Maintaining Peace of Mind in a Violent World

Well, you don’t even need to watch the news or read a newspaper religiously to know that the world has been a violent place this past week or two.  Actually, to be fair, I’m not convinced there has ever been a time in history when the world wasn’t violent.  It just hasn’t always been as well reported as it is now.  But that’s not my point right now.  The point is in times like these, it’s easy to feel like the “world is coming to an end” or society is “going to hell in a hand-basket.”  So how does one maintain one’s sanity, one’s own peace of mind in the midst of all this chaos?  Well, I don’t know how other people manage, but I’ve been surviving largely off of music . . . basically my usual coping mechanism, but an extremely effective one speaks

As an effort to help spread peace & sanity during these turbulent times, today I thought I’d share some of the songs that I have found particularly encouraging lately.  Before I do that, however, I’d just like to make a few simple statements.

First of all, why does it seem like so much of our society cannot comprehend how a person can support both policemen (& women) & black people?  This is just common sense to me.  I don’t know nearly enough about the matter to definitely say if we truly have a problem with police brutality in this country, but I will say that the recent case in Minnesota involving Philando Castile seems to me to be the most suspicious & egregious case to date (that’s gotten media attention, of course).  And I just can’t help but wonder if so many of these other cases would have ended differently if the suspect in question had been white.  Of course the answer is we’ll never know for sure, but nonetheless I can’t erase the thought from my mind.  Regardless, I think those of us who are not black need to remember that those who are have legitimate reasons to be a bit less trusting of cops in general.  It might have been over twenty years ago now, but the Rodney King tragedy is not easily forgotten.  Remember, not only was the man treated unjustly but the police officers responsible for his death were never punished & were in fact found innocent of wrong-doing.  Such things are not easily dismissed from one’s memory.  police brutality

Just like any other profession, I think there are both good cops & bad cops.  Expecting law enforcement officers to be held accountable for their actions in no way means I don’t appreciate their sacrifices & bravery on a daily basis.  It’s the same with any other profession that has the responsibility for making life-altering decisions.  For example, I’m a nurse, & I can say first-hand that most nurses I’ve met are truly wonderful people who are doing a great job serving the patients in their care.  However, I will also be the first to advocate for nurses being held accountable for making reckless or negligent decisions that negatively impact patients.  That in no way means I don’t support nurses.  It just means I want us to use our power & responsibility wisely.  The same goes with police officers.peace quote

Alright, I’ve run out of steam. On to the real purpose of today’s post, the music.

I’ll start off with this touching song from Black Stone Cherry.  The band was kind enough to share this on their Facebook page this week which reminded me of just how timely this song really is right now.  Lyrics below:BSC barn

Something about our world today
That makes me wanna cry
There’s too much anger & too much pain
Too much money & too many lies
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right,
We could help each other to love our lives

All I’m dreamin of is good times, good friends, & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is no fears, no tears, & blue skies up above

There’s people around us everywhere
Who need help like you & me
A family was taken by a storm
And we just watched it on TV
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right
We could help each other to love our lives.


When one thing’s right another is wrong
But in the end love will always keep us strong

All I’m dreamin of is a house on a hill & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is the sun to shine & blue skies up abovepoynte band

Next up is great encouraging song from an awesome band out of ATL called Poynte.  Check out Hold On here, lyrics below:

Life Is Racing
Always Fading
We Are Left Standing Here
We Can’t Live With Our Regrets

We’ll Keep Holding
Onto This Dream
We Can Forgive
But We Can Never Forget

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

This Is Our Time
Can’t Push Rewind
We Can’t Hold Back
And Make The Same Mistakes Again

We’ve Been Fed Up
From The Neck Up
We Will Fight For
Another Chance To Make It Right

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

Will You Give All That You Can
Will You Give All That You Can

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Waybrent smith

I’ve posted this Shinedown song before but the message is too good not to share at a time like this.  Check out the inspirational video too.  Lyrics below:

I found a note with your name
And a picture of us
Even though it was framed
And covered in dust
It’s the map in my mind that sends me on my way

They say it’s never too late
To stop being afraid
And there is no one else here
So why should I wait?
And in the blink of an eye the past begins to fade

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

I’ve seen a million miles
Met a million faces
Took all I knew
To reach all these places
And I’d do it again
If it brings me back to you

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day and night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

Put your hands in the air

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time
Put your hands in the air one more time

pageant material

Lastly, this song is probably my favorite ever by Kacey Musgraves.  The lyrics, below, are just so perfectly poignant.

