2022 can suck it!

Honestly, I am so ready for this year to be over. I started 2022 in a treatment center for eating disorders, and when I came home, I struggled for quite a while. Family drama added unnecessary stress to my already exhausted brain. These were some pretty big pitfalls but I’m going to focus on the positive.

First, I can’t believe how much I wrote this year. I don’t even know how many journals I filled up. Writing poetry has been particularly therapeutic. I’m trying to branch out by entering writing contests. I haven’t won anything to date but I have learned so much from the experience. Writing about my life seems to have intensified my emotions – which can be good and bad. I want to write something powerful but how do I keep myself from losing my mind in the process? It feels like a delicate balance and I now know when I need to take a break.

Art – my first love. I started painting again in 2022 – something I haven’t done in years. The tremors in my hands have made it difficult to use a paintbrush so I put my fingers directly on the canvas. That’s right – I finger paint. What could have been incredibly frustrating has become enjoyable. It’s a big experiment to see what I can do with my hands. I used to be so serious about my artwork but now I’m just having a lot of fun. I like getting my hands dirty.

When I came home from treatment, my relationships with my husband and daughter strengthened. I was so afraid that going away would tear my family apart, but it has done the exact opposite. I love spending time with them. I am no longer distracted – I am very present in their lives. 

And I’ve learned to cook!

2022 is coming to an end and I will gladly put it in the past. 

What’s your 2022 recap? Do you have any resolutions?

Retreat Inward vs. Escape Outward — how do you spend your time?

I’m very rarely bored. I have tons of books, notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, etc. and I constantly have projects I’m working on. I am quite content to stay at home creating art, expressing myself, and learning new things. 

I am not a people person and interactions with others make me very nervous. I am always self-conscious about my hands. I have muscle tremors from taking lithium so whether I’m anxious or not, my hands shake. I always think people are looking at them, thinking I’m scared, which makes me even more nervous. I don’t know if others even notice, but I feel incredibly awkward.

So I retreat inward. I’m just happier by myself.

It’s not like I hate everyone. I have a few people in my life who really know me and I feel comfortable with them. I often crave conversations with my husband. We get off work at the same time and I can’t wait to see him. But even when spending time with these special people, I still look forward to being alone.

Then there are the people who escape outward – the social butterflies, the “people” people. They find their solace in spending time with others. I can’t imagine what that must be like.

Of course, I’m sure they’re thinking the same about me. 

I spend so many days frustrated and confused by the words and actions of my family, friends, and coworkers. Why would I want to expose myself to even more of that? Sometimes when I’m around others I feel like my body is in fight or flight mode, and I’m just tired. 

I want stillness and quiet. I want peace. 

Plus there’s so much I want to do. I want to go home and write and draw and paint. Is it wrong if I don’t want spending time with others to take away from that?

I promise you I’m not an ice queen – just an ambitious loner exhausted from anxiety. There’s so much I want to do and so much I want to avoid.

So what about you guys? Do you retreat inward or escape outward? To the “people” people – do you ever just get tired of people? Do you ever get anxious? Does being alone make you nervous? I’m really curious. 

Christmas is over! Did everyone make it?

I’m so glad Christmas is over. I really hate this time of year.

I got sick on Christmas Eve Eve. I’m not sure what it was but there was a lot of puking involved. It’s really not a holiday in my family unless someone gets sick. By Christmas Day I was feeling a little better. We did the Santa thing with our six-year-old and then went out for Chinese food. It was a very chill day and I am grateful for that.

I would love to hear about how you spent your holiday! How did you keep the Christ out of Christmas? 

Religious origins/references: does language matter?

Does it matter if you use words and phrases influenced by religion? Do you avoid it?

“Oh my god” versus “oh my goodness” – obviously I don’t believe in god but I say “oh my god” all the time. It’s a phrase that’s used so much that I feel it has lost any kind of religious meaning. I’m afraid if I say “oh my goodness” I will be mistaken for the uptight Christians afraid to say “god”. Do you use either of those phrases?

What about “grateful” versus “thankful”? I’m really not sure if “thankful” has any religious meaning to it, but I always think, “who are you thanking?” I don’t know but I try to avoid it. I always say “grateful”.

I say “Jesus!” when I’m scared, surprised, or annoyed. If I’m really worked up I say “god fucking damn it!” 

I swear a lot, and consequently, so does my six-year-old daughter. I don’t make a big deal about it – just as long as she doesn’t do it at school. Her teachers haven’t called us yet so I think we’re in the clear.

At daycare, they have told my daughter that “god” is a bad word. I told her I disagree but I also don’t want her to get in trouble.

I’m guessing none of us use the term “blessed”. I absolutely hate that word and I cringe every time someone uses it. Several years ago I was interviewed by SZ magazine – a magazine for those affected by schizophrenia. It was for an article about my artwork. When the article came out, I was quoted as saying “blessed”. I was so pissed. I would NEVER use that word!

How do you feel about these words and phrases? Do you avoid them? Do you use them?

Are Christians getting louder?

Oh, man.

I have a new coworker. She is the sweetest girl – very open and genuine, and although she is much more outgoing than I am, I really like her. 

