Versatile Blogger and Liebster Awards

It’s award time! The Versatile Blogger and Liebster Awards are fun awards to celebrate fellow bloggers. I am honored to be noticed by a couple of my peers and in turn I am excited to nominate other fellow bloggers.

Versatile Blogger Award

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A big thanks to Irene A. Waters, a writer and memoirist, for nominating me for this award. Check out her blog here!

In order to accept this award, I am to list 7 interesting things about myself and then choose 15 bloggers to nominate. You can read the official Versatile Blogger Award Rules here.

Seven interesting things about myself (please judge me in the comments section on whether these things are actually interesting):

  1. I’m a dog person. My childhood cat ruined any chance I had of being a cat person.
  2. I have lived in Colorado my entire 30 year existence.
  3. I am good at Ultimate Frisbee but terrible at disc golf.
  4. My great grandma had two girls 11 years apart, one was my grandma. My grandma had two girls 11 years apart, one was my mom. My mom had two girls 11 years apart, me and my sister. Each were the only two girls in their family.
  5. I used to speed walk everywhere in high school. I still find walking places to be a waste of time. I would run everywhere if it were socially acceptable.
  6. I like to go shopping but don’t go very often because I’m too cheap.
  7. Since having kids my memory has gotten 1000 times worse. This drives me nuts because I used to pride myself on my ability to remember many details.

I nominate the following EXCELLENT bloggers for this award (in no particular order):

  1. Running on Healthy – A blog for runners (or anyone who wants to be).
  2. Solo Mama – Single lesbian mom by choice.
  3. Wading Through The Illusion – Self proclaimed writer and ranter.
  4. Writing Between The Lines – Uplifting stories and beautiful pictures.
  5. Kelsey Munger – A highly fragment memoir.
  6. Laura’s Losing It… – Stay motivated with your fitness goals.
  7. My Own Mind – A homeschooling atheist mom.
  8. 52 Beautiful Things – Striving to find some good in the world.
  9. Perfection Pending – A mom on a journey to let go of being perfect.
  10. Mommy Man – Adventures of a gay superdad.
  11. Crazy Art – Creative and fun art.
  12. Kids Without Religion – Raising kids as independent, logical thinkers.
  13. Processing The Life – Organizer of The Happy Post Challenge.
  14. On The Upcycle – Reuse, repurpose, restyle.
  15. Big Jew on a Diet – Injecting fun into the not-so-enjoyable dieting.

Liebster Award

liebsterawardThanks to fellow newbie blogger, Lisa Caldwell, for nominating me for this second award! Her blog is insperata and there she states, “I like different, unexpected, unpredictable”. She took on the Zero to Hero challenge as well, it’s great to have buddies! Go check out her stuff.

The Rules for the Liebster Award are as follows:

  • The nominee must link back to the person who nominated them.
  • The nominee must answer the eleven questions given to them by the person who nominated them.
  • The nominee must choose eleven of their favorite bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers to nominate and provide them with eleven questions of their own to answer.
  • You cannot nominate the person who nominated you.

Answers to my eleven questions:

1. Describe your computer ability in one word. Well-rounded

2. What is the worst job one can have? Cleaning out port-o-potties

3. What would your super power be? Teleporting

4. What fortune would you want to get from a fortune cookie? You will live a long, healthy, happy life.

5. What advice have you gotten that was the most rewarding? Think of ways to say “yes” to your kids.

6. What TV sitcom family would you want to be a member of? Modern Family

7. Name your favorite movie quote. “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.” ~Noah, The Notebook

8. What celebrity annoys you the most? Lindsey Lohan

9. What one food would you never want to give up? Berries

10. What was the best grade you got in school and what was it for? I got mostly A’s, until college. The more memorable grade was the “C” I got in Anatomy and Physiology… devastating.

