20 Things I’ve learned in 40 years…. Everything is going to be okay.

May 6th, 2016 1 comment

It’s true. I’m turning the big 4-0 later this month. The best thing about approaching forty is the sense of self and awareness I have now that I didn’t have twenty years ago. I’ve learned a lot in forty years…
ChangeMyMind via @BlckChckn

  1. I reserve the right to change my mind.

I am human. I am fickle. I change and adapt to my environment. One day I may love mushrooms; the next day –not so much. Change is a natural part of life. Changing my mind is also natural. I am not static. I am multi-dimensional and ever-changing. And you know what? That’s okay. I embrace change, even change within myself.

  1. ‘No’ is an option.

Pleasing everyone is impossible. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means that I am prioritizing. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything that’s asked of me – or that I want to do (I can’t count the number of stories or paintings I’ve already created in my head that will never materialize). It is okay to say ‘no’, particularly when saying ‘no’ might save your sanity.NoIsAnOption

  1. Don’t be a slave to numbers.

You all know what I’m talking about: time, money, waistlines. I spent far too many years obsessed with numbers, particularly with time. It’s probably why I have a terrible anxiety disorder in my middle age. Until very recently, money was always a worry too. And I’ve always struggled with my waistline, but not in the way that most women generally describe. I’ve been chronically under-weight for years. Again, probably something to do with my anxiety issues. A-a-a-nd what’s at the root of all that has caused me worry: time, money, and the notion that I’m not a real woman because I don’t have curves (yeah, that meme stings a bit). Numbers: arbitrary values that define who I should be and how I should live. Here’s the thing though: I had chosen to allow those things to bother me.  I let them go, and I was much happier. You know why? Because there will never be enough time, money, or change in the waistline – and that’s okay. Once I realized that, I spent less time worrying, and more time living.

  1. Most people are good.

It’s true. Most people don’t intentionally do bad things. Let’s face it though – everyone has done something bad in the eyes of another. It’s okay though – it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You see, some people tend to spend a lot of time criticizing other people’s behaviours, but fail to self-evaluate their own. Imagine how much better we’d all be, if we stopped focusing on the ways others need to change and began self-reflecting more. Try it. You might be surprised to see that which you’ve criticized staring back at you. Sure, there are truly evil people in the world – but the people you’ll most likely meet aren’t those people. Check yourself before you start checking others.LiveOutsideTheBox

  1. Don’t just step outside the box: Live outside the box.

How cliché, right? The truth is that some people function better inside the box, but I’m not one of those people. I tried it for several years, but I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I tried to become this ideal person that I thought other people wanted me to be. I tried to fit into the mould, but it never felt right. Then I not only stepped outside the box, but I began living outside the box and I discovered a better me. It is okay to step outside the box, and for some, it’s okay to live outside the box.

  1. It’s never going to be what you expected or planned.

It’s perfectly reasonable to set out goals, but it’s perfectly unreasonable to expect the path toward that goal to be straight. There will always be roadblocks in front of goals – and sometimes those roadblocks will completely derail goals. That’s okay. As long as I try to achieve my goals, I can attain a measure of satisfaction that I am moving forward – living. And when I do reach my goals, I can bask in elation at the accomplishments I’ve achieved. Either way, I’m engaging with this life I’ve been given.

  1.  Stop worrying about what other people think. They aren’t judging you. They’re too busy worrying about what other people think of them.

This isn’t always an easy state of mind for me to achieve, particularly since I have an anxiety disorder. That hasn’t stopped me from actively reminding myself that other people have insecurities too. In fact, most people do. We tend to assume that there is a spotlight on us, when there probably isn’t. It’s okay to be insecure – everyone else is too. What’s even better is realizing that you have nothing to be insecure about because no one is really judging you. They’re too busy worrying about what other people think of them.


  1. Smile often – even when you don’t feel like it.

Smile. Right now. Go ahead. Yep, right now – smile. You’ll instantly feel better. The more often you smile, the better you’ll be. Try it again. SMILE. It’s okay if you can’t smile all the time, but smile as often as you can.

  1. Be kind – always.

Kindness will fill your heart and your home. If you’re not looking for a full life, then by all means, carry on with your cantankerous ways. Some of the unkindest people I have met are also some of the loneliest. It’s okay to not feel like being kind all the time, particularly when someone has been unkind to you. Just because you feel like being unkind, doesn’t mean you actually have to be unkind though. It’s easy to extend kindness, even when you might not feel up to it. Kindness doesn’t cost you anything and it reaps benefits for both the giver and the receiver. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by being kind.

