LGBTQA+ readers, I need advice. Are you ever too young to come out?

I debated on whether or not I should write this post because I want to protect my daughter’s privacy, but after discussing it with my husband, we thought maybe this would be a good place to go for advice. This might even be a chance to help out other parents as well. I never use my daughter’s name and I will keep it vague.

The other night while relaxing in the living room, my six-year-old told my husband and me that she’s gay and has a crush on a girl in her class. She was very calm and matter-of-fact. It took me by surprise and my first reaction was that she’s so young so I shouldn’t take it too seriously. 

But when I thought about it, there has never been a time in my life when I didn’t know that I was a hetero-cis female – even when I was little. In elementary school, I had crushes on boys in my class, older boys, male teachers, famous actors, etc. There was no doubt in my mind that I was straight, so maybe even at her young age, she is certain about who she is. I decided I will take it seriously and hope she continues to feel comfortable talking about it with us. We tried not to make a huge deal about it but we made sure she knows we will always accept her for who she is and will love her no matter what.

It’s kinda sweet because we have been hearing about the little girl she has a crush on for quite a while. She even refers to her as her girlfriend. When she called her her girlfriend in the past I just wasn’t sure if she meant a girl that’s a friend or someone she was attracted to.

I grew up out in the country and so many of my younger friends and family had a difficult time coming to terms with their sexuality in such a conservative area. It affected them well into adulthood. Times have definitely changed since I was a child and I’m also really glad that we are raising our daughter in the city, but will it be enough to keep her safe?

I am also concerned about how older relatives might treat her.

To my LGBTQA+ readers, how old were you when you came out? How did you feel as a young child? I’d love to hear from other parents. Do you have suggestions on how I can support my daughter? She’s so young – how can I make sure she feels safe?

Is there an atheist culture defining our beliefs?

I have a lot of questions – hear me out.

“Atheist” means having a lack of belief in a god or gods. It’s a pretty simple, cut-and-dry definition. So no gods – but what about other beliefs? The possibilities are truly endless but I feel like maybe there are some unwritten rules. Can we truly believe in anything as long as it isn’t god?

What if I said I believed in spirits or souls? Would you have something to say about it? I don’t by the way, but could that belief still be a possibility for an atheist?

I have published several posts about spirituality as well as the paranormal. The posts and comments have really helped me explore my own beliefs and values. 

I wrote about spirituality after discussing the topic with my therapist. It seemed like many people could agree that you can be an atheist and also spiritual. I found the comments to be thought-provoking and it made me wonder what really defines an atheist. Is there a culture that goes beyond that basic definition?

As I’ve said in other posts, I am absolutely fascinated with the paranormal although I recognize there is very little evidence to back up the existence of ghosts, bigfoot, aliens, etc. But I still think there’s something to it – probably not what people think. Hopefully one day there will be an explanation for all of these things and I hope I’m around to see it. 

But if I did believe in aliens, would that make me a bad atheist? When you’re an atheist, does everything have to have evidence?

Is faith a thing?

Do you believe in destiny? How about karma? Do you ever think things are “meant to be”? Have you found your soulmate? Do you wish people good luck?

What keeps atheists from believing in these things?

Our culture may go beyond beliefs, like how many atheist Republicans are there? That’s still a possibility, right?

How do you view religion? Do you fight it or let it be? Discuss it or avoid it? I tend to avoid it but that’s just because I’m from a conservative area. It’s easy to feel ostracized here so I let it be even when I’m screaming on the inside.

I could probably ask these same questions about any social issue.

Could an atheist culture contribute to stereotypes and misconceptions? Have you seen that at all?

So we don’t believe in a god or gods, but is there anything else that defines an atheist? Is there an atheist culture and is that good or bad?

Judged By Others: I’m Learning How Not to Care

I have eight cats. Last May, Sasha, my little siamese kitty, had five kittens, and we had trouble finding homes for all of them. When the kittens were eight weeks old, we started asking around and posting pictures on Facebook to see if any of our friends wanted a kitten. Only one kitten got a new home. After a few more weeks I contacted the local no-kill shelters and they were all full – there was nowhere to take these kittens. We decided to keep them and I was actually worried about what people might think. I mean, eight cats in our tiny house?

You know what? Fuck ‘em! Months have passed and I absolutely love having eight cats! The thing is – when I contacted the shelters, the kittens were already a part of our family. We had named them. We cuddled and played with them every day and we were starting to see their different personalities. 

