Active Shooter Drills/Training

I recently went through ALICE training at work. Surprisingly it was my very first time getting active shooter training. The main takeaway was to get the hell out of the building. 

My office has had some experience with gun violence. It’s not in the best of neighborhoods. Two years ago there was a shooting outside the back of the building. Our organization has also received threats where the entire office was evacuated. 

I even have a plan if a gunman enters the building – there’s a door that locks that blocks off access to my desk. I would lock the door, hide under my desk, and call 911. That’s my plan if I can’t escape. I thought about this well before the training.

The training had some interesting ways to distract a shooter but I think if I was put in the situation I would freeze and be absolutely no help. The instructor kept saying “engage with the shooter”. When put in that situation, who would have the balls to do that?

Usually, during the training, they do live simulations, but my employer chose not to do that. Apparently, it’s pretty intense and even traumatic. The instructor said there was a woman at another local organization who was so traumatized by the simulations that she had to take two weeks off of work.

We listened to 911 tapes from Columbine High School. It was extremely difficult to hear. I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened and it changed everything.

I’ve cried over the fact that my six-year-old has to do active shooter drills at school. She doesn’t know what it’s for. The night after my training I asked my daughter what she thought about lockdown drills at school. She asked, “is that when we huddle together?” I said yes and asked her why she has to do that. She said, “It’s for practice like a fire drill.” That’s all she knows — it’s “practice”. She doesn’t know any different. I left it at that.

I remember feeling scared during tornado drills at school. Growing up in the Midwest I damn well knew what a tornado was. I can’t imagine being told to hide when you don’t really know the reason. That has to be frightening and confusing. 

They tell students to hide but in Florida, the shooter pulled the fire alarm. What would you do?

There was a shooting at our local high school during a football game a couple months ago — the school my daughter will be going to. But people said it was gang-related — not random — as if that’s supposed to make me feel better about it. No one died but a couple people were wounded.

I do think about these situations – especially at work or out in public – but sometimes it seems like mass shootings happen so frequently that an event can be easily forgotten. Then it happens again. And again. In a way, you become desensitized to it. Even so, it’s still on my mind. Is it on yours?

Do you guys think about these situations often? Do you ever go somewhere and make a plan in your head of where you would go and what you would do? Do you avoid crowded places?

Is it even possible to prepare for an active shooter situation? Will the scenarios I play in my head ever be useful? Or is it causing unnecessary anxiety? 

Spirituality as an Atheist

How do you define spirituality? It feels like a very vague term that can encompass a lot. 

I facilitate support groups at work and for an upcoming project, we are going to make self-care plans. Of course, I’m going to bring paint and markers and stickers so we can make them all pretty. 🙂 

Our self-care plans are going to have four categories: Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual. I felt that it was important to add the “spiritual” category because, for many of our participants, spirituality plays a very significant role in their lives.

For all of our groups, I create examples of our projects to show the participants. Here’s what I put for my Spirituality category for my self-care plan:

Spend more time in nature.


Look at the stars.

Many of our participants are religious, so I am happy to share some secular examples.

Naturally, this made me think more about spirituality and what it means to me, and one thing that really came to mind is connecting with other people. I am not a people person by any means but when we have an art group or drum circle at work, I feel this strong sense of community, like I’m a small part of a whole. It’s hard to find a word to describe the atmosphere. It’s such a positive environment and I wish I could exist in that space all the time. I get a rush from facilitating groups and feel a sort of high when we finish. 

I love my job. 

It’s hard for me to define spirituality when I don’t have a religious go-to, but the magic of creating art and music with people at work feels spiritual.

How do you define spirituality as an atheist? Is it an important part of your life? What feels spiritual to you?

Just in case you’re curious, here’s the rest of my self-care plan:


Take meds



Go to work



Intuitive eating

Go for walks

Play with my daughter

Drink water




Create art

Bubble baths

Be kind to myself and others

Post-Pandemic Rules: Do you send a kid with a cold to school?

Last week we had parent-teacher conferences at my daughter’s school, and my husband and I both attended. My daughter is in the first grade and her teacher said she is missing too many days.

Okay, so she missed two days in September because we were on vacation. Maybe we shouldn’t have done that.

But the other days she was sick. Sinus crap. Virus stuff. Nasty cough. Belly ache. She’s been through it all and she passes it all around. My husband and I get sick. The neighbor girl gets sick a lot, too. When she’s sick I usually keep her home.

The conference with my daughter’s teacher was only last week but my daughter has already gotten sick again. Lots of snot and coughing.

I sent her to school anyway and I felt like an asshole – first because my daughter doesn’t feel well and second, because now other kids are going to get sick. But she didn’t have a fever, no vomiting, and no diarrhea – so off to school she goes.

With the pandemic still on our minds, I thought it was best to play it safe, but this time I just sent her to school. 

