Inspiring woman: Zuzu Angel

Hello, my pretties! How are you all doing? Well, I hope!

Here I am again to talk to you all. I haven’t posted anything last week for March 8th, as I was on call at work, and it was a very busy day. Not bad, just busy. But I still felt that I needed to write something about it. I thought a lot about what I should write, and decided I’d share about a woman from my country, a woman who was and is an inspiration to many of us.

Zuleika Angel Jones (nee Zuleika de Souza Netto), also known as Zuzu Angel, was born in a state called Minas Gerais, in Brazil, and died in Rio de Janeiro, also in Brazil. She was a fashion designer, and the mother of a young man who disappeared during one of the darkest times in Brazilian history – the military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985.

Why did a fashion designer become such an inspiration? Due to her son.

Her son Stuart Edgart Angel Jones, her son with an American citizen by the name of Norman Angel Jones, was arrested, tortured and killed in 1971 by the military authorities of the time. The official story was that he was “missing”, but there was enough evidence in the form of testimony by people who had seen what had happened for his mother to believe he had indeed been killed.

From then on, she started a one-woman war to have the right to recover and bury her son’s body. She started using the wounded angel to represent her son through her work, and go to anyone she believed capable of helping her as she tried to find out where they had laid him to rest, even going so far as to hand Henry Kissinger a dossier with everything she knew about her son’s death, as her son was an American citizen through his father.

Sadly, this brave woman never got to find and bury her son’s body. Before she could, she passed away on a very suspicious car crash in Rio de Janeiro, near a tunnel that was later named after her. Her car lost its grip and crashed through the guard rail, landing on a road below the one she was driving at and killing her instantly.

A week before she died, Zuzu had left a document at the houses of a few friends, including famed singer-songwriter Chico Buarque de Hollanda, a document she wanted to see published in case something happened to her. In this document, she had written: “If I turn up dead, by accident or any other way, it will have been the work of the people who murdered my beloved son”.

Later on, during further investigation of suspicious deaths during that dark time of our history, witnesses came forward to say they had seen another car on the road, which had pushed hers off its tracks, before the fatal crash.

In 2014, one of the agents in charge of repressing those who were against the government wrote a book in which he mentioned several crimes he was involved with – one of those was Zuzu Angel’s death. He pointed out the presence of a now deceased Army colonel at the site, and the Commission of Truth – a work group created to uncover crimes perpetrated during this time – considered it as evidence that the military were involved in Angel’s death.

There is more about this woman than I can say, but I believe she deserved to be known by others. She was a woman, a mother, and a human being. She fought something much bigger than herself, and the only thing she wanted was the truth about her son. Something she never got until the end of her life.

Well, that’s it for today, pretties. It’s a sad bit of history, but one that cannot and should not be forgotten, especially in these politically difficult times.

If you want to read more, you can find her name at the English Wikipedia.

See you all on the next post!

How do I organize myself?

Hello, my pretties! How are you all doing? Well, I hope! I’ve doing well enough! It’s been a busy week, but I’m alive, kicking and still blogging, so I guess everything’s okay!

Organization. I have been reading so much about it lately. There’s always a new and better organization hack we should all be doing, a new trend we should all be following, etc etc.

As someone who has to live with anxiety and loves patterns, I need order as much as I need oxygen. When I let chaos take over, I become paralyzed and unhappy, so I need to keep myself organized. And here is how I do it:

Checklist – things that have to be done every day (work reports, exercise, etc etc) go on top of my planner (yes, a paper one) as  a daily checklist. Not everything in there is done in the morning, but they’re the most important items. Some items vary, such as laundry (once a week) and taking out the trash (every other day), but if it’s a part of that day, it goes on the checklist.

Other tasks – whatever else has to or should be done but is not on the main checklist goes in the planner after the list and gets crossed out as it’s done. If something can’t be done, it goes into the next free slot (not necessarily the next day).

Limits – I’m one of those people who, if allowed, will fill the planner to the brim and still write where I’m not supposed to, so I have now put a soft limit on only filling my planner up to 2 pm (I don’t really do things by the exact times, so it’s a space measurement) and a hard limit up to 6 pm. Whatever can’t fit there, has to go to another free slot. It helps me keep sane and allows me some space for general notes, like a phone number or something that has crossed my mind.

