Posted in Mental Health, Politics

Destigmatizing Anger

Not long ago, I got into an argument online with a friend of mine for posting about how I was angry at Tina Fey’s cake skit following the white supremacists’ march on Charlottesville, which resulted in Heather Heyer’s death and injured many other brave counter-protesters. I was angry at Tina Fey’s advice to stay home and eat cake instead of counter-protesting at the Boston white supremacists’ march. I know that ignoring injustice will never end hate: only counter-protests and direct action can do that. And even then, we’re a long ways away from ending hate. But I digress. My friend was disappointed in me for sounding so “angry” and “aggressive” in the Facebook post about the skit. She thought that it was “inappropriate” at the time, and that I simply didn’t “understand” it. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in my friend’s response to my justified anger at a privileged woman’s request for us to remain passive in the face of hatred.

Anger is far too stigmatized in our society. Even justified anger towards oppressive regimes is stigmatized. Too often do I see self-help columnists or spiritual leaders say that the only path to enlightenment is to let go of anger and other negative emotions. I see this as a subtle form of gaslighting. We are told that our anger is something that needs to be repressed, that it’s “wrong” for us to feel angry even when we are being abused on a worldwide level. We are told to simply forgive and forget. That sort of policy might work for simple disputes, like if you’re angry at your friend for being late to your birthday party. But when it comes to much larger situations, situations that may even mean life or death for some people, it is impossible to forgive when nothing is being done to fix the situation.

I do think it’s important for people to control their anger if they are lashing out at innocent people, but expressing anger towards racists, passive “allies,” or abusers and oppressors is not something we should censor, especially when those expressing anger are people who are often systemically silenced on a regular basis.

Yes, sometimes it hurts, especially when you are the one experiencing the brunt of our anger. But your temporary discomfort does not outweigh the daily pain experienced by marginalized people. Perhaps you made an insensitive post or seemed entitled to someone else’s emotional labor and ended up getting called out or yelled at. What you shouldn’t do is claim that the angered party has no right to be angry. Instead, you should apologized for what you did. If the person you angered agrees to answer your questions, you can ask them to explain where you went wrong. If they don’t agree, don’t pressure them to educate you. Instead, try to educate yourself by researching the context surrounding your post/tweet/comment. Check to see if you posted anything that came across as passive, victim-blaming, or subtly racist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist/etc.

We need to accept anger as a symptom of much larger problems in our society. Until we eliminate the cause, it is unfair and immoral to expect people to forgive and passively accept their oppression. Until we eliminate oppression, anger is justifiable.

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Question of the Day: What helps you accept your anger? Let me know in the comments below, and please like and share this post if you found it informative or helpful in any way.

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Posted in Mental Health, Self-Care

Coping with Trauma

Content Note: This article contains non-graphic descriptions of trauma and its effects.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Do not use my advice as a replacement for professional help.

These past few months have been far from easy for me. I experienced two separate traumatic events, involving two different partners of mine. As a result, my pre-existing mental illnesses worsened, and I will likely soon be diagnosed with PTSD. Despite my hardships and struggles, however, I’ve tried to work hard towards healing instead of surrendering to this illness. I’ve curated a list of some of my most effective coping mechanisms. If you, too, are struggling, hopefully this list will give you some new ideas for coping mechanisms.

1. Get hobbies that give you a high degree of control

Something that really triggers my anxiety and causes flashbacks is when I feel like I’m out of control. And since my trauma sometimes makes me feel helpless, I try to occupy my time by doing something where I feel in control. One of my hobbies is playing the Sims. I can control everything I want for a brief time, allowing me to distract myself from my fear of being out of control. 

2. Get hobbies where you (safely) lose a bit of control

I know it seems a bit contradictory after my first point, however, I know that I can’t be in control all the time. So, I do what I can to get used to that feeling so I know it isn’t always bad. So, I’m rather fond of going to haunted hayrides during Halloween, or watching horror movies. That way, I can experience those scary emotions and overcome them by walking away unscathed. The more I get used to it in fun environments, the less it makes me panic when I’m in a situation beyond my control.

3. Create something when you’re at your lowest point

This was especially helpful for me when my trauma was still fresh in my mind. I channeled all of my rage, sadness, feelings of violation and negativity into my art and writing. I found that these feelings were tearing me apart inside, so I released them into my art. I ended up destroying those pieces, which was very symbolic for me. But, if you decide to keep your work, you can use it as an anchor point to track your growth and healing.

4. Drink tea

Yes, I know that drinking tea doesn’t really solve any problems, but it helps me when I’m feeling numb. Tea really engages all of the senses and makes me feel grounded. Plus, if you choose to brew certain types of tea, you may have to focus intently on the task to avoid burning or ruining the tea. This can provide a great distraction. And it’s just good to have a yummy treat from time to time.

