Monday, August 29, 2011

Stages of Religious Development.

I've started reading a book entitled, "Finding Your Religion" by Rev. Scotty McLennan. So far, I have found it fascinating. The introduction explains that while the average adult is familiar with developmental stages, we are not as familiar, nor open, to religious stages.

Freud and Erikson's Developmental Stages
This author presents the idea that we evolve, grow, and mature, religiously as well. I found myself not only relating to the stages, but also looking forward to the stages that are ahead of me. These stages cross all religious borders; they are applicable to every religion.

"All-Powerful God" 
Photo Source: http://whadawethink.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/god.jpg
This is when the child thinks that God can protect them from the monsters in their closet...God is powerful, and magical.
"Is your world full of spirits and demons? Do you think God makes everything happen, for good and bad?"

"Cause-And-Effect God"
This reality stage usually sets in around the age of six. This is when the child thinks "If I ask God to help me pass the test, I will." 
"Are scriptures true in a concrete and literal sense, rather than being stories that may or may not be real?"

"God the Parent"
Photo Source: http://cache2.allpostersimages.com/p/LRG/13/1345/SJ2S000Z/posters/vasnetsov-victor-mikhailovich-savaoph-god-the-father-1885-96.jpg

Usually around adolescence, teens go back and forth between the "dependence" and "independence" stages. The "Parental God" can serve as a source of comfort for teens who are afraid to go to their parents, or view their parents' love as conditional. Feeling unconditional love from a father figure is a necessity for many teens. Simultaneously, teens that are experimenting with things that they wouldn't want a parent to know about, often slip in and out of a relationship with a "Distant God," but typically go back to the "idealized parent" in stage three.
"Do you have a very important peer group or leader who is primarily responsible for shaping your faith? Is your main image of God that of a perfect parent? Is it important to you to understand and follow religious doctrine and moral rules?"

"Distant God"
Photo Source: http://charisshaolm.fjministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/human-space-universe-cosmos.jpg
Usually around the age of sixteen and through early adulthood, people tend to feel God as more of a distant being. The author states this is a common time for the individual to express, "I'm spiritual, but I'm not religious." Some people, such as Thomas Jefferson and Voltaire, become deists in this phase. They feel that God is like a clock-maker, but their life and this world is a clock. The person in this phase can relate to God being "energy," and "the force," but not a being typical of intervening in human's lives, or capable of performing miracles. 
"Is your spiritual life unique and personal? Do you think of God primarily as an impersonal force or spirit (or as nonexistent)?"
*MANY ADULTS, according to Rev. Scotty McLennan, do not reach this stage. Typically, if it is reached, it is in the thirties or forties. *

"Paradoxical God"
Old traditions now hold new power. The individual at one time took Communion believing it was the Body of Christ. They since have either not been to church in some time, or when they take it, only do so for the sake of society; it no longer held symbolic meaning. At this stage, the individual can realize the paradox of God. They can read scriptures at the "literal, allegorical, historical, conceptual, poetic, and inspirational levels." These people are open to dialogue between different religions and traditions. 

"Do you find a spiritual community important to you at the same time that you maintain your own distinctive faith? Do you experience spiritual power in symbols and myths that you can also analyze objectively? Do you conceive God as both person and as an impersonal force?"

"All-Pervasive God"
This stage is also known as "enlightenment." Most adults to not experience this stage. If they do, they typically do briefly, and slide back to stage five.
"Do you sense yourself in community with religiously committed people of any and all traditions? Is your consciousness ego-free and beyond paradox and ambiguity? Do you often feel that God or divine spirit is in everything and that everything exists in God or divine spirit?"

I find these phases fascinating. I can't wait to dive deeper in this book, and in my own religious maturation. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Putting myself first.

Today was a lovely day off. Wednesdays are my favorite days to have off, because it breaks up the week, and I can be more productive than on the weekends when many businesses are closed.

Yesterday, I'd told George it would be nice to spend the majority of our day together, since his classes don't start up until next week.

I knew he'd be working on the top level of the music studio, but he said he could finish up early and come hang out with me for the afternoon.