We’re all hoping, we’re all hopeless
We’re all thorns & we’re all roses
We’re all looking down our noses at ourselves
We’re all flawed & we’re all perfect
We’re all lost & we’re all hurting
And just searching for somebody to love

We’re all liars, we’re all legends
We’re all tens that want elevens
We’re all trying to get to heaven but not today
We’re all happy, we’re all hatin’
We’re all patiently impatient
And just waiting for somebody to love

We’re all good but we ain’t angels
We all sin but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Just thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else
We all wrangle with religion
We all talk, but we don’t listen
We’re all starving for attention, then we’ll run
We’re all paper, we’re all scissors
We’re all fightin’ with our mirrors
Scared we’ll never find somebody to love

We’re all good, but we ain’t angels
We all sin, but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else

Just tryin’ to hold it all together
We all wish our best was better
Just hopin’ that forever’s really real
We’ll miss a dime to grab a nickel
Over-complicate the simple
We’re all little kids just looking for love
Yeah, don’t we all just want somebody to love?ghandi quote peace

I hope these songs will bring you some peace of mind amidst the chaos of our world today.  Furthermore, I hope they will encourage each of us to be more loving & understanding to each & every person we meet.  With incidents like the recent shooter in Dallas  & the Orlando nightclub tragedy, I’ve been forced to remember that there are some truly evil people in this world.  Is it possible that such tragedies can be prevented in the future?  I wish I could say yes, but honestly I think humans will continue to find horrific ways to kill each other, regardless of what kind of weapons it requires, as long as we inhabit this planet.  But I also believe that there could be fewer of these tragedies if we as as a society learned to embrace love & understanding more than fear & hate.


Bookstores & Subsequent Musings on Femininity

One of my favorite things to do in life is to read, so consequently it follows that bookstores are some of my favorite places in the world.  As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I have a particular affectation for used books, not only because they cost less but also because there is just something magical about knowing someone else owned (& presumably read) a book before me, particularly if it’s an older book.  In any case, today I stopped by a B&N (Barnes & Noble, not a used book store of course) to stroll through the sale/clearance section, just to see what I might find.  And naturally I wound up purchasing two books which have now been added to my ever increasing “to read” list.

How I feel when perusing most fiction aimed at people of my gender (aka women)

How I feel when perusing most fiction aimed at people of my gender (aka women)

As much as I love trawling bookstores, I’ve noticed a certain phenomenon happens every time I go look for new (to me) books: I end up having a slight “crisis of femininity.”  If you’re wondering what the hell that means, it simply means that I find myself cringing at most of the books that are clearly aimed at women.  For example the ever popular Nicholas Sparks makes me want to puke.  I can’t stand that sentimental, romantic BS.  Maybe I shouldn’t call out what I haven’t actually read, but even the synopses of his books (& the theatrical versions of such) make me sick.  I’ve actually tried reading books by other popular “chick lit” authors such as Lauren Weisberger, Sophie Kinsella, & Jennifer Weiner.  I’ve made it through a few of them (I’ll even admit The Devil Wears Prada was pretty good), but others made me roll my eyes so many times that I haven’t made it past the first few pages.

If the cover looks something like this, I probably ain't interested.  And, yes, I am judging a book by its cover but only because I've found that books with these kinds of covers really do suck (for me, that is).

If the cover looks something like this, I probably ain’t interested. And yes, I am judging a book by its cover but only because I’ve found through experience that books with these kinds of covers really don’t interest me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that a large portion of popular fiction aimed at people of my gender just makes me want to gag.  I find myself wanting to punch most of the characters in the face for their irrationality & general idiocy.  For example, as much as I try to be an empathetic person, I’m fundamentally incapable of feeling sorry for a character who’s upset about losing $500 Jimmy Choo heels.  I just can’t relate to that at all.  (Even if I had that kind of money I’d never spend it on something so ludicrous.  If that’s judgmental, I’m sorry I’m not sorry.)  Or when a female character is devastated that a man who was clearly an ass turned out in fact to be an ass, I just don’t have much sympathy for her.  Instead I find myself wanting to yell at her, “How did you not see this coming, you idiot?!harlequin romance

To be clear I don’t find myself reading a lot of books clearly aimed at men either.  But I have noticed that at least half (actually, probably a good deal more than half) of the books I read are by male authors &/or have a man as the central figure of the story.  Hell, the book I’m currently reading, & enjoying immensely I must add, is Post Office, the first novel by the iconic Charles Bukowski.  If you know anything about Bukowski you know that his books could truthfully be described as ribald & irreverent, all the while being immensely profound & astoundingly hilarious.  But a far, far cry from mainstream chick lit in almost every possible way.  Yet I am devouring this book like it was my first meal after a long famine.