  1. Apologize for your mistakes.

It’s okay to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Some of us make larger mistakes than others. The only way to learn from mistakes is to realize that they are mistakes in the first place and then to take responsibility for those mistakes. Part of taking responsibility is apologizing for mistakes that have caused others pain or hardship. Not only will you become a better person, but you’ll lift a burden you may be feeling – you know, the guilt you feel when you’ve done something wrong. It’s okay. Apologize, seek forgiveness, and then you’ll be able to move on. Don’t forget to apologize and forgive yourself too. Sometimes the worst mistakes we make cause the greatest hardships upon ourselves.


  1. There will never be enough time.

It’s one of the tragedies of human existence. We will never have enough time, and that’s okay. It’s what you do with the time you do have that really matters. Stop worrying about how much time you have left and start doing something with your time. Fill it with things that matter to you because doing anything less is just a waste of precious time.

  1. Change is constant.

Life is never going to be the same, and that’s okay, in fact, change can be downright delightful. There will be ups and downs; challenges and triumphs; laughter and tears. You can’t expect life to stay the same. There will always be changes, both minute and monumental. Friends will come and go, and sometimes come back. There will be losses, but there will also be many gains. Change is inevitable. The good news is you can adapt to change. Adapting to change means moving forward through life – living.


  1. Live in the moment.

So many of us spend a lot of time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. What a waste of time. You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future, but you can live in the moment. Look, it’s perfectly okay to reflect and prepare, but if most of your precious time is spent on dwelling and worrying then you’re wasting an awful lot of time on things you can’t control. You might even need help to move on from the past or to relax about the future. Go get it. It will change your life – suddenly, you’ll have a lot more time for things today.ThankfulForPeople

  1. Be thankful for the people you value in your life.

The people you value in your life right now are not always going to be in your life in the same capacity, if at all. Don’t panic, it’ll be okay.  For most of us, our circle of friends gets smaller as we age. Family dynamics change too. We may become more distant or closer to kin, but connections can remain strong through loss, distance, or time when we are thankful for those we value. The pain of separation can be eased by knowing that you parted from that person showing them how grateful you were to have known them, and how important they were in your life.

  1. You have a chance every day to do something great – take it.

Doing something great doesn’t mean you have to do something grand. Really great things come in many packages. Maybe it’s our consumerist society that makes so many of us strive for really big things. That’s okay, just don’t forget about the little things that are great too. There are many opportunities for great things to happen each day, but if you’re only focused on the really big ones, you may miss the smaller ones. Seize every opportunity for greatness, both big and small, each and everyday.StopBeingAfraid

  1. Stop being so afraid.

Easier said than done, right? Yup. Sometimes you can’t help being afraid, and that’s okay. Fear is a state of mind, a very resilient state of mind. Sometimes, your mind just gets the better of you (and sometimes your mind can make your body do really weird things). The problem with fear is that it can inhibit someone to live fully. Fear can lead to missed opportunities and disappointment (usually in oneself for being such a baby). Everyone is afraid of something, and some of us carry a lot more fear than others. Fear can be conquered, easier said than done. Yup.

  1. You’re going to get older – deal with it.

You can’t escape the specter of time… and that’s okay. You’re going to age, go grey, get wrinkles, and become frailer over time. Sure you can try any number of remedies and cure-alls, but you’ll never be able to escape the fact that you are getting older. Stop fighting it and start embracing it. Your time is limited here. You can either spend it fighting the natural aging process, or you can learn to adapt to your reality.

  1. Prepare to be disappointed.

There’s a saying on a popular television show, ‘expect the unexpected’ that can be applied to life, except it should be modified to say ‘expect to be unexpectedly disappointed’. There’s no denying that people are going to disappoint you, and that’s okay. While you can’t control someone disappointing you, you can control how you choose to react to the situation. People are flawed and they’re going to make mistakes. They will do things that will disappoint you; however, most people don’t intentionally go out looking to disappoint you. Take a deep breath and know that they are just as flawed as you are, and they screw up too.


