I’ve had so much happiness and love in my heart since I last checked in that there’s basically no anger in me. I feel like I’ve been wrung out and all that’s left is sunshine. I don’t care if I sound ridiculous; I feel ridiculously good.
Here’s what I’ve been into lately…
Pictures from last week…
[Extra Sparkle] * Sending one glass of red wine to a table of four people on a date to play out an It’s Always Sunny themed prank * Getting Mexican food at Blue Agave with John, Maura, and Alan and the waitress bringing over free shots of tequila with a firecracker! * Seeing “Black Panther” in a fancy movie theater with reclining seats and cranberry vodka * Walks with Druid * Getting to show someone “Arrested Development” for the first time and see it with new eyes * Finally walking through the “Mystery” exhibit of AVAM * Going to the Fun A Day art show at Joe Squared * Weird interactions with drive-thru cashiers * Being cooked for * Giant bouquets of balloons * Running down the mall stairs to a photobooth * Bringing donuts to John’s coworkers * Being able to write glowing recommendations for someone to get a job * The motivation of hip hop * Look out points and the “Star Boy” CD * Gifts of Rosemary * Phone calls that could have been texts * Texts from Maura that tell me how much she loves me * Exploring more of what I love * Having a reason to send 11 yellow hearts * Being stood up for * Blaming everything on 1991 * Snow day * New Against Me! poster * Banksy prints * Tofu tacos * Bright turquoise wheelchair ramps
Justin Timberlake dancing around the world - YouTube
I was so happy to be a part of the Living Out Loud Summit with Toni Black earlier this year! My interview with her on self-love went live on Valentine’s Day, and it was great timing! If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, it’s a great time. We both were smiling our faces off; she’s an amazing lady!
The Spring Equinox is here (despite the go home Winter, you’re drunk weather on the actual first day of Spring here in Baltimore), and that means so much is starting to happen! Flowers are blooming, the days are staying light longer, the air is warmer, and there’s so much room for activities!
I love making lists of ways to celebrate things, and the seasonal changes are no different! Spring isn’t my favorite season, but it’s close. The mild weathered seasons are my favorite, but Autumn definitely takes the cake. You Southern Hemisphere babes are moving into my favorite season, and I haven’t forgotten about you! You can check out the Fall Bucket List to plan your celebratory activities.
I made you a list of one hundred things to add to your Spring To Do List, and a printable (colorful) PDF with my own ridiculous illustrations on it. You can download that for free below! (Or if you’re on my e-mail list, you can go to the Content Upgrade page and download it with your special password you get for being a part of the tribe.)
100 Things To Do In Spring
1. Have a picnic on a blanket with a really good friend
2. Fly a kite
3. Get a group of people together to make a May Pole
4. Stock up on pastel clothes and accessories
5. Plant seeds
6. Clean out your desk, studio, or closet
7. Make physical prints of the photos you took last year
8. Visit a playground
9. Pick wildflowers
10. Bird watch
11. Search for four-leaf clovers
12. Splash in puddles
13. Create a nature themed scavenger hunt
14. Blow balloons out of your car window
15. Build (or decorate) a bird house
16. Buy cheap day-after Easter candy
17. Wear a giant flower in your hair
18. Twirl in a field
19. Cut up strawberries to put in your salad
20. Wear a flower in your hair (or make a flower crown)
21. Search for a four leaf clover
22. Buy a bike, decorate it, and take a ride
23. Get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny
24. Climb a tree
25. Celebrate Ostara, the Spring Equinox
26. Make a list of as many reasons you can think of why you love Spring
27. Watch the sunrise
28. Draw a rainbow
29. Check out yard and estate sales
30. Visit DC to see the Cherry Blossoms
31. Open all the windows in your house
32. Sketch some nature
33. Go kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boating
34. Go to a drive-in movie theater
35. Visit a farmer’s market
36. Dye eggs
37. Burn jasmine or rose scented incense
38. Play hopscotch
39. Get the sweet stuff out of a honeysuckle
40. Do something drastic to your hair
41. Have a garden tea party
42. Cloud-gaze and find shapes in them with your imagination
43. Visit a Tulip Garden or Botanical Garden
44. So some yoga outside
45. Make your own Spring to do list
46. Celebrate Chicken Dance Day on May 14th
47. Do some guerrilla gardening in your city
48. Tie-dye something you can wear
49. Take a hike
50. Pick up litter on the streets to create a clean environment
51. Pet a bunny
52. Wear clashing floral prints