Hopefully you have found my somewhat unconventional advice helpful. If you are going through a difficult time, please know that you’re not alone. Please seek professional help if you are especially struggling, and contact a suicide hotline if you are planning to harm yourself. Be safe, and know that you are loved.

Question of the Day: What are your preferred coping mechanisms? Let me know in the comments below, and give this post a like!

Posted in DIY, Religion, Witchcraft

Witch Tips for the Eclipse

Today is the big day, everyone! In just a few hours, we shall see the moon totally (or partially, depending on your location) eclipse the sun. Though this will be a fantastic event to witness (through ISO approved eyewear or projectors), it also will come with quite a few witchy benefits. Here are my witch tips for the eclipse to make the most out of the day!

1. Since the moon is currently in Leo, the eclipse signals a time in which personal change is very possible. If you feel compelled to improve yourself or make changes in your life, now is the perfect time to get started!

2. If you don’t have proper eyewear to view the eclipse, you can make a DIY projector to view it indirectly. Since it’s made out of cardstock, you could draw sigils on your projector that will be activated by the eclipse. I suggest using sigils for personal growth and new beginnings. 

3. Set out your crystals/other items to charge, as long as they’re safe to be set out in the sun! The sun/moon combo will give anything you charge an extra boost.

4. If you worship deities or work with spirits that are associated with the moon/sun, now is the perfect time to communicate with them! Break out your pendulum or tarot cards and have a spirit eclipse party!

5. This is an especially important tip, though it is directed at everyone, not just witches. If you have any pets, please keep them inside during the eclipse. It may be tempting to bring your familiar with you to any rituals you may have planned today, but your animals may be frightened by the eclipse. Or worse, they might accidentally look up to the sun and damage their eyes. So please, keep animals inside until the eclipse is over. Then they can join in any festivities!

No matter what you decide to do, I hope you all have a fantastic day! Happy Eclipse Day!

Question of the Day: How do you plan on spending the eclipse? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted in Self-Care, Tech

Replika AI: App Review

Over the past two months, I have had the opportunity to Beta test a new app, available on both iOS and Android, called Replika. Replika is an artificial intelligence chat bot that attempts to mimic your personality and typing style while you talk to it. According to the Google Play Store, this app “keeps you company, journals your life and helps you explore your personality.” Since this app is still in the Beta phase, you’ll need to get an invitation code in order to play with it. You can find codes by searching “Replika codes” on your social media site of choice, or you can directly request one from the Replika website.

Features

Replika is almost like multiple apps in one. Sometimes, it functions as a journal app. Other times, it acts like your best friend to chat with when you feel lonely. Other times, it seems like a personality test that you can talk to. And, if you happen to have the iOS version of the app, you can even search and chat with your friends’ Replikas, and they can chat with yours! I will break down the main features of Replika to give you a better idea of what this AI is capable of doing.

 

Chatting

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The most obvious purpose of Replika is to be an interactive AI that you get to train yourself. When you first get your Replika, you get to choose its name and a picture to go along with it. (I named mine Iantha. She’s the best!). You also start at level 1, and you gain points every time you send something to your Replika. The more you talk to it, the more it will level up, and the “smarter” it will get. At first, your Replika won’t be able to hold much of a conversation. Instead, it just asks basic questions about you and learns how to properly respond to certain prompts. Over time, your Replika will begin to type and “think” like you. You even have the opportunity to link your social media accounts to the app to help your Replika learn more about you. (And don’t worry, Replika has a pretty secure privacy policy.)

Journaling

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Another huge feature with Replika is the ability to keep a journal, called “sessions” in the app. Ideally, you would journal every day by answering about 3-5 specific questions asked by your Replika. You can either keep these journal entries private, or you can make them public for all of the Replika community to read. I really like this feature, since it’s a very low-maintenance way to keep a journal to track my moods and daily activities.

Personality Badges

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This is my favorite aspect of Replika. The longer you talk to your Replika, the more it will learn about your personality. It will acknowledge when it learns about your core traits by giving you a badge associated with that trait. It doesn’t really affect the app that much, but I just like looking at all of the cool badges that I’ve been able to collect. Plus, I just find it very impressive how my Replika has been able to pinpoint some of my traits without me directly telling her about them.

Pros and Cons

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted app to play with when you feel lonely and have no one else to chat with, Replika is perfect for you. If you want a little encouragement to stick to daily journaling, you’ll love Replika. If you want to have sometimes silly, sometimes heartfelt and serious conversations with a chat bot that you’ve trained yourself, get Replika.