What do you think? It’s just a cold – she’s not dying – but I feel Covid may have changed the rules a bit. My work has made it really clear – if you’re sick, stay home! But what about school? How sick does your kid have to be to keep them home?

Did you fulfill your childhood dreams?

I’ve always been a big dreamer. When I was a child I was certain I could do or be anything. I assumed once you reached adulthood, the sky was the limit – you can do whatever you want. I’m sure many of us felt that way as kids. I was in a rush to grow up and start my amazing life. My life hasn’t turned out the way I had planned, but that’s not necessarily bad. I want to share with you some of my childhood dreams.

I wanted to be a musician and artist.

The arts have played an important part in my life and recovery, and I’m happy to say I work in the arts. After high school, I went to music school but ended up dropping out. It was quite a blow to my self-esteem but it set me on a path to really focus on visual art and writing. The arts have taken many different forms in my life and the best part is I get to share them with my daughter.

I wanted to live in New York City.

Now I prefer to stay far away from NYC – or any big city for that matter. I’ve visited NYC a few times and it feels like a different planet compared to where I’m from. I used to think big cities were exciting but now they just send my anxiety through the roof. 

I wanted children but I didn’t want to get married.

As you can imagine, in my small conservative town it was a bit scandalous for a kid to say they wanted children but didn’t want to get married. The funny part is that it took me a long time to figure out why adults found it upsetting. I didn’t see a problem with it because my dad was a single parent. 

I was going to kick ass in college. I would breeze through – no problem!

It was such a big deal for me to go to college. I had my mind set on it from a very young age. There was just no question – after high school, I would move away and go to a university. I had no idea that mental illness would derail my plans and I was absolutely heartbroken when it did. It wasn’t a complete loss though – in my 30s I went to community college and got an associate’s degree in commercial art. 

There were many more dreams but those were the big ones. I assumed my plans would fall into place without even a hiccup. I’ve faced a lot of adversity but I’ve had just as much opportunity and success. My life doesn’t look anything like I thought it would, but for the first time, I feel I am right where I need to be.

Now it’s your turn – I want to read your childhood dreams! Did any of them come true?

Is there more good or evil in the world?

Serious question…do you think there is more good or evil in the world?

I ask this question because lately, I’ve felt like the world around me is polarized. I know there is good and evil in all of us, but I feel like I only see one or the other. Depending on where I go and who I interact with, I feel a wide range of emotions daily because of it. 

I absolutely love my job. I facilitate art, writing, and support groups for people recovering from homelessness, mental illness, and addiction. I often feel socially awkward but work is the one place I can really connect with people. I’m not saying it’s perfect but for the most part, when I’m at work I feel like I’m on a high – I’m in such a good mood and nothing can bring me down.

At work, I am around people who have had some very unfortunate circumstances, but I can really see the good in people there.

Then there are my family members who treated me poorly and lied about me. How can someone love you and betray you? I can’t wrap my head around how or why this happened. I’m normally a very open person but this has caused me to lose trust in people. I have my guard up. You don’t know how low people will go. 

I’ve spent so much time focussing on the bad in my family that it’s hard to remember the good. 

My husband and I have a great relationship. He has been my number-one support as I spent the last year struggling with an eating disorder. I can tell him anything and it’s like he always knows what to say. This past month I’ve seen a light at the end of the tunnel and my eating disorder has been a lot easier to deal with. However, while that’s been going well, my husband and I have been struggling financially. I assumed it would strain our relationship but it seems like it has brought us closer. We are definitely in this together.

My husband reminds me of the good in the world. I was so nervous on our wedding day but marrying him is probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

Sorry if I’m making you puke with the mushiness.

And of course, there’s the US. We are a country divided with no solution in sight. It has brought out a lot of ugliness. I don’t need to explain this; you all know what I’m talking about.

I am a very intense and emotional person, so it makes sense that I might feel things are polarized. Do I think there’s more good or evil? Lately, even though I have some amazing people in my life, I’ve been leaning toward evil. Call me a cynical atheist but I feel that’s what the world has revealed to me.

But I am very grateful for the good in my life and I hope, in my own little way, I can put a little more good in the world.

How do you feel? Good? Evil? What do you think prevails? 

What are your thoughts on the paranormal?

Last September I wrote a post about the paranormal, and to my surprise, it still gets views almost every day. I thought maybe I should explore the topic more since there seems to be an interest.

Having struggled with psychosis, this can be a bit of a sensitive topic for me. I thought my hallucinations were spirits and ghosts. It was absolutely terrifying – it really shook me to the core. Even though I’ve been on meds for years I still sometimes fear they will return. I just have to remind myself that they are symptoms of my mental illness – nothing more.

What’s strange is that recently my fear has turned into fascination, and my husband and I have watched just about every paranormal show on Prime Video. 

Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits but I do think there is something there – something unexplained. I watch paranormal shows hoping they’ll find an explanation. I think all the equipment and techniques they use in their investigations are really interesting.

My husband believes in residual energy and that maybe that’s an explanation for hauntings. It makes sense but I definitely want to see some evidence.

