Trigger Warning?

As I scroll through my social media feed, I see it all the time. ***TRIGGER WARNING*** Then the post to follow. Sometimes the post is about sexual abuse, rape, child abuse, or spousal abuse. Sometimes, it’s about drug use or a complaint about the in laws.

When I first started using the internet, more years ago than I care to admit, there were no trigger warnings. Information came at us at dial up speed (I was going to say lightning, but that would be a flat out lie) and there was no filtering it. Since then, parental controls have been put in place to limit the “dirty web” content from their children’s daily lives, and more recently, in the last couple of years, things are being labeled as NSFW (not safe for work) or with a trigger warning.

I understand the concept behind NSFW. People are at work constantly getting onto the internet while they should be working (guilty) and some content, if you are caught viewing it, could get you into hot water with the bosses. Ok. Understandable, and thanks for the heads up. Or, we could just get back to working and stop being on the internet so much. Hahahahaha.

Let’s move on to this other thing, the TW. A trigger warning is a heads up that content may be violent, sexual, or otherwise negative in nature, something those who have experienced trauma or have PTSD may not want to read because it could adversely affect their mental health. Are we enabling a weaker society, or are we protecting those dealing with mental health issues?

I did some research into trigger warnings, looking for educational based articles, or even articles from the psychiatric community. I was hard pressed to find anything other than mainstream media articles explaining why trigger warnings are needed and so helpful. Then, after a few pages into the Google search, I found an article from Psychology Today. It’s a well written piece that discusses the negative side of a trigger warning, and the fact that there is no evidence that trigger warnings are actually helpful. “Should young people be confronted with material in class that is disturbing and distressing? Yes, if we want to solve disturbing and distressing social problems such as crime, war, and illness. Should there be resources in place for those who find such material overly distressing? Yes, if we want caring and compassionate campuses. These are not mutually exclusive goals.”

Ten pages into the search for evidence that TW before content is helpful, I gave up. There is no evidence. In fact, years of psychology and psychiatry research have shown us the opposite; a trigger warning leads to avoidance, avoidance leads to further mental health issues and the inability to grow from experience. What’s more, the use of trigger warnings leads to stereotyping, name calling, and a further separation of humanity with this whole “snowflake” issue that has taken the vocabulary by storm. So, if it does more harm than help, why is it spreading like wildfire?

Here is where opinion comes in. I think it’s because people don’t like discomfort, and have found a way to remain comfortable. As a student of psychology, I have found that leaving one’s comfort zone is a part of the healing process. First hand experience has shown me that facing phobias leads to conquering those fears. Imagine if there was a trigger warning before every bridge (my former phobia). Oh wait, there is! But it didn’t actually say “trigger warning” it says “bridge ahead” or “bridge may be icy” or something similar. That in itself triggered my phobia for years. That warning gave me tunnel vision, measured breathing, and white knuckles on the steering wheel. That warning caused me to avoid as many bridges as possible, which incredibly hindered my ability to go where I pleased.

It took years of allowing that to hamper me before I finally took control of my own life, faced my fears, and conquered gephyrophobia. With that phobia out of my life, I was no longer a victim of my own fears. That milestone lead me to fighting back against my anxiety issues as well, and I live with my anxiety medication free. I fight that one on the daily, but my life isn’t anxiety, anxiety is a tiny fraction of my life. My life is so much more than that aspect, and I will no longer allow it to control me.

So while it is in no way an expert opinion, my personal opinion is that we should stop with the trigger warnings, and encourage each other to seek out ways to improve their mental health issues. Counseling, therapy, medications (when absolutely necessary and not just because), facing fears, talking about things, group therapy. There are so many healthy options, that do not lead to ostracizing, stereotyping, and more of that blasted “snowflake” rhetoric that seems to be the nation’s response to trigger warnings and safe spaces. Maybe it’s crass to say toughen up, but facing your fears does in fact make you stronger.

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How To Date in 2017

If you thought this was a how to guide that would expose some well kept secret behind dating in this particular day and age, you are wrong. Sorry to deceive you. But now that I have your attention, how do we date in this age of digital media, cell phones, texting, instant messaging? What’s worse than technology are all the exes…exes and ohs…

So many people are royally screwed up because of the time and effort invested in a relationship gone bad, that when someone new, someone bright and shiny, someone who has done nothing to make you think they will hurt you comes along, you tend to run the other way? Or worse yet, that wall goes up so high, no one can climb over it? Why is it so different now, then, say, 20 years ago? Is it just technology and heartbreak? Or have we gotten seriously lazy?

