Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Happy Holiday of Your Choice

I *will* say "Happy Holidays".
Because I am disrespecting Christmas and Christians?
Absolutely and Resoundingly NO. It is because I speak very deliberately and I use words and expressions thoughtfully and I choose to include all people I see in my good wishes.

When I say "Happy Holidays" I absolutely mean that I wish YOU and yours a very happy holiday of your choice.

Please, accept that certain parts of the media (read Bill O'Reilly and our President-elect) have created such fear of a war on Christmas that simply isn't there. There is NO war on anything. Only a desire to include all people and to spread well wishes to all.  Believe me, I'm on the Atheist Executive Committee on Social Issues and we haven't had War on Christmas on the itinerary in, like, ever.

I can not know what your belief system is simply by looking at you. And so I will always choose "being kind and respectful to all".

I carry no attitude if you use "Merry Christmas" and I don't judge. In your heart and with your words, do everything you can to *increase* the holiday spirit and values of LOVE and FAMILY and CELEBRATION. Your religion of choice has much more "meaning" than that to you. I'm happy for you. Enjoy it and feel the warmth of it. And know that people of other belief systems feel that exact same warmth and meaning in their beliefs. That is why they believe it and practice it!

Fear less and love more!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Everyone is Racist

So you say.
But I am not.

My friend in the picture on the right told me that, for sure, everyone is racists including me. When I said that I think that I am not she, in her inimitable way, told me that I am full of shit and that I am, certainly, racist. The common knowledge is that I can't help it; I am racist. Apparently society makes me racist. 

Yet I insist.

I have been thinking about this for MONTHS. It's not that I have good intentions. I'm not denying the claim because I have friends of non-white races. It's not that I'm uncomfortable considering my own racism. It's not because of any other stuff that I can point to to prove it. I don't owe anyone an explanation or proof. I claim it. It is true. I do not judge people based on their race. And even further, I enjoy meeting people, all people, and getting to know them better.

If you claim that I am racist, can you be more specific? Am I racist towards black and brown people? Am I racist about all non-white people? Do people of Asian descent do anything for me? How about people with Mexican ancestors? Am I also racist toward people who appear to be from Middle Eastern countries, if there is a certain look?

Do I have prejudices or biases? I do indeed. But those prejudices are not about the color of one's skin or the culture from which one originates, associates with, or identifies with. My prejudices are snap judgements based on certain behaviors that I see in the world at times, as well as one based on a certain aspect of appearance (that I won't share here because it is RUDE AF and I know it is inaccurate). 

Do I have stereotype biases? Yes, still, not based on race...

I'm being as honest with myself as possible and I am openly willing to state this very unpopular, and to some, unbelievable opinion. My mind is open, I'm trying to be as aware of my own biases as possible, and I am sincere as hell. I have been scrutinizing myself for several months now. If I find myself ever judging a person based on their race, I promise to come back here and change this post. I'm more than happy to admit to being wrong if I am.

In the meantime, until that time, the burden of proof is on you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Birds of a Feather

One of my interests and hobbies is what I think of as the Romance of Language. I got that expression from a book title of a book about Latin root words I used to read with my dad when I was a kid.What I mean by the expression Romance of Language is the development of language and how language got to be the way it is. I enjoy the study of language and I find it fascinating to see the many, many ways that the English language has changed, how words were born and evolved, et al. Dad enjoyed the study and so do I.

This past week I was reading a book in which the author used the expression birds of a feather to describe like-minded folk gathering together to share thought and conversation. The author's use of the idiom got me wondering about the use of the words and how long we have been using the expression in just such a way. Who coined the expression and why on why are the birds on the short end of the stick here?

Maybe you share my curiosity. Sadly I don't have much information that is accurate. Every single website that I consulted informed me that the idiom birds of a feather is a fairly recent English construct meaning a gathering of like-minded individuals. Most websites told me that it is an idiom of no more than about four hundred years. Most idiom origin websites give variations on the theme to this:

This proverb has been in use since at least the mid 16th century. In 1545 William Turner used a version of it in his papist satire The Rescuing of Romish Fox:

Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.  (I love that!)

The first known citation in print of the currently used English version of the phrase appeared in 1599, in The Dictionarie in Spanish and English, which was compiled by the English lexicographer John Minsheu:

Birdes of a feather will flocke togither.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 27:10 also gives us aversion of the idiom:
Birds resort unto their like.

Want to know why I doubt the veracity of these websites?

The book that I was reading this past week was The Republic by Plato, a book written approximately 2300 years ago. In the book Plato used the birds of a feather to describe the propensity for older gentlemen to hang out with other older gentlemen to chew the fat.

Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says.
If, indeed the translator got the idiom correct, Plato tells us that the proverb is old. Old to Plato in 380BCE. Isn't that interesting?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Is Love an Feeling or a Choice?

Trying to get ONE decent pic!
They say that the very idiosyncrasies that appeal to us about our partners in the beginning of a relationship are the very things that push couples apart as time goes, the very reason that most couples fall out of love. And this is the exact thing that scared me for years as a single person. I thought the real me would push my eventual husband away.

I am kind of annoying. I could list my shortcomings and you won't believe me, but trust me, there are many. As a young woman growing up I would fret about all of this because I was certain that my future amazing husband would eventually leave me for my many irritating parts. And for the snoring. 
Lucky for me, I married Jerry. He is STILL, inexplicably, in love with me.

And I am still in love with him, even with the things that could annoy me about him. We are damn near opposites of each other so we could find about a million things to dislike; but we don't. His sense of humor still cracks me up. It's silly AF, pervasive, and apparently genetic because the house if full of kids with the same sense of humor. At times it drives me out of my mind! At times I can't even sit at the same table as all of them at dinner when they all get going with their silliness!  LOL  Other times, they make me laugh until I have tears running down my face.

I'm so glad that, again and again, Jerry and I have continued to choose each other. How that man can choose me after the ridiculous crap that *I* do is truly beyoooond me. I drive my own damn self crazy sometimes.

One of the kids' favorite stories is this one time on a gorgeous New Zealand beach when I was taking pictures, MANY, according to the story. Along with their dad, all three of them would not give me a decent smile for the camera. No nononononono. Not one. They all kept making faces and cracking themselves and each other up (see above pic for an example). I was FURIOUS.  lol I kept saying I will never be on this beach again and I want a lovely picture!!! I was so angry. They kept mugging and cracking up, never giving in. 

Now a collage of those silly faces is on my refrigerator because I love it.

He's one lucky man I tell you.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Traditional Family Values

It's another election year and we are being bombarded with frickin'... wordswordswordswordswordswordswordswordswords.
UGH. It's exhausting isn't it? A few weeks ago I started ignoring as much of it as possible. 

Politicians on the campaign trail tend to all sound alike to me. Their words always sound blustery and full of crap. Maybe they are aware that people don't truly listen to the words as much as they look for key expressions and values to agree with. Maybe that is why politicians use code words. Words that have LOTS of meaning and NO meaning at the same time...that way the people listening to the speeches can attach their own meaning to them and can assume that they are in agreement with the speaker when, in fact, most politicians are adept at using unclear language in order to allow the listener to interpret them, to include themselves in the club.

You know the emotional words I mean. Family. Life. Babies. Independence. Liberty. Freedom. Jobs. Us. Heritage. Love. God. Family. Equality. Fairness. Enough. Future. Luxury. Value. Technology. Work. Progress. Tradition. Belonging.

Say each of those words to yourself and get a sense of their meaning. Now check with ten other people. I guarantee their meanings will differ from yours.

Each of us likes to think that we have chosen our own values, that we, independently, considered all of the options and have chosen our own set of family and personal values. But that is not so. We are all highly influenced by the culture around us. I think it is significant that we think we are all unique in this endeavor, that we take pride in our independent thought. I absolutely include myself in this. I love the belief that I think outside of the box, that I have cobbled my value system together. But in reality I'm quite sure I am still somewhere inside of that box...albeit on the fringes. We can't help it, none of us live in a cave and we are influenced by everything surrounding us.

So let's have a quick look at Traditional Family Values, the catchphrase of the Republicans. That phrase catches at the hearts of American voters. Traditional. Family Values. Not just because it elicits some romantic idea of what used to be (but never really was) but because it seems to give the weight of reality to the deepest, most hidden desire of so many adults. A beautiful set of loved ones sitting around the dinner table, a dining table covered with plenty. A table beautiful in its healthy, delicious foods. A set of people who are smiling, happy, connected, belonging. Blood-related people beaming at one another and at the spread before them. People at peace with one another and with themselves. It's a scene we all know in our minds eye. We long for it.

When you envision this lovely repast does it matter to you the gender of the people around the table? Does the race of the people matter to you, other than that they are themselves? What about the foods being served? Are you aware of the complex relationships of the people sitting together? The past and future plans of the members of this family? Seems to me that what really matters at a Family Dinner is that we are all together, connected, eating, laughing, loving...

