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Introducing… A Domestic Goddess

It’s true, Life Sans God has been on a hiatus… but now, I introduce my new (and soon to be improved) blog. Please check out this first blog post and follow along on my new journey 🙂

Dreaming In Earth Tones

Vanessa - Individual, Wife, Mom, Friend Vanessa – Individual, Wife, Mom, Friend…

Introducing…

Greetings! I’m Vanessa, a 30-something “Domestic Goddess” (a.k.a. Stay at Home Mom). I think I’m a pretty awesome person (though sometimes I forget). Most likely, you are a pretty rad human being as well. I find something gratifying in the fact that we are all connected as humans and we all want to be loved. Connection to others is something that I crave deeply so I seek community in the many things I do: fitness (running, yoga, Ultimate Frisbee), parenting, nutrition, and blogging (to name a few).

Why This Blog?

I began a topical blog last summer and discovered that I find satisfaction in writing, telling stories, expressing my views, and getting feedback from a community of people. After much thought, I decided to transition away from the topical blog to this new blog. I chose the fairly generic blog name Dreaming in Earth Tones, allowing me the…

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Despite my desire to communicate, sometimes saying what I feel is the last thing I want to do...Here goes!

Dear Sister Christian

I went on a two-month mission trip in college and one of the leaders began calling me “Sister Christian”. This leader was a great lady and she often came up with little sayings that were endearing and/or humorous. As a Christian, I thought there was something satisfying in the idea that we were all connected as a family. We were a family that knew the truth of Christ’s love and salvation. So, I began using this new expression, sister Christian, since I preferred it to the more awkward-sounding “Sister (or Brother) in Christ”.

As you likely know, I am no longer a believer in any god and therefore no one can accurately call me sister Christian any longer. But in the letter below, the “feeler” in me chose to address my Christian friends and family in this former way because I like expressing affection. And I am truly grateful that, as human-beings, we are all connected in a familial way, despite our many differences in opinion and belief. (Note: this letter isn’t to anyone in particular, it’s a summation of my feelings and thoughts toward my religious family and friends).

Despite my desire to communicate, sometimes saying what I feel is the last thing I want to do...Here goes!

Communicating what I really feel can be so fun… here goes nothing!

Dear Sister (and Brother) Christian,

I miss you. I miss how things used to be. I miss our conversations. I miss the peace and harmony I felt when hanging out with you. Sadly, I am not sure we can have that back. It seems that you have taken a step back from our relationship. I get it… change can be hard. Especially the unexpected “rock the core beliefs” kind of change that happened to me.

It has been pretty exhausting… the process of:

  • doubting and questioning the faith I have had since I was young
  • seeking the truth despite what I grew up believing and despite what my loved-ones believe
  • realizing that I simply don’t believe anymore
  • sharing this news with people as it seems appropriate (examples here and here)
  • experiencing changes in many relationships
  • deciding how to handle all the changes
  • attempting to treat my friends and family with compassion and understanding
  • figuring out how to raise my children morally, without guidance from a god (examples here and here)
  • figuring out how to have community without church
  • observing you sharing about god at your convenience
  • holding my tongue so as not to offend people
  • and finally starting this blog so I can have a voice.

It is very possible that you are exhausted too and that many of your thoughts and prayers have been spent on my behalf. Maybe you fear for my eternal soul or what may happen to me in this life. Or perhaps, you don’t think about this change in my life at all. Maybe it just doesn’t bother you that much. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between. How do you feel about this change in my life? Well, either way, I felt it necessary to express my thoughts and feelings because while I am at peace with the realization that I’m an atheist, I am not at peace with my relationship with you.

Here are some things I think you should know about me:

  • I am still the same person I used to be
    • I love people and building relationships
    • I love my family A LOT
    • I enjoy being outdoors and staying active
    • I’m caring, honest, genuine, fun and enthusiastic
    • Like most people, I want happiness for myself and my loved-ones
  • I didn’t suddenly become immoral
    • I strive for the things that are in the best interest of myself, my family, my friends and my community
    • I don’t want to steal, lie, cheat, or harm anyone
  • I am not convinced there is a god because I haven’t found sufficient evidence
    • I didn’t lose faith because I wanted an excuse to sin
    • I am not a heathen because I felt harmed by god or his followers
    • While I am open to hearing your evidence, I would advise that you not treat me like a potential convert, I think that will only hurt our relationship
  • I don’t generally feel the need to talk about religion
    • I don’t care what you believe as long as you’re not hurting anyone
    • I enjoy the fact that I don’t need to be an evangelist anymore
    • While I do want you to think critically about your own viewpoint, I don’t want to spend time trying to convince you to agree with me
    • That said, I am open to talking about god and our existence and generally enjoy such conversations

_________________________________________________________________________

If I could have an ideal conversation with you about beliefs it would go something like this:

You: I believe ________ and this is why _________.