This really is one of the funniest books ever written, I swear.

This really is one of the funniest books ever written, I swear.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind romance in my fiction.  A little bit tossed in here & there is just fine.  But if romance alone is the central theme of the book, I’m sorry but it just doesn’t hold my interest.  Romance novels, whether of the Harlequin romance variety or the prim & proper Christian romance variety, are of no interest to me whatsoever.  And Fifty Shades of Grey might as well be in Greek for all I care.

(To be clear, I don’t think romance novels in & of themselves are bad or wrong.  Different strokes for different folks.  They just are of no interest to me.)

I’m not really sure what the point of this post is (that seems to be happening a lot lately), other than to say I know I can’t be the only woman who is a little disgusted by the majority of books peddled to our gender.  To be clear, I’m a far cry from a “tom boy,” but I also have a pretty strong disdain for most things pink, so much so that if I have a daughter I’ll almost certainly dress her in little boy’s clothes (or at least more gender neutral stuff) when she’s a baby, just to avoid the boatload of pink stuff.  (Baby pink really is the worst shade of pink, I swear.)  Yet as much as I sometimes hate to admit it, I fulfill a fair amount of traditional feminine roles within my marriage.  But I also listen to hard rock music, swear too much, devour murder mysteries the way most (or at least many) women read romance novels, abhor treadmills but love lifting weights, & speak way too loud for my own damn good.  (I don’t have an indoor voice, I’ve been told, & it’s just the plain truth, like it or not.)  I’ve had one manicure in my life, which was for my wedding, & have no interest in ever getting one again.  I don’t own high heels & don’t care to . . . I guess what I’m trying to say is I like to think I’m a good mix of both stereotypical feminine & masculine traits.breaking stereotypes

As I’ve written before, I think the most interesting people in the world are those who defy stereotypes, those who are difficult to place in “boxes,” the convenient categories of people society constructs in an effort to make sense of this confusing world which we inhabit.  I like people who are unpredictable in the sense that I can’t always predict what their opinion is going to be on any given topic.  Furthermore, I like people who prove me wrong when I find myself being small minded or petty.  And consequently I like books that make me think, that make me question myself & the norms of society.  And frankly most chick lit simply doesn’t do that for me.  All it makes me do is cringe & wonder if there’s something wrong with me for not relating to the characters who presumably represent “normal” women.  If any of this makes me unfeminine or weird, I truly couldn’t care less.

Actually, to be perfectly honest, I suppose I DO care a bit or I wouldn’t be writing this post . . . But just once I’d like to go to a bookstore & not be reviled by most of the books clearly marketed at people of my gender . . . Oh well.  Maybe I’d better start writing that novel I’ve always wanted to write if I want to make that happen.  Ha!pageant material

I’ll end this post the way I so often do these days, with a link to one of my new favorite songs, Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves off of her recently released album of the same name.  The song contains the signature sassy but sincere, simple but profound lyrics that have become Kacey’s trademark.   (Skip to 2:50 in the linked video for a live performance of the song.)

See the full lyrics below (bold added by me to emphasize my favorite lines):

There’s certain things you’re supposed to know
When you’re a girl who grows up in the South
I try to use my common sense
But my foot always ends up in my mouth
And if I had to walk a runway in high heels in front of the whole town
I’d fall down
And my mama cried
When she realized

I ain’t pageant material
I’m always higher than my hair
And it ain’t that I don’t care about world peace
But I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage
I ain’t exactly Ms. Congenial
Sometimes I talk before I think, I try to fake it but I can’t
I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t

She might not be pageant material, but she is beautiful.

She might not be pageant material, but she is beautiful.

