Tag Archives: media

I Choose to LOL (Live Out Loud)

Standard

imagesAbout a month ago, I was in a real slump.  I was feeling inferior to other people (particularly women).  I was feeling insecure and questioning my worth as a human being.  I was feeling ugly and negatively judging my body.  I was feeling self conscious in my old mini-van and it’s lack of cool.   I was resenting my role as a mom.  The boys, they too, had stolen my cool factor.  I was doubting my ability to go back in to the work force and contribute quality work that others would value.  I began to become dissatisfied with the size of my home, the style of my clothes, the color of my hair, the small number in my bank account.  I was comparing, judging, and sitting in the ugliness of the stories my mind was creating and buying. The lies began their sneaky little job of creating this web of madness within me.

Once I realized that this funk was turning ugly and affecting the way I was viewing the world and treating the people around me, I decided I needed to take a hard look at what had changed to cause such unhappiness.  Adam had been out of town during this period of downward spiraling and I had engaged in a lot of, what I believed to be, harmless fun.  I watched Bachelor in Paradise from beginning to end.  I watched the Kardashians.  I lazily browsed on Pinterest and Etsy while watching music videos.  And I was on social media much more frequently…even adding the FB app to my phone.  Media was actually affecting my view of the world.  My view of self.

And there it was, the answer was that simple. I am sensitive to what I view and can easily fall victim to the solicitous agenda of media. I know that not everybody will be as sensitive as I am to overt sexuality and portrayals of what women should be.  Some of us are more sensitive to violence or consumerism or the top ten lists of how to be perfect in some fashion of life from parenting, religion, or home organization. We are all comparing ourselves to a standard sold to us. We are always “failing” at something according to someone. Even if that someone lives inside an electronic box selling a non-existent one-size-fits-all-perfection-solution.  I bought in to the lies, sold to me by the people inside that box, that my 36-year-old female self was all washed up. If I don’t look like the Kardashians, sell sex like JLo, have the same perky body of the women competing for “love” on Bachelor in Paradise, if I’m not as perfect as all my “friends” on FB, and if I’m not buying or wearing the latest/greatest…well then I’m not worth anything. I’m not attractive. My husband won’t want me for much longer. I need to make changes. Run faster. Workout harder. Get a six pack. Make more money. Eat less. Dress sexier. I’m clearly inadequate. I need to be better. Lie after lie quickly building a foundation of self hatred. I wanted to hide my insecurities from all of you. From my friends, my family, my husband. I wanted to appear stronger and more secure than I was. And so I hid. I had been hiding other areas of my life and just added my insecurities and self hatred to the dark corner of other secrets.  The longer I hid, the more insecure I felt. I was now living a false truth. Another mark against my clearly flawed self.

Lucky for me (and those around me), I was quick to recognize that my thoughts were turning into an ugly infestation and I was able to reflect quietly enough to identify the culprit. That damn media had its grasp again. I immediately turned off the media inputs, reached out to my girlfriends and was open about how I was feeling and I soon found myself worthy again. As I rid my life of the noise shouting at me who I was, who I wasn’t, and who I should be, I found who I really am.   In the silence, I found that I am me. Perfect me. And you are you. Perfect you.

 

One way that I have found my center time and time again is to be vulnerable in sharing. I find great healing in sharing in this blog. I become connected to those around me when I let down my guard and show vulnerability in sharing my struggles. I find that others open up and share too. We build a safe community where we can be real and genuine no matter where we are in our journeys. I recognized in this time of disliking myself that I had stepped away from my purpose of living out loud. I had started to hide for fear of being judged. I had gone inward and become alone. I had lost some of my integrity. I needed a good kick start to getting back to a life of vulnerability and authenticity. I was given that good kick-in-the- ass a few weeks ago when I had the pleasure of attending an event in which Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, wa10174916_10152050667061493_5333993137919276168_ns speaking. In that forum, she spoke about Radical Honesty. Cheryl’s belief was the equivalent of my belief of living out loud. Here was a woman who was baring her life in a truly authentic way and I, along with so many others, connect with this type of vulnerability. I felt the pull and encouragement to come out of hiding and begin sharing again.

 

I’ve started by sharing my deep, dark, scary secrets with my best friend, my husband. He’s held such a safe space for me and encouraged me to share whatever my heart needs to share. With his encouragement, I am ready to restart the practice of Living Out Loud with Radical Honesty. I hope that you all will continue to hold a safe space for my sharing, for the sharing of others, and find your safe spaces for vulnerability too. Start by sharing one secret with someone you find trustworthy. Or even begin by writing down the scariest secret you can think of sharing and burn it or bury it. Just writing it down is one step toward healing and letting it go. Freedom from the lie that secret has sold you.  I think you’ll find the more you share the less scary it becomes. And you’ll start to love you a helluva a lot more. Others will gravitate toward you because your energy will be absolutely pure. And, before you know it, you’ll not only be your own safe place but a safe place for others to practice Radical Honesty.

