Tuesday, December 29, 2020

For the Sake of Our Children: The New Instagram User Agreement/ Alternatives to Media Privacy Violators/ Why we Left Instagram/ The Social Dilemma/ Dealing with Withdrawal and Grief

 


Why We Left Instagram/ The NEW USER INSTAGRAM AGREEMENT:

I was censored on Instagram for sharing my last post below (Stories from Covid.) It was simply an image without hashtags, nor words. On the bottom it told people to go to the government website for accurate information. That was one of my wake up calls.

I read the new terms of Instagram's User Agreement a month ago and knew I would not be able to stand by it...but what to do about it?  Not only do they have access to other devices around your app device, but they have "ownership" of your user name and any of your content. They can access banking, your messages ( and it states that they can get into disputes on your messaging) and censor or modify your content. They also state that you can't sue and if you do you are agreeing to only 100 dollar settlement if you use their site. There is no accountability. On cell phone agreements there is still a higher law that the company is called to. We CAN demand better privacy. There ARE other sites that honour privacy to a degree. Facebook/ What's App/ Twitter/YOUTUBE/ TIK TOK and Instagram have similar privacy agreements. Even though it is boring- it is important to read what you consent to. Also, by using the apps you ARE agreeing. In my mind that is not true consent. Consent should be a box checked or an actual action. 




How to Leave Instagram

Our family is leaving Instagram as of January. First we wanted to say goodbye, get contact information and download our data. To do this go into your account> Security> Download Data> Email Request. Then wait a few days for your download to your computer of your photos and history. Post your last post and give it a few days for people to see and then DE ACTIVATE. 

Alternatives to Instagram/ Facebook ect:


This article gives a few alternatives like Mastadon (click) and PixelfedSocial (click)which currently honour privacy and do not change the algorithm or use TARGETED data collecting ads. (As with anything, it is important every year or so to keep up on the terms of use. That COULD change.) I've also heard platforms like Parlour or Mewe have more free speech laws but I have also heard negative aspects of them. However, I do believe that WE make the change. If a platform that allows free speech turns to hate- we CAN go on and make it better if it's the users that are the problem. But if the platform is the problem - that is an entirely different matter.  


If you decide to go on a new platform try to connect or bring in at least two people with you for support. That way the appeal will be there. It is HARD work to adjust to anything new. We need to transform the demanding, addictive technology back into a tools based one. We should be using our platforms as helpful tools to enhance our lives, not take away from them. 

" There are only two industries that call their consumers "users" -illegal drugs and software."- Edward Tufte


The Social Dilemma:

"It is the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behaviour and perception to that IS the product." You ARE the product on these "free sites." Netflix has a docu drama called "The Social Dilemma" . Some people are opposed to it because Netflix is it's platform and I had similar concerns, however I felt that I could use critical thinking to balance out what was needed. It IS filmed in a drama documentary way and at first seems alarming, however, I was impressed as it went on, how positive it actually became. The points made were important and crucial to consider. The critics and outliers of society are the people who are actually optimistic for hopeful change. The previous CEOs of all these companies ( facebook/ twitter/youtube/ instagram) make important points. The information presented is grounded in experience, data, and proof. 

"The biggest obstacle to growing and using online communities is getting people to move to them. Without growth, the services will go the way of MySpace and other sites that came before or after Facebook. We create our online communities, and if we can use open source, ethical, and privacy-respecting platforms, the internet and our lives will benefit greatly." (taken from HERE


FOR PARENTS and CAREGIVERS:

Since 2011 U.S. Hospital admissions for Non Fatal self harm for girls 10-14 has gone up 189 percent! 189! For girls ages 15-19 it has gone up 62 percent since 2009. It's up TRIPLE. 

Since 2010 the US suicide rates for teenage girls has gone up 151 percent in the 10-14 age range in comparison to the national average from 2001-2010. That IS the influence of social media. That is just for the USA.  FOr teen girls ages 15-19 it has gone up 70 percent. Do we want our preteens and teens subjected to this??

We are viewing The Social Dilemma"  with our teenage children. However, we have paused it occasionally to discuss and explain with them. There is ONE part I will not be showing my sensitive viewers. That is from the time stamp of 1:06 to 1:12 ( just fill in the blanks you wish to fill.) If your children make the brave and very tough decision to go off some social media platforms, applaud, reward and support them. Even as an adult, I am going through some legitimate grief. I enjoyed many aspects. We are MEANT to share. We are meant to have community and look for approval in our tribes. However, we are not meant to look for approval from hundreds or even thousands at a time. 

Your child WILL go through withdrawal, boredom, temptation, isolation and grief. During Covid this is especially prominent. It is why I feel it is important to still offer alternatives to connection. The alternatives I have thought of thus far: Texting, phoning, sharing private home videos on Vimeo, sharing pictures on a private or public blogs, picking slower but still privacy respecting media alternatives like Pixelfed or Mastadon above ect. Also engage with them personally a bit more. Take them sledding, skating or out for a walk. Connect in conversation. Allow a bit more video gaming initially or movie viewing ( for a time period.) Encourage them to find two friends who can view the Social Dilemma too and discuss. Encourage them to find a few friends who are committed to finding new ways to connect.  Use DUCK DUCK Go for searches instead of GOOGLE. It will not appeal to your history or give you targeted subliminal messaging the same way google does. Be active with them and give them more attention for the first 30 days at least.

I would also recommend that you encourage old skool ways of viewing shows instead of YOUTUBE. If you DO use Youtube, search via DUCK DUCK GO and monitor usage. "There is this narrative that says we will just adapt to this or learn to live with these things but there is something newer going on here we have never dealt with in history before... our brains have not evolved to this fast pace yet..." ( The Social Dilemma"  )






For Pre teens/ Teens or Children Who Wish to Make a Change:

The Internet is here to stay. It’s like the wild west. It took years to get free from lawlessness to vigilante to law and order to civilized ethics. The wild west mattered and it’s beautiful because different people demanded more. Person by person it began to change. The way social media is can change but we must cause that change. People do still have the patterns and intelligence to change the larger AI systems. We do! It’s just a matter of choice and balance. Social media can be beautiful. We were meant to share. Just not with hundreds or thousands which affect our brains and our stress levels. We are meant to find new people to inspire and influence us and the Internet is a great tool. But we also have a responsibility to what we agreed to. It’s very tricky. 