But she talks about god – a lot. It’s pretty uncomfortable. She sits right next to me.

It’s not just her. There’s been a lot of god talk at work lately – and from people I work with directly on a regular basis.

I mentioned the other day that I’m not a fan of Christmas and my coworker made a point to tell me that he always says “Merry Christmas” to everyone. I didn’t think of it at the time but I wish I had said, “I always say ‘Happy Holidays’ because I want to be considerate of EVERYONE.” I always think of these things after the fact.

Yesterday, I co-facilitated a women’s support group with a coworker who actually advised people to pray. We are not a faith-based organization and I just assumed she knew it was against the rules. I went straight to my supervisor after the group because I’m too scared to confront her myself. Things are going to get really awkward but I just can’t let this one slide.

Last year, when my atheist poetry book was released by Freethought House, several of my coworkers knew about my book, including my supervisor and HR director. I was really nervous to tell them about it but they were surprisingly accepting of it. In the end, I was really happy I told them because I became more confident and relaxed.

But since then, things have gone downhill and I have retreated to my little shell, frightened of my coworkers. Quite frankly, frightened of everyone. 

My husband and I are big fans of The Voice and it just seems there was a lot of religious music this season. In fact, I’ve seen it on a lot of shows lately. It’s just everywhere.

It doesn’t help that it’s Christmas time. I fucking hate Christmas.

I realize I live in a conservative state where Christianity is just a part of life, but I just feel like I’m surrounded – more than usual – and I’m scared. I wouldn’t have a problem with Christianity if Christians didn’t feel so threatening. I just want to go to work and not have to hide who I am. 

I don’t really know how to make this situation better.

Is it just me, or are Christians getting louder?

I’m guessing with this post people are going to suggest I move. I would like to move but unfortunately, with my family’s current financial situation, it just isn’t an option at the moment. Maybe in the future. A girl can dream, right?

Where are my artists?

Art is my first love. My mom was an artist and when I was little, I wanted to be just like her. 

As I grew up, other interests took over and my passion for art was swept aside. It took a life-changing event to bring that passion back – and in a big way. I had struggled with mental illness for years and in my early twenties, I was finally diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. It was a name and an explanation for my struggles. Recovery was a tough road but through art, I found my voice. 

Decades have passed and I’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps. For several years, I was a drawing/painting machine. I was cranking out the work and doing shows almost every month. It was pretty crazy and I had to dial it back a few notches when I got pregnant. 

Then I completely stopped. Maybe I just needed a break. That was seven years ago.

Present day: covid restrictions are dropped, I’m happy and healthy, and I’m finally back at work. I work for a supportive arts program where I facilitate art, writing, and music groups for people in recovery from mental illness and/or addiction disorders. It’s literally my dream job.

My participants encourage me just as much as I encourage them, and a few months ago, my love for art was revitalized. 

I’ve started painting a lot at work, and it’s sort of an experiment. I have muscle tremors in my hands from a medication I take that makes it really difficult to use a paintbrush. I really want to paint so it was time to improvise. I’ve discovered that I have a little more control when I lose the paintbrush and put my fingers directly on the canvas. Now I just paint with my fingers every day and experiment to see what I can do. It’s different but it is incredibly satisfying to get my hands dirty. 

Experimenting with finger painting inspired me to experiment with other aspects as well — especially color.

You know who else loves finger painting? My six-year-old daughter. I paint at work and then I come home and paint with my daughter.

This is really different than before. I’m not cranking out paintings for shows. I’m not even planning on entering any shows. I’m exploring the medium. I’m relaxed. I’m just really enjoying myself – the painting and the company. I’ve learned that art is just an amazing way to connect with others.

I’m thinking this is how art should be.


I’d love to hear from other artists. What’s your story? What are you into?

The hardest part about going to treatment was leaving my daughter.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my admission to an eating disorder treatment center in Chicago. I spent two months at the center where I was treated for symptoms of anorexia, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and rumination disorder. It was painful, it was traumatic, and it probably saved my life. I came home to Toledo last Valentine’s Day and nothing has been the same.

The hardest part about going to treatment was leaving my six-year-old daughter. I knew it would be hard, but it was even more difficult than I could imagine. During my stay in treatment, I couldn’t even talk about my daughter without uncontrollably sobbing. It was torture because as soon as anyone found out I was a mom they wanted to ask me about my kid. Around Christmas time my daughter drew me a bunch of pictures and sent them to me. I was so upset when I opened the package that they had a staff member follow me around for the rest of the day. It never seemed to get easier. I always cried.

Back up to fall 2021 – in the months prior to my admission I was engaging in eating disorder behaviors day in and day out, and unfortunately, my young daughter witnessed all of it. There was one night when I threw up during dinner and my husband and daughter didn’t even flinch or look at me. They continued to finish their meals while I cleaned up. That’s how frequent my behaviors were – my family didn’t even see it as out of the ordinary anymore.

Then I made the best decision I could for my little family by going away for treatment. It was inconvenient and I missed my family so much, but we felt it was necessary. I knew my daughter was in good hands and I was going to do my best to get better.