Mobile tasks – These are the ones that can be done any day, any time. They’re usually moved around to the weekend or any other day off and tackled whenever possible, since they’re not urgent.

Habits (like working out and writing every day) go into the main checklist so I won’t stop doing them.

Food intake (as I’m watching my calories) goes on the bottom of the planner so I can keep track, but I’m hardly overly attached or prone to beating myself up over what I eat. It’s more so I can know what I tend to eat more of in which days, and adjust my shopping list according.

Well, I guess that’s it. That’s pretty much how I keep track of everything. My days are pretty uneventful, and I work from home from 8:30 to 6, Monday through Friday, so not a lot changes on my work days. Weekends are less structured, but grocery shopping and lunch still happen every Saturday, with the rest of the time free for leisure or devoted to other tasks, like cleaning or laundry. I know, I’m boring.

I think it’s time for me to stop going on about such a mundane subject, isn’t it?

So now it’s your turn to speak! How do you organize your life!

Share it with me in the comments!

See you all on the next post!

How do you know you’re a writer?

Hello, my pretties! Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a fun and safe celebration, and that you’re not too hungover by now. ;) Mine was pretty quiet, staying home and chatting with friends on Discord until bedtime. I’m an old lady, okay? I’m basically 36 going on 80, what can I do?

Okay, well wishes and more than you wanted to know about me aside, let us move on to the post, shall we?

I don’t know if it’s just me, correct me if I’m wrong. But from where I’m standing, writers seem to be the reigning monarchs when it comes to impostor syndrome. Pretty much every writer friend I have suffers from it. And a very frequent question I hear is how do I know I’m a real writer?

Before I go on, as usual, I need to make it clear – as I often do – that I’m not an expert on anything, including writing. Okay, let us move on.

I know it’s hard to consider oneself a real writer when others out there are publishing books, getting deals, making money, etc etc, and you’re sitting there writing on a blog or even writing good novels that don’t really get publishing deals (yet).

But I have two questions for all of those who (like myself) sometimes question themselves.

Are you a real person? With the way technology has been evolving in the past few years, with AI and all that jazz, I have to ask the question, okay? Sorry, no need to get offended. 

Do you write? I know that’s the million dollar question. Are you writing? For a blog, a novel, short stories, what have you? Even if you haven’t gotten a publishing deal yet?

If you have answered “yes” to both of these questions, you’re a real writer. Isn’t that amazing? Hang in there! Keep writing – blogging, writing your short stories, your novel, what have you. You’ll get there one day! Don’t give up!

All right, that’s it for today! It’s your turn to speak now! Have you ever questioned yourself on whether or not you’re a real writer? And what do you write? Share it all with me in the comments!

Oh, and I almost forgot (actually, I forgot and had to come back here and edit this in) to share my final word count from next year: I ended the year with 467,927 words. My goal was to hit 365,000 words (averaging 1,000 words per day), so I’m very happy with this final mark. Here’s hoping I’ll hit my target this year too! Have you hit yours? I’d love for you to share what your target for last year was and whether or not you’ve hit it!

See you on the next post! Love you all! 

Discussing the BDSM lifestyle

Hello, my pretties! How are you all? Doing well, I hope!

I wasn’t really going to post anything more this year, but a conversation with a dear friend sparked the idea, and here we go. 

Before I start, a disclaimer: I am, as I stated previously on this post, not particularly sexual of a person. But I’m actually interested in different forms of sexual relationships, and, even if I wasn’t, I’m not down for kink shaming or any kind of shaming people who aren’t harming anyone on this blog. Okay? Okay, let us move on.

About the conversation. Well, despite the fact that I seem to be a closed-off loner, I actually like talking to everyone about everything. Just ask me to talk about whatever, and, unless I have zero clue what you’re talking about, chances are I will want to talk to you about it. That was pretty much how this conversation with my friend started.

This friend had recently come into contact with the 50 shades of Grey movie, and, as it was to be expected, he was pretty horrified. Since I was the only person he knew with a general interest in the subject, he came to me, and we had a conversation about the movie (I haven’t read the book at all) and how things work regarding the BDSM lifestyle.