To the youth whom I know: You will make the most difference! You are tomorrow! You do not need a platform to make the world beautiful. But if you must have one- choose it wisely. You are the ones whose suicide rates are unprecedented in history. You are the ones whose anxiety has been up since 2009. YOU are the ones whom this matters the most to and I wish to reach some of you because YOU MATTER. We care about protecting you. In older TV programs there were laws on what was advertised to children. We protected the rights of children and what they saw, but with YOUTUBE etc. those laws are out the window. 

Ask your parents or two good friends for support. If you have no one to support you, reach out to me at worldwecreate@gmail.com. I will be happy to discuss the film The Social Dilemma"  with you ( and recommend if you are sensitive to skip time stamp of 1:06 to 1:12 . ) I will try to support you and encourage you if you are lonely or down. You can email me and we can set that up if you have no one. Your self worth and identity MATTER. "We have not evolved to be aware of social approval being put on us on a daily basis"...especially from more than even thirty people. It's insanity that way. "It's fake, short term, brittle popularity that leaves you empty and vacant..." Try to get outside if you can. When Covid is over try to join more clubs/ social events/ local outdoor things. Learn to watch videos with friends WITHOUT having your phone around. Visit with friends without using your device and see how much deeper it can be. Read books and discuss. Start a blog or a private place only a few supportive loved ones can view your thoughts and pictures. Choose platforms that respect your privacy and do not rely on constant feeds, targeted ads or constant likes. If you love photography migrate to a better photography website or try PIXELFED SOCIAL or something different. Use an actual camera instead of your phone and leave your phone at home or in a separate room when you are engaged in other activities. Use your phone for emergencies, driving and out on errands but leave it for walks and take your camera instead. 

FINAL THOUGHTS/ POLARIZATION OF SOCIETY/ WE ARE NOT SEEING THE SAME THINGS:

Do you want to engage constantly with an entity that knows a lot about you but you don't know it at all? Do you want to give your rights to something that can predict your behaviour, know whom you are within a radius mile too ect? There ARE wonderful aspects of technology. I love it for finding important directions, the camera ( although I am thinking of going back to a singular camera to have my phone on me less), texting occasionally and phoning. I am glad though that I still have a landline. I am happy to still have time limits on my computer. I am thankful that I have stopped getting junk email or random emails. I am glad I can connect to people globally in a way that is quicker than snail mail. I DO feel we need to explore and make connections that are new and inspiring. It is fun to find products that suit us. But we don't need more...we actually now need less. A few less connections is not dire. Less stuff is not the end of the world. Less connection that is frail and empty is actually more. 

Turn OFF your notifications. Get your attention back.

"Where you happen to google from, even of two friends who are so close to each other whom have the same friends, think that they will go to google and see the same set of updates...that is untrue. Each person has their own reality, with their own facts... We accept the reality of the world to which we are presented. We get the false sense that everyone agrees with us...once you are in that state you are easy to be manipulated. That is how Facebook works and google works...THEY are in charge of your newsfeed. You are no longer able to consume information that is contradictory to what you are consuming...you begin to look at the other side and think, "How can those people be so stupid? How can they not see all this information that is on my feed?" But the fact is they are NOT seeing the same things you are. " (The Social Dilemma) 

This is causing a grave polarization in politics, life and could eventually lead to civil war if we do not recognize this and change our patterns. The algorithm can change behaviours by feeding us what we think we are aligned with ( an example is Pizza Gate.) "Fake news spreads 6 times faster than true news. "- Social Dilemma 

What does that mean for our future? Where is the shared understanding of reality? AI can not solve the problem of fake news. It’s a program. It doesn’t know what “truth” is. We need to begin to agree and interact. It begins with us.

“There I am with the phone scrolling, texting. clicking…Where is the existential threat? It’s not about the technology being the existential threat. It’s the technologies ability to bring out the worst in society. And the worst in society being the existential threat…If technology creates mass chaos, outrage, instability, lack of trust in each other, loneliness, alienation, more polarization, more election hacking, more populism, more distraction and inability to focus on the real issues, that’s just society and now society is incapable of healing itself and devolving into a kind of chaos. This affects everyone even if you do not use these products…we have to have the platforms become responsible… This is not going away…the AI is gonna get better at what keeps us on the screen not less...”- Tristan the Social Dilemma. 

“If we go down the current situation for the next 20 years we will probably degrade the democracies as we know it and ruin the global economy… it really is existential.”- The Social Dilemma 

“How do you wake up fro the matrix when you don’t know you are in the matrix?”- Tristan Social Dilemma “A lot of what we are saying sounds like doom and gloom…no it’s confusing because it’s simultaneously utopia and dystopia."

“These are choices that human beings have been making and human beings can change those technologies…”- The Social Dilemma

We can demand more. We can do better. "It's the critics that drive improvement. It is the critics whom are the true optimists." 

“The miracle is collective will."

 (Many people who created this tech don’t let their kids use it or have screen time. Think about that. The CREATORS don’t allow their children on devices or have strict rules. They do not allow Social media until aged 16 at least and work out time budgets.) Just getting a few people to delete their accounts MATTERS. 

Technology is here to stay but how we use it, consume it, or even choose to stay with certain programs because it makes our lives easier, MATTERS. We have to change our patterns, find better platforms, find a balance between making it a tool for us and living our lives. Look around. There is beauty. There is a lot that is positive. It is not all dire. We can make a change.

There is a lot of beauty out there! Go and live it!



NOTE: If I come up with new sites or anyone else does- check the comments:) I am also thinking of posting just pictures and quotes sometimes as blog posts in lieu of Instagram. My husband pointed out if I do about 2 hours of blogging every two weeks ( posting and reading others blogs) I am still 80 percent less in time, clicking and scrolling in comparison! 


Post edit ; I joined PixelfedSocial - if you want to find me email and I’ll send you my user name ;) so far it’s easier, less consuming, better privacy and slower which is a good thing! Don’t forget to use the Duck Duck Go browser to sign in !:) 

Song Choice: Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson Vimeo has better privacy setting than youtube- case in point below:) but watch it there!

Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror (Official Video) from moseleyscience on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Stories During Covid-19 - Painting a Picture and an INFJ Approach

*Note on Anam Cara. Our book study is on a holiday break so I will post remaining chapters at a later date.*

Important: In this post I am quoting other people's experiences and stories during Covid and the many views presented. Due to the volatile times we are in- I am keeping their identities anonymous.  This is not a cut and dry topic. There are so many differing stories...Could they all be true even though they are different? Why do we doubt one over the other? These are just the few LATEST of the MANY differing correspondences I receive. Some are local, others are global perspectives. 


