“At some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you'll look back down and see that you floated away, too.” 
― John GreenPaper Towns

I can't really explain the way I was feeling when I was 19 and trying to see the world, for the first time, as it really was. 

A huge puzzle.

Something interesting happens when you leave a long-term religion. It's a mind-altering experience. All of the sudden I wanted to learn everything and anything about the world. I found myself discovering poetry in science and beauty in things I never saw beauty in before. I acquired a very serious desire to expand myself as a person. One of these desires was to move to a different place. I wanted to be me somewhere else where I wasn't used to being me.

Alas, the mind gets in the way. I mean, why shouldn't it? That's it's job. "You have too many responsibilities where you are. You have too much anxiety. Everything you know is where you are right now. You're comfortable. Stay comfortable."

I listened to my silly mind for a very, very long time. I'm not upset that I did. But I did. I strongly believe I left right when I needed to. But if you listen to these thoughts forever you can get so caught up in being comfortable that you will never allow yourself to grow. This goes for many things.. moving, getting a new job, friendships, relationships, any possibly-progressive event in your life.

If there is one thing that I know very damn well, it is this: It's okay to be uncomfortable. This is coming from somebody who deals with general anxiety disorder. Somebody who couldn't even last one whole night at a sleepover as a kid because I missed my mom and my house. Somebody who built up the courage to go on a solo trip to Seattle and almost flew home the very next day after having a panic attack. So let me repeat. It's okay to be uncomfortable.

Just be you. Go be you in all the many ways that you can be you. And don't feel like you owe anybody an explanation, because you don't. Step outside of what you are used to. I did this by packing up my car with any belongings I could fit and venturing off to a new state, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My 19 year old self is incredibly proud of me. The scary thoughts that taunted me for so long are finally drifting away. Being homesick isn't something to fear, but something to be grateful for. I have something to be homesick for.

The mind is a huge power box, but you're the electricity.

So embrace being uncomfortable. 

"We're all traveling through time, together, everyday of our lives... All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life... I just try to live everyday as if I have deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it. As if it was the full, final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life." - Tim Lake, About Time

There are countless days and seconds and moments I wish I could go back in time. I think about how much happier I would be if only I had done something differently, how much more meaningful something might be if I had said something differently, how much better things would be if I had just changed that one tiny detail.

That's so silly.

The funny thing about people is how we all tend to jump to conclusions. We are always thinking about the things we could have or should have done immediately after something not-so-good happens. Well. Could have and should have are already gone. Whether we like it or not, we have already lived that teensy tiny part of our lives. It's over. Just like the moment when you just barely read that last sentence. It's over. There we go again. Another moment gone.

So why is it so common to insist on perfecting our pasts?

As a girl who has had plenty of one on one time with anxiety, I think I just discovered an almost-cure: There's no turning back. Never ever ever. And that's how it's supposed to be. There's no skipping forward, either. And that's just how it is

So do you want to be happy? Really, contently happy? Stop living where you are not supposed to live. 10 minutes ago? Not where you're supposed to live. 5 years from now? No. And I'm not saying to never acknowledge your mistakes or plan your future. 

Just remember that you're in your own little moment right now. 
I absolutely love Christmas. Let me tell you why. When I think about Christmastime as a little kid, all I can remember are happy things. My family starts watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. My mom and I feel like it's just not a long enough holiday, so we celebrate as early as possible. The feeling of Christmas is just magical. You see people helping complete strangers out. Families that hardly see each other get together. Department stores offer their biggest charity events. It's all about giving... until somebody beats someone else up to get a discounted toy on Black Friday.

I do understand where Christmas comes from. I do understand why it's a Christian holiday. But even growing up, I was more focused on all the happy and thoughtful things people were doing around me rather than a Bible story. I'm sorry, I don't mean that offensively, but it's true. So now that it's that time of year again when people start posting things like "LETS REMEMBER THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.. CHRIST!", I feel like it's entirely acceptable to say this:

Just because you are "technically" a Christian.. doesn't mean you are like Christ.

In all honestly, I really do like the idea of Jesus. I think he seems like a pretty cool dude. And although I don't believe in these Bible stories, I believe in being good. And that is what Christmas has ALWAYS meant to me. Sure, I learned all the stories in church growing up, but that wasn't what made me feel so good about this holiday. It was the inspiration that complete strangers were giving me. It was walking up to a homeless man, giving him some money, hearing him say "I love you" with tears swelling in his eyes, and feeling that

honest connection with a complete stranger.

So yes, I celebrate this holiday. I celebrate it in the same way that I can agree with Buddhist beliefs and not be a Buddhist. I see something that makes me feel good about humanity, I take it to heart, and I join in. So instead of trying to come up with whether or not you should say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" around somebody, just be a nice human being. That's what it's all about. It's not about being a part of commercialized society or shoving your religious beliefs down somebody's throat. It is simply a season of giving that anybody can appreciate.

I wish everyone the best this season. Be safe and feel love. Xoxo.


I've been overwhelmed with the spirit lately. A near-perfect feeling of being content, peaceful, and well. A feeling so strong that I just want to do good. A feeling of complete and utter beauty. My heart feels warm, and my mind feels clear.

What I just described sounds familiar to a Christian describing the spirit they feel, right?

The spirit I feel is different.

I don't even like to call it "the spirit", but I looked up word after word trying to find something different and there's just nothing. So I'm gonna call it "the energy." I've been overwhelmed with the energy lately.

I can't call it a spirit when I don't believe in God, or the Holy Ghost, right? And when people ask me what I believe in, I usually just say "energy". It's the only thing that makes sense to me about the universe and being alive. Energy.