11. What have you done that you’re the most proud of? I had a drug-free VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)

I nominate the following “up and coming” bloggers (in no particular order):

  1. Sans Sacred – From Christian Minister to Atheist.
  2. Bring Coffee – A single mom doing something for herself.
  3. One Crazy Mom – Mom and fitness enthusiast.
  4. Girlwithadragonflytattoo – All things bright and beautiful.
  5. Father at 54 – First time father at age 54.
  6. Somuchandsomuch – So much about questions of faith and religion.
  7. The Not Alone Project – It’s wrong to think you are alone.
  8. Raising Skeptics – observations about life, religion, and kids.
  9. Susie Home-Re-Maker – The DIY homemaker of modern day.
  10. O My Designs – Inspirations & Designs, for life’s special occasions.
  11. Write to Live, Live to Write – Because I don’t have any other choice

And the eleven questions for my nominees:

What’s your FAVORITE…

  1. Holiday
  2. Color
  3. Food
  4. Vacation Spot
  5. Celebrity
  6. Movie Genre
  7. Book
  8. TV show
  9. Activity
  10. Article of Clothing
  11. Beverage

A big thanks to everyone who is putting their words out there for all to read. It’s worth it for so many reasons 🙂

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Weekend Roundup

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Riding the wave of happiness, motivation, and self-discovery

Well, it’s true, I’m the happiest I have been in a very long time. I am motivated and meeting my fitness and nutrition goals. I’m gaining more tools to be a better parent. And I am thoroughly enjoying upgrading my blog (Want an upgrade too? Check out the Zero to Hero blog challenge). I am attempting to ride this wave of happiness, motivation, and self-discovery, and in turn better my life in sustainable, life-long ways.

Part of my self-edification process has been gaining inspiration and insights from the many blogs I have discovered recently. So today, I am thrilled to give you my weekend roundup, linking to some of my favorite blog posts from this past week. This is just a taste of what I read and loved this week. Thanks to these posts (and many others), I am excited, inspired, motivated, and happy!

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I was encouraged by the post, I was brave and learned I don’t want to settle. In my own life, I know the Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape (1)importance of pursuing my dreams and not settling for mediocrity. My favorite excerpt from the post:

“What I want is to be living at 100%, giving my all to everything that I dive into and loving every single second of it. What I want is to tell my children to follow their dreams and not settle for anything less. What I want is to inspire my family, and others, by walking away from my rut and creating my own future, where I don’t just survive, I thrive… And that is exactly what I did”

Caitlin Edmon, Aprons, Trainers, and Bibs

While we all have off days, I do think aspiring for greatness in your life is totally doable. So Caitlin, I’m happy to join you in being brave and not settling.

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Earlier this week, in response to a daily prompt, I wrote Why haven’t I pursued my dream job? Check out another bloggers take in My Dream Job. I can really identify with her dreams because they relate to fitness. She talks about pursuing dreams and the importance of perseverance:

Message Stones“Just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible.  Sometimes, you have to go the long way around to get to your goal.  The important thing is that you never give up!”

Ebone Nut, One Crazy Mom

Yes Ebone! Lets persevere and chase those dreams.

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Rather Than Curse the Darkness, Light a Tiki Torch was a great reminder that a wide circle of loved ones is valuable. This blog post also made me want to ask more questions and be a good listener in the company of friends… there is so much to know about each special life you encounter. My new favorite quote is:file0001027084534

“What I love best about a circle is that there is always room for one more.”

Naomi, Writing Between The Lines

Naomi, you have taught me so much in a short time and I’m glad to be a part of your blogging circle!

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file1711246044891In Moving Into the Light, Karen paints a picture of hope for challenging situations. Sometimes life just plain sucks and sometimes life can be good even when we are amidst struggles… but either way, thankfully we CAN get through the storm. I appreciate your story Karen and am looking forward to reading more!

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And lastly, this week I discovered the blog Running On Healthy. Two particular posts, IMG_0542Learning The Art of Negative Splits and Run For Those Hills, inspired a higher quantity and better quality of running for me this week. I love their blog tagline “Living Life Healthy, Fit, and Happy”. I plan to aim for a healthy, fit, and happy life for as long as possible.

