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.
If somebody were to ask a friend or family member about you, how would they describe you? What would be your identifier? Nice, funny, entertaining, cool, shy? 

Something I find very interesting about Utah compared to other states, is that most everyone here automatically assumes you're Mormon. For the longest time, I started introducing myself as "Adri the Atheist" (well, not in those exact words, but you get the picture) because I wanted to be upfront with people and let them know I wasn't going to be their church buddy. In any other state, nobody gives a rat's ass what religion you are. But here, if you don't give somebody a reason to think you're not Mormon, they assume you are. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just a bit too predictable. 

Honestly though, I'm so past the point of having "Atheist" being my identifier. It's like, once you spend enough time giving yourself one single characteristic, you start to forget everything else about you. You get so consumed in one idea that your life becomes a rerun. My rerun happens to be basically all of 2012, when I was coming to complete terms with my atheism. I felt as though I had to have that identifier. Otherwise I'd get too far into a relationship or friendship, they'd realize I didn't share the same beliefs, and I'd be kicked to the curb. So that honesty came out right from the beginning. 

But I just don't mind anymore. I've been taking a new route. My journey through leaving religion will always be a big part of my life, which is nice. It's my story to share. When I meet people now, I'm just Adri, and it doesn't matter what my religious status is. Being an Atheist isn't my main identifier anymore. Why should it be?

My name is Adri.
I'm a writer, wannabe globetrotter, student, friend, daughter, sister.
I have values.
I love so many people.
And art. I love art.
I respect the ones who understand respect.
I'm weird, okay?
I have an open mind.
(Sometimes it's too open)
I have goals.
I believe in service.
And I also happen to be an Atheist.
Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. 

Deceive: Give a mistaken impression.

Confusion: A situation of panic; a breakdown of order. Uncertainty. Lack of understanding.

Brainwash: Make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.

These are four words I never really understood until a few years ago. Sure, I knew the Webster definitions. But that doesn't mean much. There's a difference between intelligence and cleverness, in my opinion. I believe that intelligence is knowing something. Cleverness is knowing something, but also being able to adapt those concepts to your own life either through personal experience or sharing. 

I don't want any of my posts to come across as me having a miserable life, just because I write about difficult things. That is far from the truth. I had a wonderful childhood, with the best family and friends I could ever ask for. I was just born a skeptic, I guess. I think a lot. Sometimes that causes me to have very strong opinions. But by all means, I do not have anything close to a horrible life. So even though I left religion and went through fear and deceiving moments and confusion and brainwashing, I mostly just feel human. I also feel happy. It's been so beautiful getting comments and messages from people who have dealt with the same hardships of not agreeing with the "norm". 

I don't believe anybody should live their life in fear. One of the saddest things is seeing somebody throw their happiness away because they believe God won't accept them for who they are. I've said it before and I'll say it again:

If there is a God, I would hope he would be as loving and kind as people make him out to be. 

If he's not, I wouldn't want to worship him anyway. So be yourself. Honestly, as cliche as it is, be yourself. You hear it all the time, but do you really listen to it? Don't trade in your happiness for fear. If religion is your happiness, stick with it. If you find yourself feeling guilty and sad, change something. Not out of fear. Change something for your happiness.

Happiness: state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

That comes first.
I watch this video too much. It just makes my heart feel like one of those goldfish that keeps growing and growing until there's no more room. It's such a beautiful feeling. I have so many wishes for Provo and it's progression (see previous post), and this kind of stuff keeps me hopeful. Smiles.

Okay. Truth is, I've written this whole post out and erased it all. Twice. Why? I don't know. I guess I felt like I was being too harsh with my criticism. So before I write the things I was going to write, I'm going to be a critic of myself.

Did I go to church for 18 years? Yes.
Did I, at least once in my life, think somebody was going to hell for not following the commandments? Yes.
Did I judge somebody based on them not going to church? Yes.
Have I thought I could "save" somebody by praying for them? Yes.