" I have sadly been dealing with several deaths of my older friends (fondly called the Ancients in our circles)  right here in St. Louis.  I have lost TEN friends and acquaintances from back in NYC...old professors who would NOT stop riding the subway, and caught the virus from that contact, so we surmise.  Have dealt with that (including retrieving a body from one of the meat trucks used to house cadavers in the early days of the wave that hit NYC by PHONE.  Had to get one of the prisoners who were loading the dead to go into different cold trucks and find the toe tag of the "lost" elderly chum.  That way was able to arrange for him to be buried privately as he had planned, and NOT in the mass graves dug in one the islands in the NYS harbor."  It is like living on the edge of hell.  The two ancients here caught the virus."

"Covid has been deadly for people.. and in the beginning they mistreated lots of people thinking ventilators would help ect. when it was hurting some. Also saw stories of nurses saying they watched doctors literally not care and kill people ( in New York) just making stupid human errors."

"Thanks Kmarie, for your good wishes. I am glad that you and your family is safe. The situation is very difficult indeed. We are also confined to home and people are also fined for stepping outside home ( beyond 2 kms). My husband is still working from home. Schools, educational institutions are still closed. My brother had 50% salary cut at first and finally, lost his job as our nation's economic situation is bad right now yet slowly recovering. Situation improved a bit but after major festival season ( in October- November) many people went out in crowds to celebrate and it led to more spread and contamination. Shortage of hospital beds, medical facilities and added pressure/ risk on healthcare workers forced our government to take strong steps and introduce some regulatory measures."

"My mom has worked on nursing homes for the past twenty years and she says every year they loose almost half of their residents from common cold or flu because end on life even the simplest things ones body can’t handle. My mom said that this past year has been so hard on the residents and she has seen SO much depression and quick regression with dementia patients because they aren’t getting that family support they desperately need. She said people are dying very sad... she has called residents family members and told them that their family members are close to death and that if they actually want to be with them for the last days they needed to pull them out and have them at home because of covid protocals for a long time no one was allowed to see their families."

"I  think we are at the point that we all know covid can be dangerous... now it’s up to the individual to live in a way that is authentic to them.. if you are wanting to stay closed up then stay that way... of you need to socialize and others are willing then socialize. Ect."

“I had covid and while it was minor for many of my friends I am grateful for the nurses who knew to give my oxygen and helped my body fight. I am so thankful for healthcare."

"Yes, there are a lot of factors. Some nurses were laid off too, early on. And then they also close a whole unit with one positive case, so they have staff assigned to that unit only, which makes them unable to help out in other departments. Where I think staff are being overworked is probably in LTC homes. The cleaning and having to gown and mask up thoroughly between patients is probably taxing. Then again, some care homes the people are being totally neglected, so it's so hard to say what is really happening."

"Some people say "my friend, or my sister, or someone I know works as a nurse in Calgary/ Edmonton and they are swamped"! The thing is the hospitals are being poorly managed, as usual. Covid has made it worse than normal,  but by no means are hospitals overwhelmed at this point yet in many cases. At least in my area it is still pretty empty. Despite what the news says."

"As a practicing nurse, I can not say much for fear of my job but I will say that many of these protocols are damaging at the least and some things are being mis- reported."

"I can’t even speak this side without being completely censored but I am seeing discrepancies in health care. Those of us whom want to both be careful but the individual needs of our patients have many concerns."

"It’s very scary...there is deep division happening with a lot of stuff right now. It boggles my mind how the side that is pro v*ccine isn’t capable of looking at the other side. Good science would require you to do so and science is never settled." 

My note on this- Think back to the "Science" and ads in the 1950's when they said "abestos" is healthy for the home. Where would we be if the scientific process of questioning and challenging was not in continuous motion? Think of the bloodletting for fevers...There are so many examples from history where it was clearly wrong but the ones who called it or questioned it were seen as occultists, crazies or not worth listening to. Until later it was proven and considered mainstream and those people were still not thanked as they moved on to questioning other aspects. See picture below:


"My general mindset is that I firmly believe in lockdown and quarantine protocols."

"I consider myself far left but yeah, I don’t doubt that’s what’s going on, but I think we are being distracted by blaming it on either side.There are many videos and cases of this. Two sides of the government are at war right now- especially here in the States but it seems to be a global pattern."

"So much suffering. A county near us has had 10 suicides already this year and they rarely see suicide. There is no easy way to say a life is more valuable over another. I’m not sure that came out right... like is the life lost to suicide less worthy then the life lost to covid ?... I think we are going to look back on this historically and we are going to grieve and see the wrong steps that where made in the name of “health” and “preservation.'"

These are just a few examples of the myriad amount of stories and perspectives (within only my circles!)  at this time. It is NOT cut and dry. We are not all in the same boat. Some of us are dealing with similar aspects or protocols in certain places but even the virus affects different people differently. Luckily, with a 99.9 survival rate, it is much better than many other instances in history thus far. The deaths are still sad, as any deaths are. The risks are still real. But I hear many people summing up the tragedy of 2020 as strictly the year. Or that ultimately Covid is the problem. But what if it is ALSO how we are responding? What if it is our protocols that also make each death in isolation so tragic? What if...since the rates are low for certain populations to die...what if we allowed those healthy populations the CHOICE to see their dying loved ones if they washed and wore a mask but knew the risks? What if we allowed the elderly their visitors IF they decide the risks are worth it for them? Some will and some will not. What if we made it easier for those who choose to stay isolated indefinitely because they do not want to chance it? What if we didn't force testing on anyone presenting colds ect but those who are severe or needing different medical help? What if we supported the body and gave people the knowledge on how to stay home while sick, but be their best selves with the best chance of beating it? What if, we only mandated protocols on the places that actually had problems staffing their hospitals and allowing this to change? Many hospitals that are swamped initially then become empty...what if we went with more of a flexible flow approach? Of course this is way more complex but what if we chose to not guise fear as "protection." Fear leads to many wrong calls. We must not makes choices out of fear but out of balanced, contextual accounts.