 

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Thanks again to all who contributed to my better quality of life this week. You seriously rock!

Why I stay at home

Yesterday I happened upon a blog post called I’m jealous of SAHMs (stay at home moms). Being that I currently stay at home with my kids, this post caught my attention and after reading, I felt compelled to share my own thoughts on the topic.

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be a stay at home mom
  1. Growing up I was never really good with kids. I didn’t know how to change a diaper until I had my own kids and I certainly never felt I could relate to anyone under the age of 12. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I actually felt guilty that I didn’t want to work with children, that was the noble answer most people gave. Why didn’t I want to help kids? Turns out I enjoy communicating with adults and teenagers, but not so much the young’uns. I no longer feel guilty about this because I realize we all come out differently, with our own temperament, interests, desires, strengths, etc.
  2. I am pretty independent and enjoy following my own passions. Getting married was a big adjustment for me, let alone having two needy children to look after. In hind-sight, perhaps I am a bit too selfish to have had my own children, but it’s a bit late for that! And for the record, I do find it all worthwhile even though I have to temporarily give up some personal freedom.
So, how is it that I ended up staying home with my boys?

Perhaps a story can paint the picture. It was the evening of my first big fundraising event since being named Development Director at my job of 6 years. Prior to the event, I had been working tirelessly for months and it was taking a toll on me, my family, and my entire existence. I was spreading myself thin, working every night after my boys went to bed. Things between my husband and I were tense to say the least. Well, tonight was the big night, the culmination of all the hard work. Turns out it was a success, it was a beautiful event and we increased revenue by 50% from the previous year, hooray! Well, I came home that night and I didn’t feel excited, I didn’t feel like shouting hooray. I felt depressed and I wondered, is all of this worth it?

My life as a working mom wasn’t always this stressful but I’m honestly glad it became this stressful. In reaching this breaking point I came to the conclusion that no, this was not success for me. I hadn’t been a good mom, a good wife, or my best self in a while. I realized that I had been choosing my job and I needed to choose what was best for my family. For the first time, I really wanted to stay at home with my boys. I wanted to spend more time with them and become the best damn mom I could be to them. Four months after the big event, I took a leap of faith and quit my job.

How do I feel about all of this 6 months later?

I realize that staying home is not a viable option for everyone and some people don’t have the desire. But for me, I ask myself, why should I stress myself out with work AND home life, not see my children as much as I would like, and make next to no money after childcare expenses? I still have stress as a stay at home mom…obviously. The budget is tighter, the kids drive me crazy at times, and I can’t leave my day job and go home. On the flip side, I am getting to know my kids really well, they have greatly appreciated my consistent presence, and I now have the time and capacity to become a good mom, a good wife, and my best self.

Here’s a short video of my boys doing their favorite thing, “fighting”. While this doesn’t show anything special, it is a glimpse into my everyday as a stay at home mom… and I have to take the opportunity to show off my adorable boys 🙂

This was Day 12 of the Zero to Hero Challenge. Learn more here.

 

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New ‘About Me’ Page

I transformed from devoted Christian to self-proclaimed atheist, from religious to godless, and I’m here to blog stories, thoughts and ramblings about my Life Sans God.

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I grew up in beautiful Colorado and as a teenager I developed a love for staying active, sharing my life with people, and being my best self. I look back fondly on my high-school memories, in particular I replay one special moment often: the day me and 3 other girls placed 4th in our Medley Relay at the state track meet. Perhaps to some, this might not seem so glorious, and I have other accomplishments that sound better. But each of us worked damn hard that day (and many days prior), we accomplished something great together and I feel that I personally surpassed what I thought I was capable of doing. I literally feel butterflies and excitement all over again just thinking about it.

As I recall this story, it occurs to me that this event could have easily happened with or without god in my life. But the reality at that time, is that I was zealous for god and for the souls of every living person I knew. Don’t get me wrong, there were times I struggled to retain this fervor, but I was always sincere in my attempts to attain greatness for god.