I could go on and on. The point is: Whenever I talk about the LDS church, I am talking about it based on experience. I don't want to be that person who states fallacy after fallacy, thinking they know everything about something they were never a part of. But, considering I've been on the inside of this whole shindig, I'm gonna write what I wanna write. I hope that's okay. If not, I recommend not reading my blog and going to this website instead: http://cuteoverload.com/

So now that I've had my little rant, let's get down to business. 

The thing about Provo, Utah is that you can't go anywhere without hearing the typical "Provo Conversation". The Provo Conversation may consist of things like: Where did you serve your mission? Didn't you LOVE that talk by Elder so-and-so? We've been dating for 3 months, and he HASN'T proposed yet! Don't you hate when a guy is so cute, but he's not a return missionary? I'm gonna be a stay at home mom! How many kids do you want?

And stuff like that. Basically, I'm tired and disgusted by some of the things I hear. I'm not necessarily disgusted by the actual sentences that are being blurted out of these 19-year-old girl's mouths. It's more the lack of topic. It's like the people in this city, and most of the state, just don't want to stray from their one little piece of culture. Instead of trying to experience the world they just want to experience Provo. Over and over again.

.... why?

I have my own opinions and thoughts on the matter, but that doesn't change anything. I don't expect it to. I'm just amazed at the way religion in general kind of takes over a person. I know how it is, I've been there. You get this idea planted into your head that you can only associate with certain people. "Righteous" people. You must only date men/women who are on a certain level or platform of obedience. You must only date that one type of person. Another Mormon. In the end, that's what it comes down to. 

You wanna know the biggest reason why I hate the Provo Conversation though? Despite the lack of wonder and education in some of these people, they tend to love the feeling of empowerment. They enjoy making themselves feel like they are at the top of the pyramid, and if you don't agree, you're at the bottom. We can pretend that we're a diverse city, but when it comes down to it, we're just a bubble of thoughts that can't open up to the rest of society.

I may sound bitter, but I'm not. Scouts honor. ;) I just have wants and wishes for this city, and all cities, to be more accepting of culture. Accept the fact that not everybody thinks you're right. Accept the fact that the beauty of a person is deeper than their religious or nonreligious standing. But most importantly, 
accept change. 
"I was forced, through seeing the error of their foundation, to abandon all belief in every religion which had been taught to man. But my religious feelings were immediately replaced by the spirit of universal charity - not for a sect, or a party, or for a county or a colour - but for the human race, and with a real and ardent desire to do good." 
- Robert Owen (1857)

I was thinking today about the two times I bared my testimony. Yep, two. Both times were at girl's camp, where everyone did it, so I wanted to feel included. I found myself getting emotional. Not because I felt "the spirit" or was "so happy to be born into the true church" but because I was in the wilderness, with some of my best friends, stargazing and not having a care in the world. I never pretended to know everything. 

I remember trying SO hard to feel this "spirit" so I could say some good things about the church and not just my friends, but I just couldn't. I think all I managed to blurt out was "..and I am thankful for the prophet" or something like that. Anyways, the point is, I was never one to bear my testimony. I was more focused on the fun times I was having with the people I love. That's always been my focus. Is that such a bad thing? That I think about my loved ones more than a possible deity or religion? So here it goes. I'm going to try this again..

I'd like to bear my testimony.
I don't believe the church is true.
I don't think I'm going to hell because of that.
As a matter of fact, I don't believe in hell.
I believe in life.
I am thankful for the stars.
I can't thank them enough for exploding billions of years ago, so that human life could even be possible.
Otherwise I wouldn't be writing this.
I believe that we are in charge of our own destiny.
I am beyond grateful that I have a family who knows what love is.
True, unconditional love.
I am thankful for every little thing I've done in my life that has brought me to wonderful friends.
I believe that genuine friendships and relationships are one of the most important things. 
It's important to hold onto those.
I don't believe in organized religion.
I believe in moments and making the most of what you have.
I believe that despite my struggles, I am a very fortunate person.
I don't believe that I have the answers.
I don't think there's such a thing as "THE answer".
All I have are my own thoughts.
All you have are yours.
In the name of life,

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