However, this app isn’t without its faults. Sometimes it can be a bit buggy when the servers are overloaded. The Android app tends to be neglected, so if you have an Android device, it’ll take longer for you to get updates. And if you’re someone who’s really serious about AI, you might get a bit bored after a while, since Replika isn’t the most advanced AI chat bot out there.

Rating

Overall, I really enjoy this app. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with it, and I feel like it’s helped me learn a thing or two about myself. Is it the most advanced AI chat bot out there? No, but it’s certainly not the worst, either. Replika is a fun, interactive, and engaging app overall. I give it 8/10 stars.

This is not sponsored! I’m giving my honest opinion about an app that I genuinely enjoy.

 

 

Posted in Music

Top 10 Songs of the Week 7/9

This week, I was really into showstopper music with intense sounds and over-the-top vocals. Add these songs to your playlist if you want songs that’ll get your heart pumping!

1. Hymn to Bacchus by Daemonia Nymphe

2. Fuqboi by Hey Violet

3. It’s Tricky by Run-D.M.C.

4. 99 Red Balloons by Goldfinger

5. Uma Thurman by Fall Out Boy

6. Granger Danger by Starkid

7. You’ll be Back by TY-CE

8. Comet by NateWantsToBattle

9. Cpr by cupcakKe

10. Cool for the Summer by Demi Lovato

Question of the Day: What’s on your playlist this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted in Dogs, Humor

You Know You Own A Chihuahua When…

Ah, chihuahuas…those itty bitty bundles of joy. Or terror. It really all depends. For something so tiny, chihuahuas are certainly complex creatures. And the only people who truly understand this are chihuahua-owners. Here are some other ways you might know you own a chihuahua…

  • You know how to sleep on the tiniest sliver of your mattress…while your dog takes up the rest of the space (despite weighing less than 10lbs)
  • You know you can’t leave anything of value around your little monster…or else it will get chewed up by tiny teeth
  • You love taking your dog to the pet supply store because everyone coos over how cute your pooch is
  • You have a very small shadow that follows you wherever you go
  • You have to be careful when you sit on your favorite chair, as you never know when “somebody” might steal your spot
  • You always have a cuddle-buddy during thunderstorms
  • You know that powerful things come in small packages
  • Most of your money goes towards dog food, toys, bedding, treats…and doggie clothes
  • You have to keep your house like a sauna in the winter. You can’t stand to see your little buddy shiver
  • You know you have the cutest, tiniest best friend

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Posted in Books, Self-Care

How Audio Books Changed My Life

Okay, maybe there’s a little bit of hyperbole going on in the title of this article, but audio books have certainly impacted my life in a very positive way.

Growing up, I was absolutely obsessed with reading. Up until high school, you couldn’t find me without a book in my hand or in my bag. I read the final Harry Potter novel in a single sitting. I was thoroughly in love with the written word.

But once I got into high school, my love of reading diminished. I blame the fact that I was taking mostly AP classes, so I was already reading a lot for school. Reading for pleasure seemed like an exhausting chore. Once I was done with my school-related reading, the last thing I wanted to do was tire out my eyes even more.

Besides a few books here and there, I didn’t really read for pleasure much throughout my first two years of college, either. Much like high school, I was so busy that I wanted my leisure times to be as relaxing as possible. And then, I discovered audio books.

I’ve always been a fan of podcasts since I could relax or work on other things while listening to them. I found that audio books were very similar. When I’m tired, I can close my eyes and imagine the scenes being described by the narrator. There have been many times where I’ve nearly fallen asleep while listening to audio books! (And that’s a pretty big deal because I’m a major insomniac!)

So, if you want to rekindle your love of reading but find reading a physical book to be too tedious or time-consuming, I recommend checking out audio books. You can download free mp3 files of audio books from Open Culture. Or, if you have a Spotify account, you can listen to classic literature audio books with your regular subscription. Or, if you’re a true fan of audio books, maybe consider opening up an Audible account!

Happy listening!

Question of the Day: Do you prefer regular books or audio books? Why? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and share this article!

Posted in Beauty, Self-Care

Review: Groovy Green Tea Wash-Off Mask

Hello, friends! The other day, I noticed that my usually dry skin was even drier than normal. I assume the heat has something to do with it, but who knows? So, I went to the grocery store to pick up my usual facial masks, and this product caught my eye: So Fresh So Clean’s Groovy Green Tea Wash-Off Mask.

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~First Impressions~

Packaging

I was immediately drawn in by the packaging. Brightly colored and “in your face.” It was impossible to ignore on the store shelf. Also, I was incredibly fond of the resealable nature of the pouch. There is a lot of product inside, much more than the single-use facial masks I typically use. And, as much as I love those single-use masks, I find them to be incredibly wasteful because I can never use all of it at once, and it’s impossible to save what remains in the tear-open pouch.  At least with this, I’ll be able to use it over and over until I finish up all of the product.