After our conversation, it hit me that he was not the first person to have question. He’s probably not going to be the last, so I decided I’d talk just a bit about it here. Please bear in mind that my knowledge is very limited. I’m not hardcore into the lifestyle. I’m more someone who finds the idea of being a submissive fun, but, outside scenes, I lead a perfectly vanilla life.

With that out of the way, this is what I need to share:

First of all, the core words are: safe, sane and consensual. What does this mean? 

Safe: Unless the dominant knows their partner is in distress just by looking at them, a safe word is extremely important. A safe word that is not something people would say in the midst of the situation, so there is no confusion.

Sane: Everyone involved must be of sound mind and able to freely consent.

Consensual: Well, that’s obvious. They must be able to consent and provide active consent regarding the situation.

Another thing that seemed to be cause of concern for him was the contract. In the movie, Grey simply presents a contract with a series of rules for Anastasia (I hope I’ve got her name right) to sign. No discussion. He made all of the choices. So, that’s not accurate as well.

First of all, there’s not necessarily a written contract (though I happen to like the idea). There is always a verbal contract, though, and that is something both partners have a say on. An example using myself as a subject would be not having blindfolds involved. I tend to freak out completely when blindfolded and lose all notion of time and space. I don’t know why, but it’s obvious that it wouldn’t put me in a sensual mood – quite the contrary. Being tied up is something we’d have to build up to. And it’s a great moment to set the safe word.

Another question a lot of people have is how the safe word works. It’s basically a “get out of jail free card”. The moment the submissive uses it, the scene stops. No negotiating or asking if you really need to stop. Yes, you do. A dominant that can’t respect a safe word should not be trusted.

Yet another question my dear friend had was whether or not I had ever allowed spanking and such, and whether or not I have ever had a dominant. The answers are yes and yes. I do allow spanking (hand only, I don’t like being hit with objects), and I have been fortunate enough to have an amazing dominant for a while. We had an excellent relationship, and he took very good care of me while we were a pair. So I might have become a spoiled brat as far as that goes. ;) 

Let me see… oh, yes, one last question he had.

He wanted to know whether or not people live the lifestyle all the time. The answer for that, as for a lot of things, is: some do, some don’t. I personally find it healthy to separate things. I like having my regular lifestyle out in public, and only switch to the submissive role when I’m alone with my partner. Others like living the life 100% of the time. As with everything, as long as everyone involved is consenting, it’s all good.

I guess that’s all. Basically, I just wanted to dispel some concerns from people who are outside looking in. Please understand that these relationships are consensual and not abusive (note: I’m not saying there are not abusive dominants – there are bad people everywhere. I’m just saying these relationships are not inherently abusive).

If you have concerns for someone in your life, talk to them. Ask questions. Watch out for the red flags of an abusive relationship, and, if they are there, ask your loved one to reconsider this situation. I would say trust your gut, but don’t jump to conclusions. 

Okay, now I’m done with this conversation. I really just wanted to put some minds at ease, that’s all. Like I said before, I’m no expert, just someone who finds the lifestyle intriguing and even fun if everyone involved is safe.

Do you all have any questions, or want to correct me on something? The comment section below is all yours! See you all on the next post! (This time really next year!)

Love you all!

How religion can be a force for evil

TW: Sexual assault

Hello, my pretties! How are you all? Doing well, I hope!

I come here today to share some random musings with you all. 

Before I get started, I will pose this disclaimer: I am not, by any means, against religion. I was raised in a Christian home. My parents are devout Christians and I, although not associated with any organized religion at this point, believe in God and Jesus. 

I’m also quite open-minded about religion in general. I like learning about all kinds of religions and talking to people who come from all religious backgrounds to understand their views and beliefs. So, this post does not come from any kind of prejudice against any specific religion or religion in general.

With that being said, my country is now wrapped in a controversy involving religion used as a cover for evil deeds.

I’m not sure all of you have heard about the supposed medium João Teixeira de Faria, more famously known as João de Deus. Oprah has interviewed him, as far as I know, but I’m not sure about other famous people out of the country. What about him? Well, several women are coming forward to share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault on his part. 

