About Me

My photo
I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don't be a Dick

Have you ever heard of The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM)? It's a conference sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation and its purpose is to be a celebration of critical thinking and skepticism. I've only known about the conference for the last year or so, and I really, really want to go one day. It's on the bucket list in my head.

There was a speech given at TAM8 this year given by Phil Plait, author of the blog Bad Astronomy. You can view the entire speech and read about his thoughts on the fall out from the speech here - I think it's fantastic!

Phil Plait - Don't Be A Dick from JREF on Vimeo.

Phil explains the message of his speech on his blog saying

My first point was that we must keep in mind our goal. If it’s to change the hearts and minds of people across the world, then at least as important as what we say is how we say it. And my second point was pretty simple… but you’ll get to it around 24 minutes in.

The second point was "Don't be a dick". In the speech, and I really hope you watch it, he basically asks - How many people became a skeptic because someone got in their face and called them “an idiot, brain damaged and a retard?”

My answer is - I didn't. Much like Phil, my path to skepticism was a gradual progression, as I continued to rely on logic, reason, and what verifiable evidence exists to guide my decision making and practice my own critical thinking skills. And I'm still practicing!

In fact, there was a time during my very religious years when I did come across some information that threatened my deeply-held faith - but because it was presented to me in a way that was rude, condescending, and basically amounted to an attack on my intelligence, I didn`t stick around long enough to consider the evidence underneath the vitriol contained in the message. Some may call me too sensitive, that it should matter how the evidence is presented, but most humans are not wired that way - and anyone who has been involved in education, communications, and marketing will tell you the same thing.

When I was finally ready to examine what I believed in light of disturbing information and personal experiences and circumstances that made it clear that what I believed didn't "work", I had an intelligent and compassionate friend who wasn't afraid to ask me hard questions, and let me find the answers on my own.

Challenging deeply held beliefs, beliefs that really were a part of my identity, was scary and made me feel vulnerable. People who are letting go of faith will often ask themselves if they were stupid to believe in something, I know I did - so they don't need others telling them they are stupid as well. Because there will be a knee-jerk reaction to defend oneself.

Instead, I had someone who had walked that scary path before me, who wasn`t afraid to speak truth to power, not afraid to ask me hard questions (and did so with passion and sometimes even anger), but also was there to comfort me, and support me as I mourned the loss of my faith. That made a huge difference. When I got to the other side, I was surprised at how wonderful the world still was, how empowered I felt, and how not-at-all stupid I felt.

When I left my faith behind me, I had to leave the faith community as well. One of my friends from church said that our friendship might never be the same because she would always wonder if I thought she was stupid for staying in the church while I was leaving. I can`t remember my exact words, I`ve actually been asked this a couple times, but ultimately, I say no, I don`t think people who believe in God are stupid, because I don`t think that it was stupid for me to believe in God when I did. I don`t think I`m better than others because "I figured it out" and someone else hasn't yet. Us non-believers are in the world's minority, and I doubt the world has such a minority of "smart" people in it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Earlier this week, my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. We celebrated by going out for brunch - thus breaking our hanging-around-the-house-until-noon weekend routine. It was really great!

When we first started dating, we used to go out for brunch a lot. For the first year we were together, it was kind of our Sunday morning thing. When we got engaged, Will proposed in the morning, in our pajamas, and to celebrate we went out for a nice brunch and then for a walk in the River Valley, day dreaming and chatting about the kind of wedding we wanted. So it was a natural choice to go out for brunch to celebrate our anniversay.

We had a wonderful wedding! It was an outdoor ceremony, at a beautiful location. The ceremony was performed by a Justice of the Peace.

Copyrighted by Lifetime Memories Photography

Then we headed over to a nearby golf club for the reception, which consisted of a BBQ Steak Dinner Buffet, which my grandpa always remembers to mention "that was really good steak"!

Followed by an awesome party/dance with a fabulous live band.

Copyright by Lifetime Memories Photography

It was really one of the best days of my life. But ultimately, I am mostly happy to celebrate the day I married the man of my dreams, who has never let me down, and who has brought so much joy and happiness into my life. I honestly didn't think that marriage could be this good. I am so excited about the life journey we have embarked on, and the joys and challenges that lay ahead of us. In a few short months, we will welcome a new little life into our family - and I am so excited to see my wonderful husband become a wonderful father. I can only imagine going into this next phase with him at my side.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I am grateful to be of this world...

One of my favourite people expressed some curiousity about why I chose to title my blog "Grateful to be of this World".

Well, I think that gratitude/appreciation is one of my top values - and I have ALOT to be grateful for. I consider myself to be a very lucky human being in many areas of my life. I also believe that as a human being, and having accepted the scientific evidence of evolution, I am definitely "of this world" and when I die I will return to this world - dust to dust and all that.