Personally, my personality as an INFJ will naturally challenge and question protocols - it's what I am born to do ( see memes below.) It's why I am not popular but fine with it. It is why certain friendships of mine ebb and flow depending on the agreeableness of current events. (If they agree mostly they like me questioning but then a few years later if I am questioning the side they take then obviously this won't be the most favourite trait to them:) It's also why my friendship group can vary dramatically and why I can maintain friendships that are opposing in almost all of their viewpoints. Sometimes it hurts feelings that I can be friends with someone on the opposites side of such an important standard to someone. It can come across as fake or a sort of duplicity...but it's honestly that I see validity in both and can relate in different manners. I understand that it's tough to understand. INFJ's make up less than 2 percent of the population which is a good thing. It is just enough to have people out there that do what I do ...as it is needed too...but not enough to drive the main populace which would probably spell out disaster. I have INFJ's who completely disagree with me on certain things so we are not all the same in what we question. The meme below is true that I often question my own sanity due to the accusations that can be thrown my way or the people I sometimes lose in the process. But I also need to still grow, challenge and BE.



I don't believe that my way is the only way. Or I have all the answers...far from it. The more perspectives I see, the more questions I often have. For my own sanity, I do come to a few of my own conclusions but I never force them on others. I do however, get severely irritated at those whom refuse to consider at the very least. Or acknowledge there ARE other repercussions, ways to live, or ways to BE. In any political, social, emotional, physical or spiritual ways of being people in ANY mindset can still afford to flexibly consider the other. 

I am so lucky to have the friends that I do...recently I told a friend about my latest blog post and warning her that it may be upsetting for her but explaining why I wrote it...she wrote back; 

"Ok dear. I will try to focus on your blog posts which addresses general topics and ignore the ones which may elicit a strong response from me. I will focus on our friendship instead and all the common things that we shared and not where our opinions are opposite/ different. Take care, 💕💖"

If only we could resolve some deeper issue with that much grace. If only we could address contextual differences honestly but then focus on the similarities for the healing part. Because differences MATTER. We are not all the same. Our medical history is not the same. Our reactions to vaccines are not the same. Our ability to wear masks are not the same. Our beliefs are not the same. Our toleration of being alone are not the same. We NEED to make different choices. But where we are the same -are our hearts to prevent pain where we can, protect those we love, honour the grief of those who are different, and be in gratitude for those who can make us feel less crazy about our differences.  Maybe then we will be a little bit more tolerant of the outliers, rebels or the followers or sheep ( whichever side we feel we fall on more although we all have a bit of each in us.) 






Friday, December 4, 2020

30 QUESTIONS About Covid 19/ Coronavirus 2020

One of the key signs of a free country, place or relationship, is the toleration of questions. Questions are not answers but they can bring about change, tolerance, acceptance and truth. The world is in conflict over opinions and differences, but there is harmony too. When questions CAN be asked without fear of judgement, anger, retaliation, or indoctrination - then we know we are in safe places. It is important for ourselves to be able to ask OURSELVES the hard or detailed questions about topics that are crucial around us BEFORE we take a full stance...and even then, it is important, above all else, to consider the questions.

(Disclaimer: Just because I put these on here does not mean I do not have my own answers to some of them. Nor does it mean I have completely set myself on ONE determining side. Some of these I am still questioning, others I would surprise many of my friends with where I stand, while still others I am fairly mainstream. Regardless, this is NOT about me but about the questions.)


30 Questions on Covid- 19/ Coronavirus 2020:

1.) How do you feel about the Coronavirus situation in general?

2.) Do you believe the government and healthcare has the best interests of the people at heart? If you believe that they believe they do- is that a separate issue?

3.) How does this compare to other pandemics in the past?

4.) How did past pandemics overcome their struggles? Is there a big difference between the Plague or Influenza of the 1900s and what we are dealing with now?

5.) How do you feel about statements like "It's only 6 months, It's only for Christmas, It's only until there is a vaccine"? In history, when statements like that were touted about, did things change permanently? What historical moments followed these movements? Were they followed up with more freedom or less? How long did it take for that country or situation to recover?

6.) Are most of the nurses you know in full support of current protocols or are many whispering their dissent but following the rules out of fear?

7.) Compare the hospital situation in most countries to the overwhelm of hospitals in previous years. Google it. Have hospitals often been understaffed, mismanaged and overworked before?

8.) Have you gone into a hospital in a overworked region only to find it mostly empty? How do you feel about staff being assigned to one person with a positive case  in one ward at the expense of other departments?

9.) Are some care homes being neglected? Is it easy to make a clear statement on what is happening?

10.) Do you think it crosses a moral line to tell on your neighbour?

11.) Do you think the amount of countries using emergency protocol since 911 has gone increasingly up? What does it mean if that continues to happen in regards to freedom and liberty? Or is it worth the exchange?

12.) Compare having to be tested to find out you have a virus to seeing the obvious signs everywhere (like in the Black Plague or Ebola) Does testing make you feel safer or less secure?

13.) A rule of good science is the requirement to look at the other side and it is never 100 percent settled. Do you feel that science is slanted in any way or is it giving it's due diligence?

14.) Are you pro or anti vaccine? If you are anti- vaccine have you read the past accounts of vaccines and their victories? If you are pro, do you listen to the stories of people who have had legitimate issues with vaccines and their stories? 

15.) Have you ever researched the company of VIOXX ( for arthritis) which killed 55,000 plus people? Mereck pulled if off the market because they were sued so they went on to develop HPV vaccine Gardisal ( the same company- different information.) Do you find that there can be adverse side effects to drugs and vaccines or is it better not to question that? Do you think drug companies should be sued over vaccines? Do you think there should be more accountability? Do you prefer not to know the counter issues? Do you believe a vaccine and drugs can both save and destroy lives? Can it be BOTH/ AND? How would that change our approach to people who have differing viewpoints?

16.) Do you think it is possible that there is often an agenda on either side? Is one side more "righteous" in regards to vaccines or approaches to health care? What could an agenda look like?

17.) Are we asking who is developing these vaccines? What do they have to gain besides the obvious boon of curing people, if anything? 

18.) Could vaccines be different for different people in regards to reactions or dangers? Is it possible that some vaccines are toxic while others change the world? Can it be a BOTH situation or is it clearly black and white?

19.) Have you researched the overall death rates in previous years (ex 2015, 2016, 2017) in comparison to the 2020 overall death rate?