  1. Embrace your ‘flaws’.

I have crooked teeth. I have less-than-perfect skin. My skin tone is so pale that I can glow-in-the-dark. I’m a bit clumsy, and depending on who you are – I either have the most annoying nervous laugh, or an insatiable zest for life. You know what? I’m perfectly okay with that. There was a time that I was super self-conscious about all these things. The thing was, that those things barely bothered anyone else, so why was I so hung up on them? I mean, it’s not like my pock-marked skin and snaggle-toothed grin have kept me from finding love, happiness, and success. They aren’t ‘flaws’ at all, but rather part of who I am. We all have them, and most of the time the only person who is obsessing over your ‘flaws’ is you. Seems a bit pointless, doesn’t it? Besides, I have better things to do with my time then spending it obsessing over the state of my middle-aged skin or the occasional hair on my chinny-chin-chin.

  1. It’s never too late.

There’s something about turning forty that results in hearing a lot of this phrase: “I’m too old to do that”. Pfft… really? Tell that to Tolkien who published the first in his Lord of the Rings trilogy at age 62. Or what about John Glenn who in his 77th year became the oldest person to fly in space. Or what about two of the oldest female marathon runners at 92 years young, Gladys Burrill and Harriette Thompson? You’re never too old to try, because the truth of the matter is none of us know how much time we have. Sure, health, finances, and other factors may impede your intentions on trying, that’s okay. Being too old should never be the excuse keeping you from accomplishing your dreams and goals.

In the lead up to my birthday this month, I’ll be sharing “20 More Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years.” Stay tuned!

Categories: Personal Tags:

“The Martian: A Novel” (Not A True Story)

April 21st, 2016 No comments

Apparently I’ll need to be stuck on Mars with a lot of time on my hands to finish my list of 40 books to read for my 40th birthday. Admittedly, it took much longer to read this book than I anticipated, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the book either. Life took some unexpectedly crazy turns recently – nothing as serious as being abandoned on Mars, but serious enough that my attention was elsewhere for a while.


Full disclosure: I had seen the movie prior to reading the book. Normally, I would prefer to read a book before watching the film, but in this case, I’m actually glad I consumed the movie before the book. In fact, I downright enjoyed the fact that I had seen the movie first because the book took me on an expanded journey of a familiar story that I had already fallen in love with. Instead of silently yelling at a movie screen, “No, you forgot this part! And that’s not what happened!” I found myself delighted by the new tidbits of story unfolding before me. Sure there were differences in the cinematic version versus the literary version, but those differences were merited given the distinct nature of film and literary media.

Most notably different was the end. Clearly, Hollywood wanted something visually dramatic and poignant to end the blockbuster movie. I’m not sure if it was because I saw the movie and the end was so different, but I found the end of the book to be somewhat anticlimactic. Overall though, the movie did an excellent job of staying true to the story in the book.

The one thing I really liked about this book (and movie) was that it wasn’t just a comedy, or drama, or action story. It’s all of those and much more. It’s a story about the enduring human spirit. I highly recommend that you pick up the book, particularly if you enjoyed the movie.

And in case anyone is still wondering… no, “The Martian” is not based on a true story. Buzzfeed cleared that up fairly succinctly.

Next up… something a bit less ‘meaty’. I’ll be reading something from one of my favourite authors, Mr. Stephen King. Two down, 38 to go.

M. xo

* Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in some cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to keep writing and supports the upkeep of this blog. Thanks for your support! 

Categories: Personal Tags:

Life is like a game of Jenga… you never know when it’s all going to come crashing down.

April 5th, 2016 No comments

By Guma89 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Life really is like the game of Jenga: a tower built with pieces that can uplift or break down. The pieces are in constant motion and the tower is in a constant state of change. Sometimes the pieces move in just the right spot to give the tower more strength. Other times those pieces just seem to mess up the whole core of the tower, and the tower becomes weaker and vulnerable to destruction.

Each of the pieces is wedged into the tower, some more solidly than others. They are all unique. No two alike. Every piece comes with its own shape, dings, and dents from the relentless climb up the tower and the unceremonious fall back down. Occasionally, one of those pieces gets restless and needs to move. This causes the tower to teeter and sway. Another piece may become uncomfortable in its current state, shaking the whole foundation of the tower and causing all the other pieces to be in a state of discomfort too.  The stability of the tower might give way to all those pieces awkwardly trying to fit together. When the tower comes tumbling down (because it always does), you have to start building it back up again. This time you decide that some of those pieces aren’t suitable for the long-term stability of the tower, so they will be removed or relegated to less problematic locations outside the perimeter of the tower. They are kept in reserve, looked after, but only placed into the tower when the tower has rebuilt a strong foundation.


