics reveal that fewer men want to get married while women's interest in finding a long-term partner (especially as they get older) has increased.https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/young-men-giving-up-on-marriage-women-arent-women-anymore

Is it because of the job scarcity for men in America?http://www.businessinsider.com/a-simple-reason-why-fewer-americans-are-getting-married-2014-9?IR=T

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Socialism/Economics...Thoughts today....



I do not think socialism is a viable economic system for America—especially not right now! If we consider the demographics of America at present I just don’t see how it will work. The U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders embraces democratic socialism and seems to highly appreciate the kind of socialism that exists in Scandinavian countries.

I am American and have spent some time traveling (and living) in different regions of the United-States. I traveled to Norway a year ago and had the opportunity to wander through a variety of Norwegian cities from the southern tip of Norway to the northern tip. The cities that my husband and I visisted included: Bergen, Alesund, Valdal, Molde, Trondheim, Bode, Rorvik, Narvik, Ornes, Narvik and Tromso. We spent a lot of time walking all around these cities. We also briefly spent time in Oslo, but only at the luxurious airport—perhaps the most opulent I have seen—it has real hard-wood floors! We gained a bird’s eye—big picture—look of this country and can attest that the demographics of Norway are much different than those found in the United-States.  

One of the first things you will notice about Norway is its homogeneity of culture and ethnicity. Almost every person who you walk by is a blonde-haired, fair-skinned Norwegian. Another thing that makes Norway different from the United-States is its population. Norway has a much, much smaller population than the United-States. While in Norway, we encountered very, very few immigrants from developing nations and not very many from other wealthier nations in Europe either.

One thing that almost came as a shock for us was the hotel housekeepers.  At every single hotel that we stayed at the housekeepers were young, college-age Norwegian women. This was a site we had never seen before! I am no longer under the persuasion that ONLY immigrants from poor nations would be willing to “do certain kinds of physically demanding jobs”. Citizens, within their own countries who need work will indeed take these kinds of labor and housekeeping jobs if they are available.

The crime rate in Norway (likely due to the small population size) is very low while the crime rate in the United-States is comparatively high.

I think that a socialist economic system in the US would ultimately lead to its collapse. There are just too many people in the U.S. There is too much crime in the US. Also, there are too many people in the US who are not working and/or contributing to the economic system. An economic system where there are so many people taking from the system is not going to last very long.

Yes, I do agree that extremely wealthy individuals in America should be taxed highly and this money should be distributed to individuals who are disabled, sick or otherwise unfit to work. However, I am hesitant about the idea of taxing the rich. I do not think that individuals who are successful in their creative/inventive, academic or business adventures should be punished. There should be some sort of a reward to working hard in a career or business venture. However, if you are just receiving donations or if you simply won the lottery—you should be taxed in a higher tax bracket and this money should be distributed to poor people who are disabled or veterans—what are you contributing to society by asking for donations or by out of luck “winning the lottery”?

A capitalist system is imperfect but so is a socialistic system. Practically speaking, people appear to be highly motivated by the idea of acquiring money. If you think this is false, then please explain why so many people make an effort every month (or week) to buy lottery tickets. Why do they do this? Why is so much time and money spent towards this? It is because people are motivated by the idea of wealth attainment. Yes, you might say “Well, people are actually motivated by the idea of easy wealth attainment”. Yes, this is true—but it is still wealth attainment nonetheless.

 Behavior is the best indicator of what people are motivated by. Some people make diligent, consistent efforts to buy lottery tickets. Others dedicate a good portion of their time to starting a business or attending college in pursuit of a specific career path that will ultimately yield better financial prospects for their future. Still, others do the best they can in whatever sector they find.

Like sex, people like money. This is an undeniable fact. A socialistic system is an idealistic system but it isn’t practical and it doesn’t take into account the psychology of human beings. If you see that human beings are motivated by money and also that without the reward of money, that simply being given it—they will have a disposition to be lazy—then capitalism is the more economically feasible option.

In almost every capacity people seem to be highly motivated by just the idea of wealth acquisition. We can see this with youtube. Youtube creators slowly become big and the money they make through adsense revenue and donations from their viewers encourages them to keep on making videos.

 One area of society that I see no problem taxing highly is in the area of entertainment. Superstars like Tom Cruise, Snooki and other actors, actresses and pop-star musicians who render nothing to society’s progression should be put in the highest tax bracket possible. These individuals come a dime a dozen. The only thing required in the industry of entertainment is youth and/or looks. Acting skills are important too, but once a woman passes her prime she is no longer in demand--unless she is an extremely talented actress.  I hate to be blunt, but that’s it. We all know it. Where is Catherine Zeta Jones now? Where is she?   

Instead, we should be placing more importance on individuals who are contributing to the welfare of society—educators, college professors, doctors, engineers, scientists, inventors and comedians. We need a meritocracy. We need a society where the people who contribute the most earn the most. If a person is incapable of contributing—well, it does suck to be them.  Socialism places (near) equivalent importance on every vocation—whether janitor or doctor. According to this view, who is to say that a doctor is significantly more valuable than a janitor?  Sure, a doctor will still earn more than a janitor, but not significantly more. In a capitalist system, a doctor earns significantly more than a janitor.

 My opinion is that we need an economic system that rewards individuals who are the major contributors to the advancement of society. May the best ideas win and may they be richly rewarded!