53. Make a wish on a dandelion
54. Read some Mother Goose poems
55. Get yourself a huge floppy hat and even bigger sunglasses
56. Put fresh cut flowers in a vase in your house
57. Paint rocks or make a pet rock
58. Sun yourself in a park or your backyard
59. Go on a Spring Break vacation
60. Write a Spring-themed haiku
61. Send postcards to celebrate Postcard Week the first week of May
62. Have an egg scavenger hunt with friends or leave them around your city for strangers
63. Use something delicious to make popsicles
64. Play Frisbee
65. Visit a flea market
66. Celebrate Earth Day
67. Write a limerick
68. Play with ribbon wands
69. Wear candy necklaces
70. Make a bird feeder
71. Recycle materials for art installations
72. Eat an excessive amount of Cadbury Eggs
73. Get a bright fancy pedicure to prepare your tootsies for sandals
74. Draw with sidewalk chalk
75. Make a Spring-themed playlist/mix CD
76. Start recycling
77. Search for murals in your city
78. Build a fairy house
79. Play leap frog
80. Photograph flowers
81. Heat up Peeps in the microwave
82. Get a new haircut
83. Attend opening day for your local baseball team
84. Skip stones in a pond, lake, ocean
85. Hang a prism from your rear-view mirror
86. Wash your car
87. Splurge on a colorful, fancy umbrella
88. Hang up a windchime
89. Get some free swag at your local comic store on Free Comic Book Day
90. Attend International Pillow Fight Day on April 2nd
91. Play mini golf
92. Take advantage of half off Easter candy the Monday after
93. Visit the beach in the off season
94. Pull off elaborate April Fool’s Day pranks
95. Plan a Summer vacation
96. Make your own tutu
97. Dry some flowers
98. Revel in the longer daylight each day
99. Plant a butterfly bush
100. Wear bunny ears
Ready for the printable PDF version with my colorful poorly drawn illustrations? Download below for free!
Depression is a very cruel disease. It can be incredibly difficult to overcome the feelings of emptiness and helplessness which depression so often causes. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of reliable treatment options. We know that certain medications and therapies can be effective in alleviating the symptoms of depression, but what works for one patient will not necessarily work for the next.
Finding things that people can do in their day to day lives to help them through the worst days of their illness is of tremendous value for depression sufferers. Some people find that creative pursuits such as art, writing, or music are helpful to them. For other people, however, it is practical, rather than creative, activities which provide the most effective relief.
DIY is the perfect marriage of these two different styles. DIY is a pursuit which is simultaneously creative and practical. Here are some of the reasons why DIY is such an effective tool in holding back the most serious symptoms of depression.
It Gets You Moving
If nothing else, undertaking a DIY task will require that you get out of bed. Getting out of bed is the easiest thing in the world for most people, but for the depressed, it can be a real struggle. A DIY project gives you a reason to get up and get out of bed. It doesn’t matter what the precise project that you pursue is, it will require you to utilize both your mind and body to ensure that you complete the task to the best of your ability.
When someone is depressed, even the simplest of tasks become difficult to even contemplate starting. Staying productive while depressed is, therefore, a constant challenge, but undertaking DIY tasks can provide some much-needed motivation. Pursuing DIY tasks not only requires a degree of motivation, completing them will give you something to feel positive about and will provide you with a valid reason to feel proud of yourself. Both of these things are very important, yet very difficult, for depressed patients.
If you are only just beginning your DIY journey, you will find that taking on some relatively small and simple projects will allow you to build up both your skill level and your confidence before you take on more complex tasks.
Learn New Skills
Learning new information and skills can often make depressed patients feel better. Accomplishing both of these tasks makes people feel like they are progressing and improving. Feeling like we are advancing in our lives is a significant factor in determining our overall happiness. If you are looking for some new DIY and plumbing skills to learn, then check out The Plumbing Info.
Get Others Involved
Depression is a disease which makes many of the interactions with other people that we usually take for granted exceptionally difficult. If you live with friends or a spouse, depression can significantly affect these relationships. Undertaking some DIY projects collaboratively is an excellent way of getting some much-needed human interaction.