God bless the girls who smile and hug
When they’re called out as a runner up on TV
I wish I could, but I just can’t
Wear a smile when a smile ain’t what I’m feelin’
And who’s to say I’m a 9.5
Or a 4.0 if you don’t even know me
Life ain’t always roses and pantyhose

I ain’t pageant material
I’m always higher than my hair
And it ain’t that I don’t care about world peace
But I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage
I ain’t exactly Ms. Congenial
Sometimes I talk before I think, I try to fake it but I can’t
I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t

Maybe if there were beauty pageants for little boys too I wouldn't be so disgusted by them.

Maybe if there were beauty pageants for little boys too I wouldn’t be so disgusted by them.

I ain’t pageant material

The only crown is in my glass
They won’t be handin’ me a sash
And that’s okay, cause there’s no way
You’ll ever see me in a swimsuit on a stage
I ain’t exactly Ms. Congenial
Sometimes I talk before I think, I try to fake it but I can’t
I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t
Yeah, I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t

To All the Misfits, Nerds, Geeks, & Weirdos

First of all, you’re awesome.  Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you otherwise.  Second of all, I am writing to you today to say I feel your pain.  You’re not alone on this journey in life & knowing that can be a huge factor in realizing that being a misfit is actually not a bad lot in life.  In fact the second reason I’m writing to you today is to tell you why I believe being a misfit can actually be one of the greatest things you can experience in life.  But we’ll get to that later.  To begin, let me explain why I feel I have the right to speak on these matters.

weird awesome

I’ve been weird practically since birth.  My mom swears I said my first sentence at less than a year old (“It’s good, Mom!” while eating; so fitting that my first sentence would be about food.  Ha!), causing her to nearly fall over in shock.  Certainly I’ve been weird since at least pre-school.  I remember very distinctly being the only child in my pre-school class who would sit down with a book during our free-play periods.  It never much occurred to me at the time that this meant I was a bit “off.”  I was so busy doing my own thing that I never really noticed.  Then I went to kindergarten & discovered I was the only kid who hated nap time.  While everyone else was blissfully asleep, I would lie awake bored & wondering how much longer this torture would last.  I would also wear ridiculous brightly-colored headbands just about every single day.  With my hair in a pony-tail.  It never occurred to me that this wasn’t stylish or that no one else wore their hair this way.  I just did it because I liked it.

Well, as we all know, kids can be pretty cruel.  And my care-free “be weird & no one really cares” days didn’t last forever.  Before long, the other kids figured out I was pretty weird.  Certainly I had a few friends here & there; naturally they were the other weirdos & misfits of course.  There’s nothing to bring people together like a feeling of mutual exclusion from your peers.

So to the other misfits, nerds, geeks, & weirdos out there today:

I know what it’s like to be the only kid in class who doesn’t know what “gay” means.  Who answers the joke “Is it ‘I da hoe’ or ‘You da hoe’” with “Idaho” because I didn’t realize this was some stupid joke that had nothing to do with the name of a state.

I know what it’s like to be constantly out of the loop on popular culture & thus have very little to talk about with the majority of your classmates.

I know what it’s like to be picked last in gym class over & over again.   And what it’s like to be laughed at because your athletic skills leave a lot to be desired.

gym class

I know what it’s like to hide your grades from your classmates because you know they’ll tease you for being a “smarty pants” or at the least they’ll try to make you feel guilty for “wrecking the curve.”

I know what it’s like to be excited for school to start because you love learning but at the same time to dread the social aspect of school because you have so much anxiety over whether your fellow nerds will be in any of your classes or, most important of all, if they’ll share your lunch period.

I know what it’s like to try really hard to fit in with the cool kids & to think they’ve finally more or less accepted you only to find out the whole time they thought you were just a pain in the butt.

I know what it’s like to never be sure if a compliment is really a compliment or if people are secretly making fun of you when you’re not looking or listening because the latter has happened enough times to make you paranoid.

On a more adult level, I know what it’s like to feel “old before your time.”  To wonder when most of your cohorts will realize that getting drunk is only a minor milestone in life, not one to be revisited every single weekend.  And then further to wonder if making such statements makes you incredibly boring & “old.”

Speaking of being old, I know what it’s like to be called “old at heart,” sometimes as a compliment & sometimes not.

And I still know what it’s like to be out of the loop about much of popular culture.  Only this time I don’t give a crap.  Because now I know that I’m not missing anything worth missing.