This morning, I asked him, "Does that mean real person time, or George time, because typically you run a few hours late, and I don't want to wait or waste my day off." He got really defensive. After arguing, we got off the phone, and I went on about my day.

Today, I exercised. AND I NEVER WORK OUT! I felt good about myself, and it felt nice doing something I wouldn't do if we'd been together, nor would I have done if I'd had to work. I thought, "what else can I do, just for me?"

I hit up the library.

I haven't been to the public library in way too long. I got on one of the computers, and took a lesson in Portuguese. It was fascinating, stimulating, and fun, learning on my terms.

I gathered up a stash of great reads...

I got a pedicure...

I washed my clothes and the dogs...

And while laundry was circulating, I put my nose in a few good books. 

I LOVE the smell of books. New ones, old ones, "library" ones...they all have distinct smells, and I love them all.

Now, as I hear the dryer pushing clothes 'round and 'round, I'm typing again, which I've not done a lot of lately (relatively speaking, since my family often lovingly refers to me as the "internet whore").

I called George and when he answered, I told him I was sorry for upsetting him and for making him feel a need to be defensive. But I told him what I said, I still mean, only now I see it as a positive. If I had a boyfriend who dropped everything for me, I wouldn't take the time to drop everything for myself. I had a FANTASTIC day. It was self-centered, and I selfishly admit, I enjoyed it fully.

I am looking forward to dinner and drinks with my friend from OU tonight, and if George makes it over later, great. If not, my books will suffice, and I'll be just fine. 

I think we have a type of relationship other people might question or look at with cynicism, but I'll say, while being with George, I've learned more about myself than I could have with anybody else. And in the big picture, I think that's what I'm here to do. Get to know who I am, why I'm here, and how I can make this place better. George encourages all of these things, with active and passive roles. I'm once again, grateful.

How-To Screen Print

  1. Buy a kit from Hobby Lobby-it's about $60 but definitely worth it if you don't have any supplies. The kit comes with a screen, 3 different colors of fabric paint, the sensitizer, emulsion, squeegee, and other stuff that is collecting dust in my craft closet.
  2. AHEAD OF TIME: Mix the sensitizer with the emulsion. Instructions are on the bottles, and it's very hard to mess this up! Coat the screen, front and back, using the squeegee, with this new mixture. Put the screen in a dark closet, to dry. Most importantly, DO NOT LET LIGHT TOUCH THE SCREEN!

The coated screen (top image)
Sensitizer and Emulsion, mixed together (bottom left image)
Instructions...no worries (bottom right image)

3.  Find ANY IMAGE YOU WANT online, or scan an image you have on the computer. Using paint, or any photo-editing software, convert the image to a monochromatic image (BLACK AND WHITE, NO SHADES OF GREY). Print the image on a transparency sheet.

4. After the screen has dried (it can stay in the closet for a few weeks), place the transparency on the screen, and under a 200W lightbulb. A friend of mine said she did it under the Texas sun and it exposed in 20 seconds....awesome! My image stayed under this light for about 2 hours.
Exposing the image.
(The light heats up the emulsion. Wherever there is BLACK, the light heats up and it melts in the screen. Wherever is clear, is hardened and preserved. In other words, the black becomes a hole, and the clear becomes a plug in the silk.)
5. Wash the screen under a sink. I used a metal sponge and the spray-funtion on the faucet. Really scrub it out; this removes the emulsion from the blackened areas. 

6. Dry the screen. Ready to use!

Place a drop of fabric paint above the image, and swipe down, and sideways, using the squeegee. The paint seeps through the screen. Throw your shirt (or pillowcase, or fabric, or whatever!) in the dryer on HIGH to set the paint after it's air-dryed for a couple hours. Then you can wash/wear normally!

Our finished product...shirts for the Denton Women's Collective!

Some of my past projects...

Obama shirts during election season
Larry David (Curb, anyone?)
The Beatles 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Pharmaceutical Industry, Merck, and Rick Perry.

Tsk, tsk, tsk...the pharmaceutical industry.