DIY is a potentially very powerful tool for combating depression. DIY offers depressed individuals many of the most essential components of confidence and happiness.
If you have ever seen someone return from a long run or an exercise session at the gym and immediately down a chocolate muffin on the basis that they have “earned” the treat, you’ll know just how destructive such behavior can be.
However, although it is a terrible idea to act in such an extreme way, the fact remains that forming good habits, such as cutting down on sugary snacks, eating more healthy food or getting more exercise can be an incredibly draining experience and that allowing ourselves the occasional indulgence can make life significantly easier.
Many of the more popular diets in circulation include a number of “cheat” days where participants are able to eat whatever they want. While during the early days of such diets, those taking part will often indulge themselves on such days, their behavior generally levels off after a while. According to various studies, the act of giving ourselves treats can help boost our energy levels and lead to us feeling cared for which in turn makes it easier to maintain good habits. The key is to choose the right sort of treats.
Take Some Time For Yourself
Remember how it felt to be a child when the snow came, and you didn’t have to go to school? Recreate that feeling by booking a day off of work and keeping it all to yourself. All too often, we take time away from the office because we have urgent matters that need to be attended to. During such days we rarely get any time to ourselves and often end up feeling all the more exhausted when we return to work.
Take a day to yourself and think of it as a spa day in which you don’t have to worry about the expense of paying for a spa. Make yourself a breakfast in bed, read a book you have been meaning to crack open or take a long, hot bath and follow it up by slathering yourself with your favorite moisturizer.
If it’s too difficult for you to take a whole day off, treat yourself to the gift of five minutes in which you do absolutely nothing. Think of it as a form of mediation that does require you to sit cross-legged or chant. Simply take a few moments to clear your mind and plan what you will do next.
We all know how great it feels to shop, but we also know that on occasion, those positive feelings only last as long as it takes for the credit card statements to arrive. However, you don’t always need to break the bank in order to enjoy a shopping spree.
Leave all your plastic cards at home, take a specific amount of cash – however much you feel you are happy to spend – and then head to the nearest thrift store and see how much you can purchase. You can make a little game of it – seeing how far you can make your money go and how many items you can purchase in the time that you have.
By taking your time and knowing that you only have a limited amount of money to spend, you will be far more discerning about what you buy and are therefore more likely to end up with items that you truly desire. There is also always the chance you could end up with a fantastic bargain.
Another way to enjoy a touch of retail therapy without any chance of suffering from buyer’s regret is to go window shopping. Just remember to leave your cards at home again so that you don’t get tempted.
Seek Alternative Pastimes To Alcohol
Turning to a glass of wine to help us wind down at the end of the day might seem harmless enough, but over time such behavior can become habit forming. This should be avoided in the case of those who could develop a dependency. Those who feel as though they may have developed an addiction can turn to Arizona alcohol rehab for guidance and support.
Laughter, they say, is the best medicine and it’s also a great way to give yourself mood boost anytime, anywhere. Laughter is also infectious so take care of the people you choose to spend your time with. While we all have those friends who are going through various difficulties and need our support, this can be draining after a while. Spending time with someone who makes you laugh can be the perfect antidote. By splitting your time between the two, you can be there for the people who need you without losing too much of yourself in the process.
If you don’t have access to hilariously funny friends, there are plenty of great comic audio books, podcasts and comedy shows, many of which you can find online for free. Watch them alone or with friends and give yourself a little lift. As laughter reduces stress, a few minutes of watching a comedy sketch show can do wonders for your mood at the end of a hard day at the office.
Although funny friends are great, any friends will do. Getting out of the house and meeting up with people at social events where the primary activity is people talking together can be another fantastic treat. You’ll meet lots of interesting people, take part in great conversations and come away from experience with a new level of enthusiasm for life.
Change Your Sheets
The feeling of climbing into a bed with freshly laundered linens never gets old. If you want to have a boost at the very end of your day, change all of your bedding in the morning so can enjoy that delicious crisp, clean feeling when you return at the end of the day.