When the tower does eventually fall, and you’re standing there with the pieces scattered around you, it’s time to seize the opportunity to build an even stronger base. Once all the pieces have fallen, it’s time to reflect on which pieces were the weakest and most vulnerable in the tower. You can’t throw those pieces away. They have to be integrated back into your tower – over time. Integrated such that the other pieces provide a foundation for the weaker pieces to be propped up, but without risking the stability of the whole tower. Sometimes, you need the tower to come crashing down. The important thing is to pick up those fallen pieces and find a new way to fit them together that doesn’t compromise the strength and integrity of the tower. Every tower has weak spots, it’s how we protect and care for those spots that will ensure its future stability.

M. xo

Categories: Psychology Tags:

I love this book! Betty White’s “If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)”

January 26th, 2016 No comments

If you haven’t heard, I’m turning 40 this year. I’m kinda making a big deal about it. I mean it is a milestone, right? So I decided to compile a list of 40 Things To Do This Year. One of those things on my list was to ask my Facebook friends to recommend books to read. I picked forty, and now I’m in the process of reading them.


The first book I decided to read on that list was Betty White’s If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t). I’m so glad I decided to start my journey with this book. Not only did I learn a lot about Betty White, but the book really resonated with me because as I’ve discovered, I have a lot in common with the then 89-year old author of this delightful insight into various aspects of life. In fact, I think this book would resonate with most people.

Each section of the book covers various topics, some common; others off-beat. Each section is accompanied by short and delightful stories from the many adventures of Ms. White. She writes about everything from Growing Older to Stuffed Animals. Of course there are plenty of anecdotes of the celebrity variety in addition to musings on less Hollywood-esque things (like Children, Friendships, Loss, and The Dining Room Table).

Besides uttering to myself repeatedly, “Yes! That’s it exactly!” while reading this book, I also discovered one other thing: F*ck being Batman, I wanna be Betty White.

Do yourself a favour: Go read this book.

* Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in some cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to keep writing and supports the upkeep of this blog. Thanks for your support! 

Stock images via www.vecteezy.com

Categories: Personal Tags:

Forty Things To Do This Year

January 19th, 2016 1 comment

It’s been quiet around here. What can I say? Other projects pulled me away from the coop. That’s what happens when you’re a free-range hen. :) The truth is I spent some time over the last couple years starting another blog, and learning the art of blogging. So, yeah, I didn’t return home to the nest very often. That’s about to change.

40 Photos of Me

This year, I’ll be spending more time blogging from my heart. Why? Well, it’s a milestone of a year for me. I’m turning forty this year. Yup, I’ll be standing at the top of that hill soon – precariously teetering between my youth and old age (at least that’s what they say). So, I’ve decided to spend the year trying new things and self-reflecting. Lucky you, I’ve also decided to share the whole thing here.

So, what’s in store this year? Lots. Probably more than I’ll be able to accomplish, but it’s good to set goals – even if they don’t always materialize when or how you envisioned. One thing I am excited about is attempting to redesign this blog on my own. I’ll be celebrating five years of blogging under the Black Chicken moniker this February, and I think it’s time to jazz up the site. My amazing husband has donated so much of his time and talents to me over the years, and I know he loves doing it, but it’s time for him to do more things for himself – and for me to do more things for myself. So, I’m going to give it a go.

I also plan on trying a whole list of new(ish) things this year – a list of forty things, in fact. No, this isn’t a bucket list. It’s just a list of stuff I’ve wanted to do (again) – or thought about doing (again), but I’ve never gotten around to doing (again). That’s it. It’s a pretty simple list. Some might even say it’s underwhelming. What can I say except that I’m a bit of a realist, and have many roles in my life that tend to derail my best intentions. I couldn’t make a grand list to accomplish this year, because I know that just wouldn’t happen with all the other stuff I have going on in my life. So, I made this list of random stuff that came to my mind over the last few days – stuff I’ve always thought, “Yeah, I’d like to do that someday” or “I really should finally do that” or “I’d like to do that, just to say I’d done it”. So, I made a list – a rather underwhelming list, but a list nonetheless.