Now that I’ve reiterated all the reasons why being a misfit, nerd, geek, or weirdo sucks or at least can be difficult, let me explain why I think being different than the norm is actually AWESOME.  Being a misfit from an early age taught me some very valuable lessons that I think everyone learns at some point in life but learning them at a young age can be even more beneficial.

Being weird taught me how to be happy on my own & to realize that being alone is ok sometimes.

Being weird taught me that having a few close friends is much more important than having a lot of acquaintances.

On a related note, being weird means it’s easier to know if people really like you.  Because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t stick around . . . After all, there are a lot more normal people out there.  So if you’re weird & someone keeps coming back to you (romantically or otherwise), there’s a reasonably good chance they’re actually serious about you.

Trust me when I say this one is still a big battle for me, but being weird has taught me not to care so much about what other people think about me.  As Kacey Musgraves so wisely wrote: “You’re damned if you do & damned if you don’t/So you might as well just do whatever you want.”  Truer words have never been spoken (or sung, in this case).  Being weird has taught me that trying to please everyone is always a losing battle.  And so I’m slowly learning to just live my life how I see fit, knowing that those who really matter will not forsake me.

damned if you do

Being weird has taught me that life is more fun “on the edge” so to speak.  For example, being weird has encouraged me to try out different kinds of music that aren’t exactly mainstream.  I’m now a huge fan of lots of European symphonic metal bands when just 10 years ago I didn’t even know such music existed.  A lot of my favorite rock bands don’t even have a Wikipedia page or have one with only a few short paragraphs; point being, a lot of the best music out there these days is not what’s being played on the radio 24/7.  Nowadays I’m the one introducing my friends & coworkers to new music.  And being a weirdo, I still collect actual CDs & I’m very happy to lend them to my friends so they too can enjoy my favorite bands.

Being a misfit has given me a tremendous amount of self-confidence.  It’s still a difficult battle some days but I wouldn’t be the nurse or the person I am today if I hadn’t been a bit of a misfit all these years.  I wouldn’t have the confidence to deal with difficult patients, angry family members, & the life & death situations I’m presented on a frequent basis as a nurse.  Being weird requires confidence because you’re going “against the grain.”  At first you mightn’t realize it, as occurred with me as young child.  But at some point you & those around you realize you’re a bit different, & when that happens it requires a lot of confidence to continue being your good old weird self because of all the negative experiences I’ve detailed above.  This translates into a great deal of self-confidence as an adult which can push you to achieve a lot of things you might not otherwise have accomplished.

Being weird means that the older you get, the more your peers will recognize how awesome you are.  For example, when I went to college I had no idea that I’d make as many friends as I did.  I thought I was destined to always be a bit lonely.  Much to my great surprise & relief, I found that college was like heaven for nerds.  We might not have been the coolest kids on campus but we certainly weren’t teased anymore & on some level it was obvious that even the jocks & sorority girls (the stereotypical ones anyway) realized they really weren’t as cool as they thought they were & that we nerds were really the ones “running the show.”

Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from being weird is that you should NEVER sacrifice who you are or what you believe (or don’t believe) for ANYONE.  If people don’t like you as you are, they’ll never like you because anything else you try to become will be fake.  And someone who is fake will always be discovered for what they really are.  Furthermore, being weird has taught me that being respected is more important, far more important, than being liked.  And that anyone who truly wants to be your friend (or romantic partner) WILL respect you first & foremost.

freak like me

To end my treatise to all of us misfits, nerds, geeks, & weirdos, let me introduce you to Freak Like Me by Halestorm, one of my all-time favorite rock bands.  If this isn’t an anthem for us, I don’t know what is.

To all of you freaks like me out there, keep being awesome, don’t let anyone get you down, & rock on with your bad selves.