20.) Could money be part of the equation at all in any of these situations? Even if the people who are down the lines honestly believe in the true nobility of all health care, could there be corruption at the top lines? Can we blame healthcare workers or politicians who are trying their best to make the situation better for coming up with protocols? Should we ask them to consider or is it better to leave the stressed alone? If we do feel the need to bring up counter points how can we do this in a considerate, kind way? Do they deal with opposite concerns of theirs, in a kind and considerate way? Or are the clear lines of what should not be discussed?

21.) How do you feel about the media content each day? Do news titles that constantly tell projected deaths as opposed to deaths happening, cause more fear or less? Is fear a useful tool in fostering compassion and trust?

22.) How would it look if each year the media reported each death and their causes? How often would we hear about Ecoli deaths or Influenza or the sicknesses we have lived with for years? Would we approach those topics differently? How is it comparable? How is it not comparable?

23.) Does the media have an agenda? What could it be?

24.) Are all anti maskers 'bad'? Are all maskers 'sheep'? Do these 'all or nothing' statements help foster an overall trusting and caring environment?

25.) How helpful are masks when cases have gone up since using them? Or is the argument that cases have gone up because people are not wearing masks at home social gatherings? Does the math add up? How do masks help? How do they hinder? Can you flexibly list three reasons on EACH side?

26.) Are masks healthy for the wearer? What was the science on masks saying a few years ago? Do the contagions pass through most masks, and if so, what is the reason they are being worn? Does fresh air build immunity? Is it important to see facial cues and foster a sense of trust in community? Is it possible to lessen Covid without masks and physical distance and washing? Is it more of a safety blanket or signal? Does it foster a sense of community or are people being divided into 'rebels' and 'sheep'? 

27.) Is it ok for anti mask rallies to be fined when the BLM rallies were not? What is the difference in these situations? Is there hypocrisy involved? Is it right for one protestor group to be favoured over another just because their causes are different? Where do we draw the lines? Is there a double standard according to whom is in charge at the time? What does this mean for our futures in any cause?

28.) Why are some Articles, Doctors and Scientists being censored or buried? Even if some of their arguments are flawed, is that a good way to foster balance, challenge or critical thinking? What does this say about the trust of most individuals to find their own way? Is this a form of control or is it an acceptable practice to weed out "wrong" sources? Why is this necessary now? 

29.) Is choice an important factor in any decision? Most of our choices affect other people, and to be human is to make mistakes, sometimes deadly ones either way...When is it ok, if ever, to take choice away? How do you feel about peace officers enforcing laws against people in your home? How do you feel about fines being in place for breaking 'temporary' laws? Does this cross any charter of rights and freedoms? Is it ok to do this sometimes or can it turn into future encroachments on freedom? The government can do whatever they wish, but is it ok for us to question some of these laws and do we respect those that have the bravery to do so?  How can we foster consideration of other people in our choices without enforcement?

30.) How are you taking care of yourself during these times of stress? How are you fostering community along with individualism? How can you show love but still hold your own opinions? How can you be flexible in thinking but still stand firm in your own ethics?

"I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you win then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. To live the questions, it would seem, you have to first admit the questions to yourself. You have to admit the uncertainty in a world that doesn't value it. You have to be vulnerable in a world that considers it a weakness. You have to be you. You have to live with a child's curiosity."- Rainer Maria Rilke

P.s. To be clear, I do believe that there is a more contagious virus happening and this is NOT an anti virus post. This actually isn’t about my opinions at all. These are rhetorical questions. Another one would be - if you have every single answer - are you ok with other people asking questions? Are you open to changing your mind on any or considering other viewpoints either way? 

https://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2008/08/22/mercks-marketing-for-hpv-vaccine-trumps-science/




Saturday, November 28, 2020

Anam Cara Chapter 2 Book Study/ Reflection Questions Towards A Spirituality of The Senses

Prologue and Chapter 1 of this study can be found HERE.  


1.)  "Each face has a particular intensity of human presence. When you love someone and are separated from them for a long time, it is lovely to receive a letter or a phone call or even, in the silence of your own spirit, to sense their presence. Yet there is such deeper excitement when you return again and see the face you love; at this moment you enjoy a feast of seeing. In that face, you see the intensity and depth of loving presence looking toward you and meeting you. It is beautiful to see each other again." (pg. 38) How does a lack of human connection affect the mind, body and spirit? Can you see how the beauty of interaction and seeing matters to the health of body and soul?

2.)  "The home is decorated and personalized; it takes on the soul of the person who lives there and becomes the mirror of the spirit. Yet in the deepest sense, the body is the most intimate space... (pg. 44) "The body is much sinned against, even in a religion based on the incarnation. Religion has often presented the body as a source of evil, ambiguity, lust and seduction. This is utterly false and irreverent. The body is sacred." (pg. 46) Do you find that these statements resonate? If you are a person who has viewed the body as a source of evil, how does a new approach make you feel?

3.) "A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace." (pg. 47) "The body is your only home in the universe...it is a sacred temple..." (pg. 48) How did you feel reading these statements? How did you feel about the exercise on the top of page 49? Did it feel too ridiculous? If so, why?

4.) How did you feel about praying WITH your body, bringing in the light? (pg. 49)

5.) "When you confine spirit to this region alone, the physical becomes immediately diminished. This is a great mistake, for there is nothing in the universe as sensuous as God. Nature is the direct expression of the divine imagination. It is most intimate reflection of Gods sense of beauty. Nature is a mirror of the divine imagination and the mother of all sensuality; therefore it is unorthodox to understand spirit in terms of the invisible alone." (pg. 50) How do these statements change your approach to nature and God? Should we value the importance of earth in spiritual matters?

6.) The concept of transfiguration and the example of children on page 57, leads into the discussion on mindfulness versus willpower.  Regarding willpower, "This way of approaching the sacredness of one's own presence is external and violent. It brings you falsely outside of yourself. and you can spend years lost in the wilderness of your own mechanical, spiritual programs. You can perish in the famine of your own making. " Have you ever perished in the famine of your own making? Have you ever tried his alternative approach on the following page? Can you trust your senses to bring you home to yourself?

7.) Following the segment on vision...Ask yourself at the end of today- What did I really SEE this day? What way do you behold the world?

8.) Which eye do you struggle with more; envious, greedy, judgemental, resentful, indifferent or inferior? (Examples of each on pages 63 and 64)

9.) Which section impacted you more out of 'Taste and Speech',  'Fragrance and Breath', 'True listening as Worship' and the 'Language of Touch'? Why did it have more impact on you? Was there one that challenged you?