One of the great things about this treat is that it doesn’t cost anything, and it is one you are able to anticipate the pleasure of all day long. To make this treat especially effective, combine it with a long hot bath filled with delicious aromas, a little soft music, and some candles. You’ll know it’s time to get out when you’ve turned into a raisin.
With the choice in latest trends and new clothing offering inspiration at every turn, it’s hard not to fall into the trap of buying into a style that could be a passing fad. The beauty of exploring your personality and discovering your own style is that you can use these everyday trends to add touches of individual flair to an outfit. These unique elements in a look give you something different from everyone else out there and can make you feel confident and happy with your style choices. Adding these touches are also super easy to do, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth to give you that much-needed boost.
Check out some simple ways in which you can switch up little elements in your wardrobe and overall look to add your own personality to the mix.
Changes to your style don’t have to be big to be noticeable. Small but subtle things can be introduced into your look, which is perfect for people experimenting with different style. The best way to introduce different elements to an outfit is by accessorizing effectively. Style items that show off areas of your personality such as vivid colors for a bubbly character or classic black for serious with a twist of sophistication. You can even go smaller with hints of unique jewelry that are special to you or explore tech accessories, which fit your lifestyle and look. For fashion and function, CustomEnvy.com has Galaxy S9 cases and a range of other styles to pair with your personality.
Customize Your Clothing
There’s nothing wrong with buying the latest trends but have you considered giving them a unique touch with customization? There are so many easy ways to do this, however, it depends on your tastes. Check out some of these top ideas to add some flavor your wardrobe:
Get crafty with a tie-dye cotton tee
Add funky patches to jackets or accessories to give them a unique look
Add pretty pins or brooches to collars and shirts
Create your own trends by customizing clothing such as cuts outs or adding material elements
Vintage clothing is making a huge comeback at the moment, so it’s never been a better time to rework some of your old clothing to suit new looks. Vintage and pre-worn clothing is also available at thrift shops and can be used to add elements of vintage to modern trends. Something as simple as a cute vintage neck scarf can be used in a variety of ways from accessorizing a handbag, adding a feature to a belt or using as a tie for your hair. Vintage clothing is also great to add a unique twist to modern clothing, as pairing some funky 80’s acid wash Levi jeans with a cute tee gives simple styling an individual look.
It’s super easy to personalize your style while incorporating the outfits you love. These options are affordable too so you won’t have to worry about blowing the budget on looking and feeling great.
1. Wear as much green as you possibly can
2. Make packets of rainbow seeds
3. Do a pub crawl
4. Bring green candy into work or to share with friends or roommates
5. Prepare shamrock popcorn
6. Watch TV shows about St. Patrick’s Day like S11E08 of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, S06E19 of The Office, or S06E12 of 30 Rock.
7. Take getting green in a different way and plant some flowers or a plant
8. Lead someone somewhere with rainbow yarn and have the end of the rainbow surprise be gold coins
9. Line up your craft supplies in a rainbow fashion (buttons, pom poms, etc.) and hashtag them with #crafttherainbow on Instagram
10. Make a cake decorated with Lucky Charms
11. Blow up gold Mylar balloons that spell out “lucky” and dance around with them
12. Fill a box with green goodies and mail it to a friend
13. Change out the buttons on your shirt for shamrock buttons (or rainbows– or both!)
14. Carry green shamrock stickers around with you all day to help out non-green wearers to be more festive
15. Learn the Irish jig
16. Make a DIY Leprachaun trap
17. Give your pet a bunch of shamrocks and green beads to roll around in
18. Drink green beer (bonus points if it’s Irish)
19. Do a St. Patrick’s Day wordsearch
20. Make a toilet paper leprechaun
21. Watch an Irish movie like The Boondock Saints, Once, or How To Be Happy
22. Or watch movies with Irish actors like Olivia Wilde, Colin Farrell, or Chris O’Dowd
23. Plan a trip to actually go to Ireland or even a place with a great festival like Chicago
24. Learn about various lucky charms like four leaf clovers and horse shoes
25. Kiss an Irish person
26. Listen to Irish-based bands like The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, Dropkick Murphys, U2, and Flogging Molly.