Expressing my gratitude and nuturing my feelings of gratitude brings meaning to my life. My gratitude is not only for the good things in my life that are just plain luck (like being born in Canada to great parents, my good health, etc.) but also for the people who have influenced the trajectory of my life.

Growing up I always believed in God, and as a young adult I was quite religious. Gratitude is a common value among many believers that I have and do associate with. As a believer, my gratitude for the good things in my life (and even the hard lessons) was often directed to God. Sometimes, I remembered to thank others as well, but other times thanking God was enough for me. As I let go of my belief in God, those feelings of gratitude did not go away. Finding other ways to show gratitude takes some thinking and effort now - and that is rewarding. Now I try to thank the people who were most often at the root of the very things I was grateful for. I find this action is not only rewarding to me - but also to those who recieve it. Below I will outline two example of things I am grateful for and how I express it.

I have excellent parents who provided all the necessities of life for my sister and I growing up. Although, everyone in my family would agree that we are not perfect and definitely not without flaws, we loved each other and we knew that we all loved each other. Genetically, I come from a fairly healthy background - there isn't a lot of cancer and disease in our family medical history. On the whole, we tend to live average to long lives without a lot of pain or discomfort. While this carries no guarantees, I know that others are not as lucky in this area - and I hope my luck continues. In the meantime, I thank my parents for getting married, having children, caring about me, encouraging me, attending to the things I needed to be successful, teaching me, and everything that goes into raising me into the independent, caring adult I have become. It may seem conceited to say, but I really like who I have become and the family I was raised by has ALOT to do with who I am. So I express gratitude to my family whenever I can. I know my mom and dad appreciate that a lot. This also helps me to remember not to take my family for granted (not always an easy task).

I am also grateful for the beauty of this earth. As a believer I used to credit God for it. Although I don't anymore, I am in no less awe of the processes of evolution, geological shifts, and other natural phenomena that make this planet so beautiful in its natural state. Instead of directing my gratitude to a being I'm not sure exists, I support people who try to preserve our natural resources, and support the scienctific discoveries that help us understand and take care of this planet better. This is the only world we, as humans, can comfortably live on right now; so we better learn and take care of it as much as we can. I am no environmentalist, but I care about, admire, and support and thank those who have taken up this cause. I show my appreciation and gratitude with words, and sometimes through giving. Whenever convenient, I try to participate in daily activites that will also preserve the beauty, utility and sustainability of our home - the world. This planet is uniquely situated, and was uniquely able (as far as we know) to allow life to seed and blossom as we know it today. It is quite the natural miracle. 

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. ...Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

...There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

This was some of the rationale for the name of my blog. 

Truly, as a human being, I am "of this world" - all living things are. I am grateful for it. Gratitude brings meaning and joy to my heart.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I am on the brink of a brand new life – parenthood. In a few short months, my husband and I will be welcoming a new life into our home, hearts, and life. I could not be more excited. This is probably a crazy time to commit myself to writing a blog, hey? Well, it's been something I've been thinking of doing for some time - and there is a part of me that feels like I will want this outlet during the year I will be on maternity leave, which will likely start in November. Let's see how that goes.

So, to start off here is a little bit of information about me.

Over the past 5 years, I evolved from a religious to a secular humanist world view. As a believer, I was often admonished to live in the world, but not be “of the world.” As a secular humanist, I now celebrate being “of this world” and am inspired by it and its inhabitants. For the past 3 years, I have been enjoying the blogging community as an observer and appreciator. I have also been reading books and magazines and listening to podcasts related to skepticism and evidence-based decision making. I am fascinated with other people’s journeys, motivations, and thought processes and often like to reflect on and discuss my own. From time to time, I will probably reflect on this journey, what it means to me, and how it affects my day-to-day life, my views on current events, and what it is like for me to approach family life and parenting with this world view. 

Professionally, my career has involved recruitment and selection, career planning, professional development and adult education. I have a degree in family social sciences with a focus on human development and am currently pursuing an advanced degree in adult and distance education. These are also topics that may crop up on my blog from time to time.

I truly believe that the way forward in this world is to connect with as diverse a group of humans as possible and to develop an appreciation for both human sameness and diversity.

Ultimately, I hope this blog will be an opportunity for me to share my life with my family and friends, sort out my thoughts and feelings regarding life`s joys and challenges, and to engage in dialogue with others on topics related to family life, parenting, secular humanism, skepticism, learning, and career planning.

I’m not really sure how this blog will shape itself over time, as I’m sure I will find my rhythm and make changes as I go.