Over 10 years later, I am the same person. I love staying active, sharing my life with people, and being my best self, only now I focus on running AND yoga and I share life with my husband and two preschool aged boys. Oh, and becoming my best self no longer involves a god of any kind.

Do you want to hear more stories, thoughts and ramblings now that my Life is Sans God? Well then… follow my blog!

**Please let me know what you think about my new About Me page**

This was Day 8 of the Zero to Hero Challenge. Learn more here.

Losing Faith

What was that fledgling idea I had when I decided to start this blog? Well, I really wanted a comfortable place to communicate honestly my reasons for coming out of the faith.  Though I had planned to write a post about my long journey to becoming an atheist months ago, I admit I have been dragging my feet. So, even though it’s really hard for me to be this intentionally vulnerable (it’s like pulling teeth without pain medication)… I will saddle up and share the story of how I lost my faith.

If you missed the brief history of my religious background, check it out here.

Questioning Sin

I would say that my deconversion from Christianity began about 8 years ago, in early 2006, when I was newly married. We moved into a small basement apartment of a house in “Old Town”. Several people lived upstairs and across the hall in the basement there was one other apartment next to ours. That’s where Nick lived. Nick was purposefully and awkwardly funny, he introduced us to the world of Ultimate Frisbee, and frankly he turned out to be a great neighbor. We swapped keys at some point and if we were out of town Nick would sometimes call and say, “Can I borrow some milk? O, and can I hang out and watch the game at your place?” And he offered the same hospitality to us. That’s really the best kind of neighbor.

Ultimate Frisbee Costume Tournament (Nick, Matt, me)

Ultimate Frisbee Costume Tournament
(Nick, Matt, me)

The first time we had Nick over for dinner we initiated our common ritual, praying before the meal. Right after the prayer Nick said, “So, you guys are Christians, huh? You ever seen Broke Back Mountain?” I laughed at his intentional prodding but even though I hadn’t seen the movie, at the time the idea of a film “promoting homosexuality” made me feel uncomfortable. I certainly would struggle to admit it back then, but I was homophobic and I thought homosexuality was a sin. I believed you should love the sinner and hate the sin of gay sex. In a later conversation Nick, my husband and I got into a more in-depth discussion about being gay and there were a few things Nick said that struck a cord with me, big time. He said:

  • Most of the stuff that is in the bible makes sense to me because it usually forbids hurting someone in some way, but I’ve never understood what it says about being gay… if you’re gay, you’re not hurting anyone.
  • Imagine if we lived in a world where the “normal” or common thing was to be gay and everybody discriminated against or looked down on straight people.
  • Why would someone choose to be discriminated against by choosing to be gay?
  • Why would god let someone be born with homosexual tendencies and then punish them for those tendencies?

Huh, I had never thought of it from that point of view before. It’s amazing how these questions planted a seed in me that I mulled over for years. I really struggled with the thought that I was discriminating against people that had done nothing wrong, even if my discrimination was frowning at them in silent judgment of their lifestyle. But on the other hand, the bible was the infallible word of God, it was God breathed! My insides were telling me “I don’t like this dogma that I have been brought to believe about gay people” but the bible was telling me “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? … Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men … will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

My response to all of this was: well, I will just set those types of verses aside and try not to worry about them. At this time I didn’t fully throw them out because that begs the question, what other verses can be thrown out? This was the start of my cognitive dissonance and for the time being I was able to keep my doubts at bay.

Questioning God

Gradually, over the next 5 years I transformed from a conservative Christian (biblical inerrancy belief and devout religious practice) to a liberal Christian (personal biblical interpretation and relaxed religious practice).

But then, at the end of 2011, the floodgates opened and the questions just started flowing. Below are some of the things I could not reconcile with my god belief. Keep in mind that I may have asked some of these questions earlier in my life but this was the first time I asked them without assuming I already had the right answer from god.