We spend a shit ton of money on cat food and we are constantly cleaning littler boxes, but I don’t care what people think. Our kitties are family and it’s worth it. 

That’s just one small example of how I’ve felt judged, but it goes a bit deeper.

I’ve realized that most of the judgment I’ve felt in life has come from my family – I’m sure this is true for many people. My family has always cared about keeping up appearances which has had a detrimental effect on my mental health.

Recovery has been the main theme in my life for almost twenty years now. I have schizoaffective disorder as well as an eating disorder which has required ongoing treatment. In a way, I wanted to be the model patient. I take my meds every day. I work. I went to community college. I’m a wife and mom. To most people, my life probably seems pretty normal. 

I wanted the perfect recovery. I wouldn’t allow myself to struggle because I was afraid of what people would think – especially my family – but anyone who has been in recovery knows that struggling, setbacks, and relapses are all a part of the process. I know this now. After spending two months at a treatment center last year, I can finally be honest with myself and everyone else about how I am really doing.

That brought about a lot of change in my life. My relationships have been redefined. 

The arts have always been a part of my recovery, and I’ve seen a shift in my work. I can be more authentic and celebrate being different. My mental illness is a part of my life and I don’t have to be normal – I just need to be myself. 

I am learning to not care what others think – I’m learning to just be. I don’t have to prove anything because I am enough. I want to feel comfortable just being myself and I want to help others to feel the same. 

I hope I can model these lessons for my daughter.

Can anyone relate? Was there ever a time when you felt a turning point and stopped caring what others think? 

Are there any other atheists that have a hard time with science? Just me?

I’ll explain. I was not the best at school. If a class required essays, I’d pass with flying colors but everything else was questionable. This was especially true with math and science. I don’t know if this was a left-brain vs. right-brain thing but I do know lots of tears were shed – in both high school and college. School was tough. I finally graduated from a community college in my thirties and I don’t plan on pursuing anything higher.

School has long been over for me but that doesn’t necessarily mean my struggles with math and science are in the past. It does come up from time to time and it makes me feel like I’m lacking very basic knowledge that people should have. My husband is very interested in science and there have been so many conversations that have gone over my head.

The One Exception

I don’t even feel interested in science, but there is one exception – I’m really fascinated with weather. Living in Northwest Ohio is a great place to be interested in weather. We have four distinct seasons and we’re on the northern end of Hoosier Alley. I wanted to be a storm chaser when I was little.

When I was in college, I was so excited to see a weather and climate class offered. Could this be the science class I actually pass? I couldn’t wait! Unfortunately, the excitement died when we looked at PowerPoint slides every single class – nothing else. How can you make something I was actually fascinated by so boring? The professor even gave us assigned seats. Boy, did I regret sitting front and center that first day. The class was held in an older building that didn’t have air conditioning and this was during fall semester when it was still quite warm. I fell asleep every class. I don’t remember what grade I got or even if I made it through the semester.

Needless to say, the class was a huge disappointment for me. I thought maybe it would spark some kind of interest or a tiny bit of understanding of science but it completely fizzled out. I’m still interested in weather, but mainly the sexy weatherman on the local news. (I really like nerds.)

What does this have to do with being an atheist?

It just seems like so many atheists are interested in science. It’s something I really just don’t get but I wish I did. For me, I never had to understand science to be an atheist. When I decided to become an atheist it was just common sense – because god doesn’t make sense.

Also, just because I don’t understand science doesn’t mean I deny science. I trust experts – scientists, doctors, etc. One aspect of my life where this can truly be seen is my medication. I trust my doctor. I don’t understand how medication works, but I’m so glad that it does. I definitely thank science – not god.


My daughter is in the first grade and I know a day will come when I won’t be able to help her with her math and science homework – probably sooner than I think. It’s going to be embarrassing, I’m sure. I just hope she has an easier time with school than I did.

Are there any other atheists that have a hard time with science?

Was there something you just didn’t understand in school? Does it bother you now? I’d like some reassuring stories. I can’t be alone in this.

Do you mentally rehearse for shootings?

