Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Wishes

As most of you know, I don't make resolutions... I do make goals for my business, but that isn't the same. This year, I've taken a very hard look at myself and others (FaceBook can be great for this) and decide that for the New Year, I have wishes for others --
1. Stop comparing yourself, your kids, your life to others'. Your path is your own. Make your life the best one for you and yours that you can. I have a friend who went through a very rough divorce this year. She commented recently something to the effect of "Your life seems so calm..." It is; now. My family went through our own hell for close to 15 years, but we came out of it stronger, closer, and happier than ever. Friends I've made over the last two or three years didn't see all the pain and anguish we all went through, so the fact that I don't have it now doesn't mean I don't know what it's like. I do. I got through it, though, and so will you.
2. Some have made comments about people being "fake" on FB... Whether they are or not, why do you care? For me, specifically, I don't post lies and my life is pretty good; deal with it, or go away. Don't assume some people only posting the good stuff because they're "being fake"; I'm only posting the good stuff because (a) there isn't much bad stuff and (b) life is negative enough; I don't need to add to it.
3. Stop with the "boys/men..." and "girls/women..." memes, comments, assumptions, etc. It's almost 2016, act like it! Being male or being female is not a reason, nor an excuse, to act certain ways. We are raising our daughter to have opinions of her own, think for herself, assert herself when needed, negotiate when required, and not take shit from ANYONE. An assertive woman is not a "bitch", a man who cries about something is not "a wuss/pussy", a guy who is a cheerleader is not "gay" (being an insult), a girl who likes to play football is not "a tomboy" (oh, how I hate that term). Double-standards are NOT ok. Also, almost EVERY SINGLE THING males can do, so can women, including: fixing cars, building things, cooking/baking, enjoying football, shopping, driving, cleaning, taking care of children, standing up for themselves, calling you out on your bullshit, holding doors open, paying for dates, making reproductive decisions for themselves, and SO MUCH MORE!! Do yourselves a favor, and really think about what you say and how you say it... and try to adjust your thoughts & words to be more equal to both sexes (or, even better, all inclusive to all genders). Repeat after me -- colors have no gender, jobs have no gender, toys have no gender, bathrooms have no gender, clothes have no gender, tools have no gender, makeup has no gender... There is no such thing as women's work or man's work. Feminism is not a bad word, it does not mean man-hater, or that women want to be of higher status than a man... all it means is "The social, political, and economic equality of the sexes." Saying you are not a feminist is saying that you don't believe men & women should be treated/paid the same...
4. Speaking of "all genders" (and to go along with #5 on this list), start educating yourself on gender identity issues. (a) Sex and Gender are two different things. (b) There are more than two genders. (c) If you don't know something, ask... but be respectful of the answers. (d) Learn that sometimes, it's none of your business. (e) One of the biggest ones for me right now -- transgender people just want to use the bathroom to relieve themselves. There's a whole movement right now called "I'll Go With You" in response to "We Just Need To Pee"... it's for trans allies to let it be known that they will assist you with matters in which you don't feel safe doing/going by yourself. The biggest one is using the restroom. Please, please, please, for all you hold dear, understand that transgender individuals DO NOT "pretend" to be a different sex so they can spy, "get off", or rape your children; THEY JUST NEED TO PEE!! And, perhaps you can use those instances to not only educate yourself, but also educate your child(ren).
5. This is most important... Stop criticizing others. I see a lot of criticism coming from people about a multitude of things; everything from how others dress (seriously, "slut-shaming" needs to go!), to how others parent, to women breastfeeding in public, to women having the choice to have an abortion, to what people post on their own FaceBook pages, and a thousand other things. I don't care what diety, if any, you believe in (and, STOP criticizing me and my family for being atheists); IT IS NOT YOUR JOB! Now, I know some of you say things like, "I'm not judging, but..." or "That's god's job..." Yes, you are. We all judge. But, keep it to yourself, because you are making assumptions about someone else based on your beliefs, and how you live or want to live; that is not okay. Try this -- if it doesn't directly affect you in a negative/harmful way, shut up. If my daughter wants to wear leggings as pants, shut up. If that guy on the bus has his pants so low, you can see his undies, shut up. If that gay couple is kissing & holding hands, smile and walk by. If a mom is breastfeeding her child in a restaurant, applaud her! If someone says something on the internet you don't like or agree with, scroll past. You are not the morality police; leave people alone, stop being so negative and start seeing the beauty in others.

Actually, I think going back to the general rule of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" is a good life rule.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Santamas!