In case you are wondering, yes, I’ll be telling you all about my experiences trying to accomplish all this stuff. The fun part is that it’s going to reconnect me to my roots and get me exploring my community more. I’m really looking forward to that. I returned to Belleville two years ago now, and I feel there is still so much I have to discover about the place I call home again. If you’re part of the Bay of Quinte community, you’ll want to stick around because I’ll be spending a lot of time exploring where I grew up and visiting old acquaintances who are doing some amazing things for Quinte and the County (that’s Prince Edward County for all you non-locals). So, that’s the plan. Wish me luck (I’m probably going to need it).

You might be surprised by some of these things, and you may be asking ‘why’? Of course, you’ll have to tune into future posts for the whole story.

Forty Things To Do This Year (Abridged Version):

  1. Paint a self-portrait.
  2. Visit a mosque.
  3. Attend a yoga class.
  4. Walk the Bay Bridge.
  5. Befriend a horse.
  6. Ride a horse.
  7. Go ‘mudding’.
  8. Fire a gun.
  9. Become pen pals with a senior.
  10. Become pen pals with a kid.
  11. Try sushi (again).
  12. Catch a big fish.
  13. Ask Facebook friends and fans to recommend books I should read; pick forty and read them.
  14. Attempt to get an A-list celebrity to wish me happy birthday and give me advice.
  15. Get a tattoo (???)
  16. Record a song with my husband.
  17. Go cross-country skiing.
  18. Go rock wall climbing.
  19. Go splunking.
  20. Play a round of golf (real golf, not mini golf).
  21. Learn how to say and write: ‘hello’ ‘good-bye’ ‘thank-you’ ‘please’ and ‘friend’ in forty different languages.
  22. Attend a live slam poetry night.
  23. Take a photo at the top of the Bay Bridge.
  24. Get my hearing tested.
  25. Track down an old friend’s address and send them a letter.
  26. Attend some local arts shows.
  27. Attend Sunday Jam.
  28. Invite a group of my former junior high school classmates out for drinks.
  29. Attend a country music concert.
  30. Attend a dance performance.
  31. Burn my diaries.
  32. Record a spoken word jam with the Kid.
  33. Take the telescope outside the city for an evening of stargazing.
  34. Take dance lessons.
  35. Visit museums in my hometown.
  36. Enroll in a creative writing course.
  37. Pay respect to deceased family and friends.
  38. Grow an amazing bell pepper plant.
  39. Have tea with my Gramma more often.
  40. Live mindfully every day.

M. xo

Categories: Personal Tags:

I am weary… and angry. But I’m not done yet.

November 22nd, 2015 No comments

I am weary… and sad. Weary because my mind is heavy with sadness. The inhumanity I’ve seen people – strangers, friends, family – express these days is heart-breaking.  Here’s the thing: my heartbreak is turning into downright anger these days. Anger that so many people speculate, postulate, and confabulate. The Internet truly is the Wild West these days – absolutely no pun intended.

Now I know that anger is not productive and it’s the product of frustration. And I totally get why my anger is increasing given the onslaught of inhumane assholes with armchair degrees in International Politics and Counter-Terrorism populating my social newsfeeds lately. It’s partly my fault too, though. I brought this on myself. If I’d just kept quiet, I could have just kept on scrolling past those posts, but no, I just had to pause and engage.

Talk_Politics_Save_MoneyI thought it was my responsibility to pause and converse with strangers, friends, and family who are scared and confused about the state of world affairs these days. I thought that because I had unique insight into these issues that maybe that knowledge might be help in calming those fears and confusion.

Instead of listening to reasoned arguments concerning religious violence – from a scholar of religion – these newly indoctrinated armchair experts relied on the ever-trustworthy mainstream media for their facts. Surely, some of you can see the issue with this.

Now I won’t reiterate the many arguments I have made over the last week. You can find those on my personal Facebook page, where I publicly engage in issues that are important to me.

The Internet provides us with vast amounts of information – some of it good, and some of it bad. The problem becomes when people continually share information that is just factually incorrect. It’s hard to counter sensationalist posts on social media. Particularly when people have a habit of indiscriminately sharing.  The other issue is that most people who could contribute to an online discussion in a meaningful way – don’t. I get it. People just don’t like making waves in their social circles.

imagesInstead, we end up with newsfeeds populated with sensationalist headlines, and poorly executed and factually-incorrect memes (because, hey, cute kitteh says no to refugees). And suddenly, people you’d never expect, have become bigoted jerks who have turned off their bullshit filters.