I'm a registered nurse, and have seen only the tip of the iceberg.

Here's a very small part of the big problem (and how it impacts our horrible economy)--

Image Compliments of: http://www.pharmaregulation.com/images/home_image.jpg 

Whichever company discovers the chemical make-up of a drug, gets to own the PATENT to that drug. The PATENT is what is worth so much money-not the actual pill/tablet/capsule. The top 10 Pharmaceutical Companies and their estimated revenue are:

*Johnson & Johnson: $61.9 BILLION
*Pfizer: $50.01 BILLION
Roche: $47.35 BILLION
GlaxoSmithKline: $45.83 BILLION
Novartis: $44.27 BILLION
Sanofi: $ 41.99 BILLION
AstraZeneca: $32.81 BILLION
*Abbott: $30.76 BILLION
*Merck: $27.43 MILLION
Bayer:: $22.3 BILLION
*Eli Lilly: $21.84 BILLION
*Bristol-Myers Squibb: $18.81 BILLION

*Companies with an asterisk are US companies. The only other countries that have more than one pharmaceutical industry in the top 12 world-wide are the UK (2 companies) and Switzerland (2 companies). The US has 6 of the top 12 companies. This is not something to be proud of, because these companies are not helping the economy-they are HURTING the economy.

(Data collected from the ever-trustworthy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pharmaceutical_companies)
If you look at the top-selling drugs, you'll find Pfizer's "Lipitor" (for cholesterol) remains the best-selling drug world-wide. Annual sales were $12.9 BILLION from this one little pill alone in 2006. The next top-selling drugs are Plavix (by Bristol-Myers Squibb, a blood-thinner), Nexium (by AstraZeneca for heartburn), and Advair (by GlaxoSmith Kline, for asthma). The top 2 selling drugs IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, Lipitor and Plavix, are made by American companies. All of these top-selling drugs are for life-long conditions. Funny....there is no CURE for cholesterol, heartburn, or asthma....just life-long dependence on a pill. Life-long customers, in other words.

Image compliments of: http://americansformorality.com/sick/pharm.jpg

We should all be grateful for the science, education, and hard work, that has gone behind the research and development for these drugs that ultimately prolong life expectancy. However, I believe our country has become completely dependent on these drugs, rather than healthy lifestyle choices, and rather than research toward finding a CURE rather than finding a new dependency.  

There are more lobbyists in the pharmaceutical industry than any other, and those lobbyists make their voices heard to our elected officials. One prime example in my home state, is that of Rick Perry and Merck. Merck, the 9th largest pharmaceutical industry in the world, has deep ties with the TX governor, Rick Perry. All political preferences aside, here are some facts from 2007--

Image compliments of: http://itsallmaya.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/gardasil-1.jpg

*Mike Toomey was Rick Perry's former chief of staff. Mike Toomey was one of Merck's THREE lobbyists in the state of TX. 
*Dianne White Delisi was a state director for Women in Government. Dianne is Mike Toomey's mother-in-law.
*Women in Government and Merck teamed together and tried to get Rick Perry to make GARDASIL, a HPV vaccination, mandatory for all 6th grade girls in the state of TX.
*Rick Perry HIMSELF received $6,000 from a Merck political action committee during his re-election campaign.

Keep in mind, Gov. Perry opposes abortion and stem-cell research using embryonic cells. Yet he was trying to make an STD vaccine mandatory in all schools. (Source: http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/5546651.html) Speaking from experience, I can tell you WITH health insurance, this vaccine cost me almost $400. 

Gardasil protects against 4 types of HPV-there are over 150 types, however. That's right. This vaccine protects against 1 out of every 40 strains. (Source: http://www.gardasil.com/) It is estimated that about 12,000 women in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer related to HPV, and 4,000 will die from it. However, "most HPV infections go away on their own without causing any type of abnormality,"according to http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/HPV. Furthermore, "the majority of infections with high-risk HPV types go away on their own and do not cause cancer." 