  • Why are there so many religions? There are many good people of various religions but they can’t all be right. If I put my belief in the wrong god, yet I live a good, well-intentioned life, why is it justified for me to go to hell for eternity?
  • How is it that god is all knowing, all powerful, and all good and still he allows evil? Read more about the Problem of Evil
  • Eternal torture for not believing in the right god is an exceptionally vengeful punishment, is it not? Eternity is a REALLY long time. Read more of my thoughts on hell
  • It’s self-centered to look at my situation and say, “I am so lucky to have been born in this day and age in America, thank you god”, when so many terrible things have happened and continue to happen all over the world. Why does god allow all the terrible stuff to happen to people yet he gets credit for a successful surgery completed by a trained medical doctor?
  • Why does god get credit for things that have another explanation?
  • If I don’t know why something good happened, why should I just assume “well, it must have been god that did it”? If I attribute good things to god, why don’t I attribute the bad things to him as well?
  • Why is it necessary to “catch ’em young” (teach religion to our youth)? If something is true it shouldn’t matter when or how someone encounters it, it’s still the truth.
  • When I look around and see beautiful and magnificent things in nature, just because I don’t understand the mechanisms that happened over time to make it happen, why should I attribute it to a god?
  • Why does the holy spirit say contradictory things to people?
  • Why does the bible contradict itself?
  • How is a bible verse good evidence for god? Why should I believe the bible just because the bible says so or Christians say so?
  • Why does god need our financial help to do his work?
  • Why is god so sneaky? Why doesn’t he just reveal himself to everyone on earth and save us all?

While some may be able to come away from all of these questions with some justification for god, ultimately, I can no longer suspend my disbelief. If I am to put my trust and belief in a god, I need sufficient evidence that such a god truly exists. So far I have found no such evidence.

A big thanks to Nick for helping me start to question the bible. An even bigger thanks to my husband for helping me question throughout the entire process. Lastly, I am grateful to myself for resolving to say to god, “If you are real and you created me, I trust that you want me to freely use my god-given brain to question and process information in an honest way, without fear”.  It was that statement that allowed me to let go of my fears and ultimately be set free from the chains of religion. Can I get an amen? 😉

sagan quoteThis was Day 3 of the Zero to Hero Challenge. Learn more here.

Blog Name and Tagline

*Help me choose my tagline in the poll at bottom*

Today I am charged with the task of revisiting my blog name and tagline. Here’s my challenge: I plan to blog about a fairly broad range of topics but I want to choose memorable branding that will keep me focused in my writing. I want a name and tagline that give me somewhat of a focal point in my blog but at the same time doesn’t pigeonhole me into being a cranky mom or an angry atheist.

The Name

Initially, I put a lot of thought into the name Life Sans God and I continue to like this name a lot. The name does not give you much information, you can simply infer that there is a person blogging about life without god.

The Tagline

So, I think the place to give a bit more information is in my tagline. There are many things that I would like to communicate here, such as:

  • I’m a stay at home mom, sometimes I feel I might be going a bit crazy
  • I’m a life-long student of fitness/nutrition
  • I’m an aspiring yogi
  • I am good without god

This is way too much to communicate in one tagline. I did come up with a few options and I need your help. Please take the poll below and let me know what you think!

This was Day 2 of the Zero to Hero Challenge. Learn more here.

Who am I? Why am I here?

Night RunGreetings, my name is Vanessa. I am a Colorado native with a love for yoga, running, Ultimate Frisbee and the outdoors. I am a wife and mother of two small boys (ages 2 and 4). At the end of the Summer in 2013 I quit my very stressful full-time job at a non-profit human services organization to stay at home with my boys. For the record, I prefer Domestic Goddess to “Stay at Home Mom”, it’s much more palatable.