So, here I am. Weary and simmering with anger at so many of you. Yes, you. The ones who speculate, postulate, and confabulate. Some days I don’t think you’re worth my time (like today), but then I realize that these issues are far greater than just one armchair philosopher asshole. And then I feel sorry for all you assholes. I pity you because you have so much anger and fear in your heart that you can’t even think straight. I almost let you get to me. People with far less convictions than I surely turn to your dark side with less resistance. I won’t let you do that to me though. Instead I will shed a tear for you because you lost your humanity.

images (1)

I am weary… and angry. But I’m not done yet.


Categories: Society and Culture Tags:

Meet the Unfundamentalist Christians

May 4th, 2015 No comments

Awhile back, I published a post entitled, It’s Time We Take Back The Internet. It was a post about encouraging people to share more good news and positivity online. Its intent was to champion a new era of Internet content, one that drowns out the negativity and hate that is so pervasive online, particularly in the comment sections of many top social media networks.

Image courtesy of Unfundamentalist Christians via Facebook

Image courtesy of Unfundamentalist Christians via Facebook

It’s no surprise that I actively seek out online religious groups who promote acceptance, tolerance, and inter-faith dialogue. It is something I am deeply passionate about, despite the fact that I self-identify as non-religious. I just believe simply: to each their own. I also believe that it makes us a much more interesting species when we — you know — aren’t all the same.  So, I was delighted when I was introduced to Unfundamentalist Christians through one of their popular social media channels, Facebook. They were a very refreshing Christian group who seemed to be very open, progressive, and downright good. It didn’t take long for them to become one of my favourite Facebook pages. Yes, they do share a lot of Christian-centric messages, but these message resonate with anyone who cares about love and equality. They share not only thought-provoking messages, but also cleverly funny ones too. They aren’t afraid to challenge the ideas they oppose, and sometimes they do so with a little sarcastic humour.  The good folks over at Unfundamentalist Christians are awesome and a refreshing change from some of the more negative chatter online emanating from some religious (and to be fair, some irreligious) communities.

What makes them so awesome in my opinion? They are open, inclusive, and, I would argue, free-thinking Christians. Indeed, they are Christians that I believe are truly living the word of Christ through their actions and beliefs. They champion causes for the marginalized in our communities, and are very vocal about extending love and equality to all human beings. It’s not uncommon to see posts challenging fundamental religious ideas about LGBT rights, women’s rights, economic disadvantage and various other social issues. Indeed, this group of Christians has a fan-base comprising many secular, non-religious folks and people from other faiths.

Image courtesy of Unfundamentalist Christians via Facebook.

Image courtesy of Unfundamentalist Christians via Facebook.

I’ve really enjoyed interacting with this group on social media over that last year, and since I’m keen to flood the Internet with as much goodness and positivity as I can, I thought I’d reach out to this awesome group of religious folks to see if they might allow a spunky agnostic religion blogger (me!) to interview them.

It was no surprise that I received a quick and friendly response from the team at UC, but what did surprise me was that the founder, John Shore, replied to me personally. How cool is that? It just goes to show how down-to-earth these folks are. John connected me with, Dan Wilkinson who was kind enough to let me send him a list of questions to answer. Who better to tell you about their work and who they are then Unfundamentalist Christians, themselves?  Be sure to pay them a visit over at their blog and Facebook page.

I also highly recommend taking some time to read their “What we Believe” document. It is, in my opinion, awesome. It challenges some long held ideas about the faith that are poignantly relevant to people’s all over the world. It is refreshing. We need more good guys on the Internet, and these are some of them. Meet the Unfundamentalist Christians:

  1. What is your role with Unfundamentalist Christians?

Technically my title is Design Director and Managing Editor, but I do pretty much anything that needs doing to keep UC running smoothly, from making memes for the UC Facebook page, to moderating comments on the UC blog, to writing blog posts. We also have a great administrative team who help in myriad ways–especially our Social Media Director, Christy Caine, who basically runs the FB page. And our founder and intrepid leader, John Shore, keeps the ship sailing in the right direction.

  1. What led you to become involved with Unfundamentalist Christians?

Around the beginning of 2012 I ran across a mini-manifesto written by John Shore that outlined a set of beliefs about Christianity. They’re now posted on the What We Believe page on our blog. While I was in generally agreement with most of those tenets, it was the first one, regarding the divinity, death and resurrection of Christ that, to me, set these beliefs apart from a standard progressive/liberal approach to Christianity and convinced me that this was a group I wanted to be part of.

  1. Who are your members/audience?

Anyone one who appreciates a Christianity that is more about love, grace and acceptance rather than hate, judgement and exclusion.