27. Create and recite limericks
28. Create a rainbow balloon arch with two pots of gold at either end (use for a photo backdrop)
29. Learn the Irish blessing (and/or print it out)
30. Check to see if there’s a St. Patrick’s Day parade in your city and then attend it
31. Make rainbow slime
32. Knit or crochet a themed yarnbomb and install it somewhere outside
33. Don’t pinch anyone
34. Do some family history research and see if you are related to anyone Irish
35. Learn more about Ireland, the country where this holiday is originated in
36. Bust out your crayons for some St. Patrick themed coloring pages
37. Go on a search for four leaf clovers
38. Make layered rainbow pudding
39. Hunt for a pot of gold
40. Do an Easter Egg hunt type thing but with chocolate coins or foam shamrocks
41. Wear a rainbow tutu or just a rainbow outfit
42. Make a St. Patrick’s Day fortune teller
43. Dye your hair green or use that temporary hair spray at the party store
44. Decorate a bus shelter/stop with a bunch of green and rainbow decorations
45. Cover a beard in shamrocks or rainbows
46. Make a polka dotted “lucky” banner
47. Print out some other holiday decor
48. Bake Irish soda bread (even I can make it)
49. Tell some St. Patrick’s Day jokes
50. Dye white flowers green
[Edit March 2018] I wrote this list in September 2014, and I wanted to check it out and see now that I’ve grown so much how different the “criteria” for dating me is. Turns out… like, not at all. In terms of what’s important to me, it’s still the basics. It’s kind of cool to know that I know what I want and I think the longer you feel like you’re walking in a pair of shoes that feels comfortable, the easier it is to find your path (or partner).
Dating is kind of crazy, but I also kind of love it. Online dating can be nerve-wracking, but I’ve actually had a pretty good set of experiences. Have there been horror stories? Uhm, absolutely. But I have a pretty good feel for people, so I end up having a good time.
The older I get, the less “high-maintenance” I become. It’s a result of knowing who I am and what I want. When I was sixteen, I thought it would be fun to make a “manual” on how to date me as a present to my then-boyfriend. It would be hilarious to see that now, because from what I can remember it was completely different to date me then than now. I had things in there like “If I don’t have full eye make-up, I’m not coming out of the house!” which is embarrassing and astounding. When it comes down to it, there are only three things to remember when dating me:
1) Don’t hit me.
2) Don’t berate me.
3) Don’t lie to me.
If you can follow those guidelines, we’ll be fine. This is assuming that I want to date you, though. It’s easy for me to give someone a second chance (i.e. a second date), but if you get to date three then you’re in. Also, I assume that if you don’t kiss me on the first date you don’t like me.
It takes me a long time to be comfortable enough to sleep in front of someone. Sleeping is the most intimate (and vulnerable) activity to me. I’m not super fancy. Please don’t make me go to high-class restaurants without expecting me to get sauce on my shirt or say something strange to our waiter. I am one hundred percent sure that I do not want children. I don’t use my college degree, and I don’t plan on it. If you don’t ever want to hang out with my friends, that’s a dealbreaker ladies!
Other Important Factors
1) Be able to make me laugh and have a similar sense of humor
2) Be okay with non-traditional gender roles
3) Don’t prohibit me from enjoying myself
4) Call me on my crap (because I’ll call you on yours)
5) Be passionate about music in some capacity, even if your preferences are opposite of mine
6) Understand and agree that sex is important
7) Be able to take it slow at first, emotionally
8) Enjoy nature, but prefer city environments to rural
9) Be able to accept and embrace The Weird
10) Be good at communicating, especially when we’re apart
11) Love animals
12) Not be religious
1) Like to dance (with me)
2) Be able to cook/fix things
3) Have a beard
4) Have similar political beliefs on areas I find important (++ go to a protest with me!)
5) Make the first move
6) Not get turned off by glitter
7) Surprise me (kisses, single sunflowers, balloons)
8) Send me good morning texts
9) Enjoy traveling
10) Make plans instead of me always having to do it
11) Wear hats
12) Be dominant
Random Turn Offs
1) Wearing those weird webbed shoes and Crocs
2) Being too submissive
3) Badgering me about spending the night
4) Tasting strongly of mint, coffee, or cigarettes
5) Having an addiction
6) Liking The Big Bang Theory
7) Insisting on paying for everything
8) Insisting on always driving
9) Hating Halloween/not dressing up
10) Having shitty friends
11) Complaining about your life without trying to fix it
12) Looking at my phone
In addition to all of that, just know that I am magic and you will fall in love with me.