Raising Discerning Daughters (& Sons)

I read a truly inspiring article last night, the kind that had me nodding along with every word because the author was literally saying the exact same things that have run through my mind a million times.  I’m not even sure why I’m writing anything today because I don’t think I can possibly say this any better than this author already has.  But I’m a writer & this is what I do, so I’m going to add a few of my own thoughts too.  Here’s the link to the original article:

With Father’s Day around the corner, this topic seems particularly fitting this week.  Disclaimer: the feelings I have toward this topic do NOT imply any ill will towards how I was raised.  Though I hope my kids will not be as naïve as I was because that can be dangerous too, as I read this article last night I actually found myself thinking, “my parents did a great job raising me.”  It’s the society around us that still managed to instill some of these hurtful, negative ideas into my brain, & sadly I see these ideas around me all the time, in both more “traditional,” conservative cultures as well as in more “liberal” cultures.  Some of these ideas have become so ingrained in our heads that we laugh & joke about them & don’t even realize how harmful they are.  For example, how many times have you heard someone say “Oh, man, she’s a beautiful little girl; you’re going to have to lock her up when she’s a teenager”?  Too many times to count, right?  I’ll never forget the first time I heard something like that.  I was so naïve that I didn’t understand the meaning behind the comment.  As I got older, I figured it out & found it incredibly offensive.  I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I know that just because I am a woman & therefore the physically weaker sex, I’m not something to be locked up or protected from the “big, bad world of men.”  I’m an intelligent woman who is capable of making my own wise decisions.  And I have been for a long time.

lock up daughters

Here are some radical thoughts.

What if we raised our daughters so that they understood the dangers of the world but also how to fend them off?

What if we taught our daughters to discern the difference between a man who really respects, loves, & cares for them & a man who is just trying to use them?

What if fathers role-modeled this good behavior by treating their daughters’ moms in the way they’d want their daughters to be treated by a man someday?

What if we raised our daughters to be independent & ambitious & set goals for their lives & to value men who do the same?  (Maybe then they wouldn’t date so many losers . . . Crazy, I know.)

What if we raised our daughters in such a way that we could actually TRUST them to make good decisions for themselves instead of constantly worrying that they’ll screw up & need our protection?

What if we taught our daughters to never say yes when they mean no or no when they mean yes?  There is no excuse for bad behavior on the part of a man as far as sexual abuse & rape go, but there is no reason to add confusion to what really should be a very simple issue.

On a similar token, what if we taught our daughters to be assertive in all aspects of life instead of passive little girls waiting for someone to tell them what to do?

In the twenty-first century with relatively easy access to safe & effective birth control, what if we realized that the idea that sex is inherently bad & dangerous for women is truly quite antiquated?

What if we raised our daughters to value themselves as more than sexual objects but also to understand that it is perfectly NORMAL & WONDERFUL for them to have sexual needs & desires?

And this is exactly where the topic gets dicey & why these ideas have not taken hold in our society like they should.  Because deep down our society still believes sex is bad for women & that is the underlying reason for such comments I referenced earlier about “locking up our daughters.”  As Kacey Musgraves so cleverly stated in her song Follow Your Arrow, “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a whorable person” (see  In America we have this strange dichotomy where on the one hand our society throws around highly sexualized images of women in ads & media like it’s nothing.  And on the other hand there is a great underlying current that says that women really aren’t supposed to want or need sex, & if we do, we’re sluts.

follow your arrow 2

Here are some more radical thoughts.  (I’m just full of them today.)

What if we raised our sons to respect women & treat them like the intellectual equals they are?

What if we stopped saying birth control & “safe sex” & rape are “women’s issues” & realized these are actually HUMANITY’S issues because they wouldn’t exist without both genders?

What if we raised our sons to understand that no really does mean no & that having sex with a woman when she truly can’t agree to it is not only wrong & illegal but also disgusting, shameful, & a discredit to their manliness?  (I don’t like the word consent because to me it implies that sex is again inherently bad for women; after all, the only other times we use the word consent are in consenting to a police search, surgery, or something else inherently demeaning, dangerous, or generally unpleasant.)

On a similar token, what if we raised our sons to understand that a real man can find a woman who actually WANTS to have sex with him?  (Maybe then there would be less rape, including date/acquaintance rape.)

What if we taught our sons that being attracted to a girl & being able to respect a girl intellectually are NOT mutually exclusive?  Furthermore, what if we taught our sons that the latter ought to actually be a prerequisite for the former for anything more than a passing whim?

What if we stopped making disparaging comments to our sons such as “Stop being such a pussy!” or “You hit like a girl” as if being female were some horrible lot in life?