  1. Is Unfundamentalist Christians a church or not-for-profit?

Neither. We’re simply a group of like-minded people who more-or-less agree on a set of tenets about Christianity (and we don’t even agree on all of those!)

  1. What kind of work/activism does Unfundamentalist Christians engage in?

We’re not an activist organization — we don’t lobby politicians or mobilize our followers to boycott businesses. Occasionally we’ll promote a cause we like: for example, we have a Kiva Lending Team. We also devoted a great deal of effort to the Not All Like That Christians Project, which involves videos of Christians proclaiming their belief in full LGBT equality. But, more than any single project, we simply seek to encourage and inform, and hopefully have a little fun along the way.

  1. I became acquainted with Unfundamentalist Christians through Facebook. I’ve noticed that there are many non-Christians and non-religious fans of the page. Why do you think Unfundamentalist Christians appeals to these groups?

We do have many non-Christians who are involved with us. I think it’s because they recognize that what we’re doing isn’t about building walls with religion, it’s about love and tolerance. Though we profess some explicitly Christian beliefs, we welcome anyone of any faith (or lack thereof) to participate with us in any way they feel comfortable.

  1. Do you ever encounter negativity and criticism about your beliefs and how do you generally respond?

Regularly! A day doesn’t go by when we don’t receive some sort of message or comment in opposition to what we’re doing. Thoughtful and coherent rebuttals to our positions are few and far between; most of the dissent we get takes the form of long lists of verses from the King James Bible followed by semi-coherent all-caps screeds about how we’re all destined to burn in Hell for being false teachers.

How to respond? If it seems like there’s room for productive dialogue, one of our team members with too much time on their hands will often seek to engender some degree of understanding.

  1. Unfundamentalist Christians appears to speak out regarding many social justice issues. Do you see this as an integral part of Christianity to take up such causes?

I think that, as Christians, we have no greater call than to do our best to address the pain, suffering and injustice in the world around us. We are called to advance the Kingdom of God on Earth and to exhibit Christ’s love to all people.

  1. What do you feel is the single most important issue facing the Christian community? Follow up: What do you feel is the single most important issue facing humanity?

The important issues facing Christians ARE the important issues facing humanity. At the forefront is how to negotiate a world that is both increasingly diverse and increasingly connected. Never before have so many beliefs and so many cultures been so intertwined. How do we remain true [to] our personal beliefs, cultures and traditions while still being part of a diverse global community? How do we learn to live with others whose views may be drastically different than our own? How do we relate our often overwhelming social and economic privilege with a world in which such benefits are in such scarce supply? These are the challenges and explorations that UC really helps us face and process every day.

  1. How can communities of different faiths, and the non-religious community, work together toward tolerance?

We can listen to each other. So much strife is caused be refusing to really listen. Listening doesn’t just mean hearing; it means seeking to understand. It takes patience and humility. And when we truly listen, we often find that we have more in common with one another than we first assumed.

  1. What does the future hold for Unfundamentalist Christians?

I hope we will continue to grow, both in numbers and influence, but honestly, if even one person finds their faith and life enriched by what we’re seeking to do, then it’s been worthwhile. That said, I do think that what John Shore wrote as the tenets of the group–our What We Believe document–is where the future of Christianity lies. I think that’s why the group continues to grow. John was, I believe, the first to articulate a Christianity that keeps Christ and rationally, point by point, jettisons everything in Christianity that is clearly antithetical to the message and purpose of Christ. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call it a groundbreaking document.

  1. How can people contact you or become involved with your work?

The best way to stay in touch with what we’re doing is to Like our Facebook Page, engage in the comments and dialogues that happen on our group blog, share posts from that blog, submit guest posts for it, let your like-minded friends know we’re out here—and write us to say hi every once in a while!=

A special thanks to John, Dan and the entire team over at Unfundamentalist Christians for this interview and for the amazing work they do!

M. xo

Categories: Religion Tags:

Why You Need To Stop Following THAT Facebook Friend

July 9th, 2014 1 comment

We all have them – that one Facebook Friend (FF) who posts pictures of themselves in compromising situations; has daily public meltdowns; openly mocks and antagonizes their exes; or posts things one might generally find distasteful and irresponsible. The problem is, that particular FF may actually be a friend or family member that you have regular face-to-face contact with. They may also be someone that in the real world you actually like. Defriending your FF isn’t ideal – although always an option. Let’s face it though, that could lead to whole lot of drama. And you’re looking for less drama, right? So, what’s the next best thing? Simple really: stop following your FF.

