Pop (Soda) Sucks — Kicking Bad Habits

This isn’t related to atheism, but I am digging around for ways to hold myself accountable as I kick a bad habit. Time to share and put it out there!

For all of you criticizing fat Americans drinking pop (Midwest for soda), just know that that shit is addictive.

I grew up drinking pop. I can remember drinking Pepsi in glass bottles as a preschooler. There were many days where I drank nothing but pop. I didn’t even know it was bad for you until I was older.

In March 2017, my doctor convinced me to give it up. I stepped out of his office and stopped drinking pop cold turkey. It lasted a surprising two and a half years, but during that entire time, I was craving pop. It got a little easier as time passed even though the cravings persisted. 

In the fall of 2019, I gave in. I wanted a Cherry Coke. (That was always my favorite.) I had convinced myself that I was strong and could drink a pop every once in a while, but once I drank that Cherry Coke, it was over. I have been drinking pop in large quantities every day since then and my weight gain is becoming noticeable. 

Here I sit, Valentine’s Day 2020, once again deciding to go cold turkey. I ran out of pop at home earlier today. My husband and I just returned from the grocery store without buying any more. I was nearly in tears on the car ride home.

I feel ridiculous — it’s pop. It’s marketed to be so innocent and fun and joyful. What’s even more ridiculous is that I’ve been here before. 

So here it is — Valentine’s 2020 — and I’m giving it another go.

Anyone else here addicted to pop? Anyone have any tips for kicking bad habits?

5 Situations In Which I’m Glad to Be Godless

I feel confident and grounded as an atheist. I wouldn’t have it any other way. While I would never want to be Christian, I do recognize that my life would be easier if I was. However, there are definitely some sticky situations where I am just glad to be godless. 

Church

Let’s start with the most obvious — Sunday morning.

Getting up early? Nope. Putting on “church clothes”? Nope. Facing a sea of fake smiles and judgment from fellow parishioners? Big fat nope.

I gave birth to the only three-year-old in the world that sleeps until 10 am. I’m going to enjoy that.

Church doesn’t sound even remotely fun and I don’t know why anyone would put themselves through that.

Helping Others With the Intent to Actually Help Others

Another situation that makes me glad to be godless is when choosing to help others. I’m not motivated by rewards in the afterlife.

I love Toledo. This is my home and I don’t want to be anywhere else right now, but Toledo is a struggling Rust Belt city dealing with high crime and poverty rates.

I work in a helping field — mental health. I have also put in a lot of time as a volunteer. I help others not to score points to get into heaven but to make my home a better place for everyone. I don’t need god’s word to tell me to do good things. I help out because I’m human and it’s the right thing to do.

Having Guilt-free Sex Before Marriage

Honestly, this one comes as a relief. I don’t have to live up to unnatural expectations.

I always thought the no sex before marriage thing was a bad idea. I would want to know as much as I could about a person before marrying them and that includes our physical connection. 

I also would never marry someone without living with them first. That just seems like common sense to me.

Also, I see nothing wrong with casual sex. 

Or masturbation. 

Or not getting married at all. 

Do what you need to do.

Santa vs. Jesus

I shit you not — I know families back home that don’t do Santa Claus with their kids because they are afraid that when the kids question the existence of Santa, they will also question the existence of Jesus. That really says something about Jesus, doesn’t it?

Once my daughter gets past the Santa stage, I will never confuse her by pretending other fairytales are true. 

Who’s Writing the Rules?

I decide what I feel is right and wrong — not god or anyone else.

When it comes to social issues, I let empathy and common sense make up my mind. I don’t need help from an outdated religious text. I would hate to have my church decide for me.

I also think it’s interesting when the rules change. For example, some churches now accept gay members when they didn’t in the past. If rules like that can change, why are they there in the first place?

 

While I know my life would be easier as a Christian, some of these situations seem pretty awkward and foreign to me. Being an atheist in the Midwest is difficult but I believe that standing strong in my beliefs today will make life easier for my daughter’s daughter.

How about you — what situations make you glad to be godless?

The Militant Atheist

There’s this stereotype in America of the “militant atheist”. It really sheds a negative light on us. (As if the public opinion of us wasn’t low enough already.) What people don’t realize is that we’re militant because we want to be left alone. Quit trying to convert us all the time. Atheists are typically peaceful yet we tend to be surrounded by people that are mean and arrogant. (Speaking as a Midwesterner anyway.)

It’s very isolating to be an atheist in Toledo, but now with this blog, I have the ability to interact with atheists from around the world. It’s hard to put into words the amount of relief and reassurance that gives me.

I hope with time writing about atheism will give me a chance to sort things out in my head and find a way to make life easier for atheists right here in my own city. I want Toledo to be a welcoming place for everyone.

I am beyond grateful for Freethought Blogs and the opportunity it has given me. I hope to stick around for a while.

Giving Toledo Some Love

I love living in Toledo. I love city life. Sure, it’s not New York or LA, but it’s urban enough that my daughter gets to grow up in a community way more liberal and diverse than where I’m from. That’s really important to me.

However, my rural childhood home is still very near. Toledo feels like a whole different world, but since they put in a new highway several years back, my hometown is a mere 40 minutes away. 

I used to come to Toledo as a child to go shopping or see a movie. People back home saw Toledo as a very dangerous place. Now that I call Toledo home, I see it very differently.