Me: OK, I don’t believe ________ and this is why __________.

You: Alright.

(We decide to mutually respect each other’s right to believe or not believe whatever we want as long as it’s not hurting anyone)

Me: Alright, well, that’s enough about religion.

You: Yeah, let’s have fun and enjoy each other’s company and not let religion get in the way.

_________________________________________________________________________

I realize life isn’t so simple, it’s not possible to have it exactly the way we want sometimes. And that’s OK.

I want you to know I am happy. I used to worry so much about what god might be saying to me or how he was leading my life. Now, I feel empowered to make my own choices and take responsibility for my life. I feel free. I feel at peace. I am doing well.

Lastly, I invite you to share anything about yourself that you would like me to know. I welcome your response to this letter if you feel compelled.

With much love,

Vanessa

 

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When Being a Working Mom Crushes You

While perusing Facebook yesterday I ran across, Recline, don’t ‘Lean In’ (Why I hate Sheryl Sandberg), an article by Rosa Brooks criticizing Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’.

Now, I have NOT read Sandberg’s book so I can not speak about it’s content. But, as for the article, Brooks makes some great points. She says:

Work has expanded to require employees’ round-the-clock attention [and] being a good mom has also started requiring ubiquity…It’s hard enough managing one 24/7 job. No one can survive two of them.

This article reminded me of my time as a working mom. After my second son was born and I went back to full-time employment, my life soon became the most challenging, stressful, and unhappy time in my life. And while there were certainly some good things going on, the hardships far out-weighed any benefits my family and I were experiencing. Ah, my family. I think back and feel sad about how forgetful I was and how I neglected them. I was certainly putting my career first and was blinded by my need to do a good job and be perceived as a hard, competent worker. Brooks says it so well:

Rocks balancingIt’s little wonder that many of the gifted young female staffers who enter these workplaces hit a wall at some point, and come to the painful realization that work and family obligations aren’t always things you can simply “balance.” Often, these weights become too heavy. They can crush you.

I certainly felt crushed, and I felt like I harmed my family and our precious relationships with each other in the process. As it turns out, my attempts to be competent at both work and home became a battle I couldn’t win. Eventually I lost my desire to work and gained a huge desire to give staying at home a try. I became gradually more excited to create space for myself to actually get to know my kids, actually pay attention to my own needs and those of my family (including my poor neglected husband). Check out a previous post Why I stay at home to learn a bit more about when I hit my breaking point and quit my job to hang out with preschoolers 24/7.

Whether it’s one more meeting, one more memo, one more conference, one more play date, one more soccer game or one more flute lesson for the kids, sometimes we need to say, “Enough!”

I took it a few steps further than Brooks suggests. I chose to say ‘Enough!’ to working outside of the home all together. It has been a great choice. I have no regrets.

I realize that Rosa Brooks wrote her article not to encourage working moms to quit their jobs, but to encourage them to find balance between the workplace and family life. Many working moms have found a balance that works for them. If both parents are working, I think it’s largely important that tasks be shared between both caregivers or if you’re a single parent that you get help from your family or community. As I observe most of my mommy friends, it seems that working and stay-at-home moms alike do the bulk of housework and child-rearing. As nurturers we take on caring for everybody and often we neglect caring for ourselves. It is so important for moms everywhere to voice their needs and prioritize self-care. But of course that is easier said than done.

Although many working moms do strike necessary balance, in some cases, I think that balance can only be found by leaving the job that is crushing you. Leaving that job to find a less stressful job perhaps, or leaving to stay at home if financially possible. After observing the benefits my family has reaped over the past seven months I have been home, I realize that this choice was crucial for us and frankly…I can’t afford to go back to work. 

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What would YOU like to hear more about?

I am SO close to finishing up the Zero to Hero blog challenge! Can I get a hip hip hooray?

As I move forward, I really want to know what YOU would like to read on my blog. Please take a quick moment to let me know what you are most interested in hearing about. Thanks in advance!

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Building Secular Communities

You obviously REALLY value community.