The other patients at the treatment center knew how upset I was talking about my daughter but they still took the time to commend me for doing what was best. I was told I was giving my daughter the best gift I could give her and that I was becoming a good role model. One young woman told me, “I wish my mom would have gone to treatment. Things would be different for me.” I cried so much but I found their words to be motivating. I wanted to get better for my daughter.

I came home a better mother. I used to be really distracted but now I am focused when I spend time with my daughter. I will do anything to keep her healthy – mentally, physically, and emotionally. I don’t ever want my daughter to go through what I did, but at the same time, I want her to know there is help if she is ever struggling. 

Unfortunately, I’ve faced criticism about leaving my daughter. Just before going to treatment, a relative called me to tell me how horrible this was going to be for my daughter which made a very difficult decision even harder. I was so sick and I couldn’t believe with the state I was in that anyone would want me to not go to treatment.  Since coming home my unsupportive family members have made a point to remind me how hard I made things for my daughter — and it really hurts. They have no idea what I went through — or even what my husband and daughter went through — yet they still have an opinion about it. Leaving my daughter was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but I did what was best for all of us.

Despite the negativity and pain, I’m still here. Still focused on recovery – and motherhood. I know I made the best decision but I shouldn’t have to explain that to my loved ones. My husband reassures me that I did the right thing. I know in the long run my daughter and I will both feel the benefits of my time at the center. I went to treatment to show my daughter healthier habits so hopefully, she won’t end up where I was. 

I was at the treatment center for only two months but recovery is forever. It has been a year now and we are all still feeling ripple effects. I am much happier now. I know what I need to focus on and I do it from a healthier place. I am grateful for the treatment center, but I really hope I never have to go back.

Three Year Anniversary on FtB!

Three years ago today I published my first post on Freethought Blogs. What was once a fun little side project has now become my main outlet as a writer. Life as an atheist in the Midwest isn’t always easy so I’m happy to be a part of a community where I am accepted. 

Thank you for letting me share my life – everything from the release of my poetry book to parenting my daughter to the treatment of my eating disorder. I really appreciate all the support you have shown me. I enjoy sitting at the downtown library every week writing my posts and I always look forward to your comments. I’ve learned so much from you. I have spent most of my life feeling unheard so I am grateful that you have given me a place to use my voice. The everyday life of a mom in Ohio seems insignificant, but when I write, I feel like I’m a part of something so much bigger.

I love Freethought Blogs and I plan on sticking around for a while. Thank you for everything! 

Proselytizing: Do Christians Need Instructions to Talk to Atheists?

I don’t remember quite how old I was – eleven or twelve maybe – when there was a knock on the door of my childhood home and I was home alone. They seemed insistent. Got me out of bed even. I opened the door to see the older couple who lives at the end of the road. Turns out they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was the nineties in a very rural area so the thought never crossed my mind to just not answer the door (which is what I do now). They asked if my dad was around. I said no. At that point, I thought they would leave but instead, they asked me, “Do you ever wonder if there isn’t a god?” I said yes and they whipped out a pamphlet. I don’t remember exactly what the pamphlet said or how long they stuck around, I just remember how awkward I felt. They got me out of bed to talk about god. I didn’t know them well but they weren’t strangers, either. I know proselytizing is an important part of Christianity, but who the hell ever thought that it was okay to talk to the little girl down the road about god?

If anyone does that to my daughter, there will be hell to pay.

Apparently, there are instructions on how to talk to atheists. It looks like Christians have to think long and hard about ways to defend/spread their religion. I think that’s funny because it is so easy to poke holes in their arguments. 

I recently read these two articles:

Great Questions to Graciously Engage Your Atheist Friend

How to Talk to Atheists with Clarity and Confidence

Reading the articles I felt like I was behind enemy lines watching them try to crack a secret code. Have you seen these articles before?

My whole entire life I’ve felt awkward around Christians and proselytizing is why. Keep that shit to yourself. How about live and let live?

“Mistreated” — A Poem from My Book, Free to Roam

This is a poem from my book, Free to Roam: Poems from a Heathen Mommy. It was published by Freethought House and released in 2021.




Beads of envy line your forehead—
in your sick game,
you brought fire to the fight.
My impressionable spirit whets your appetite for attention.

Peck away at my frazzled brain.
My secret thoughts run down your chin.
Sour doubt and anxiety
appease your fickle cravings.

You could be anywhere—
watching, waiting, stewing in your misery.
Nowhere is safe.
You assert your crumbling power with fear.

A captive victim of your abuse—
your overbite stabs at my fragile existence.
You’ll never know the cost of your actions—
a price I’ll pay for the rest of my days.

I want vengeance
but I want freedom even more.
You’re gone but still very much present
in my broken brain.

Thoughts of progress are fleeting,
pain erodes hope.
Your suffocating grip lingers.
I’m shackled from my next chapter.

The cold shadow of trauma
blankets my world.
Maybe with time
healing light will creep back in.

My poetry book gives an atheist perspective on being a Midwest Mom. It is for sale on my publisher’s site freethoughthouse.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. (Signed copies are available at freethoughthouse.com.)