 

So who’s with me? Who’s ready to LIVE OUT LOUD? Journey with me, Friends! Let’s change ourselves, our circles and our communities with a little bit of Radical Honesty!

 

 

 

 

Paint Me Positive

Standard

Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.                                                                                                                                          ~Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre~

If I were to tell you that I’m an atheist some of you may choose to stop reading right now.  Some of you might cringe and have second thoughts about what kind of person I am.  Some of you will pray for me.  Some of you will get angry.  Some will feel sad or sorry for me.  Some will feel indifferent.  And a select few will send me cyber high fives.

If I were to tell you that I’m a secular humanist your feelings toward me are not as likely to be so strongly opinionated as they were when I applied the atheist label.  Many of you may have not even heard of people referring to themselves as secular humanists so there’s not a negative reaction.  Secular humanist sounds friendly.  Someone harmless.  Someone with different values than yours but values nonetheless.

Atheist=negativity/danger/red flags                                  Secular Humanist= friendly/safe/question mark

am an atheist.

But before you write me off….

I am also a secular humanist.

Atheist Bus Campaign Launch

(Photo credit: Girl with a one-track mind)

What is it about the word atheist that frightens people so deeply?  Why is it the standard perception that atheists are threatening enemies?

In a recent study (found here) a good percentage of Americans said they would not approve of their child marrying an atheist.  They would not vote for an atheist.  Atheists are more disliked than Muslims.  Atheists do not have American values.  Atheists are as untrustworthy as criminal rapists.

On and on and on the prejudiced opinions go.

I can’t blame people for feeling the way they do.  Not because these popular opinions are based on knowledge or fact but because prior to becoming an atheist I was a life long christian with these same views.  I held strong, fear based opinions about a group of people I had very little knowledge about.  In my bubble of a world, atheists were not children of God therefore they were not to be trusted.  In fact they were enemies of God sadly manipulated by Satan to influence our society with evil things like science, feminism, removal of prayer, and self sufficiency.  I’m not mocking or belittling when I state these things.  This is simply what I was taught.  What I believed.  What I practiced.  So I understand the majority in these studies.  Completely.  But I have awareness now.  Real life experience. The prejudiced opinions are just that, prejudiced.  Atheists are a pretty rad group of people.  Kind, giving, educated, motivated, involved, peaceful individuals.  Of course there are some rotten apples in the bunch but they don’t define the group as a whole.  Just like Westboro doesn’t define the entire lot of christians.

brassfielddiatribe.jpgThe media does a great job of giving atheists a bum rap too.  How can any decent person form an unbiased opinion when the media is hell bent on presenting atheists with a negative slant?  It’s difficult to filter through all the negative attention to find the positive.  People in positions of public education (media, pastors, politicians, etc) are often selling negative smut to their viewers.  A perfect example is a recent sermon (view pic on left) given by a minister in Oklahoma.  That pastor made it his mission to paint atheists in a very negative light claiming that no atheists could be found in the relief efforts of the Oklahoma City tornado.  He was willing to paint that picture even if that meant he had to lie.  We call that “lying for Jesus”.    His fact-lacking, falsified sermon was quickly and formally refuted but the seed of negativity had already been planted.  The foundation for hate already laid.

So I don’t blame people for their negative perspective.  It’s what they’re fed.  It’s what they’re taught to believe.

But we can change that.

P1050256I think the best thing atheists can do is first and foremost come out of the closet.  No more hiding.  If you are an atheist playing the religious game solely for the benefit of your friends and family it’s time to own your truth.  Those of us who come out in religious communities will likely suffer loss, heartache, judgement and persecution but the more of us that speak up, the more our society can see that their views and opinions are misguided.  We love, we serve, we donate, we’re trustworthy, we make great parents and we are kind neighbors.  Just like them.
Personal relationships are the quickest and most effective way to break down barriers.  So I encourage you to help change the negative societal stigma by speaking your truth and finding pride in your atheism.

You see many of us atheists are secular humanists.  We are serving our communities and bettering humanity just like the religious.  We’re just doing it without the God mandate.  So if calling me an atheist freaks you out and subjects me to negative space in your mind, you can always refer to me as a secular humanist.  It’s all good.

Check in tomorrow for Part Two.