It seems easier to have a “textationship” than a real relationship. I’ve fallen victim to that little scenario. We start talking, maybe once or twice a week, then every couple of days, then every other day, then every day several times throughout the day. Then when it comes down to seeing each other face to face, things come up, or they got too drunk to be cool about the situation, pass out for a minute at your rental cabin, then bail at 4 am before everyone wakes up. That was fun. Not really. What happens is a loss of respect for the other person, whom I had some feels for at one point.

Then, on the other hand, the idea of dating someone is more fun than actually going through with it, which I am sure I have put others through myself. Maybe even currently. What is the real problem here? Are we being too picky? The song says, if we can’t be with the one we love, we should love the one we’re with. Is that right though? Isn’t that settling, something we were told never to do?

Sometimes that initial idea is great, but when I get to know a little more about person X, I find things that I don’t really care for. Many will tell you a relationship is about compromise, but I think that is way off base. Why should we have to compromise ourselves for the sake of being with someone? I am unapologetically who I am, why do I need to change myself for someone else’s approval? And vise versa, why should a man have to change himself for my approval?

I’m sure I have a laundry list of things I can’t stand and an equal amount of things I love in men. Is it superficial to desire my partner to have a stellar smile? Perfection is not needed, there is something else that drives a smile to be stellar. Is it wrong to want a man with a certain skill set? I mean, this is my life, here are my issues and positive qualities, can’t my man counter my issues and add to my positive qualities?

I see loneliness over take so many; many loved ones I have chose to be miserable in a relationship rather than be alone. But there is a distinct difference between lonely and alone. Alone, we can work out our own issues, heal our broken hearts, and learn to love again for all the right reasons. Lonely, we act out of desperation to end the loneliness, and end up making bad choices in partners, leaving us more lonely and heartbroken than before.

It’s all just so baffling sometimes, causing me to muse over the prospects and forgotten lovers. I’m wild, not broken, not meant to be tamed or calmed. I’m looking for someone to run wild with, a leather for lace kind of trade. Someone to kiss passionately, go on adventures with, talk about the cosmos at 3am. Until I find that person, then I shall remain alone, for there is no compromising my heart.

The Power of Words

Beyond the multitude of spoken and signed languages, words have a severe power that can make or break a person, group of people, a community, a society, a culture, even the world. Words are used to label things, to give construct to abstract ideas and ideals, and more importantly, to control others. When we wish to change behaviors, we label certain behaviors with just the right words, and poof, behaviors change.

Some words are even so powerful that just the mere act of reading the word will alter behavior. Take *yawn* for instance. Normally, when you see someone *yawn* it tends to be contagious, but just now, typing the word *yawn* has made me, well, *yawn*. Can you honestly say you didn’t *yawn* at all while reading this paragraph? Leave me a comment telling me whether or not you *yawned* during or after this paragraph. *Yawn*

Words have the power to warp our sense of direction, skew our view of time, and enhance our abilities to differentiate colors and shades. Derren Brown, the famed mentalist, uses words to control people’s physical behavior. Adolf Hitler used words to influence Nazi Germany. Brain washing, aversion therapy, gas lighting; all use words (sometimes paired with images and forced illness) to control thoughts.

That being said, it really is no surprise that this current decade is full to the brim with control words. Racism. Appropriation. Terrorist. Freedom. Safety. Oppression. Feminism. Age. Weight. Sexuality. Fear. Comfort. As humans, we have a natural aversion to punishment, at least, the majority of humans do. We hear the key words, and either don’t want to be associated with them our of fear of punishment, or desire to be associated with them out of fear of punishment. Political correctness. Social justice. Fairness. Equality. Segregation. Separation. Unity. Rebellion. Uprising. Peace. Chaos.

One single word can be the deciding factor in whether someone likes someone else, or does not like them. One. Single. Word. Even though words do not change reality, they certainly have an impact on how reality is perceived. Media tends to use this power to influence a multitude of people, especially those who typically get their news from only one or two main sources. Just the right wording will create a filter, and that filter will alter the way reality is perceived; whether right or wrong.

So, we hear the key words, and we act accordingly. How do we fight back, and take control of our own perceptions of reality? It takes a conscious effort. Developing a competing hypothesis of ideas or predisposed thoughts is one way to reduce the power of words that create bias. Seek evidence to support either hypothesis, and allow the evidence to weight your actions. Another way to reduce the power of words over your perception is to react less. Did something someone say offend you? So what? Nonreaction negates the power of the words.

So far the 2000s have been wrought with offense, political correctness, and division. We are primed and ready to take on the new Roaring 20s; let’s make it a decade of unity, truth, and liberation.

