15 December 2011

Coming out

I have been non-religious, non-christian for at least 13 or so years (I struggle to pin it down). It's not something I had been hiding but it's also not something I had been discussing.

I got married in 2003 by a non-denominational "spiritual" person who didn't mention God once in her "talk" lol. My Uncle prayed for everyone afterwards ( I guess he got the clue no one else seemed to have gotten)

Since October 2009 I have been going through a lot of heightened personal growth and a lot of inner self discovery is going on. The Michael Teachings calls it 4th Internal Monad or (IM), and I have talked about that.

It could be seen as a mid life crisis, or a search for self, whatever you want to call it, it has been a very big part of my recent life.

In social situations I usually discuss Childcare or other philosophy, politics mixed with philosophy, theories etc. I don't do much frivolousness. Sadly I've lost friends because of that.

So when I recently had a little chat with my mom about my daughter and how they are just overdoing the Christian thing at school I did not expect the " You don't believe in GOD!!!!! How could you??!!! How DARE you not raise my grandchild in Christian values." hysterical reply.

I was horrified to be honest. I quietly told her I don't think we should discuss this right now, in such an emotional way, that I will respect and always have respected her choices, and just ask the same from her.

In the mean time it seems the trend has spread through my once seemingly tolerant family. The more vocal and honest and open I am about what I say and what I share on Facebook, the more vocal and open they get about their disapproval. I have decided to call myself an Atheist in order to just cut through the crap. Many people seem to think Agnostic means there is hope for them to convert me.

I've been the devout Christian. I have been the doubting Thomas. I'm not anymore. I am fine where I am. Can I have some peace please.

A stab in the heart is receiving the same intolerant treatment from my gay younger brother, who I stood by supported, and comforted when he was scared of being treated with intolerance by our parents and conservative family. Thanx Dude

I'm walking a path here. I don't have all the answers but I am learning what works for me. I guess I will have to find the internal fortitude to withstand these emotional attacks. I do feel stronger than I have in a long time, more hopeful and more positive, even while this is still a stone in my heart.

11 December 2011

Stop Smoking 2

I never wanted to smoke forever. During my third pregnancy, which was the only one that went past 9 weeks, I cut down a lot but didn't stop completely. Even though it made me feel nauseous for the whole 9 months I just could not let go.

Even though I felt incredibly guilty every moment of being pregnant I could not let the addiction go. If you've read my blog you will know I have some issues with depression, OCD etc, so I blamed that for finding it so hard to stop smoking. I never realised how true it probably was.

In December last year I read Allan Carr's book, "Easy way to stop smoking" I found it really great, and even though it is quite repetitive, there were a lot of novel ideas in there I had never thought of before.

So at the last chapter I went to smoke my "last" cigarette, and believed I was done. Until 8 hours later I had a fight with my dad, and couldn't handle the stress and the next day my daughter ended up in the hospital with septicemia. I became the first person I knew who didn't immediately stop smoking after reading the book.

In the mean time my brother had done the seminar (which is horribly expensive, unless you're a member of Discovery medical aid in South Africa) So we continued to discuss some of the ideas, and he was quite a sympathetic supporter to my continuing internal dialogue about stopping smoking, and if , when and how I could do it.

Every time I lit a smoke I felt hopelessly addicted, dependent, and like a slave to something that is in actual fact such a stupid habit, breathing in the chemical filled smoke of dead leaves?, I mean really? Who thought that was a good idea?

A week before my 36th Birthday I went to the doctor with a sinus infection and UTI, as usual she prescribed anti-biotics, and asked if I was allergic. "Nope"

I got home, ate something, took my medication, and went on Skype to tell my neighbour that the GP recommends I cut out white wine to prevent these recurring UTI's.

We were busy chatting when all of a sudden I started feeling unwell, just weird and funny. Then I realised my eyes were swelling. I jumped up and went to the bathroom to look in the mirror, at which time my throat was closing.

I had just seen a Facebook status from a friend who's son got anaphylaxis and landed up in hospital, so luckily this was foremost in my mind, so I immediately phoned an Ambulance, and then my dad, who wasn't home.

The 15 minutes they took to get there felt like hours, and as I progressively struggled more and more to breathe, and felt my blood pressure going insane, my heart beating so hard that my stomach was moving up and down with it, I thought I was not going to make it. I felt that I might die and the only thing that I kept saying to myself is "What about Caitlin, keep breathing for Caitlin"

Luckily I threw up which slowed everything down, and the ambulance got there quickly. I spent the night in hospital and a week at home in bed physically recovering, while mentally I kept thinking "what about Caitlin, what if I die tomorrow"

I happened to be one of the 1% of people who develop a sudden allergy to Anti Biotics and actually go into anaphylaxis. Most just experience swelling and a rash. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-antibiotic-allergy.htm

Nine days later I stopped smoking. Now I can't start again cause the money saved on ciggies are going to pay for Caitlin's extra-mural activities at big school next year. So now whenever my brain is weak and this addiction tries to get me to start again, I think "what about Caitlin, what if she can't do Hip Hop Dancing and Gymnastics next year" .... that's because we human beings so quickly forget what it felt like to almost die...

ps. There will be another episode on depression and nicotine..