Mass shootings happen all the time. We do absolutely nothing about it and I’m terrified as I’m sure many other Americans are, too. I think about shootings sometimes when we’re out in public – especially at the grocery store. Last night I had a dream that there was a shooting while we were shopping there. The shooting happened three times and I did something different each time. The first time I ran and hid in the back warehouse. The second time I waited until I heard the gunshots move to the back of the store and ran out the front door. In the final shooting, I hid in a clothing rack. Does any else do this?

Maybe it was weighing a little heavier on my mind since the shooting at Michigan State a few days ago. A good friend of mine got his doctorate at MSU and we worked on a really amazing project there together. He’s a musician and he asked me to create artwork that was projected onto a large screen during his recital. It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done as an artist.

Also, I have a friend that was a teacher at a school that had a shooting. No one was killed but I’m sure it was terrifying nonetheless. 

Our high school had a shooting during a football game last year. No one was killed and it turned out to be gang-related.

The thing is, places I’ve been and people I know have been affected by gun violence and it really bothers me.

I was watching the MSU shooting unfold on the news and in came my six-year-old for comic relief. She entered the room and asked, “Did someone die?” I answered “yes” and assumed a serious conversation would follow, but instead she blurted out, “I have to pray for Elon Musk!” WTF? First of all, since when does my daughter pray? And second, how the hell does a six-year-old know who Elon Musk is? Turns out she learned all of this from YouTube videos. Man, maybe I should pay attention to what she is watching. She grabs my phone and watches video after video after video.

So, that’s what’s on my mind this early Saturday morning. Is it on your mind, too?

A Poem About Poverty and a Rally Cry to My Neighbors


Visit the lights and glamor of New York or LA –
I’m somewhere hidden in the middle – in the America you won’t see.

Week after week, paycheck to paycheck –
I’m one car repair, one medical bill away from disaster.

I mercilessly cling to cruel reality with the whitest knuckles.
Don’t let me fall – parachutes don’t exist in these parts.

I bundle up my flesh and bones –
winters and bare cupboards in the North are awfully cold.

Food or shelter? I can’t afford both. In the richest country in the world,
it’s a fight for survival. We shouldn’t have to choose.

My struggle doesn’t define me but my pride won’t help me here.
Reach out or go without.

Help doesn’t trickle down from above.
We’re on our own. It’s us on the ground helping each other.

To the outside, we’re only a statistic
but we see the people – our neighbors and friends, our city.

We talk. We share our resources.
Grab a hold of the lifeline we created. We’ll lift each other up.

Get a free meal at the library. Visit the food pantry at our kids’ school.
Feed our bellies – and also our minds.

I have hope that this isn’t forever.
This is our community, our home – we’ll make it a better place.

Throw us a rope and resurrect our purpose.
Our dreams are buried under decades of greed but we’ll reclaim our future.

As Americans, but more importantly, as humans,
we are in this together. 

  • A mom from Toledo, Ohio USA

What do you do when you realize you’re the problem?

Let me set the scene – I spent my drive to work this morning nervously watching the gas gauge in my car because I don’t have money to buy gas until Friday. Problems with my family are still weighing heavy on my mind and I keep getting sick. So as you can imagine, I was a little on edge when I got to work.

Today I had to work with an obnoxious coworker that always gets under my skin. He likes to brag about his artistic endeavors, which at first, didn’t seem that impressive. I’m always on the defensive when I’m around him trying to think about how I’ll respond when he says this or that.

Today was probably the worst day for me to work with him, but surprisingly, he was actually pretty cool. I was still feeling pretty defensive and unfortunately, I bragged about my own work as an artist – something I said I would never do at work. The program I work in is not the place for that.

What happened? Today, I was the obnoxious one. Was I always the obnoxious one? Was it never him and always just a battle in my head?

As this coworker talked, I realized he’s actually done more than I thought. Maybe he actually knows what he’s talking about, which now has me questioning, do I know as much as I think I know? 

I’m a little embarrassed but it made me see that it’s time for me to take a breath and let my guard down. I don’t need to compete with anyone – especially at work. 

To top it off, I hurt my back moving art supplies this morning.

Arg. I can’t wait to go to bed and wake up to a new day. I think I learned my lesson.

Have you ever been in this situation? When you have a problem with someone else and then realize it might have been you all along?

Is traveling important to you?

Are you as restless as me? I have a serious itch to just get away.

I was fearless when I was younger and had many great adventures. I wanted to go everywhere. I even studied abroad for a year. Things were much easier then considering I wasn’t footing the bill.