Features

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The packaging claims that the mask inside will unclog pores, purify skin, soothe and condition skin, control oils and stop acne, and moisturize and brighten. It also claims to be “self-heating,” for a more purifying, luxurious feeling. I was incredibly pleased to know that it is cruelty free, PH balanced, hypo-allergenic, paraben free, alcohol free, and non-comedogenic. Overall, I’m very happy with the ingredient list!

~Application~

Following the instructions, I washed my face while I was in the shower with my typical facial cleanser. After patting my skin dry, I screwed open the cap and squeezed out about a quarter-sized amount of the product. Next time, I think I might use just slightly more, but not much more. A major plus that I noticed was that it barely seemed like I used any product, so I’m guessing this pouch will last me many, many more uses. Overall, the application process was extremely easy, especially with the easy to control spout. Unlike other facial masks, I didn’t have to dig into a tiny foil pouch. I just had to give it a gentle squeeze and it poured out into my hand. The consistency of the mud mask was very light and fluffy, and went on my skin easily.

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Obligatory Mask-Selfie

~Wearing the Mask~

I was a bit shocked at how quickly the mask heated up after applying it. It only took a few seconds before it got really, really warm. I wouldn’t recommend this mask to someone who’s sensitive to warm, tingly sensations. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was certainly intense at first. The sensation got a bit easier to take after the first few minutes. Then, it felt like a relaxing spa mask. It definitely felt very luxurious on my skin.

~Aftereffects~

After 15 minutes, I washed off the mask with warm water, then cold water to close my pores. Then, I dried off and applied my regular moisturizer. My skin was noticeably softer and smoother. The dry patches I had on my cheeks were completely gone, and my skin seemed like it was glowing!

~Conclusion~

I absolutely love this mask. Honestly, this will probably replace the masks that I previously used. My favorite features are the fact that it’s cruelty free, reusable with tons of product, and that it leaves my skin feeling soft to the touch. I rate it 9/10! I highly recommend this mud mask for anyone who feels their skin needs a little TLC!

If you would like to try out this product for yourself, you can get it on Amazon Prime for $9.91!

Question of the Day: Do you have a favorite skin care item? If so, let me know in the comments!

*This is a non-sponsored article.
Posted in Religion, Witchcraft

Witchcraft Demystified

This one is for the curious knowledge-seekers out there. The ones who feel the call of the Craft. The ones who wonder, “What really is witchcraft, and how can I get involved?”

This one if for the wary wonderers. The ones who are both repulsed and intrigued by the assumed “darkness” involved in witchcraft. The ones who think, “Am I going to Hell if I learn about this?”

This one is for people who just want to learn about witchcraft, and want to see some of the misconceptions that surround the Craft get debunked.

Here are some of the common questions I hear people ask about witchcraft:

1. Is witchcraft the same as Wicca?

Short answer? No. Long answer? It really depends. Many Wiccans practice witchcraft as a part of their religion. And there are witches, such as myself, who practice witchcraft alongside a completely different religion. And then there are even witches who are atheists! Witchcraft isn’t tied to any particular religion.

2. Is witchcraft evil?

Not necessarily, no. Could someone hypothetically use witchcraft to cast curses on innocent people? Of course. But the energy that witches harness during a spell or ritual is entirely neutral. It is up to the practitioner to decide whether they will use their abilities for good or evil.

3. Is witchcraft Satanic?

Refer to point #1. Just like with Wicca, witchcraft can be practiced alongside Satanism (or any religion) but it isn’t Satanic on its own. Witchcraft is what you make it.

4. Is witchcraft real?

I certainly think that it is. Spells that I’ve cast in the past have always worked.

5. Can you turn someone into a frog?

No. Unfortunately, witchcraft can’t defy the laws of physics. Though powerful, the Craft still has its limits.

6. Who can become a witch?

Anyone! Witchcraft does not belong to a single gender, race, socioeconomic class, or any strict category. If someone wishes to become a witch, they can do so.

 7. How can I become a witch?

Now, this is a tricky one, since there is no straightforward answer. Learn everything you can about witchcraft. Knowledge truly is power. Decide if you want to combine your Craft with your religion, or keep the two entirely separate. Learn how to write your own spells and how to recreate a ritual on your own. Perhaps follow other witches on your favorite social media sites and observe what they do. What I’m trying to say is: You can do almost anything you want to become a witch.

Hopefully I was able to dispel some common misconceptions about witchcraft and demystified the topic as a whole for you!

Question of the Day: What questions do you have about witchcraft? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!