06 December 2011

Stopped Smoking

I smoked my very last cigarette on 12 October 2011. After 18 years of smoking I am once again a non smoker. I had so many reasons to stop, the greatest being that I want to live as long as possible in order to see my daughter grow and have a happy life. To be a part of her life for as long as possible.

I'm sure I will come back to the many reasons and the how around stopping at a later stage, but for today I want to briefly discuss my physical reaction to nicotine withdrawal, and what you may experience, or can expect.

I'll try to avoid the obvious but the first 3 days were pretty hard. I survived on gum, stubbornness, coffee and water. I ate a lot as well.

I felt hazy unfocused, and my mind was all over the place. For three days it felt like I was walking in a dream world still half asleep, except every time someone would talk to me when it felt like I could just bite their heads off. I kept wanting to scream " LEAVE ME ALONE".

For almost the whole of 18 years I used smoking as a way to wake up in the mornings.

So I increased my caffeine consumption and chewed a lot of gum. I guess I was luckier than some that drinking coffee didn't make the craving worse but seemed to cheat my mind into believing I had a smoke with the coffee, while I didn't really.

Occasionally I just went to sit outside in my normal smoking spot and breathed deeply, this helped a bit when it got really bad.

Because I had often sat there reading while smoking it also helped to just sit there and read. It was hilarious how easily I could fool my body into thinking it was getting it's "fix"

The hardest part other than waking up without a smoke, was stopping eating. for 18 years my body thought it was only finished eating after having a smoke. Once again I was lucky that I could replace my "end of meal que" with a cup of coffee. I did myself a favour and bought decaff for the first time ever, as I didn't want to have to struggle with an unbreakable caffeine addiction later.

For anyone doing this, all I can say is take it one minute at a time. Find ways to beat your own mind games, and persevere. it gets so much easier.

Next time I will go into the connections I discovered between smoking and depression, and how I ended up back on Anti Depressants after 5 years off them.

....this is for Robin and Lynette who had their first smoke free day today 

Back and I have Android

I'm back again. I know I have been very scarce and a terrible blogger. My apologies. If anyone is even reading in the first place hahaha. (maniacal laughter echoing in empty room)

Life has thrown so many interesting things my way I guess I had to struggle with a lot of inner battles and didn't always feel like whining about it. I'm back because I have a lot of stuff I want to talk about. A great many that seem to upset some people. I guess the important things always upsets someone.

I also find myself wanting to share some nifty thingumabobs that I find from time to time. Long story short but I lost my ereader ( cry) but gained an HTC Flyer (yay, thanx mom and MTN)
I'm in love with my tablet, in love with android, in love with apps.

I read so much now I don't have enough time in the day to discuss everything, and find I am spreading info on Facebook and Twitter in such volumes that I struggle to keep track of my own thoughts on the matter, so I shall start putting it here.

So to start off, check out this game. My 5 year old daughter and I both absolutely LOVE it. I had to install it on both my tablet and the android phone I have so we could both play at the same time, especially when she doesn't feel like giving mommy a turn :)

It's fun, gets progressively harder, and has new stuff added all the time. We've been playing it for months and it still manages to keep our attention.

My latest mission is trying to get 3 stars in ALL the levels. hers is to make as many gems as possible to try and buy all of the 150 or more characters ( new ones added all the time)

Here is a link to the Youtube ad, which is cute. It's not only fun and exciting to play it's also pretty. It's done by ezone. Go check it out and let me know what you and your kids think. Oh and yes you can probably find it on the apple istore, but I'm not familiar with that.......

12 May 2011

The Inevitable "Religion" Question

It's that time for me, a time I had been looking forward to and dreading since she was born. Caitlin needs to be enrolled in public school to start Grade 0 next year.

I am lucky that because we live with my dad in a little house they bought a decade ago, in what was then a new development, and what has become quite a safe, and good neighbourhood, that the closest public school is also known as one of the best in this region.

Going through the 100's of forms ( some of them involving selling my soul into permanent bondage if I ever can not pay them) the inevitable question always comes up. The one I had been dreading and could have such a huge impact on her life.

Firstly it is asked " Religion?" hmmmm first instinct is "None", in which case it might most probably be assumed we don't care, or we are godless lazy creatures, who are really undiscovered Christians, as long as someone manages to convert us from lazing in bed all sunday morning instead of getting off our behinds and going to church. (You'd be surprised how many Christians around me actually think this)

Second option: Secular Humanist. If I am lucky I might find a teacher who knows what this entails in it's entirety. In that case I hope they tell me as well, as it is just a term I recently adopted because of the wiki page putting this in as part of the definition:

"Fundamental to the concept of Secular Humanism is the strongly held belief that ideology — be it religious or political — must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith"

Ok so let's leave the "religion" question there. Now comes the Doozy. Next conundrum and the true test of my child's future influences lie in this easy little question:

" Do you have any objections to your child participating in any religious activities?"