January 20th is Fetish Day, and I want to use this opportunity to talk about them! Uncustomary is all about loving yourself and embracing (and celebrating!) your inner weird, whatever that may be. That includes celebrating your sexuality, whatever that means for you.
My entire life, I’ve always been the “Samantha” of my friend group. I talk about sex all the time, without filter. I’ll talk about it in front of strangers, with strangers, about strangers. I don’t hold back because I find it interesting and integral to life. In the past two and a half years, however, I’ve made a new group of friends who are in the Kink Community, and I’ve relatively become the “Charlotte” of the group! In comparison to everyone else, I’m the basic, vanilla, hetero girl. It’s quite amusing to me, actually. What’s not amusing to me is when I talk to people online or in person who aren’t in the Kink Community about kink/fetishes, they tend to be judgmental to say the very least.
There’s a really beautiful saying in the kink world which is, “My kink isn’t your kink and that’s okay“. What turns one person on sexually is up to them and any consenting partners they have and that’s it! I’m honestly tired of the judgment I hear about fetishes and polyamourous lifestyles, so I want to start by addressing what fetishes are and diving into important topics you might have questions about. I never want you to feel like you’re being judged in this space of the internet. You don’t have to feel like you’re required to talk about your fetishes or anything else personal to you, but please know that you’re welcome to. The Uncustomary Babes group is also a great place to do that as well.
As a pseudo-kink girl, I didn’t feel comfortable writing this article myself. Especially when I have so many experts accessible to me! I interviewed two of my friends, Laura and Honey and I wanted to transcribe their conversation below. (I want to disclaim that the term “Vanilla” is not a derogatory term. It’s just used to distinguish between someone who engages in fetishes/BDSM and someone who does not. Don’t want to offend anyone!)
Let’s Explore Fetishes!
What is a fetish?
‘A fetish is something that is out of the norm that turns you on or that somehow stimulates you.’ ‘Some people who have fetishes can’t be aroused or satisfied without the presence of that fetish.’
What’s the difference between sexual preference and fetishes?
‘It’s a matter of perspective. It depends on a lot of things including the culture and the baseline.’ For example, your baseline and “norm” in one country might think that anal sex is totally regular and in another country it might be totally “deviant”. ‘But some things we can totally agree are totally outside the realm of “normal”, such as being peed on.’
Where do you believe most fetishes come from? More past experiences of more innate/genetics?
There’s lots of theories, but no one answer. The Dom/Sub persona can easily be related to personality, but on the other hand lots of times we see that the “during the day” personality of someone might be more ‘dominant, dynamic, and Type-A but find a huge release in submission sexually’. Arousal by Michael Baker is a great book that goes into the answer to this question and you can trace many of your fetishes back to past experiences, many of which are childhood.
Why do you think fetishes are still so taboo?
‘Our society is afraid of sex.’ ‘If you look historically, it started in religion. Greeks and Romans were a lot more open to sex. Christianity came in and kind of changed the pace and sex all of a sudden became wrong. As a culture we’re just beginning to shake off the reigns of that. Think about the changes in just the past ten years; we’re just beginning to have dialogue that used to be scandalous. We’re on a trajectory of becoming more open.’
Does it bother you when the word “fetish” is used inaccurately, like “I have such a fetish for office supplies” when they don’t mean it in a sexual way?
‘Nope. But it does bother me when people say that pedophilia is a fetish.’ ‘Or when there’s a lot of particular shaming around a fetish.’
Where do you draw the line between healthy and non-healthy/dangerous fetishes?
‘Pedophilia is a sexual deviancy, but age play is a fetish. Consensual non-consent is a fetish, rape is not a fetish.’ ‘Sometimes you’ll hear pedophiles will try to justify their ‘right’ to have sex with children or men will try to justify their right to rape women as long as their in their home. It’s this whole idea of what separates BDSM from abuse. You can literally do anything as long as it’s two consenting adults, I don’t care. But the minute it causes harm is when it’s a problem.’
‘Also risk awareness. You can’t really consent to something when you don’t know the risk of it. There should be a conversation about what would happen if harm was potentially is done. How would you move on as partners, etc. You really have to consider the longer term impacts.’ ‘There’s an acronym that’s used, RACK – Risk Aware Consensual Kink. You can’t have consent without risk awareness.’