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Feminism vs New Wave Feminism

More than five thousand years ago, humans lived and worked together to ensure the survival of each member of a particular society. The introduction of personal property, capitalism, hierarchies, and the class/caste systems within a predominantly patriarchal push has since resulted in the abuse and oppression of women world wide. We shifted from egalitarian societies of hunters and gatherers to societies of rich folks and their slaves. Reverence for women shifted to fear, and the need to control that which was feared. Oppression, abuse, and submissive tendencies appear to be deeply ingrained in our psyche because they are.

The suffragettes paved the way, followed by an influx of independent women determined to carry on the torch. We did it. When sexual assault happens, we have recourse. When abuse happens, we have recourse. When we want something, all we need to do is set our minds to it and get what we need. Yes, abuse happens still. Yes, women need to continually push forward with progress. But do we need to do it at the expense of the men in our lives?

A feminist is someone who recognizes that injustice happens, and acts to correct those wrongs. A new wave feminist (NWF) would seemingly seek to destroy all men, save for those who exhibit every manner of feminine qualities. Well ladies, if your aim was to emasculate the male population, you get a win on that one. The truth is, we stole their role. It is the male of the species that is to be the flowery, showy, pretty ones, and the females just be themselves, even if that self is a plain brown and white duck. Not anymore. We took their makeup, their dresses, their heels, their wigs, and their belly rings and made them our own. Now, any male wishing to dress the old ways is either ridiculed for their choices, or worse, ostracized in public by their own families.

We gawk when Hollywood shows us the coveted “V” (that part of the male torso that leaves us all too stupid to think) yet balk when the female body is used for fantasy. There are so many double standards with NWF that I don’t know what it means to be a feminist anymore. What are we fighting for, really? We can be stay at home moms, or choose a career, or do both. No one can touch us. We are unbeatable in our efforts, and heaven help anyone who tries to stop us. But what is the true cost? What have we lost in our lust for control? The fact that we are simply humans, trying to get by. It’s lost on us. Or, at least, lost on the NWF’s. So, my fellow women, you have a choice to make. You can wallow in your self pity because you don’t like the cards that you were dealt, you can fold, or you can bluff your way right to where you want to be. It’s up to you, no man is holding you down or stopping you. Just know that you have created monsters, and these monsters will rise until a superhero is needed to take over and control things. And quite frankly, I am hoping that superhero doesn’t shave her eyebrows, cut her bangs too short, then bitch about how she isn’t accepted in society.

Oh, that might be the wine talking….

Tattooed Mom’s Wine & Booze Revue

First and foremost, I am not your typical “wine connoisseur” by any means. Sure, I had a few years when I polished off a bottle of a wine a night after a stressful day at work, but I am incredibly picky about the wine I drink, as far as taste and after taste go. I don’t pick out the woodsy or whatever tones in a glass I am enjoying. I enjoy it as long as it isn’t dry or tasting like beer. There are many like me, who like to drink, not pick apart what they are drinking. This review is for you my friend.

Cost is rarely a factor. A bottle of Barefoot Sweet Red is cheap, potent, easy to drink, and is actually….wait for it….sweet. Sometimes, the pricier wines are less tasty. That being said, I can safely recommend any of the Barefoot wines, especially the White Zinfandel and the Sweet Red.

Recently I was in an Italian style market in my little harbor town, and the wine selection was stupendous. Buuuuut…..I was only able to locate one bottle of Sweet Red. That is what prompted this revue. Grand Traverse Select Sweet Red is the bottle of choice. Moderately priced at 11.99 a bottle, 12.5 % alcohol by volume (a little less than Barefoot if I remember correctly) and a warm fuzzy feeling after the first couple sips. As far as sweetness goes, this brand is a little drier than I prefer, a little less sweet than the Barefoot. Not quite in that typical dry red wine zone, but closer than I prefer. I would probably only buy this brand again if there was no other to choose from. Like the day I got it. C’est la vie!

So there you have it. My revue for the most recent bottle of wine, the one I am currently consuming. Stay tuned for more! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates!

Metal Maven Attends EDM Festival!

Yes, you read that right.

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Before I really begin, I should disclose a few things. I am not a festival goer. Hell, I rarely attend concerts. I am more of a dive bar, garage band kind of gal, though if Rob Zombie is playing near me I will try to get tickets, and I have seen Hollywood Vampires. I just think I can spend all that money on other things, like tattoos, shoes. You know, the priorities. Recently I was given the opportunity to work as a vendor at an EDM festival, Electric Forest to be precise. I don’t even listen to that kind of music, but I was getting paid to be there and when I wasn’t working I had free range of the place because of my wristband.