According to the Center for Disease Control, "HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives." Since only 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the US each year, it's apparent that the majority of people with HPV do NOT have cervical cancer, and advertising a HPV vaccine as a vaccination AGAINST cervical cancer is utilizing a fear tactic, AGAINST women, mind you (not men, despite the fact that they are carriers as well), in order to make $360 PER insured female. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm)

Even conservatives in the state of Texas strongly opposed this proposition because UNLIKE whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, etc...there is only ONE way to get HPV, and that is through sexual contact. When has there ever been a vaccination against an STD in a public school before?! For a pro-life governor, this seems to go against the stance of abstinence.

There is no possible way I could know all the ins and outs of the pharmaceutical industry, and how it relates to US politics. I know it happens on both left and right, and I know that neither party is innocent. However, I get incredibly annoyed when people just trust their government without any questions. Thank goodness Governor Perry's proposal to make every 11 and 12 year old have the Gardasil vaccine didn't pass. Gardasil is THE MOST EXPENSIVE VACCINE EVER MARKETED IN THE UNITED STATES (Source: http://theunitedstatesconstitution.blogspot.com/). Just imagine if every 6th grade girl in TX had been vaccinated...how much money Merck would've made....and turned around and put right back in Governor Perry's pocket for the next election.

Image compliments of: http://www.treehugger.com/GovRickPerry-headshot1.jpg

Pharmaceutical reps still can wine and dine doctors. They can come to the office, take them out to dinner, bring the staff lunch, etc....just ask people who work in doctor's offices! This makes the physician more likely to prescribe that rep's particular drug, as opposed to another. Shouldn't the patient be prescribed the drug that they need, as opposed to the drug that has the most money?? Where is the legislation that would keep these drug companies in line?? I'm absolutely disgusted with the pharmaceutical industry, and politicians on either side of the aisle who accept money during the campaign from these companies, then attempt to make legislation based on those monetary contributions. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011


My cousin, Marissa Petrilli, married her fiance, Mitchell Roush this past Friday. My family of 4 loaded up in my mom's car and headed north on Thursday afternoon. We stayed the night in Kansas, and finished the trek Friday morning. This roadtrip was a bonding experience for the family, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the 22 hour trek!!!

I utilized the video on my iPhone, and got a couple of funny clips. I put together some clips and photos to the song, "Us," by Regina Spektor. My cousin walked down the aisle to this song, and I thought she and my family might like it. I'm having issues with Regina Spektor's copyright laws...no other songs have given me this much grief! Regardless, the video, I'm sure, will be up eventually. Until then, photos will have to suffice!

(If we are on friends on Facebook, you should be able to see the video here: http://www.facebook.com/video/?id=9619026)

The wedding itself was special, and I was so glad we were there. A little background--

My mother is the youngest of 5 Italian children, born in New York. Her oldest brother, John Petrilli, was described to me as "the golden child." He was good looking, athletic, drummer in a rock band in high school, and the first-born. Even though there was a significant age difference between Uncle John and my mom, they had children the same exact ages. My cousin Marissa is 24, just like me, and my cousin John Michael is 21, just like my sister (or just like she will be on Tuesday, I should clarify...!)

For Uncle John's 30 year high school reunion, he flew from California to New York. He was a drummer in a band in high school, and the band was going to play at the reunion. Tragically, he suffered an unexpected heart attack behind the drumset, and quickly passed. You can imagine the shock that we all went through hearing the news.

My Uncle John toasting to my parents at THEIR wedding

He left behind my two cousins, and his wife, Michelle.

My cousin, Marissa, married the man of her dreams on Friday. Her brother, John Michael, walked her down the aisle. I haven't seen JM in years, but watching him walk her down the aisle...he changed from my "little cousin" to an honorable man. When Mitch's dad, the minister, asked JM, "Who gives this woman in holy matrimony?" my cousin answered, "On behalf of my father, John Petrilli, I do." Tears flooded my eyes. I was so proud of him. I can't imagine losing my parents at such an early age, and I can't imagine growing up so fast.