Can you talk about the difference of consent between the Kink Community and the “Vanilla” Community?
So lots of times if a guy and a girl are sitting on a couch and a guy asks the girl if he can kiss her, the girl might say “that’s not hot, just grab me and kiss me”. In the Vanilla Community, we tend to assume that as long as there’s not a reported “problem” that everything is consensual and things are done on a reactive basis instead of a proactive basis.
‘There are a lot of assumptions made in the world based on things that we’ve been brought up with and taught from our friends, parents, movies, etc. Don’t pretend you know what someone wants due to nonverbal cues and actually ask them.’ ‘Before I got into the Kink Community, I was really comfortable with a lot of little things, but now I’m really off-put by men at bars doing things like touching my back or running their hands through my hair because they feel entitled to touch me just because it’s not specifically sexual.’ And it comes down to smaller things we consider harmless that start in childhood like giving hugs. It’s about respect and unlearning things we’ve been taught. Your body is your body.
It’s also totally possible to have a sexy, romantic, fulfilling romantic relationship with a fully consensual relationship. You don’t have to worry about questions to ensure consent making things cumbersome or unromantic. It’s about having a respectful, meaningful relationship with your partner.
What do you think the most important things are when beginning to explore a fetish?
‘Go slowly. If you’ve been having lots of fantasies, it’s very easy to dive in and have a negative experience. Communicate about everything.’ ‘Do your own research, educate yourself on the risks. (Reading 50 Shades Of Grey does not count.) Talk to people who have been in the scene a long time.’ Check out the book Playing Well With Others for a great start into navigating BDSM. ‘And remember that there’s no one right way to explore a fetish.’
Try FetLife! It’s a great resource for finding contacts, events, and information.
And if you’re in Baltimore, you might also want to consider coming to “The Next Generation, Baltimore” is a group primarily for individuals between the ages of 18 to 35 (and their partners) of any sexual orientation that hold an interest in a sexually alternative community. The purpose of the group is to create a safe and secure environment to aid in socialization within the BDSM community and to further educate members regarding alternative lifestyles. Check out their page on Fetlife and/or come to their happy hour. TNG Baltimore Happy Hour is the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. They meet on the 2nd and 3rd floor of Flavor Restaurant and Bar, located in the Mt Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, MD. They arrive at 8pm and stay until around midnight. While the group is geared toward people from the ages of 18-35, all ages are welcome at happy hours.
What role do you think plays into someone who might be repressing their fetishes?
‘Shame! I remember I was terrified at the first event I went to. Our entire society teaches us to be terrified at the stuff that turns us on.’ ‘And for lots of people they have a real fear about being outed in their place of work or by family members, etc. and have those people find them repulsive.’
‘There are also lots of smaller events you can go to like munches or happy hours where you can just go to meet people before you take any kind of sexual plunge. And remember once you get past that shame piece in your own mind, the Kink Community is the least judgmental community I’ve ever been a part of.’
Do you think it’s more difficult for girls to begin exploring their fetishes/entering the scene?
‘I think it’s actually harder for men because I think men struggle with the toxic masculinity role and what a man ‘should’ be. I think women have a lot more latitude in the community of what they can be; we easily allow women to be switches. Once a man submits or becomes a switch he’s not a ‘real’ man anymore. There’s a lot more homophobia around the male type. Women are encouraged to be bi!’ ‘It even comes out in clothing, like women are encouraged to wear skirts and dresses and men are not. And that gets reflected in many different examples across the board.’ ‘Many men coming in from the Vanilla Community have their masculinity tied into a lot of other things and breaking away from that can be very difficult.’
Do you think everyone deep down has a fetish?
‘No. I think a lot more people than you’d expect, maybe even a majority, but definitely not everyone.’
Do you guys personally find that your fetishes are labeled as a need or a want?
‘I need kink in my life to be sexually fulfilled, but not in every interaction.’ ‘I need varying degrees depending upon my relationship and interactions.’
What advice do you have for Vanilla people who are exposed to people with fetishes for the first time?