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Festival people are an entirely different species of humans. In fact, many of the locals here experience cognitive dissonance at the sight of a festival goer, resorting to name calling or assuming the worst. Easy to do, when the average festival goer uses  neon tape as tights and barely has more than a boa or tie dyed frock on. They stink, they do drugs, they steal, people die all the time and it gets covered up. Well…not exactly. Sure, they camp out for about 4 days, with no shower, so they have that camp life scent about them. Or they don’t, and quite frankly I was surprised at how smelly they were not, with the way locals talk.

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Yes, weekend one had some theft and drug possessions going on. As I pointed out to my friends however, a look at the local cops and courts on a weekly basis and you see that it’s no different than the average night outside the festival. Fake reports go around constantly, leading people to believe things like people die and it gets covered up, or someone lost a finger and it was found by someone else. Well, that finger incident that went around Facebook after weekend one was a hoax….it was a fake finger. Investigated. There are cops all over the festival, checking on things. They let pot slide inside the festival, but keep an eye out for other drugs, which is a good thing.

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Now, all of that aside, here comes the real experience, from the viewpoint of someone who never goes to festivals like this, and doesn’t listen to EDM either.

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I worked in the Candy Shoppe, for Cosmic Candy Company based in Pentwater, Michigan. My primary job was to be outside the shop, selling kettle corn, drinks, cotton candy, and this amazing organic green tea virgin mojito. When I say amazing, I really mean it. I made them so damn amazing that when I went to grab a burger and fries from one of the other vendors, they gave me my food for free because I made him the BEST green tea mojito in the world. His words, not mine. We were placed in the perfect spot to catch the droves of party kids that were flocking from one stage to the next, as well as flocking from their campsites into the main area of the festival.

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There were college kids, dreadlock sporting seasoned festival goers, dad’s accompanying their preteen daughters, metal heads walking with their loved ones, and people of all ages, from infant to elderly. I saw a man walking with his infant in a front pack, and a couple being pushed in their wheel chairs around the festival. Mostly, what I saw, was a bunch of rich 20 somethings dressing in elaborate (or not) costumes doing their thing. They tip well. Once I was offered a hit from a joint, but I was working so I turned it down with a frown. Our mojitos were a big seller, with only one person turning it down due to a lack of alcohol in it. Everyone else loved them, and they loved us. There were so many thank yous coming our way, so many people told us they loved us and appreciated us working while they came to play. I got compliments on my tattoos, and was told how pretty I was by more people than I can count.

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That’s what working looked like. My second day working was the last day of weekend two, two weekends being the new thing this year. The festival carried on until 3am, then everyone closed up their booths and went home. My shift ended at 7pm, so I went wandering because I wanted to see the forest at night, I’ve seen so many pictures, I wanted to see it in person. 7pm is still light out, so I made my way over to the food vendors for a burger. That free burger I mentioned earlier. I ate the burger and fries while listening to a bluegrass band strum out some Grateful Dead tunes on the main stage in that section. After scarfing that down I headed into Sherwood Forest, the centerpiece of the festival. Some amazingly talented, creative, and imaginative artists got together to bring this forest to life. I got to know the layout, sort of, while it was still light out. I took photos of what I encountered, from a group of improv mimes dressed in all yellow old fashioned clothing to three aliens exploring a new world that spoke in a series of clicks. A giving tree, a trading post, and several stages and building put together with ample space to sit and rest if the need hits. Then I found Sherwood Court, the main event. There was EDM blaring, and every now and then I would catch something that rang familiar because my oldest son listens to it.

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People were laying all over the fields, just taking it all in, or dancing along with their friends. The bigger groups of friends came with a totem, something they made to signal the others so no one gets lost, on a long pole. Two girls walked by me with their wrists tied to each other, clearly not wanting to get separated. I found a vendor selling tea and got an iced tea, then wandered around some more. There was an area called The Hanger, which drew me in like a moth to flames. It had a strong 20s vibe to it, sort of like if electronica and neon had been available in the 20s, this is what it would have looked like. At one point, I just sat on an old couch in a set called There’s No Place Like Home, and listened to jazz fusion for a while. People sat next to me, everyone was really friendly and chatty, and it was just a neat atmosphere. Then I wandered back into the forest to await darkness.