As I looked around the room, I noticed...we were the only Petrilli blood at this wedding in Lincoln, Nebraska. Both of my mom's parents are deceased. Her brother, the bride's father, was deceased. No other siblings made it to the occasion (in their defense, they live in New York, Florida, and Germany, so they are rather far...). I looked at my mom and knew she realized this. In addition to JM, we were representative of the Petrillis at this occasion. I was happy to be there for my cousin Marissa, and I had a blast dancing and talking with family. But most importantly, I felt we made my grandparents and uncle proud. It made the 22 hour drive seem like a drop in the bucket...it was SO worth it to be there.

When it was time for the typical father-daughter dance, a family friend danced with Marissa. JM lives with this friend, and he has served as a fill-in father-figure in California. He played in the band with my uncle. They danced to "In My Life" and the moment it came on, tears fell again. I embraced my mom, and knew she was thinking about the old film reel that went along with the same song. It had photographs and video footage of her childhood, with her brother and parents, and was the perfect choice. My cousin Marissa looked so happy on her wedding day; I really admire her strength and ability to honor her father while still having a fun and exciting wedding.

The wedding was far from "traditional"-they shared letters, held a balloon ceremony, and used all recent/relative music. I loved it. It was sentimental and unique. My cousin, Marissa, looked absolutely stunning.

And as far as the roadtrip goes...Laura and I had a blast cracking up in the backseat. We laughed at my parents fighting over directions. Finally, I became co-captain with my dad, and my mom and sister became the jokesters in the back. I don't know when our next roadtrip all together will be, but until then, I'll laugh at this one.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Life Well Lived, Vol. 4

(to see where this all began, click here)

While writing my Vol. 2 post, I knew I'd be adding another item to my "Life Well Lived" list in the near future, and now I can. My life has been enriched by my summer vacation this year-when my boyfriend and I hit the road with no phone, no GPS, and no set-in-stone plan. I felt, in each moment, that was the closest we would ever get to feeling like couples must have felt before our time. We disconnected from the world we live in today as we know it. I typically have my phone on me at all times, and check my Facebook multiple times a day to see what my friends are doing. I had no idea what anybody was doing, and that freedom allowed me to focus on the world God created, and the man I'm in love with. Pure liberation. 
I Love You, Georgie!!!

My life has also been well lived because of animals. I'm crazy-obsessed with my maltese, Teddy, and have recently fallen in love with a little stray we've been calling Stella. George and his roommate found this little girl roaming the highway in Estelline, TX, population 145. I took her to Petsmart to be scanned-no microchip. No tag. I put her photo up on Craig's List, because she was clearly somebody's pet! She's loving, sweet, house-broken, and doesn't bark. But when nobody claimed her for a week, I got her vaccinated and made her license official. STELLA. With my phone number. And she's already enriched my life!

George and I also are the proud owners of two kittens that we picked up at a music festival. Duncan and Earl are sweet little kitties that have grown into cats. My parents' dogs, King and Cooper, are also spoiled with love. Everytime I look in an animal's eyes or pet one, I feel more at ease, and feel a flow of love-from me AND from them. 

"Hi there"


"eh, eh, g-g-good day, m-m-mate!"

This further reinforces my dietary choice of being vegetarian, as well, which I also think has made my life well lived. Not eating meat (fish being an exception) has encouraged me to eat healthier. I've thoroughly enjoyed preparing countless vegan recipes, and picking out produce at the market, rinsing it off, and preparing it--even if only for myself--has definitely made my life well lived, and SIMPLISTIC. I feel more connected to generations before me. Don't get me wrong, I love a good Sonic tator tot or a Taco Bueno burrito...but the fast food nation is responsible for our growing obesity problem and countless other health problems. When our grandparents and great-great grandparents actually prepared their own food, they knew what they were eating and where it came from. I can relate to that, and hope I provide that simple way of eating for a future family one day. 

This is a sweet video that I think does an amazing job combining photography, sound, and baking in a timeless way. I found it while I was exploring the Vimeo website; and I plan on adding my videos up there gradually! Most of my images are huge files because of the camera I use, so I can only upload one video at a time. In the meanwhile, watching these has become a new fun pasttime. Enjoy!