10.) "In Celtic spirituality, we find a new bridge between the visible and the invisible...these two world are no longer separate. They flow naturally, gracefully and lyrically in and out of each other." Do you think you can find room in your life with aspects of Celtic spirituality?


My Answers:

1.) This is especially poignant during restrictions and masking. The lack of sight to see another's smile or full expression affects the human mind. Babies and children miss cues, sound is muffled, the disabled are even more at a loss, those whom suffer mental afflictions like the fear of suffocation are constantly subjected to panic, the hearing impaired miss their needed reading of lips,  and we remember fear more than the friendliness and safety of humankind.  In some cases, masks are necessary, but when there is an ability to be safe or distant, there is much to be said for the importance of face to face remembrance and acknowledgement. It definitely matters. Even a month to go without seeing another has it's deep effects.

2.) Yes. I love how the home is also an allegory for the body. Our home is actually called Anam Cara and it represents so much of us. I did spend many of my early years in therapy re learning self acceptance. Especially in regard to the body. I now know the body is sacred but I was brought up to view it much the opposite. Then I discovered my multiple autoimmune issues and had to start a new path to body acceptance that was much different. I had to find the balance between living in fear of germs but also respecting LIFE. That balance is often contextual and differing. I actually find this experience has helped me navigate the covid crisis with more of a calm. Sometimes I am more stringent while at others I take the context and carefully tread from there.  I will always have to be careful even if a global situation calms, but I also have to dare to live as well. The body is a sacred vessel we walk in life with so care must be taken. It is also meant to serve and share with others. That line will be different for everyone but viewing it as a beautiful honour to have a body is a lovely way to live.

3.) I still struggle with this at times with wrinkles or weight or... but then I come around to the idea of care taking. If I am doing my best to take care of my vessel yet it still shows sign of aging or regulation issues...it is still a beautiful vessel to travel with. My therapist recently told me to list 10 things about my body I was grateful for since I do a gratitude list every day anyway. I found that incredibly tough. But as my sessions went on, it was a little easier. Especially if I started with my organs and worked outward from there...so yes I guess it is fair to say it is an issue for me. The exercise was great...I tend to not feel ridiculous about stuff like that although I can understand why others would.

4.) I often do this concept alone and with my children. We have been doing it since they were young. It is amazing to me how they almost seem to shine after with renewed love and joy.

5.) Nature is a huge aspect of my faith life. I have a deep respect for nature and it's healing properties. The earth is breathed with wonder. I loved this part of the chapter. I am not an outdoor sports person but I love to practice joy in my surroundings.

6.) I almost did but luckily we made choices to stop our spiritual famine before it overtook. That will look differently for everyone. Actually, even a few years ago, we once again had to re examine some of our spiritual paths and outlooks. My husband and I often journey together but we also have our separate paths of meaning. I think often a spiritual famine can happen by not growing or challenging current belief patterns. We need fresh perspectives. I feel his page about coming home to the senses is one of the first steps. I have absolute faith in my intuition in this regard. For instance, each time I read this book, my perspective and context is different, so differing aspects challenge or comfort. 

7.) I think this is why I now loathe spending time on my computer and why I have device time restraints. It used to be a lifeline for me but that has changed in the last few years. I try to catch up on photos, videos and blogs when I am confined to my bed due to health issues but it is always a relief when I can get up and out again too. I love to SEE all the beauty in my home, family and landscapes. I like to take notice. I do take my camera everywhere to snap a memory due to the fact that I do not really have one but that never makes the moment less for me...I just get it twice as long as I am truly SEEING. I generally behold the world with gratitude and magic. I feel the exception to this is Instagram at times because it is still sharing and a feast for the eyes…however, I do not like the new censorship or rules so am unsure of my future there in that regard...

8.) I wish I could say none but as I read each one, they all applied in various ways. Luckily, the love near the end also strangely applied but I think that is the paradox of being. 

9.) I love anything to do with music. I also love touch with my husband and children but am not otherwise touchy. But they were all stand outs to me because I struggle with sensory aspects of life. This chapter was harder for me in some ways because in my mind I was also thinking of the double applicability or for people who did not have one of the senses. The very sense that can bring joy can also torture me, although music always heals. 

10.) Definitely. I have learned a lot over the years from the Celtic approach that has enhanced and changed my life forever.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

John O Donnhue's ANAM CARA Book Study Questions/ Guide/ Contemplations for Prologue and Chapter One



Why should you read Anam Cara? The book, consisting of 7 lengthy chapters, is a Christian mystical guidebook to dive into all facets of life. It’s lyrical, cyclical, poetic and thought provoking. Many of the sentences end up with my soul responding with a resounding “yes!” It would be in my top sixty recommended reads for life, simply because it dives deep into what matters and brings meaning in beautiful words. It's a book that can be valid to a variety of faiths due to it's focus on mysticism and Celtic tradition. I know many pagans who find the book has been crucial to their journey. It is also a beautiful book for christians, as it focuses on circular thinking which is a needed balance in linear focused, North American countries especially. 

During forced lockdowns or strict protocols that are changing people's lives, a lot more people are longing for true connection. Reading 'Anam Cara' separately and discussing the questions in a Zoom meeting (or if you are lucky enough to have people who can meet with you safely in a small group setting - even two people enrich this book!) is a great way to nurture community during this time. 

Unfortunately, I skimmed articles on the internet but could not find Study Group questions that fully resonated with me. Since I am taking the lead on our book study, I decided to write my own.

If you have no one to share your answers with, but would like to, I would be happy to read them. You can email me at worldwecreate@gmail.com (I do not check this email monthly but as I do this series I will try to be more active about it!) I asked some online friends if it would be helpful to share some of my answers to the questions on here as well, and the answer was a YES. I will leave those at the bottom of this post under my signature as a longer add on.

I hope theses questions resonate with you!

*Some of these are rhetorical and you do not have to share. Just bring the answers you feel comfortable sharing to group (I take you through the entire chapter in detail) but feel free to choose only 8 or less to answer.*

Prologue:  The prologue could be your first meeting if you want the study to go 7 weeks. It is a great way to begin introductions. It is also crucial to the book study so don't skip it but if you do it on it's own - it will be less discussion for the first week.

1.) Contemplate circular versus linear thinking. It is crucial to approach this book with circular (more mystical) thinking even if you normally approach life in the linear way. Linear is valid and important too. Will cyclical/ circular thinking be tough or easy for you to do?