A brief religious history

Religion, Christianity in particular, has almost always been a very important part of my life. I was involved in Christian groups through church and school since I was in middle school. When I went to college I got very involved in an interdenominational Christian ministry through my university. Completely separate from my church involvement, I attended weekly worship nights, regular prayer meetings and if I wasn’t leading a weekly bible study, I was certainly attending one. I discipled multiple young women, studied and memorized scripture, and met with accountability partners to attempt to remain pure and “on the right path”. I could continue to share about the different aspects of my religious background but to sum it up a bit more quickly, God and Jesus were the center of my activities, my thoughts, my conversations, my life. If I wasn’t a true and devoted believer, nobody is.

A loss of faith

Well, you probably noticed that I speak of my religious devotion in the past tense. More than two years ago I began questioning my faith in a more serious way than I ever had before. I asked questions about God’s existence, the bible, the prevalence of many religions, the problem of evil and more. For the first time in my life I began to let go of my fears and my reasons for believing. I asked questions and didn’t claim to have the right answer anymore. Read more on my loss of faith.

Purpose of this blog

Now, here I am, a formerly VERY religious person, daughter, sister, wife and mom. I find myself without religion, God, church, fellowship, worship, prayer, biblical guidance, etc. I often find myself with a sort of identity crisis, feeling isolated, confused, and in need of an outlet. Hence, the purpose of my blog: to have a place to share about my life and discover my identity now that I find myself without god. 

Blog topics

Considering that I spent the better part of my 30 years as a devout Christian, I think a lot about my former religion (and all that it entails) as well as my current lack of belief. So, while I certainly plan to blog about my former beliefs and my life after faith, I will also blog about my other interests such as: my kids and family, fitness and nutrition, natural skin and hair care, books, home organization and more!

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Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back to visit again! ~Vanessa

This was Day 1 of the Zero to Hero Challenge. Learn more here. I realize I joined this challenge late…but better late than never 🙂

Zero to Hero Challenge

I have recently started blogging again and I am really enjoying myself. I came across a challenge called Zero to Hero: 30 days to a Better Blog. In the spirit of the new year and wanting to improve my writing and blogging skills I thought, why not give this a try? So, today I will begin this 30 day challenge, wish me luck!

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Back to Blogging?

No Outlet Sign

Not only do I crave a writing outlet, I feel as if I will go crazy if I don’t express myself through writing

It has been quite some time since I sat down to blog. The crazy thing is that I started this blog at one of the busiest times in my life. Then, when I quit my job to stay at home with my kids (almost 5 months ago) I did not find myself with a ton of spare time and energy to blog. But lately I find myself craving a writing outlet whether it be in a journal, poem, letter, or blog. For some reason I am drawn more to blogging than the other forms of writing and I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it feels more invigorating to know that someone might read my words and actually care or be encouraged by what I have to say.

When the possibility of blogging is right in front of me I struggle with the process of sitting down to communicate what’s going on in my life. In particular, I struggle with:

  • Time – I have two very distracting boys that keep me very busy, should I set aside my spare moments of down time to blog?
  • Competency – I question my writing skills. I find myself wanting to nit-pick every little thing in order to have the perfect blog post. The idea of attaining perfection feels necessary, largely impossible and stressful all at the same time. I would much rather sit down, communicate what I want to communicate, and be done with it. But that requires me letting go of my need for perfection.
  • Content – Oh, the question of what to write about. Do I need to have a blog theme and have all my writing tie into the theme in some way? If I don’t choose a theme, will my blog be too broad and lack a goal to give me direction?
  • Significance –  Why blog? Does anyone even care what I have to say? Even if no one cares what I have to say, should I blog anyway as a sort of therapy for myself?

Despite all the barriers and worries about blogging I feel the need to challenge myself to at least give blogging another try. My goal is to make regular time to blog and not worry so much about themes, perfect writing, or whether anyone cares what I have to say. I care what I have to say as well as the process of communicating my thoughts and that is what is important.

Flying

I plan to spread my wings and see where the wind takes me

I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.
― C. JoyBell C.

Your Turn

What struggles do you have when writing a blog? What barriers do you encounter when trying to express yourself through writing?