If you're confused, or maybe just concerned that I'm a huge hippy, let me give you my point of view. I love the universe. By saying that, I'm saying that I love everything that makes up life. I love feeling connected to a place that makes most people feel so small. I love when I feel the energy so strongly that I can comprehend even the smallest portion of meaning behind the universe. I love thinking about the stars while I gaze at them, knowing that we are descendants of such beautiful things. I simply just love the powerful sense of connectivity to a horizon so deep.

That's my "spirit". Maybe you get yours by reading the scriptures or praying. Or going to church or paying your tithing. By following commandments from God. But I get mine from the universe. From being in nature, learning about the poetic place that we live in, and understanding that I will
never understand everything.
As a human, I expect a lot. 
As a human, I take things for granted.
I don't realize what it is that I really want until it has disappeared.
I forget about the beauty of things just as they are.
As a human, I depend on other humans.
I try to change unchangeable things.
I try to fix unfixable things.
I focus too hard on things that shouldn't be focused on.
Things that find their way into my brain that I never invited in.
As a human, I don't instantly kick them out of my brain.
I let them stay for a while, make themselves at home.
As a human, I have this crazy ability to be able to react to things.
I panic, I smile, I jump up and down, I get disappointed, I laugh.
As a human, my brain is wired to search for negativity. Little situations suddenly seem ginormous. 

But among all these crazy things that our species is capable of, our evolutionized brains are still too simple. We put ourselves before the world. We put our own simple desires before the world. We still can't see the bigger picture. We're too focused on preaching our religious beliefs, our political beliefs, our personal standards. Our judgment towards people becomes stronger than our willingness to help the bigger picture. The desire to make every human the same as ourselves is suddenly the number one priority. 

As a human, I don't think we understand that we will 
never all be the same.
Unless we invent a microchip to insert into everyone's brains that controls our every thought, it's just not going to happen. And even if it did, we would be robots, not humans.

So take a look at what you are. A human. Take that in whatever way you want. But realize what you're capable of. It can be a beautiful thing. Come to terms with yourself. Focus on your bigger picture. Our species, the one that is the most corrupt, is the most capable of creating peace for the future. It is so inspiring, so upsetting at times, but so absolutely wonderful.
"Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh'ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don't let someone steal your tenderness. Don't allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it's a a song, a stranger, a mountain, a raindrop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all - look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love." - Zooey Deschanel

One of the most important things to me is openness. (Hence the title of my blog). The ability to let people into your life, get to know them, build friendships, and treat each other with respect. I've written before about the beautiful ability to be good without God and religion. It's a very popular subject when people question my atheism. But instead of answering that again, I want to write with a different approach. It's all about perspective. 

You know when you were little, and your mom or dad or sibling or teacher told you to be nice to your friends? That you should treat people the way you want to be treated? It sounds so basic, right? But for most of us, that got planted into our brains at a very young age. I think it's more complex than we see it. We learned how to live in society and be accepted.

Some people took that advice and did their best to live by it. Others might have lost that tenderness. But whatever the case is, we were born with hearts and feelings. I don't believe this is something that God gave us, but I do believe in morals. I believe that as humans, we are extremely lucky to be able to feel so many emotions. To learn the difference between what is right for the world and what is wrong. 

The point is, we are all capable of being good. 

It's sad when we discover how cold humans can be. It might break us down a little. Maybe a lot. But that happens every single day, unfortunately. And we can either give up our hope for humanity, or take it as it is and strengthen ourselves. After all, we are humanity. The way we are today, right now, is going to affect the ones who come after us. That's just how it is.

So get in touch with your emotions. Stand up for yourself. Don't let anybody try and tell you not to feel. And don't apologize for that. Pick your place in humanity.
One of the most common questions I get asked, being an atheist, is: How do you find meaning and purpose in life?

I decided to dedicate a whole post to this question, seeing as it's a pretty big deal. The words "meaning" and "purpose" can make or break somebody. So let me lay it down in the best way I can.

I enjoy life. I love being able to wake up every day and make it whatever I want. The very fact that I am able to think and walk and talk is incredible. I think, as humans, we sometimes forget what living actually is. We are a masterpiece of evolution. We don't realize how amazing the simple little details of life are. Instead, we see it as a whole. But if you break it down into itty-bitty pieces and see exactly what it is you're doing (breathing, progressing, creating), there is so much more to be thankful for.

I do need to clarify something though. When I was transforming into my nonreligious self, I became very scared. It was like one day it all of the sudden hit me that I might not have an afterlife. It was a huge slap in the face. I went through some very dark months where I felt like everything was pointless. I was terrified. But this was a huge change for me, so of course I was going to be scared. Religion taught me to be scared. There was only one thing I could do, and that was to rebuild myself. So I did.

Meaning and purpose became a quest for me. Why do we live if we have nothing after death? This question used to haunt me. Now I find it kind of silly. We are here, living, so why should we worry about what happens next? This life should be taking all of our attention. There is so much to do, see, feel. The more I started thinking about that, the closer I got to my answer.. 

I believe that we create our own purpose.

That's the beauty of life. That's the beauty of the mind. We make of life whatever it is that we want. 

So you want to know how I find meaning without a higher power? I simply learn from myself. I listen to myself. I find the things that just seem right. These things don't feel right to me because of a god. They feel right because I care about the future of the world. We're all gonna die, and the life here will continue without us. Those people and the people after them will go through the same things we go through and also very different things. I want the future to be a happy place. Even though I won't be there in 100 years, I want those people to be happy. 

I guess the biggest change from leaving religious meaning to this new atheistic meaning, is becoming less selfish. My focus isn't to do good to be rewarded in an afterlife. It's to do good to reward the people who live on when I die.

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