What if we raised both our sons & daughters to value each other not so much for their gender but for their shared HUMANITY?  On the inside we’re really all the same.  We all experience the same emotions, the same fears, the same doubts, the same hopes, the same dreams, & the same desire to love & be loved.

father and daughter

I know I’m guilty of over-analyzing things, but I truly believe the way we raise our daughters (& sons) in this country (hell, in this world) needs to change if we ever want to see a decrease in things like rape, sexual violence, teen pregnancy, & general distrust between men & women.  And the next time I hear someone say something that implies that girls need to be sheltered & protected from boys, I might just throw a book across the room.  Just kidding.  But I do hope I’ll have the courage to explain why such ideas are truly so dangerous, not to mention demeaning to women (& to humanity in general, actually).  I know it’s radical but maybe, just maybe, if we raised our children a little differently we could all be so much more than we think we can.  And to my readers, I hope you will have the courage to speak up against these ideas as well.

To end this post I would like to thank my father & all the other fathers out there who have had the courage to raise discerning daughters & sons.  You rock.  We need more of you in this world.

The 10 Best Albums of 2013

I realize it’s a little late into 2014 to be writing this, but I didn’t get the idea until mid-way through January & it took me a while to compile this list, so I’m going ahead with it anyway even if the post seems a bit belated.  A few of these albums were actually released in 2012 but didn’t become truly popular until 2013, or at the very least I didn’t discover them until 2013 so I’ve included them anyway.  I’ll be upfront & tell you that 90% of these albums are rock albums, so if you don’t like rock music I guess this post isn’t for you.  But I challenge you to read it anyway because you never know what might trigger your interest.

Aside from #1, these are in no particular order.

I’ve included links to at least one of my favorite songs from each album because I’m awesome like that.  🙂  At the end I’ve also included some of my most anticipated album releases for 2014.

1.       The House of Gold & Bones, Volumes 1 & 2 by Stone Sour

It’s nigh impossible for me to pick a favorite album of all time but if I had to do it, I think this dual-album would be my choice.  There are a lot of reasons I say that, not the least of which is that I find myself subconsciously judging other albums based on this one.  I don’t mean to do that because consciously I realize that a concept album such as this is not THE standard for all albums ever made & yet this one is just so breathtaking that it’s become my point of comparison for just about everything.  I didn’t know a lot of Stone Sour music before this dual-album debuted, but when I started hearing Absolute Zero on the radio I fell in love immediately.  I was at Best Buy purchasing another album one day & just happened to see Volume 1 of The House of Gold & Bones & decided to take a chance on it.  Best decision ever.  Within a few weeks of purchasing Volume 1, I was completely entranced.  Every single song is just so perfect & they all flow together like a rock symphony so that often it is difficult to tell where one song ends & another begins.  Volume 2 is exactly the same way.  Between the two Volume 1 is my favorite but honestly they are both phenomenal.  From ballads to harder songs that are more Slipknot in feel, the vocals, the lyrics, the music itself, everything is in top form.  Just about every emotion human beings can experience is touched on in these songs.  There is so much more I could say about this dual-album but I’ll stop now for fear of boring you.  Just buy the albums.  You won’t regret it.

Volume 1:

Volume 2:

2.       Same Trailer, Different Park by Kacey Musgraves

May I just say that I am really proud of myself for having this album months before Kacey Musgraves started garnering national attention & winning a very well-deserved Grammy?  I used to be so behind the times when it came to music & popular culture & I still am in a lot of ways, but with music I am often quite ahead of my time nowadays, at least in certain genres.  It’s often been said that Kacey Musgraves sings country music for people who don’t like country music.  I think the reason for that is that Kacey’s lyrics are so profound while also being extremely wittyShe also isn’t afraid to write about the nastier side of small town life.  While most popular country stars are singing about pick-up trucks, fishing, & drinking beer, Kacey is penning such scathing & controversial but inspiring songs as Merry Go Round & Follow Your Arrow.  Every single song on this album is a real winner & it’s rare for me to say that, especially about a country album.  If you don’t want to buy the album or don’t typically like country music, just look her up on YouTube.  You might end up buying the album after hearing some more of her songs, just like I did.  (Also of note, Kacey has written many popular songs sung by other country artists including the recent Miranda Lambert hit Mama’s Broken Heart.  No offense to Miranda, but I like Kacey’s version of it even better.  Again, look it up on YouTube.)