If YES, please furnish reasons.

Now firstly I need to now what do these religious activities entail? Will there be forced bible reading, lively questioning? Will it be more moral or more religious? Will there be forced prayer and false piety?

What happens if I state Yes I object? Will she be rejected by her peers as strange and weird? Will she be rejected and targeted by teachers for the same reasons?

I've always said I will allow her to make up her own mind one day. but In my opinion I will be doing her an injustice to allow her to be subjected to the same kind of brainwashing that I was as a child and teen.In order to find one's own truth one needs to be educated on all the available options. Somehow I doubt this is done properly in most schools.

I wouldn't mind her receiving religious education that is educational, factual, and discusses the main religions and their similarities and differences. But I don't think I want her to take part in any form of worship activities.In her current school there is a huge preponderance of religious worship, they barely do secular nursery rhymes and stories, most of it is focussed on religious stories and songs.

I was never made aware of this before enrolling her, and obviously I am scared of the Primary school taking the same sneaky approach, or just assuming that this is okay with everyone, when it clearly isn't.

Maybe I must just included a whole letter stating more clearly what our beliefs are or rather aren't? Or finally take the time to thing and write down a kind of personal manifesto of beliefs which I can attach.

Or do you think I am making too much of this and should just let her be shepherded along with the other sheep and hope she doesn't get too brainwashed?

Oh and unlike the USA, South African schools can and do offer religious teachings as long as they are in line with this Draft policy on Education ( which I have heard is not enforceable as it is only a draft policy, and which many schools have been known to ignore)

Unfortunately my only other choice in school is much more openly Christian, even though they are also a public school. At least this one gives me a choice. The other automatically assume that one is a Christian.

What I wish for is not only Freedom of Religion in all governments and school, But Freedom FROM Religion

08 May 2011

Being me, is enough

I sometimes wonder if it is really enough to just be me. Be myself, in whatever fallible or unacceptable way. Does that lead to happiness? Is happiness even something that can be real and lasting or should we just be "happy" with the occasional times when we do feel Happy, and let the rest go.

Mostly I feel content.... I lie. Mostly I feel discontent... not even that. Mostly I feel like maybe I could be more than I am. I like myself, but I have not made peace with the fact that I am not enough for many others. That they would in some way seek to improve me. Improve on what I am, who I am, how I am.

I like it that I search and explore life, not intent on finding any specific destination, but constantly intrigued by all there is to learn and know. I would like to experience more of life instead of just to learn more, so I have tried to do that slowly and in little ways.

I mostly don't mind that some strangers or friends find me "unacceptable" in whatever way. That some find me in some way displeasing, or not to their liking.

But I occasionally get slightly sad...no I get quite melancholy when I realise, after having told myself over and over that it doesn't matter, that my family sees me in this light.

I realise that my whole life I had not been good enough in some way, or pretty enough, or clever enough, or hard working enough. I had not married rich enough, I am not fashionable enough, thin enough, or pliable enough.

I used to be too shy, but am now not quiet enough, but when I am quiet I am too quiet, and when I speak I speak too much. When I don't drink alcohol, I am unsocial, but when I do drink I drink too much. When I don't know what they are talking about I am quite an outcast, but when I have an opinion I will be cast out.

I feel sad that so much of my life was wasted to attempt to find some kind of acceptance in a family I have very much loved forever. After many years of feeling like the stranger in a strange land though, I sadly come to a realisation that somewhere I will have to accept that I can not be accepted by them, and that this is as a result of my own growth and finding myself. I feel that I have to learn this again and again, year by year. I will be fine with it for some month's until another family holiday appears, and I am reminded of the taste of rejection.

I am not in denial about it. I accept it with great sadness in my heart, and wish it was different, knowing it never will be. I still like me, but my heart breaks that they do not. And by rejecting me they reject my daughter who will never know the joy's of large family get togethers, and fortunately never the pain of family rejection.

I could pretend to not be me, for someone else sake pretend to be what they want me to be, but having done this for 35 years with great failure, how can I now succeed. No. I do not believe I could be all they would want me to be, because I do not think they know what they want me to be.

I think to me this is probably much bigger than it is to any other member of my extended family. To me this probably brings much more emotion than to any one member of a family who do not really know me, want to know me, or in any way even think to care. For if they actually did, surely this would not be so hard.

So will my happiness lie in just forgetting that they exist? Or not caring about them, should I not feel so much?

Should I be less wanting of their love?

I'm not sure I think I have confused myself again and might not post this at all.

Then on the other hand why should I apologise for being an emotional being, and for feeling this so deeply. Why have I always had the idea that I must hide my true emotions at every point. I refuse to do that. I am who I am and will be me. In that process I might have to share my pain, and be rejected for it. That would add to my pain, but I must be able to experience it in my own way in order to get through it somehow.