My Take on Religion

So, let me start out by saying I do not identify with a particular religion. No I am not a satanist nor do I believe religion is wrong. I just can’t choose one. Kind of like the kid in Life of Pi. I love that movie.
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What sparked the idea for this particular blog post was a conversation I had with one of my newer Co-workers at my pizza job. He must’ve heard I worked at a church so he approached me in a friendly manner and said he’d heard that I was a Christian and looked as if he was going to proceed with a conversation about it. I had to say something, it felt wrong so I told him I wasn’t, I said “honestly I don’t really have a religion”. Immediately he was needed for something by another Co-worker, so I proceeded to set the timer on the dough proofer. I felt weird, like I needed to back that statement up with some sort of explanation for my response. I found myself thinking later why I cared so much, I guess I just didn’t want people to see me for someone I wasn’t. I did not want him to think I worshipped the devil, because I don’t, or think that I was a hippocrit for working in a church. So I approached him at a slower time and explained my statement. I told him I believe in God and I believe in Jesus and his good values, but I also believe in things that conflict with some religions but are widely accepted in others. So I have a hard time identifying with just one and he understood, hopefully.

In the 9th grade we read a book about Siddartha Gautama aka Buddha and I decided I wanted to be a Buddhist. In the 11th grade I became good friends with this girl who is Muslim and later on down the road we went to her house to eat and I learned alot more about how she lived. We ate this delicious meal made with this pasta-like food and goat meat. I like goat, alot. She seemed almost embarrased at first when she told me how her mom and brothers go get the goat and how they slaughter them. She told me about Halal, and everything she was saying made complete sense. I have always believed in respecting the animals I eat. Although there is some controversy about Halal slaughter, I personally believe the animals we eat should be respected but also comfortable. Halal is good because the animal never have to suffer the stress is up a slaughterhouse but s not done with a sharp blade there can be some discomfort and that’s the part that conflict with me a little. But just because it’s my belief doesn’t mean I cannot be respectful and learn. I feel that’s how we need to approach religion. When she saw my acceptance and enthusiasm to learn more about her lifestyle we proceeded to talk for several hours about being Muslim and I..yes you guessed it, wanted to commit to Islam. I didn’t, but I continued to learn more about it and was even present when she did Salat, I really enjoy learning about all kinds of people as well as their religion.

The downside is, I’ve seen and understand the horrors that some things from religion can bring. I have seen happy and beautiful couples not be able to elope because of their genders and sexual orientations, both of which they were born with and didn’t choose. They love who they love, and that’s that. It angers me that couples who beat on each other, use each other, are arranged, or doing it for the wrong reasons and can get married because of something so irrelevant as gender, but people who truly love each other can’t due to the same reason. And why is it that marriage is practiced among many religions but gay marriage is prohibited because it goes against Gods word. Well what about the people who don’t live by God’s word but get married anyways? And why is it that that particular rule of marriage, that’s based off Christianity, applies to everyone in a giant melting pot of backgrounds and religions? I think about these kinds of things all the time, and I know.I am not the only one.

I do not see this as a bad thing, in fact I attribute this to my upbringing. My mother never really guided me when it came to religion except to believe in what truly resonates with me. I mean, I went to Interfaith camp, twice. But I am glad I did! The first time I was at camp was 2009 and it was one of the most confusing weeks of my life! We attended sessions to learn about different religions. I changed my mind 3 times about the religion I fit best with but I ended up choosing Buddhism and Islam and decided there’s a way I can make that work. I was 13 and I did not see any limitations when it came to what I believe in, there shouldn’t be because It’s what I believe. The second time I attended in 2011 I was already aquainted with the idea that I just don’t have a religion. I found it alot easier to just learn and accept rather then try to categorize myself. I was more involved in the other kids and learning how their religions go with their lives. I even participated in Shabbat, which is the day of rest for Jewish people. It was alot of fun to experience something like that.

Categorizing people is something I truly despise because it makes easier for others to discriminate. If we’re finding these boxes to put people into and these ways to group them, were only making it easier for hate and stereotypes to develop. Being competitive is a part of human nature and there’s always people who will think their group is better and deserves more because of their skin tone or financial status or choice of deitie(s). There will always be inequality as long as we’re broadcasting the differences between people as a negative thing. For example, If you’re a Christian but you go up to Muslim and tell them they need to be saved in order to skip on hell because that’s what you believe, or you’re Muslim and approach a Buddhist and say that their religion makes no sense, or here’s the big one NOT ALLOWING PEOPLE TO MARRY EACHOTHER are just as bad as a racial slurs in my opinion! And I see it happen all the time. But religion is such a touchy thing that I don’t see much done about it when it does happen.

I am glad my mother taught me not to just go with something that I don’t agree with just because it lies in the values of my religion. I am so grateful for this. Growing up, I attended many different types of gatherings for different religious backgrounds. In turn I found beauty in many different religions and learned a lot about different people by being around them and hearing about what they belive in. I found truth and love from many and it caused me to be really open minded and always respectful to everyone’s beliefs, unless it can cause serious. harm to others.