Toledo is a struggling Rust Belt city with high poverty and crime. I’m not going to sugar coat that. But Toledo is the only place I’ve lived where I know my neighbors’ names. My daughter plays with the girl next door. We talk. We look out for each other. Pride and sense of community are very strong here. I love that.

During the week, I work for a local nonprofit that helps the homeless, and I’m very proud to be a part of that mission. Toledo is my home, and I want to make it a better place for all of us.

True, it is very difficult to be an atheist here, but I don’t want to leave. This is my city, too, and I hope somehow I will find a way to create understanding.

I felt compelled to write this post because Toledo is a lovely place to live and people just don’t give it the credit it deserves. Yes, the weather is a little rough and we probably do eat to stay warm, but I love Toledo. If people saw the city the way I do, they would love it, too.

A Poem About Why I Vote

A New War

My fingertips are tattered
from the artillery of a new war.
Secrets don’t exist;
tomorrow is a gamble.

A celebration laid to rest
in the confines of my brain.
I’ll jump on the bandwagon of desperation
because it takes a village to dig out of this hole. 

No options in my fragile reality —
barely exist or die in the machine.
One fading chance for a stable future;
I jump headfirst into a shot at equality.

Let exhaustion fire the first bullet —
one last push for us all.
In a cold world made for just a few,
the masses will rise.

 

Speaking Your Mind vs. Holding Back

I’m sure you’ve heard, “there’s a time and place”, said at some point but I’m pretty sure people mean, “never and not here”, when it comes to my atheism. I retreat to my closet.

Here come the good Christians with their steamrollers. Why is my (dis)belief so offensive that you feel the need to squash it?

I hold back way more than speak my mind. I wish it wasn’t that way but unfortunately, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I know there are others in the same boat.

 

7 Reasons I Don’t Speak Up

 

  1. to avoid confrontation
  2. so I don’t have to explain myself
  3. because we still have to work together and I don’t want it to be awkward
  4. to avoid discrimination
  5. so I can survive Thanksgiving dinner
  6. because you won’t take me seriously
  7. because I was told not to

 

I know it’s necessary to speak up to help others and I feel this blog is giving me that opportunity. I just wish I felt more comfortable being open in my everyday life living and working in Toledo.

 

How about you – do you hold back or speak your mind?

Let’s Revolt

In the Quiet of the Snow

In the quiet of the snow
Tears are stiff and frozen
No longer bleeding down her face.

In the quiet of the snow
Her painful secrets now exposed
And the conditions of your love revealed.

In the quiet of the snow
You left her all alone
The heavy flakes now resting on her shoulders.

In the quiet of the snow
She learns to stand on her own.
A world of warmth awaits her.

In the quiet of the snow
Your tiny world caves in
Weighed down by fairytales and shame.

In the quiet of the snow
Her passion stokes the fire
Illuminating the revolution within our reach.

Are you as angry as I am?

I left my hometown at 18 and never looked back. However, the anger I felt back then lingers nearly 20 years later.

A Childhood Oppressed by Christianity

Back home, Christianity permeated everything. I went to a public school but you would never know it. Sometimes religion was discussed in class. Teachers had religious symbols and posters in their classrooms and there was almost always a prayer at school functions and events. I couldn’t breathe.

I spent a lot of my childhood planning my escape but at the time I didn’t realize how many other children were affected by the oppressive Christianity.

LGBTQ Loved Ones in the Closet

I have since learned that I have many LGBTQ friends and family that spent years – decades even – in the closet living in a place where it’s unsafe to be yourself. I couldn’t imagine the pain and anxiety of being in that situation.

The people I know of are now out but how many more are still trapped in the closet?

Angry in Toledo

Living in Toledo is much easier than living back home even though my hometown isn’t far away. I prefer living in an urban area where my daughter will experience lots of opportunities and diversity.

But still, I get angry in Toledo, too. Many Christians are very outspoken here and it’s hard not to be offended. It’s the Midwest and judgments are never far away.

I’ve held on to this anger for years and recently found poetry to be a good outlet.

 

I want to hear about your anger. Tell me I’m not alone.

A Poem About Leaving Home

A big part of my story as an atheist is leaving the conservative rural area where I grew up. It’s often the focus in my poetry.

 

In the Back of a Pick-Up

Brittle bones chilled
beneath frost moon eyes –
she clings to the bed of a truck.
Sticky pebbles cling to the hungry tires –
rough road ahead.
Pink sunset flickers
through the singing leaves above.
Alfalfa fields pass by in a blur.
She tightens her grip
as her curls sail in the wind.
She’s imprisoned by a home with the biggest sky
but barely a pinprick on the map.
One day despair will grow wings
and a sheltered childhood will fuel her adventures.
She shivers in the cold
and never looks back.

How are you treated as an atheist?

Being involved with FtB has made me really curious —

How are atheists treated where you live?

Living in a more conservative area of the US I don’t always feel safe speaking openly and I know very few atheists in real life (three to be exact but two moved out of the area). I’ve learned living here that it’s easier to just let people assume you’re a Christian even though it feels miserable.

I know that there are places where atheists are the majority and are living openly and safe, but then I know there are places where you can be sentenced to death if you are believed to be an atheist.

Where does your home fall on the spectrum?