Now if your FF is someone who solely uses Facebook for all manners of offense and distaste, you may want to consider putting them on a ‘Restricted’ list as well. If they’re irresponsible enough to post that kind of rubbish regularly, how responsible do you suppose they are with their security settings?

Why would your friend’s security matter to your account? If they are given ‘Friend’ status on your Facebook account, this usually means they have access to things like photos and your contact information (depending on how much you share with Facebook).  How confident are you that your FF logs out of Facebook after each use or has passwords on all devices that they might use Facebook on?  If they are irresponsible enough to tarnish their online identity, why should you trust them with yours? Giving them the same kind of access that any stranger has is probably the best way to sidestep the possibility of a security breach (other than defriending them… which is always an option).

The best part about unfollowing and restricting your FF is that they’re none the wiser. They don’t get notified that they’ve been ‘downgraded’. And if they’re truly self-absorbed, they won’t even notice the absence of your posts on their newsfeed. Adding your FF to the ‘Restricted’ list in Facebook does mean that they will only see ‘Public’ posts from you, but that’s kind of the point, right?

Here’s how you do it:

  • Go to your FF’s profile page.
  • Locate the ‘Following’ button on the lower right portion of the cover photo section.
  • Now click that button, and there you have it – no more posts from your FF on your newsfeed!

If you’ve decided that your FF warrants harsher measures, use the ‘Friends’ button to add them to your ‘Restricted’ list. Problem solved.

So, why does it matter how you communicate and represent yourself online? Think about it for a second: whenever you comment, post, or upload, you’re leaving an imprint of your activity on the Internet. It’s activity that you consciously choose to share. You make choices about what you’re going to share, and the manner in which you’re going to communicate it. Over time, this collection of activity and communication becomes consolidated by the powers of the Internet, and voilà – you’ve created a virtual identity (which may or may not be like your real world identity)! And here’s the most eye-opening thing about it: that identity you create – are creating – is going to be your online legacy.  Many years after your time, your virtual identity will still exist. There aren’t any ‘do-overs’. You won’t get to go online and simply delete all those things you wish you hadn’t posted. Once they’re out there, they belong to the Internet.

It’s your identity. It’s your legacy. Choose wisely.

M. xo

Categories: Society and Culture Tags: ,

[VIDEO] Learn About World Religions Via Free Screencasts

June 27th, 2014 No comments

I was delighted to come across philosophy and religious studies professor, Dale Tuggy’s Youtube account. As a religion blogger and scholar, I often find it difficult to locate quality and informative videos that are free from theological/philosophical biases to share with my flock.  It’s a somewhat arduous task, but thankfully Dr. Tuggy has just made it a whole lot easier.  Here, you can learn about the five major world religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism).  You can also learn about various theories of religion put forth by such scholars as Freud, Durkheim, Weber, and Marx.

There are 90 videos to choose from, ranging from just a few minutes long to over 15 minutes – meaning you can complete a ‘lecture’ in about the time it takes to make a cup of tea.  Don’t let the duration of these lectures deceive you – they are packed full of useful information which Tuggy presents in an ‘easy-listening’ voice.

Soar on over and subscribe to Dr. Tuggy’s YouTube channel or start watching now:

World Religions (Screencast lectures by Dr. Dale Tuggy)

M. xo


#TBT: Cast the Ballot (circa 1994)

June 12th, 2014 No comments

Since it’s Throwback Thursday (#TBT), AND election day here, I thought this was the perfect poem from my teen angst years to share.  The year was 1994 and I was officially an adult. I could finally vote.  It seems I may have had some reservations…

Cast the Ballot

Beneath my hollow footsteps
The fallen leaves of Autumn’s decay —
A chill has set into the air,
Creeping into the bones of the young and the old.

My path treads over a damp, withered sign.
Its bold letters scream of an election.
Soon I will be in the assembly line
To cast my ballot and play the game of
The Politician.

Behind me the laughter of children echoes through the evening.
They too pass over the sign,
But are safe from its beckoning calls.
Their innocence shelters them.
Soon they will follow the same path I tread.

Now their footsteps and strides
Do not match mine.
As they travel down the roads I have,
They too will discover…
The Politician following in their shadow.

M. xo

Categories: Personal Tags: ,