2.) Go around the group and give a quick reason why you chose this book, what you hope to get out of it, and one highlight you have already struggled or enjoyed reading.


Questions Chapter One: The Mystery Of Friendship: Anam Cara:

1.) Has there been a time in your life when an idea needed womb time (out of the scrutiny of others opinions) to be fully formed so you would actually go through with it? (Darkness can grow a seed but if the seed is brought out to the elements too fast the seed will not grow.)  What seeds did you bring to light too soon and did you feel that consequences? Can you see that darkness can be a friend? (pg. 2 onward)

2.) Can you see the multiple births (metaphorical reincarnation) that each person can have in their lives and how it is important to acknowledge  this pattern in life? (pg. 6)

3.) Have you ever given so much to others but not given to yourself? How did this imbalance affect you and what made you convinced it was a noble aim? Do you now see the repercussions enough to change the pattern in the future? (pg. 7)

4.) Can you recognize a moment in your life when you hurt and thus a door in your heart slammed for longer than necessary to your own detriment? Do you recognize bitterness or beauty in your long term hurt? Why or why not?  (pg. 8)

5.) Does the statement resonate 'Your feelings towards friends reflect the feelings towards yourself’ ?  Why do you agree or disagree? (pg. 9) How would this approach change your relationships?

6.) Have you ever had an 'Anam Cara' who has travelled even across distances or time to be a valuable presence in your life? Give an example of how this soul space changed you. (pg. 10)

7.) Can you think of a time you let love come to you instead of search for it desperately? How different did that make you feel? (pg. 11)

8.) Can you think of a  time a close friendship of yours walked in darkness? If it recovered, how did that manifest? Did you find these words resonating to you “If you can grow through that time, it will purify your love.” (pg 12)

9.) Have you allowed repetitive patterns to become addicted to hurt as part of your identity? How would it look if instead you broke those patterns, re directed your soul, and suffused mutual love in your relationships? (pgs. 12 and 13)

10.) Re ponder the bottom of page 13 to page 14. Have you ever experienced an Anam Cara in this regard?

11.) How did the re framing of Jesus work into your new definition of Anam Cara on page 15? As a pagan person, how does Jesus work into faith and life? As a christian how can a re adjustment of the approach to Jesus be beneficial?

12.) Using the descriptions on page 16, Do you think you have had an Anam Cara you are unaware of? Or have you ever had a friend or family friend die or leave and suddenly realize what they were to you- When you did not appreciate it fully before? How can you bring Anam Cara into your awareness instead in the future? How can you bring awareness into gratitude?

13.) On the bottom of page 16 the author talks about how at first an Anam Cara can feel disruptive and awkward but can eventually transform you, then he says that most of the worst in our world is because differences are divorced from affection. Where have you lost affection in the midst of your differences? How does affection change your approaches to differences or disagreements ?

14.) Have you ever realized before how misleading media can be about relationships? How can the Anam Cara concept beget sacred belonging instead of hollow acquaintance? (pg. 17)

15.) Do you believe that certain places have an ether, an imprint of generations before? Is that intuition or vibration apparent to you or do you view it as woo woo? (pg. 19) How beautiful is the concept of tabernacles out of spaces and landscapes to you?

16.) How does friendship as an act of recognition feel to you? (pg. 23) If you have majorly missed this aspect in your life- Do you think perhaps you are missing it in yourself fully, before you can recognize it in another?

17.) While counselling has it’s place, it is true that sometimes a friendship does not need major analysis to heal. Instead, you need to change the rhythm of how you see each other as well as nurturing it with kind light. When have you succeeded in doing this? When have you failed? What could motivate you to remember this in troubled relationships? (pg. 23)

18.) Are you more concerned about what you should do instead of how you should BE? How do you switch this mode of thinking? Which one gives more fulfillment? (pg 24.)

19.) Page 25. Name an example of Kalyana Mitra when a friend/ partner has gently turned a spot on your blind area in a kind yet critical way? ( In order to do this you must have the first part of Anam Cara as well.)

20.) Have you ever experienced self love that is not obsession or narcissism but healthy confident love? If you have ever been involved with church, did the church in general help you with this or cause you to shy away from personal love? Do you think that Jesus would align with this concept more? Can you have a wellspring of happiness and love in your life without having an outside Anam Cara? ( pg. 26 and pg. 27)

21.) Page 28 Visual exercise - How did that make you feel when you did it?

22.) Page 28 - Have you ever lost yourself to a friendship ? How did you recover your boundaries and balance? How can you make space in your togetherness in each relationship or in that one gone wrong? (pg. 29) 

 Do you give yourself to your relationships?

23.) Have you ever made the mistake of directly forcing a wound healing instead of gently shining a light on a wound for healing? (pg. 33)

24.) Have you ever tried to explain a sacred connection that should not be explained to it’s own detriment? Are you able to keep the sacred secret in some circumstances? How has this benefited or damaged you? (page 34 before Jamesian.) Do we also do this with God and our relationship with the Divine aspect? Does it seem that certain sects of christianity like Evangelicalism have focused to their detriment on over- dissection or explanation or missional and forget the other key component of secrecy and mysticism? How can we learn from other religions or people who integrate this instead? How can we go back to our ancient longing and roots?

25.) Isn’t the concept of prayer lovely page 35? Do you feel that pagans can also pray like this in a sense, if you are a christian? If you are a pagan or from another belief system, do you feel that a certain amount of prayer in a less traditional way is also your practice? Do you believe that atheists also subconsciously send out prayers in this regard? Do we all do this to an extent that our love is the deepest part of prayer? 

My answers ( shortened for the fact that this is already long and most of these I would expand upon during discussion and use more in depth references in speech. ) :
Chapter 1: 
1. Yes. Often in fact when I was younger, I would confide a goal/ decision/ or desire before it was ready for scrutiny. Then if people had counter points, my idea wasn't ready yet to be fully formed on it's own to hold up the scrutiny and neither was I. In those cases I would often give up before my project began. I find holding on to my truths or projects until complete (minus telling a few key souls) is now the best way to go. Darkness does nurture light.

2: I already feel like I have been "re born" as several different people. Each stage is like the phoenix rising from the ashes, to begin a cycle again.

3. Yes. In my twenties I would often give to all my friends and studies to the detriment of my family. Even beyond that I would give to so many needy in our community. I would sacrifice my time, my stuff, my money, and my clothes or food. So much that we would not often have enough food for ourselves. The first recommendation a financial advisor said to us was to re find homes for our 8 ( my husband gently pointed out it was 10...) compassion children and keep only one. I bawled but we could barely afford our home, let alone 8 (10) other children monthly. I had a lot of guilt about this.