When I think about my family sitting around the dinner table, we are all imperfect. We are struggling. We have our past and present dramas. We love one another. We are probably eating something I have created and that is generally edible. We are sitting at our regular spots. We do, on the outside, look a bit like that TV family. We have a father/mother parenting thing going, kids, food. Cool. But that is just us!

We have friends who are single-parent families, single-gender couples, poly-amorous couples with children, mixed race families, multi-generational families, and each of them IS A FAMILY.

I truly believe that any use of the idea of Traditional Family Values that requires the family to be all-white or all one race, male/female leads, generally meat and potatoes eaters is an idea that is not only WAY past its time but also way Way WAY WAY inaccurate in this country. Let's let go of the completely bullshit concept of an unrealistic and, frankly, an undesired idea of what a family is and let's love and support the families that each of us has cobbled together with the loving desires of our own hearts.

Let's make THAT a Traditional American Family.

 What do you think? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Questions I Wish Someone Would Ask Me

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera 

A Hypothetical Carin' Loathin' interview
with Karen Loethen 

What would you say your blog Carin' Loathin' is about?
You know, I kept my other blog, My Own Mind, for about six and a half years and nearly every blog post was about being an atheist, parenting, and/or homeschooling. I loved that focus at the time but those days of all homeschool/all the time are behind me. I don't know if I actually have anything to say; I don't think there is a planned theme for this blog. I guess I'm just hoping to keep writing in case I accidentally have something worth reading. 

How do you choose what to write about?
Things happen every day. I read books. I see the news. Interactions with the kids. Meeting others. Questions. Just regular life stuff. If something gets into my head and I'm enjoying thinking about it, I start writing the post in my head.  LOL I read and research subjects all over the map because so many different things interest me so I hope a wide variety of  blog post topics isn't annoying to friends who read this blog. Otherwise, I really don't have a plan ahead of time or a schedule or much structure at all. Mostly I just enjoy exploring ideas...maybe I'll get better at planning things. Maybe some format or theme will emerge. IDK.

Are there things you won't write about?
Of course. The truth is that I try not to post much about things that annoy me or piss me off. I try to keep my life focused on the positive and my blog fairly positive too. I also have a secret fear that if I get started writing about irritations I won't be able to stop!

I also tend to keep most of my truly personal issues about my family life as a kid off of the internet as much as possible. It wasn't fun and it just seems like it's too distracting and heavy for a light-hearted blog. 

And politics. I'm not even going to get started there!

Have you written posts you did not publish?

Many. I write TONS and TONS of crap. So if you're seeing it, I'm assuming it's not crap...for the most part.

What is the difference between your blog My Own Mind blog and Carin' Loathin'?

I think I've already stated this one, that I wanted to keep that other blog fairly focused on homeschool/atheist parenting. I hope I have enough to say to keep this blog interesting.

What blogger/writer/author inspires you?

I love the author Barbra Kingsolver, though she hasn't come out with anything new lately. What I love about her writing is that she is poetic, lyrical, and realistic somehow. Her writing is beautiful even when the topic is not sweet. So that's it: beautiful writing.

How are the kids doing? How has HS affected then?
Any regrets with the HSing?

Elizabeth is having a rough semester but she's hanging tough. She is using her goals to keep herself motivated. She is also working at a new job, starting today, and is hopeful that it will be a better fit for her.  

John is about to enter community college as a dually-enrolled student. He's a bit nervous about going to school, but we're working on test taking skills, note taking, and following a syllabus. He has been working for a friend and making some decent money. So he's happy with that.

Regrets? Helz Helz to the no! The longer Elizabeth is in college, the more evidence we have that homeschool really works, even that the work we did here was of incredibly high quality. The other day in a class, after Elizabeth participated in a discussion, her professor raised her arms in a cheer, pointed at Elizabeth, and told her YAY, you tell your mom she's amazing!  lol 

Besides, you were kidding with this question, right?!

Do you ever wish you could have started blogging earlier in your life?

I used to be a journaler; this was years ago. Sometimes I think that journaling from those days helped in my recovery, but I'm so glad it wasn't posted online anywhere. CRIPES!  lol

No, I think blogging for me came along just when I wanted to do it.

How does being a blogger affect your real life?

Hmmmmm, good question. The only thing I can think right now is that having this blog makes me organize my thinking more. I tend to daydream and ruminate quite a bit. Having this blog probably makes me take a moment to be more aware of where my thoughts are going, maybe it even encourages me to follow a train of thought in different directions...

Do you have a favorite beverage?

I do, thanks for asking. It's tea, both iced and hot.