Today, a friend and I were talking about our personal shifts from a religious community to a secular one. We discussed how our core values remained the same from the time we were religious, through the times of doubt, and afterward when we realized we no longer believed in a god. One thing she said stuck out to me, “You obviously REALLY value community, that’s probably why you stuck it out so long with the whole church thing”. Huh… interesting. I always thought I was so loyal to god, that the idea I was holding onto the community aspect of my religion never really occurred to me.

But I think she hit the nail on the head.

I clung to the good aspects of community that I got through church (regular fellowship, free childcare, bringing food to people when sick, singing/learning together, free childcare, deep/authentic conversations, and free childcare). Speaking of free childcare, not long before giving up on god completely, my family and I went to church on a day my husband had to run the sound system during the service. He went to do his thing, I dropped the kids off at the nursery and yeah, I definitely went to a coffee shop for an hour of bliss by myself… I love me some free childcare (as long as it’s trustworthy childcare…that’s a whole other conversation).

Alright, back to community, not only did I cling to the good aspects of community, I desperately feared the possibility of losing some of the people I held so dear.

Churches and religions “do” community very well.  But they certainly don’t own the rights to building and maintaining community. I am fortunate to have a Secular Families group in my town. While it has been a slow and steady process to build community, it is happening for my family in our post-church era and I’m so grateful.

Having fun at our Secular Families meetup

Having fun at our Secular Families meetup

In addition to this group I have decided to get involved at a local gym, my son’s Cooperative Preschool, and my local Ultimate Frisbee community. There is much community to be had in local activities and groups outside of the “church scene”. And boy am I glad for that since community is at the top of my values list!

Now, to find a non-performing, non-intimidating singing group…

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.

 

Playing with my 2 year-old, Drew
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The Incredible Years (Part 1)

Transitioning from being a religious parent to a secular parent has been interesting. I used to “rely on god” to provide me strength in my parenting and somehow I did feel better believing that I was being guided by a higher power in raising my children. The reality is I was failing to address some of the issues I was having by simply putting a band-aid on the problem (by praying and trusting in something that wasn’t there) so I could feel better. But, I don’t want to beat up on my former self, I simply wish to learn from my mistakes so I can be a better parent today. The reality is, whether you’re religious or not, parenting is the hardest job you can ever have. Scary Mommy says it so well:

Now, as a freethinking, secular parent, I aim to have a more scientific approach by educating myself about evidence-based parenting methods and building a toolkit of resources and support systems. I hope to glean information from multiple sources and do my best to choose what’s right for my kids, myself, and my family as a whole.

My starting point…

We will be going through the book The Incredible Years by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD

We will be going through the book The Incredible Years by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD

Today I began attending a support group for parents of children ages 2 to 8, it’s called The Incredible Years. Apparently, with all its tears, guilt, anger, laughter, joy and love, these early years are remembered by most as pretty incredible. The group meets for 10 weeks and is focused on helping parents sort out issues they face with young children in order to set the stage for sensitive, nurturing and competent parenting.  Today I was thrilled to sit with other parents, knowing we are all in the same boat… we don’t know what the hell we’re doing as parents!

Play, Play, Play

Playing with my 2 year-old, Drew

Playing with my 2 year-old, Drew

One of the things we were challenged to do in the upcoming week is to play with our kids for 10-15 minutes per day. This regular play is meant to cultivate bonding, positivity and fun, laying the foundation for a solid relationship now and in the future. Sometimes I get so caught up in life that I forget to sit down and play with my kids. And I almost never take the time to sit down individually with each of them because that has it’s own challenges. So, today, I sat down with each of them individually and played, and it was A LOT of fun! We built towers, knocked down towers, and played with play dough. I really enjoyed taking the time to listen and talk with each of my kids individually. All the people who talk up the importance of play… they are on to something! I look forward to more special time with my kids as we build this habit of playing together often.

Wish me well on starting this journey to build my parenting toolkit and support system. If you have any resources to share please put them in the comments! Until next time, I leave you with some wise words from an English poet:

Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.
― John Wilmot

This was Day 6 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 🙂

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That’s a selfie, son

My 4-year-old uses my tablet from time to time to play games or watch Netflix. He also likes to high-jack my camera and take many pictures of anything and everything. Here he is, sitting on the bottom bunk, discovering the “selfie“. I love that no-one taught him anything about taking a picture of himself, yet he poses like a selfie-taking professional. Whether or not this will transfer into his social networking life in the future is yet to be seen. Check out a few of the selfies he captured below.

The Kissy Face Selfie

The Kissy Face Selfie

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The Scared/Surprised Selfie

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The Debonair Selfie

Your Turn

Do you have a favorite selfie to share?