‘Be kind and supportive. Don’t judge. Have an open mind.’ ‘Try to resist the impulsive recoil/’ick factor’ and maybe inquire about how it fulfills them or how they got involved in that (and know it’s okay if they don’t want to talk about it). You don’t NEED to understand why they think that thing is hot to support them and love them, that’s okay!’ ‘You might want to examine why it makes you uncomfortable if it does.’ Soul searching can be a beautiful thing!
There’s actually almost an hour’s worth of interview material you can listen to with way more detail and gems to learn from. Check that out here.
Laura is a polyamorous bisexual sadomasochistic switch. She has been in the kink scene for about four years and has been a member of the TNG Baltimore steering committee for about two years. She has a passion for all things kink and for helping new kinksters find their way to safe, consensual BDSM. She can be contacted at email@example.com with questions regarding BDSM and the kink scene in Baltimore.
Honey_bare is a queer femme sadomasochistic rope-switch with a propensity towards edgy and heavier play, including stressful and dynamic rope suspension. honey learns from and is inspired by many teachers in rope, and hopes to tie always with intent and functionality as well as aesthetic. honey also enjoys erotic bondage (and non-bondage) photography, and is always looking for the perfect shot. honey has presented and performed for Krakens AKademy, Black Rose, Dark Odyssey, MBE, Thunder in the Mountains, and at other events in her local scene. honey loves spreading her joy and experience in kink to others any chance she gets!
And again, if you’re in the Baltimore area make sure you check out TNG if you’re interested in getting involved in the Kink Community! I can even coordinate to go to Happy Hour on the same day as you if you don’t want to go alone!
Nihilism isn’t always a word people know how to use. The definition can be tricky, too. Often it gets wrapped up in religion, which is fair, but it doesn’t always need to be. Basically it’s the idea that “life is meaningless” in the sense that there’s nothing beyond this earthly existence, like an afterlife. It can also be interpreted as everything we’re experiencing isn’t actually real. Often, we use the term “nihilist” to describe someone who is miserable and finds the negative in everything, but that’s not technically accurate.
If you’re religious, this idea probably is offensive to you, and I understand that. I don’t mean to offend you or challenge your personal beliefs. I think everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want to believe, including me. That being said — hear me out…
One of my favorite things in the world is to look up at the stars in a place outside of a city. I’m usually in the city, so it’s not something that happens super often, but laying back and gazing up at that infinite amount of exploding balls of light in the sky awakens me. I first feel overwhelmed by the beauty of everything, and feel grateful I get to see what I’m seeing. Then I start to think about how so many of those stars aren’t even there, but I’m still seeing them because of how far away they are from me. Next, I ponder how far away everything really is and how we can’t even make our astronauts to Mars, the planet next to us, and we’re only one galaxy in a sea of a massive never-ending universe. Then I start to feel really small. I think about how big the universe is in a way that doesn’t even make sense to me, then our galaxy, then our planet, then our country, then just my state, and finally myself.
I think about the earth and how long it’s existed. If you look at the timeline of how long it’s existed, humankind is just a mere blip on the radar (despite the impact we’ve had on it).
I realize how small I am. Not just in size, but in time and space. I am a tiny thing inside this massive thing I can’t even begin to comprehend. (And I kind of like the mystery of that.) I’m one of seven billion people on this planet, one of 107 billion people who have ever lived. Most of which aren’t in history books and don’t have a statue made in honor of them.
It seems depressing, right? But that’s not at all how I feel about it. I feel inspired by it, and that’s nihilism at it’s best.
“I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me”
– Fleet Foxes
I feel like, if I’m so small, and so insignificant, then nothing I do really actually matters. And if that’s the case — why shouldn’t I do everything in my power to be happy? Why should I waste time hating the way I look or the hand I’ve been dealt? Why not make the best of what I’ve been given and the time that I have here? Why not try to make as many people happy along with me as possible? Why not use my talents for good? Why waste my precious time for negativity? What’s the point?
If nothing matters, all you have is your happiness. So make it your number one priority.
And that doesn’t mean I can’t have high self-esteem, promote body positivity, or honestly even believe in a religion. I actually believe we have past lives, and in order for that to be true, there has to be something more than what we see with our eyes. I believe in the cosmos and magic. But that doesn’t mean I can’t let nihilism to empower me and light a fire under my ass.