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of working, shopping, wrapping, baking, and more. We don't have a lot of regular traditions (which I see as "things we have to do the same every year"), partly because we were what they call a "blended family" (meaning not all biologically related) and our kids weren't always here for certain holidays. Growing up, I was part of a blended family, as well, so this wasn't anything new to me. It was harder on Ace (in the beginning) than anyone else, but after a couple years, we found our groove... just going with the flow.
One of the things we've done for years, though, is baking goodies, putting them into holiday tins, and delivering them to some local friends. This year was our biggest undertaking, at 15 tins. Not sure if I'm going to continue to do that many, or take it back to five or six and make them a surprise as to who gets one, but we'll figure that out later. I love, though, that we all get involved. With Princess' assistance, Ace bakes two or three of his family favorites, while I do my Dana bars, fudge, and peanut butter KISS cookies. Next year, we may add Princess' peppermint bark to the mix (this year's batch was small, but yummy).
A couple years ago, I also decided to invite friends over to wrap gifts. The idea was that since so many either hate wrapping, wait 'til last minute, etc, we could all make a fun time of it, and do it all together. I'm still working on how to make this one better-attended, but the two times we've done it, I set three hours aside on a Saturday two or three weeks prior to Santamas, have a few sweet treats & something to drink available, turn my DVR to the holiday music channel, and get out all of our wrapping accoutrements. I put an extra leaf in the dining table, remove the tablecloth & placemats, and use only the vinyl cover. A few people have come and wrapped with us, but the option is open for those who want to drop and leave (leave a cash donation &/or your own paper, etc, and we will do it for you). Still trying to work out some kinks with this one, as I'd like more people to come...
In the past, we've also adopted a family; one we know, so we're not going through a church (hard to find a secular local group to donate to, but I'll be doing some more research into this... maybe Toys For Tots or the local food bank) and I love seeing the faces of the friends we give to. This year, however, it seems all my friends are doing really well. So, Princess decided to try her hand at making candles and I decided that we would send them (and another gift or two) to each of my siblings and their significant others (those that have them). The candles went over well; more so since they were hand-made.
Today, Ace went to work, and Princess & I watched holiday movies most of the day... in our jammies. As for this year, the current plan is to open our immediate family's gift tonight when Ace gets home (after dinner), and take the rest down to my in-laws' on Sunday. Not sure, yet, if Squeeks is joining us, but the rest of us will be there. Since we didn't get to celebrate GamerBoy's birthday (his truck broke down the day before we had plans to get together), we will take those gifts with us, as well, and left the choice of what to eat for dinner up to him.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Belief Systems

I feel like this needs explaining... First, there's a big difference between "Satanists" (although I identify as an Atheist, my belief system is similar to this) and "Satan Worshippers". Before you go spewing uneducated & incorrect information, please do some research. That said, I have been called many things regarding my *lack of religious beliefs*, mostly by so-called "Christians." I use that term loosely because a lot of you insist that your god is about love, but that is NOT what I, an atheist, receive. I get hate, negativity, anger, "you're wrong!", and much worse. Frankly, I'm surprised my house &/or car haven't been vandalized, as that seems to be a common thing among some "Christians", too... (This story out of California, and this one in Texas), as well as theft (this story out of Wisconsin). These incidents, & your support of them (whether by reposting the stories on your own social media with positive comments or by completely ignoring them), makes me question you. If you are so firm in your beliefs, why are you so against other people having ones different than yours? It seems to me that the more you protest against others, the weaker your beliefs actually are.

Then, there are those who don't understand the law, why we have the Constitution, and that whole (pesky, it seems, for some "Christians") separation of Church & State thing... Yes, your child has the right to pray -- in school, in church, at the grocery store, etc. He does NOT have the right to disrupt others by doing so. Teachers (in public school, anyway), coaches, etc do NOT; not because they are being persecuted (please stop using that word; it does not mean what you think it does), but because in doing so, while within their official position of "educator", they can be seen as proselytizing, which is against the law (as well as the Establishment Clause of the Constitution). Traditional nativity scenes are fine in front of churches... they are NOT fine in front of government buildings such as schools and courthouses. And, asking for them to either be removed from public/government buildings/lawns completely or moved to a private location is not (once again) persecution, it's upholding the Establishment Clause. Some "Christians" are up in arms about the Freedom From Religion Foundation's actions... please remember that this is a LEGAL ENTITY. They do not act until & unless there is a complaint.

Which brings me to this lovely time of year -- We call it SANTAMAS! I see a lot of "Jesus is the reason for the season!", "Keep Christ In Christmas!", " and more pro-Christian only messages... Oh, what? You say they're not pro-Christian only? Um... hello? Can you read? EVERY ONE OF THESE sentiments leave out EVERY OTHER FAITH & non-believers. The fact is that there have historically been over 4000 gods/dieties that people have worshipped over the years, all Christian traditions were stolen from other religions &/or seasonal traditions (plus the straight-up lie about your Jesus' birth date...)! If you're interested and want to be educated, look up Yule, Solstice, Saturnalia, Kwanza, Hanakkah, Diwali, and all the other holidays celebrated by other faiths; here & around the world. Look up Humanist, while you're at it... that's me -- Secular Humanist. While you & your Christian family & friends are fighting a non-existent "war on Christmas", the rest of us just want to enjoy our families, friends, gift givings, tree & house decoration, baking, and all the other fun traditions of the winter season. So, back off, and stop pushing YOUR faith down OUR throats.