The stories are all similar. He would ask them to follow him to a bathroom, where there was a couch. In there, he would undress and touch them, pull their hand with them having their back to him and make them touch his penis or force them to perform oral sex. This happened to girls as young as fifteen, and also to grown women. He would tell them this was part of the ritual – necessary for them to receive the things they wanted from the spirits. And they would be silent, until they were no longer silent.

Many women now are coming forward, and the perpetrator has been taken to jail. He has yet to stand trial, so I will be following the developments as they happen.

This whole situation has gotten me thinking. My mother has mellowed out now, but I dealt with a lot of mistreatment and outright abuse in my younger years. I was shamed as a slut after I was sexually assaulted at 15. I was never taught sexual education at all, which probably made me easy prey. I wasn’t allowed anything resembling a normal childhood or teenage years. Any time I even considered stepping out of a very strict line, I was verbally abused, had personal items thrown away or got publicly humiliated. 

Where was this line drawn? By my mother’s religion. She once found out I was chatting to a boy online. That resulted in her trashing personal belongings and prohibiting me contact with the only friend I had, because she knew about the situation. She found books she didn’t like (she thought they were Satanic) and threw them all out. She would emotionally blackmail me into going to church when I was sick because my migraines weren’t real – I just didn’t love God enough. She would refuse to have home studies with me because ‘they were supposed to be as a family, and if my brother didn’t want to participate, it wasn’t a family study’. 

I have since stepped away from the religion, because I didn’t want to be abused anymore. Of course, the emotional blackmail is still alive and well, but it’s less stressful now that I don’t live with my mother anymore. She still tries to pull me back with threats about the end of the world and my eternal damnation – quite attractive. She tries to tell me I hurt her feelings by not being religious. 

And yet, she was the one who pushed me away. She was the one who used her religion as a foundation for her abuse of me. It wasn’t as bad as sexual abuse, but it was bad nonetheless. It was abusing others who are vulnerable in the name of religion. 

Sadly, I’m not the only case I saw in the religious group I used to attend. I was just one of the cases, usually young women who were abused by their mothers. I don’t want to put that on the religion, as I don’t want to be unfair. I know other members of this religion who are perfectly lovely people. But sadly, my mother is not an isolated case.

I don’t know what my point here actually is, other than religion should be a force for good – not evil.

Do you have other examples to share? Or good and uplifting stories from your own experiences? I’m open to everything, as usual! Just share your ideas with me in the comments!

See you on the next post!

Favorite sites

Hello there, my pretties! How are you all? Well, I hope!

I’ve come here today for a short post – and not about mental health this time. 

I’ve decided to talk a bit about my favorite sites in general. And to ask you all to share yours too! I love learning of new sites to visit!

Without further ado, here they go:

Wikipedia – my favorite rabbit hole. I go there often to check something out, and before I know it, I’m reading about a completely unrelated subject.

WordPress – okay, that’s kind of obvious, since this is where my blog is hosted, but I really love it. The templates are amazing (I’m always trying new ones), and the Search feature is a lot of fun. I love finding new blogs there.

Reddit – I subscribe to only a handful of subreddits, but the ones I do subscribe to are ones I check out daily. I love the roleplay, writing and blogging subreddits the most. I also enjoy answering questions on AskWomen every now and then.

Twitter – I post very little there, but I exchange messages with friends, and follow some really cool accounts (ThoughtsofDog, anyone?).

Unsplash – I love their pictures, and eventually share them on Facebook.

Pinterest – I live for it. I have a load of pins for pretty dresses, artwork, lovely women and other stuff just for fun.

Youtube (thank you, Scott!) – I spend pretty much all day there when I’m working, listening to documentaries. At the moment, I’m listening to a documentary about Karen Carpenter’s death, called Goodbye to Love – The Karen Carpenter Story.

Well, I guess that’s it. Of course there are tons of other sites I love, including blogs (you can find them on my sidebar), but these are broader sites I spend a lot of time on. I almost included Facebook here, but I ended up changing my mind. Despite the fact that I do spend time there daily (mostly sharing pictures and talking to friends or relatives), it’s not a site I truly love or care deeply about. It’s mostly means to an end, so I’ll leave it out of this list.

What about you? Are there any sites you love? Share them with me in the comments!

See you all on the next post! Be good!

Talking about incels

Hello, readers! How are you all? Doing well, I hope! 