I know you don’t necessarily have to be mentally ill to hallucinate. Could this be an explanation?

When someone says they believe in ghosts, what do you think that means? I’m not going to call everyone who says they have paranormal experience a liar – I do think there’s something there just maybe not what people think. 

Do you have any theories? Do you have any ideas on how it can be further investigated? Do you think the investigations are authentic or just good TV? Have you had a paranormal experience? I would love to hear your thoughts!

I think it’s pretty amazing that I’ve come full circle – something I fear is now my fascination. Just a few years ago I wouldn’t even watch shows on the paranormal. Now I want an explanation. 

Watch Me Rise (poetry — not as much rage as before)

Watch Me Rise


Cruel words hurt
but lies transform relationships
into piles of dust.
Blow them away
for some inner peace.
If it’s light enough
to be carried by my breath,
it wasn’t meant to be.
Find a place
where your worth has weight.
Blow by blow
she knocked me down
but watch me rise
as I show her the door.
I wish growth
for both of us –
separate, in different directions.
My life goes on
without her in it.
Self-respect intact –
move forward from here.

Affirmations and Mental Health

Do you ever use affirmations? Do you say them to yourself or post them on your wall or mirror?

I repeat affirmations when I meditate with mala beads and I find it quite helpful. It helps me stay positive even when the world is crashing down around me. I shit you not, it might sound hokey but this technique has helped me survive some pretty dark times. Even I can’t believe it.

I facilitate a women’s support group at work and creating affirmation cards is an upcoming project. I made a few examples for the group and decided to post them above my desk at the office. I look at them every day I work. They pump me up and help me focus on what’s really important. I hope the group members will find them as useful as I do.

There are five cards above my desk – each one is a different color and decorated with doodles of flowers and leaves. I actually had a lot of fun making them. Here’s what they say:


I am enough.

I deserve to be treated with love and respect.

My brain is my sexiest body part.

Taking care of myself feels good.

My body can do awesome things.


Considering my recent struggles with my eating disorder I decided to focus on body image. I plan on creating a big list of affirmations for the women in our group so they can pick out ones that suit their lives and current struggles.

Oftentimes I say this affirmation with my mala beads:


Move forward from here.


I have a lot of issues with rumination and I found that affirmation helpful.

I would love to hear what you guys think. What are some of your favorite or most helpful affirmations?

An Atheist Upbringing

Can you be raised an atheist? Or is it a conclusion one must come to on their own?
Obviously, I want to give my daughter a secular childhood but religion seems to be creeping in any way. My daughter is picking up so much from the world around her – including religion. My husband and I have said nothing yet somehow she still knows about god, the devil, angels, and heaven.
I have brought this topic up before and some atheists on here and on Facebook have given me some good ideas on how to approach this topic with my daughter. Still, I have yet to really intervene – except for a couple of questions to probe what she really knows.
My husband and I need to start talking because obviously others already are.
Someone in an atheist Facebook group suggested the children’s book, The Belief Book, by David McAfee. Has anyone read it? What did you think?
I have a lot of hope when I think back to my own upbringing. I was raised in a conservative rural area and my parents weren’t atheists, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t questioning religion as a child. I think at times, children can be natural skeptics with their innate curiosity. At least, I know I was. I hope my daughter shares that trait.

I don’t want to feel like I am indoctrinating my child to believe the same way I do. That makes me no better than devout believers.
Honestly, it’s probably best for my daughter to learn as much as possible about the world around her and decide for herself. Ultimately, it’s her life – not mine.
How would I feel if my daughter decided to follow a religion? How did my parents feel when I became an atheist? Is it the same?
Do you have any more thoughts on the topic? Book suggestions for me and/or my daughter? I’d love to hear what you think.

We saw Bernie Sanders!

My husband and I barely have a penny to our name, but we decided to spend the gas money to see Bernie Sanders in Ann Arbor, MI yesterday. This was the best picture I got. Being under five feet, I’m used to not being able to see anything, but I actually had a pretty clear view the whole time.

We brought our six-year-old daughter with us, but when we got there we didn’t see any other children. There were several speakers before Sanders that were really getting the crowd fired up. I don’t remember what the speaker said, but everyone was yelling “No!” so our daughter stands up and screams, “NOOOOOO!” at the top of her lungs. It echoed in the auditorium. I wanted to hide but thankfully people laughed instead of glaring at us. Even the speaker chuckled.

The anticipation in the room for Bernie to take the stage was intense. He might as well be a rock star. Most of the people there were young college students and it’s amazing how someone so much older can really relate to and inspire them. It was incredible to watch him speak. He’s so passionate and it just looks effortless.

My husband and I have always been huge Bernie Sanders fans. We struggle a lot and everything he says resonates with us. Going to see him in Ann Arbor was sort of last minute, but I’m so glad we decided to make the trip. It felt like I was crossing an item off of the bucket list.