Now I’m an adult with a family, job, bills, and responsibilities. I also have crippling anxiety. The last time I was on a plane was when my husband and I got married in Vegas over thirteen years ago. Like many Americans, I don’t even own a passport. A vacation to us is a weekend road trip to maybe a state or two away. 

I’m stuck in place in a routine, and most of the time, that’s okay. 

But this past week I’ve been sitting in my living room painting canvases and binge-watching House Hunters International. Have you ever seen that show? It follows people who are moving abroad and looking for a home. It is so fascinating. It’s just this short little glimpse into life in other places and I can’t get enough of it. I’m not gonna lie – I wish it was me buying a house in a foreign country. I want that kind of excitement in my life. I will sit there all day painting and watching people buying homes abroad. My husband thinks it’s a nice break from the true crime shows I like to watch.

My mental health issues make travel challenging. My anxiety is overwhelming and the stress can trigger a number of other symptoms. But still, I really want to go somewhere – everywhere. I’ve done so much in life despite my mental illness. I shouldn’t let it stop me now. 

Money is a huge concern so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. But it’s still okay to dream, right?

Is traveling important to you? Where do you want to go? Does traveling make you anxious?

Fellow creatives, is it ever okay to be a sellout?

Like most people in these challenging times, my husband and I have been struggling financially. I only work part-time and I’m looking for extra ways to make some cash. Finding a second job outside the home is out of the question due to schedules and childcare costs, so my best bet is finding some side gigs.

I recently published a post declaring my renewed love of art, and I’ve been spending a lot of time painting – both at work and at home. (I work for an arts program.) I have painted several flowers and people have been encouraging me to sell them. 

The thing is, I prefer to paint weird, creepy things – you know, trees with eyeballs. When I first became interested in art, I never thought about selling anything. I wanted to tell my story. To me, art is about expression and experimentation, not painting something pretty so it will sell. 

But now I am motivated by money and I’ve spent the last week painting flowers. 

My husband seems a little disturbed by it – he told me so tonight on the way to pick up our daughter from daycare. He even mentioned the term “sellout”.He suggested that I continue being weird and maybe that will sell as well. 

I have fun painting flowers but it has no meaning to me. It’s not very personal. That’s not what art is to me. But on the other hand, people around me think they will sell. 

What do you think? Do I paint some meaningless flowers to make some money? Or do I stay true to myself and keep my paintings creepy and weird?

On a side note – all of my paintings are finger paintings. I have muscle tremors in my hands from a medication I take and using a paintbrush feels impossible. When I press my fingers directly on the canvas, I feel I have a little more control. It seems like a disadvantage but a couple of people have suggested it might be an interesting selling point.

Interesting? Maybe. Painting with shaky fingers has some serious limitations but I am proud of myself for painting anyway. 

Are you a trusting person?

I used to be bubbly and cheerful to everyone I met. I saw the good in people. Was I just young and dumb?

Now I’m guarded. My smile isn’t quite as big and I enter new relationships with caution. Did that come with age? Did that come from pain?

Did you ever notice a change like that in yourself? Were you more trusting when you were younger?

A few years ago I was mentally and emotionally abused by a client at work. The abuse went on for eleven months before the client was finally kicked out of our program. I thought once the client was gone I would be fine, but I wasn’t. I was diagnosed with PTSD and went through several months of therapy. 

I am doing much better now but nothing has been the same since. You just never know what a person is capable of.

I recently experienced betrayal in my family which once again brought my trust issues to the forefront. 

We have all seen the good and bad in people. No one is purely good and no one is strictly bad but the bad definitely gets more attention.

But lately, I feel like I attract people who do harm — like I’m an easy target for narcissists. Do I do something wrong? Do you ever feel that way?

I am a resilient person and generally have a good attitude about most other things. I’m quiet but kind. I know if I always let the bad overshadow the good, I might miss out on getting to know some genuinely nice and caring people.

But how do I let my guard down? What do you do when you’re afraid to trust people? Will it get better with time? Or worse?

I’ve got to be honest – I’m angry at the people who made me feel this way.

I have been seeing a therapist weekly for about a year now and my blog is in no one a replacement for therapy. I know we’re just strangers on the internet but I absolutely love throwing questions your way. You guys always have such thoughtful responses.

Can you relate? Do you have trust issues? How do you deal with it?