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I sat on a bench that surrounded a giant sculpture of a goddess, near the Jive Joint, another vintage themed set, and listened to the oldies play while the sky grew darker. Behind us was a “silent disco” where everyone was given a set of headphones and let loose on the dance floor. Then, all the lights were finally visible, and it was time to walk around the forest again. First of all, I was not on any drugs last night. That being said, when I came upon the giant elephant in the middle of the forest, I thought I was tripping. They did such a good job on the lights for that elephant that I literally second guessed my own sobriety. It was amazing. The fairy houses came to life, and I was seeing things I hadn’t noticed before. Each of the art installments were lit in different ways, providing a striking contrast between forest during the day and forest during the night. Yes, EDM pounded through my entire being. But I have a 19 year old son who listens to it, so I wasn’t completely taken aback by it.

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Neon hula hoops, glow sticks, light up shoes, and glow in the dark body paint washed over the crowds of people herding themselves from one stage to the next. I have to hand it to them. They got in way more walking than I did, and I walked a lot. By 1am I was done. I had worked all day, walked all night, and was flat out tired. I found some teriyaki chicken and rice, munched on that, and wandered among the vendors looking for something to buy as a reminder of my time there. Pins are a big deal to everyone who goes to Electric Forest, so I found a vendor that was selling in three price ranges and picked one from the cheapest, a cute little white and black voodoo doll. Perfect for me. Then I went back over by the Candy Shoppe, and plopped down to eat my food under a tree. I was there until I got a ride after the festivities, so I just relaxed at the tree a bit. This is when so many people just randomly talked to me, checking up on me, asking me if I was alright, or if I needed water or anything else. They told me they loved me, blew kisses, reminded me how awesome I was, that I did great today, and that I was beautiful. These kids look out for each other at festivals, knowing that dangers exist, trying to eliminate as many of them as they can. By the end of the night, I walked away with my pin, a blue plastic flower, a tiny pile of unicorn poo, a hot pink gem, a bowl of weed, and enough mud on my feet and the bottoms of my pants to create my own art project.

I plan on volunteering to work next year’s festival. This time, I’ll be bringing some of my handmade jewelry to trade in the trading post. I am also looking into becoming a contributing artist, because that would be just the bee’s knees!

Little Slice of Part Time Paradise

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I recently moved to a tiny harbor town just north of where I grew up. Many of my friends hung out here when we were in school, I hung out in Silver Lake and Muskegon instead. Imagine if you will, the forest suddenly coming alive with historic stone homes and clapboard beach houses, breaking away to the saltless shores of Lake Michigan. The streets are not tree lined, the forest is among us full force, even breaking through the older sections of sidewalk. Patches of woody areas freckle the landscape on the streets before the shoreline, and sandy beaches make way to the cold but welcoming waters of the big lake. This is the kind of town where you can walk down town and hit the farmer’s market, grab a BLT and a bloody Mary, then peruse a used bookstore within minutes of each activity. This is the kind of town you can read your copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein whilst walking back home, never really fearing the prospect of a hit and run or drive by shooting or abduction. This is the kind of town that has the most picturesque cemetery I have ever been to. This is the kind of town that will make the rest of my time here bearable.

Women in Horror

I came across an article outlining the state of horror and female horror writers. It says we write about love, torment, sexy vampires, and aliens, but shy away from the really scary stuff. Even Mary Shelley, the Mother of Horror, shied away from the genre after Frankenstein was published. Why? Is it because we put love first? Is it because we see the element of horror in every day life and wish not to write about it?

Whatever the reasons may be, I wish to change it. I have begun a writers group, and our focus will be on scaring the ever loving hell out of each other, and ultimately changing the male driven genre of horror. It’s not all sexy sparkling vampires you know!

Stay tuned for updates and details regarding publishing! The Daughters of Shelley are coming, be afraid!

Supporting the Arts

At one point in time, artists of all genres were appreciated and supported with gusto. Kings and Popes paid with coin and property in patronage of the arts. Then somewhere along the way the tables turned. The arts became not as important as they once were, and the starving artist was born.

All too often we hear things like “get a real job” or “yeah, but what do you really do” and my personal favorite, “well that’s nice, so what is your career choice?” As if oozing creativeness isn’t a valid career choice. This just goes to show how little regard there is for the arts anymore. Or does it?

I have stumbled upon a website connecting artists with patrons of the arts, offering a platform for artists to receive money to support their writing, music, photography, and creative processes. Let’s be honest here, if I had income coming in alongside my part time job it would be so much easier to homeschool my youngest son and write my books, make jewelry, print out my fabulous photographs, decoupage everything, restore furniture, and sew clothing.

So here it is, and now I am looking to you for support. When you subscribe it will be on a monthly basis, and you can subscribe for as low as $20 or as high as $1,000 per month. Each level comes with exclusive rewards, such as first looks at projects, video chatting, and even a personalized piece of jewelry from my newest collection!

Go HERE to see what all this is about! Thanks for your support!