I did this in ALL areas of life...giving away precious tree ornaments to friend's whose had broken even though a few of them meant a lot to me. While it would have been nice to give a couple, I took it upon myself to try to decorate their whole tree by sharing many of mine. I clothed others and often would wear just my younger sister's hand me downs. That was a tough lesson actually. I spent hours, the first few years of getting out of the habit of giving too much, crying. I honestly thought the key to a healthy life and relationships was to give, give, give - no matter what. My specific christian upbringing came with a large dose of guilt and sacrifice was the ultimate sign of unselfishness. I didn't realize these could become extreme and a form of righteous martyrdom.

4. Luckily, I have a terrible memory so if I have written down a slight against me and it's revisited, I do not find I linger in bitterness. I do have the INFJ door-slam but I never regret that. If it's ever done and the person works their way back into my life, it is always more respectful than before, so that boundary is worth it to me. But that is a slightly different concept. I recognize beauty in my longterm pain as I wouldn't be whom I am without it. 

5. Yes it the key to relational satisfaction.

6. Yes, many times and I am eternally grateful to each of them even if they are out of my life now. The most recent example would be a friend from 8 hours away who came to stay three nights with my family. We had not seen each other in 9 years but for three days, we talked non stop from noon until evening, delving into all things deep. We were both in need of that healing.

7. This is tougher to do, but I am always stronger and steadier when I activate on the concept. The 'right' people DO arrive. People who appreciate or give time on occasion. It does not have to be a lot but it WILL be enough.

8. Definitely. An example would be a childhood friend. We have been close since age 9 but during different phases of our life, we have walked through our own darkness or darkness together. We did give each other space for many years without judgement, and we came back together with a different, yet beautiful presence. I wouldn't trade that.

9. Yes. Repetitive patterns can be the most dangerous. If not broken or given a ton of space they can infest everything. Especially if we internalize hurt as identity. I have worked years in therapy to stop internalizing past shame stories into identity. Another good book on this is ' The Gifts of Imperfection' by Brene Brown.  There is so much freedom to let it be and let others be. My relationships are often so fulfilling now!

10. I am happy to say that I have had many Anam Cara's and am confident to continue having them in my future. But the best example is my husband. He is my soul friend in every way and our conversations are deep and satisfying. We named our home Anam Cara as well because it encompasses our family as Soul Friends and is also our Soul Friend by providing nurturance and everything good.

11. I have been both pagan and christian. I feel Jesus, his example and teaching methods, are definitely relevant to all walks of life. I thought this re framing was desperately needed for many people to feel depth.

12. Yes. This is sad when the realization hits after the fact. Luckily, I often operate out of the mode of death, so try to live my relationships with no regret. I now try to look and be grateful for all relationships, so now it is not often I miss an Anam Cara. Gratitude daily is a big way to see them in daily life.

13. Awkward and disruptive does aptly explain the process of becoming an Anam Cara in any relationship near the beginning sometimes. I do feel most of our world's issues could be resolved by differences integrated WITH affection. Often online I see the differences but memes being thrown out like a church service...only for those in agreement. The thought is that those in disagreement will be changed, but often they will only see an agenda and have more rebelliousness for being pushed, meanwhile the other group is enhanced in their congratulatory self righteousness. It's a mess. However, when we have the SAME conversations with people we actually have affection for? When we see their faces or have a tone in our online conversations of respect and care...then the same topics CAN foster change. But one without the other is not effective. That is why HEALTHY, sustainable, change must happen, one tiny respectful, conversation at a time. (Which is a lot more work but also brings in more responsibility and contentment too.)

14. Definitely, this whole paragraph was apt. Anam Cara fills that hollow hole.

15. Yes I do, and I do not care if it is woo woo. I actually think it's not just mystical but practical and rooted in earth. Places have impressions. Places have soul. Different landscapes beget different collective memories. This is an important concept to live with.

16. Lovely and it's so great finding it in myself first. I never feel needy or desperate any more. I am whole.

17. This is SO important. I wish I would have learned to find a new rythym with my bestie years before patterns went deeper. I make sure this is an active part of my life now. It is a happy change that is fairly easy to implement once awareness is made. What helps me to remember this, is the importance of perspective taking and new habits in life to keep it fresh, so I need to constantly remind myself of that with soul friends. My children are also part of this and I am happy to call them Anam Caras. I've learned a lot from them.

18. To BE. Chronic illness taught me this and it is WAY more fulfilling.

19. My husband and I do this to each other all the time...and my children. Which is funny, because while we have disagreements, we have never had to use punishments since our children were over eight. They are well behaved or if they do struggle, all it takes is a gentle shining light for the most change. It's more time involved but a lot less heartache.

20. The church, in my experience, had me shy away from self love unless it was the God or Jesus within me, redeeming me... but on my own...that was tough. Therapy recovered this for me. I do think Jesus had a lot of self love to live the confident life he did. I do think he would align with the concept described beautifully in this chapter. I do believe I could easily have a wellspring of happiness in my life without many other outside sources ( and have.) 

21. Wonderful

22. Yup, this happened a couple years ago with my former bestie. We took over each other's space essentially. While neither of us was wrong in many ways, we forgot to make room. We still love each other and think of each other respectfully but in order to re correct we had to completely go our separate ways in hopes that one day we can restructure in a less bonded (but still lovely) less time consuming way. Currently we are growing and nurturing ourselves separately to health first. 

23. Yes.

24. I first learned this with God. I was so passionate about my relationship with Jesus as my Saviour and God that I would force it on many. I tried to over explain or use exegesis or biblical verses to convince others of the validity or 'help them' have the same relationship. I gradually learned to keep my deeper faith stances mostly to myself ( and still do even though I am also honest with statements that do not matter as much.) The mystic presence and unexplainable, ineffable, unsayable is sacred. I find the Celtic tradition along with many other pagan traditions, have taught me how to get back to the mystical connection. I will be forever grateful.

25. Yes. These paragraphs on prayer were stunning. I realized, in this regard, I still pray continually through out my day. I am constantly sending out energy to those I care about with love. I am grateful. I also believe, even the stoutest atheists do a form of this psychologically.  It is a complex topic.

*Chapter Two will hopefully be out next week!*