I have been doing well enough, though a bit ashamed of the fact that I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I had planned to. Let’s pretend I’m acting according to plan, shall we? 

I have been thinking a lot about incels lately, and it was a theme I was planning on approaching way, way sooner than now, but things happened, life got in the way, and I’m just now sitting down to write about this right at this moment. Which is kind of a bummer, but, on the bright side, it has given me more time to think about incels from a different perspective.

Before I get started, I guess I’ll add a few disclaimers: first of all, I’m not, and have never been, an incel. My current state of celibate is as voluntary as it can be. I sometimes joke I was born to be a spinster. I just don’t have the patience or drive to hold on to a relationship. Second disclaimer is that I’m not justifying or defending despicable acts committed by anyone, incels included. 

For starters, for those who don’t know, the term incel comes from “involuntary celibate”. Basically, it’s about people (of either gender) who cannot find a sexual or romantic partner. 

The term has become very popular lately, basically because people who fit into this group have been doing terrible things as a way to make society pay for their failure to find a partner. And, of course, I cannot condone that. I don’t condone violence in any way, shape or form.

What I want to talk about today is about the two pillars, in my opinion, that make an incel a dangerous person.

The first pillar, in my opinion, is a sense of entitlement. Those people seem to think they have the ‘right’ to have a partner – preferably their chosen one, but, at some point, any will do. They believe they have a right to sexual and romantic interaction, and, when they can’t get it, they react with anger and hostility towards those who have denied them of that perceived right – mostly women.

The second pillar, again in my opinion, is how much value we as a society put on relationships and sex. It seems like it’s a requirement, almost a demand, that people must have a romantic relationship. And, when they don’t, they are treated as misfits and losers. I remember that, as a teenager who loved to be home and read, one of my aunts would come to my mother to tell her about how she should force me to go out, because I’d become, actual quote, a ‘crazy spinster’. Ooops, I think auntie had a point. 

But seriously, I do feel those are the two pillars supporting incel violence. While I’m sure wanting a romantic partner and not finding one is not fun (haven’t we all been there at some point?), I believe it would be way less harmful if we as a society did not put so much weigh on relationships to the point of defining one’s value based on whether or not they can find one.

Well… I guess that’s all I had to say for now. Just a little bit of rambling about a social theme I’m interested in at the moment.

I’d love to hear from you all now. What do you think is behind this phenomenon? Do you have any experiences to share? A theme you’d like to suggest for a future post? Share it with me in the comments!

Thanks for dropping by, and see you all on the next post!

We need to talk about mental health

Hello, readers! How are you all? Well, I hope! I’m doing just fine, little issues and problems everyone faces aside.

And since I’m having a pretty good day, I decided to come here to open up a conversation we all really need to have – mental health.

Those of you who read my previous post already know that I struggle with mental health issues, and have from an early age. And, sadly, the world we live in is not a really good place to keep people in a healthy mental space. The anxieties of our everyday lives, the fears we face for our safety, the threats to our (overall) health, it all contributes for the rampant increase in mental illness. That, and, of course, the fact that we’re being diagnosed more easily and promptly than we once were, and actually treated instead of shoved into some institution and left there so we wouldn’t disturb the ‘normal’ people.

While the medical profession has evolved in how it treats mentally ill people – and for that I’m very grateful -, society apparently hasn’t. Misconceptions are still abundant, from the ‘fragile’ mentally ill person who must be given their way so they won’t crumble to the ‘dangerous’ mentally ill person who we must keep an eye on lest they hurt someone, and many other ideas in between.

I get it, ignorance leads to fear. But nowadays, with Google at our fingertips, ignorance is no longer the excuse it once was. There are several sites, blogs and articles one can read up on and get informed. And you can bet you can find people to talk to. Due to the stigma still associated with mentally ill people, those closest to us may be one of those people and not tell us, because they’re afraid. Maybe you are one of those people, reader. 

I can’t tell you what to do, whether you’re a well-meaning curious person or a fellow sufferer of ill mental health. But I would like to encourage you all to open up. Talk. Read. If you can’t find anyone in your social circle to talk to, look for other sources.

We are out there. And most of us would be okay with answering your questions when we’re having a good day, as long as you ask respectfully and really want to learn.

