Life Reboot Reflections

This fall I’ve started an education and a part time job. It’s a lot of changes in a short time. I’ve gone from being a stay at home mom with a lot of craft hobbies to a graphic arts student and part time substitute at a preschool.

Mentally the process has been exhilarating. I love meeting people and going places. The learning itself is endless layers of interesting and challenging.

Drawing: You’ve already seen what I’ve been up to. Besides the ‘learning and drawing’ parts, we’ve also seen a couple of short films on artists, Jim Dine and Rick Barton.

Digital Imaging Processes: This class is learning to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Classtime is the instructor telling us what to do in the programs, and a couple of homework assignments using what we’ve learned. I’m using this as my ‘Intro to the graphics world’ toe-dip to see if being a graphic artist is doable. So far the answer is yes.

Math: I am taking one online course, Elementary Algebra. So far it’s been the most frustrating. I learned this stuff long ago, and learning it again when it didn’t get used at all has caused my brain to rebel a bit. Luckily my husband was a math teacher and has been a good tutor when I need tips. I really feel like my elementary and middle school teachers did an absolutely horrible job of teaching fractions. I’ve had to relearn them and it’s so unintuitive for me.

This math class consists of reading the lesson, doing the homework, and taking a quiz on the material, of which you must get at least 80%. Then after a bunch of those, you do a review quiz, of which you must get 85%. After that, then you can take the module test. I had a bloody hard time getting 85% on my review quiz, and after taking it five times I finally aced it. The other day I took my first actual math test. The test had a lot more fractions on it than the quiz had, and it only consisted of 16 questions, which means I only have to miss a few to do really poorly. Surprisingly, I got a 91%, which was a relief to me. It had many questions with fractions and while I think I’ve got them mostly figured, I’m not confident in my handling of them.

One thing I find absolutely delightful is the people, my teachers and fellow students. I love meeting new people and getting to know them, and this little life reboot of mine has had plenty of that. There’s just something delightful about a learning environment that fosters people working together for the sake of helping each person advance themselves personally.

It’s also fun to be around people just out of high school again. There’s a good variety of ages, of course, I’m not the oldest person in any of my classes. But there are a lot of 18-25 year olds around, and they are just so fresh-faced and energetic. After ten years of grudging it out and having the demands of parenthood make me be all responsible and serious, it’s a nice change of pace. You can tell most are aiming for things, or at least trying to find something to aim for. It’s a good energy to be around.

Our home life with the kids and our marriage has changed drastically! I’m out of the house most weekdays now. I’ve now seen Husbeast gracefully step into the role of After-School Coordinator. When you have four elementary children, getting them all to get home, snack, do their homework, manage their shoes/backpacks/lunches, and not squabble with each other too much in the process all takes a great deal of mental energy. Husbeast has been managing that along with getting them to do chores as well. They are finally adjusting to the school schedule (well, the older two have been fine for a while, the younger two had a longer transition) and enjoy school. Husbeast also decided to join up with the library and now takes them weekly, so managing the slew of library books without losing any is a superparent skill of its own.

The weekly library trips have been nothing short of inspiring. Last time we were part of a library, it was a small, miserly place with poor selection that still felt justified charging us $50 a year for membership. It limited you to two books at a time for your first two months of joining. That doesn’t work for a family of six who are hungry for literature. This library Husbeast joined us to is the next town over with no book limits and a wonderfully large selection. Our oldest, Foxx, has been a bookworm for years and begs to go more often than the weekly trip. Our second, Pingu, would only read graphic novels or comic books for the longest time. Husbeast found him the book series that inspired How to Train A Dragon. For the first time, Pingu is hooked on reading something! He finished the second of the series in a day, even chose to read over playing Minecraft (the love of his young life). Sweet Pea made a big huge step in finishing her first chapter book, Charlotte’s Web. Scooby is just in kindergarten, but already I can see his sounding-out skills are developing at a wonderful pace. To him the freedom of choosing his own books and looking at them are helping instill the love of literature. Of couse, we’ve hundred of books at home, but new books every week is especially exciting. Husbeast and I both grew up bookworms, so reading for personal enjoyment and development is a very important shared value for our family. We’re both just overjoyed to see their progress.

I even hit a personal goal of mine with reading recently. I’m great at zooming through fiction. I love big, fat, fantasy novels and have missed much sleep over the years due to not being able to put them down. Nonfiction books, though, don’t have the same draw to me. I don’t think I’ve gotten more than halfway through a nonfiction book in years. Well, last week, I finished Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion. I had heard of Dawkin’s rather rude media presence, so had put off reading it for over a year, but however rude he is on social media, the tone doesn’t come across in his writing. Reading it was like having a chat with a nice professor in a library next to a fire. Dawkins is a biologist with a gift for crafting a book with enough relevant details to support his case without losing me in a slew of science details with lots of new vocabulary words. As much as I support science, it’s not my field, so articles discussing the details with lots of new vocabulary words tend to lose me after the first couple of paragraphs. The God Delusion is rather a well-rounded primer starting with, “So you suspect the information supporting the existence of God is a bit lacking” and from there does a superb job tackling many hot topics the atheist and the Christians around them wind up in conflict about: science, morality, the meaning of life, the effects of religion, etc. Rather than the brisk or viscous tone I’d heard Dawkins had, his arguments pointed out the limits of ideas using the tool of reasoning. The only time he discussed negative aspects of specific people was to call out conflicts of interest or hypocrisy in ways that directly related to the issues at hand.

Overall, it was a fantastic overview of why somebody would choose to be atheist, or even choose to leave a fundamental religion. In the process of me leaving Christianity, I’ve had people project the most asinine and convoluted theories upon me. Nobody wanted to believe my very simple stated reason, “there’s no evidence that God exists or that the supernatural aspects of Christianity are true.” People really wanted to think I got Christianity wrong, or I never was a real Christian, or I was mad and hurt at it, or that I had deep dark sin in my life corroding my spirituality, or that the sneaky devil seduced me away with the ‘lies’ of science, and all sorts of nonsense. In The God Delusion the whole reasoning and the different details of it were explained in a depth and breadth of a sound intellectual. Moreover, it was conducted with the grace and respect for others of a professional. It was clear to see Dawkins wants the best for humans, and uses his powers of argument and information to make his case. I’d strongly recommend to those who have deconverted, or those who are trying to understand why somebody would deconvert, or somebody who is asking the same question I started with, “Why do I not see any physical evidence God exists or interacts with this world in any real physical way?”

Thanks for reading! Have you read anything interesting lately, or had any life changes that are helping your life along? Please share in the comments!

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