I love my church, I have met the nicest people and the greatest kids there. I listen to the sermons from the nursery and have never felt uncomfortable or out of place just because I am not particularly a Lutheran. They are all very inclusive and accepting to all shapes, sizes, skin tones, sexual orientations, and ages. They take pride in this and as a result everyone is really awesome. Like I mentioned before I believe in a Higher Power and Jesus and I have to problem reading to the children about the great things Jesus has done, singing songs and teaching them to love everyone. The children never ask about my particular religion and it’s not my place to explain all of that to them. So we just dont, and it’s never an issue. For this, I am thankful. I love my life, my jobs and the church.

Children: Amazing Little People

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Ahhhh June, the ending of Spring and beginning of Summer. With this beautiful time of year comes a fresh crop of infants in all sizes, ethnic backgrounds, and species (I am referring to the adorable baby animals popping up everywhere, not anyone’s babies as another species). I have always liked kids and at this point in my life biologically I want children. Therefore, I notice each and every baby no matter where I am. My focus is gone and my mind fills with thoughts of “just how dang cute that child is”. I guess this is why I chose to work in a nursery and as a nanny while attending college to become a TEACHER. Plainly put, I love children. But how do we (future educators/parents) teach our children to be successful in this world without cramping their creativity and free thinking? This is a question I ask myself all the time, how can I do it right?

What I Think We are Doing Wrong

What I despise about the traditional educational system is the categorization. I believe that’s what inhibits the minds of our children. We should not tell children they are smarter or dumber based off their ability to retain facts that have been presented to them. Long boring lectures and “fill in the bubble” tests are NOT the answer. A brilliant child with the capability to cure cancer if given the guidance may not get a second look from The University of Washington. Just because they become petrified when the teacher places that intimidating booklet on their desk labeled SAT. Don’t get me started on the SAT too stressful, and not fair. Now don’t get me wrong ADHD/ADD are legitimate but I believe it’s over diagnosed and children are over medicated. Kids like my sister and I, with lots of energy and active minds are labeled as hyper-active, ADHD, and a disruption to the class. Some of these kids are pumped up with Adderal to “calm them down” when all they really need is someone to engage that active mind of theirs. I was fortunate enough to go to a school within a school that pushed critical thinking, and creativity (We had an iron art contest, so freaking cool). Although sometimes I did struggle with my focus, I loved it and I never felt like I was being forced to think like everyone else. We did have to meet standards like everyone but else my teachers did a great job of making sure everyone makes it their own way, and that’s what’s important.

What We Need to Do

We need to engage our children! Not on the ipad while you send emails from the blackberry, but sit down on the floor (yes the floor) get down to their level and play with them. I have had the pleasure of nannying for a bright little girl I call Izzy or Giz and her parents are very firm in not using their phones alot around the baby so my phone is always where I can access it easily in an emergency but never used while Izzy is up, except the occasional question, like what to do with a soiled cloth diaper (this has happened). And in turn Izzy is very bright and into the world around her as well as whoever is playing with her. When I set her up to practice eating I always sit with her and munch on something as well, letting her watch and imitate me, and also speaking to her and engaging with her. From my experience It all starts here, when they are little babies learning the essential functions in life. People don’t belive that they’re children are always listening or watching but belive me they are.

In the nursery I deal with a pretty solid range of ages. Sometimes I get as young as 8 months all the way up to 8 and 9 year olds who are often huge helps. I always try to encourage them to be creative, we build things out of blocks, create shapes and sculptures out of play dough and play games like restaurant, where I pretend to call them and place orders and we use fake money but real math to give change and calculate the cost of orders. And I show them how math can be creative and how it applies to real life so they can make the connection early. I also make a point of communicating. I do not yell, I raise my hand and speak (unless I’m singing loudly, and badly) and if I kid is acting up I always sit and talk and encourage them to tell me what’s going through their mind, and lastly we always have snacks and coloring to create a community feeling and the kids to be social with each other. I’ve collected these techniques from research and experience and I plan to always use them because they work and they can be adapted to fit in all types of classrooms and homes in order to keep our kids using their minds and grow up with an education they can use.

Lastly, we need to focus on exposing the children to different things. Going outside regularly, day trips, day camps, petting zoos, farms, anywhere! Take the child. Also, fun classes to take together are great and cheap, as well as after school clubs! My mother did this with me and I grew up with a pretty good idea of what the outside world is like and that causes me to think differently, in a more open way and all we did was drive for a couple hours and bunk in an affordable motel. By no means were we rich, my mom just made these kinds of experiences a priority therefore they happened. With experiences comes well-roundedness, and well rounded people tend to be more successful in life.

In conclusion

It’s important that we give children the rights to their education and their lives. We have to work with them and help them find their path instead of trying to dictate it for them. Be engaged, be interesting, be understanding, and be enthusiastic! Children are amazing little People.

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-Be on the lookout for more on this topic, I’m just getting started.

First Blog

I have always wanted a blog. No no let me rephrase that, I’ve wanted a blog since… About five minutes ago, but when I decide I want to do something I do it. That must be why I have so many things I want to share but sometimes annoy people with my constant random tid-bits of knowledge. Therefore I am labeled: weird, random, odd, annoying, know it all, etc. I believe blogging is the perfect outlet to organize and share my ideas and hopefully my content connects with someone in the process. So this blog is about life, specifically the life of a young African-American college student/nanny/future educator/people person, and the people around me. Let’s see where this road leads.

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