Well. I guess that’s all I had to say for now. 

It’s your turn now. Is there any question you’d like to see answered? Or, if you’re like me, anything you’d like other people to know? Share with me in the comments!

See you all on the next post!

Talking about trigger warnings

Hello there, readers! I know, I haven’t really been around much. Sorry. Life’s been busy, and with another blog, the outlines of a novel, and just other everyday stuff going on, I’ve ended up letting more time than I wished to go by. I’ll try my best to get better about that.

With the apologies out of the way, let’s go to the theme I came here to talk about: trigger warnings.

A recent article has been making the rounds that basically states that trigger warnings are harmful to those they seek to help. The study behind the article hasn’t, from what I understood, worked with a large group, so I’m still weary of its validity. Being involved in the collaborative writing community, though, trigger warnings are a hot-button topic.

Anyone who has read my previous post has seen that I’m not completely opposite to them, since I have used a trigger warning on top of my post. But I do have a problem with them sometimes.

When? Well, when they’re used to make someone’s mental health everyone else’s responsibility. I believe trigger warnings are a useful tool, but not for everyone and everything.

A good example of the usefulness of trigger warnings: You’re planning on watching a movie that’s free for the whole family, but at some point during this movie, there’s a very disturbing scene or storyline. It’s nothing graphical, but it can be disturbing. So there’s a note there: This movie may contain disturbing scenes involving (insert theme here). So you, as a responsible adult, read this warning, heed it and opt out of the movie.

A bad example: You’re going to watch a horror movie, the latest installment in a franchise you know to be violent and gory. You watch it anyway and then complain that you got triggered by the violence. You knew it was a violent movie! 

Basically, what I mean is that trigger warnings are not supposed to make your/my mental health anyone else’s responsibility. They’re supposed to give me tools to manage my own mental health. If I ignore them and get triggered? Yup, that’s 100% on me as the adult I am.

Well, I have spoken my mind on that, and I’m sure it’s a pretty unpopular point of view (at least in the communities I’m involved in), but I’d like to hear your point of view, readers. Please do share it, and remember to be civil, both in your comments and possible replies to other people’s comments. Remember the human.

Thanks for reading, and see you all on the next post!

Living with intrusive thoughts

Hello there, readers! How are you all? Well, I hope! I come here today to talk to you about mental health yet again. 

Warning: we’re gonna talk about matters who might be triggering for depressed/suicidal people. If you are on shaky ground with your mental health, please, don’t carry on reading. Thank you.

For starters, I’ll just give you a short Wikipedia definition (I know, I’m lazy): An intrusive thought is an unwelcome involuntary thought, image, or unpleasant idea that may become an obsession, is upsetting or distressing, and can feel difficult to manage or eliminate. Source: Intrusive thought (Wikipedia)

From the same article, I have seen that those are associated with conditions such as depression (check), PTSD (double check), and post partum depression (never checked, never will). That’s actually something I didn’t know. Due to the nature of my own intrusive thoughts, I thought it was solely a symptom of depression.

Every day, especially at night, I live with suicidal intrusive thoughts. 

They often come when I’m in bed, trying to relax enough to fall asleep. I just try to stay still, and then the thoughts come. I could slash my wrists now. Then the mental image comes. Sometimes, I can even feel the blade running against my skin. They come, stay for a while, bug me for quite some time, and then they go away. But I know we’ll have a date again next time I try to fall asleep. 

It sucks. It’s annoying, disruptive, and stressful. Especially because I don’t want to kill myself. I want to live for… I think at least another 45 years is a pretty nice plan. I want to do a lot of things, meet a lot of people, and make a lot of mistakes I have yet to make. I want to annoy the hell out of people. I want to be old with my best friend, because we promised we’d become a pair of crazy old ladies. I’m sticking around here.

But the thoughts still show up every night. Bummer.

Well, I guess that was it for today. It feels good to get these things off my chest, and out there so someone who might deal with the same things knows they’re not alone.

Now, readers, it’s your turn to speak. Have you ever struggled with intrusive thoughts? Are you dealing with them now? Do you want to share them? The comments are open, my contact form is open too! You’re not alone!

See you all on the next post! Love your faces!