3.       The Wrong Side of Heaven & the Righteous Side of Hell, Volumes 1 & 2 by Five Finger Death Punch

FFDP is one of those rare bands whose songs I almost always fall in love with immediately upon hearing them.  They are just that good.  From ballads to thrashing rock & roll anthems, Ivan Moody’s voice is mesmerizing & the band behind him is top-notch in every way.  When you hear a FFDP song, there’s never any question about whose song it is.  You just know.  Like Stone Sour, FFDP released a dual-album in 2013.  These are not concept albums but they are fantastic nonetheless.  There are plenty of the traditional “angry” songs for which FFDP is famous, but there are also plenty of powerful ballads.  The titular song on the first album is one of my favorites along with Battle Born & Cradle to the Grave on Volume 2.  Volume 1 contains several compilations with other artists including Rob Halford from Judas Priest & Maria Brink from In This Moment.  There is also a remake of the LL Cool J song Mama Said Knock You Out featuring the rapper Tech N9ne.  A hard rock/metal band remaking a rap song?  Yes, that’s right.  And it’s amazing.  There’s a reason FFDP is the number one band I listen to on the way to work: their music is just so energizingIs it ironic that what most people would consider to be “angry” music energizes me to provide compassionate care to sick people?  Maybe, maybe not.  There’s a lot more to this kind of music if you just take the time to listen a little deeper.  Bottom line: whether you are already familiar with FFDP or not, check out these albums today.

Volume 1:

Volume 2:

4.       Amaryllis by Shinedown

This is definitely a 2012 album but I love it so much that I decided to include it anyway.  I know a certain segment of rock/metal fans think Shinedown isn’t “hard-core” enough for their taste, but I’ve always found that to be a rather superficial & undeserving judgment.  Shinedown is one of those rare rock bands who have somehow found that “sweet spot” of writing songs that are “tame” enough to be played on mainstream radio (sometimes even on stations that aren’t pure rock stations) while not becoming a pop band.  I’ve seen Shinedown in concert twice & each time my respect for them has only increased.  Amaryllis is an album that covers a vast amount of subject matter as well as an impressive range of musical styles.  There isn’t even one song on this album that I would give less than 4 stars.  If you don’t usually like rock music, I’d recommend Shinedown as a great place to start.  It’s not necessarily that their music is “softer;” they just seem to have a way of reaching out to people across all genres of music.  Even in their more angry/cynical songs, Shinedown has a way of inspiring hope.  Perhaps that is what makes them so powerful.

5.       The Strange Case Of… by Halestorm

I had the privilege of seeing Halestorm live in 2013 & the best way to sum up that experience is this: I can’t wait to see them again, preferably on a head-lining tour.  A hard rock band with touches of metal here & there with a seriously bad-ass female lead singer?  I mean, what is not to like here?  The Strange Case Of… is a great follow-up to Halestorm’s first album.  From the fast-paced Grammy award-winning Love Bites to powerful ballads like Break In & Here’s to Us, Halestorm is in top form in every way on this album.  In the traditionally male-dominated world of rock & roll Lzzy Hale makes female rock fans like me feel right at home.  At the same time, her music is far from “feminine” & many of her top fans are actually guys.  And it’s not just because she’s sexy.  She, & her band which includes her brother Arejay on drums, is seriously talented too.

6.       Blood by In This Moment

I had never heard of In This Moment until 2013.  As soon as I heard the titular song Blood, I knew I had to have the whole album.  Maria Brink & her band are just that talented.  This isn’t music for the faint of heart; it’s raw & sometimes a little raunchy.  But, wow, it is powerful!

7.       Onyx by Pop Evil

I am proud to say I owned all three of Pop Evil’s albums before they became more mainstream this past year with the success of their hit singles Trenches & Deal With the Devil off of their 2013 album Onyx.  I first started listening to Pop Evil after the moderate success of  Monster You Made in 2011.  It was that song that prompted me to buy their first two albums & I was thoroughly impressed with both of them.  Then came Onyx.  Each album Pop Evil has released gets better & better so I can only imagine what their next album will be like.  Pop Evil is definitely on my list of bands that I most want to see live in the next year or two.  (P.S. Ladies, the lead singer Leigh Kakaty is a sight for sore eyes.  Do a quick Google image search & I promise you’ll thank me.)

8.       Fortress by Alter Bridge

Alter Bridge is one of those American bands who have actually had greater success in Europe than here in their own country.  But I’ve been a fan since high school, thanks originally to my husband.  In any case Fortress has made it on many lists of top albums for 2013 & rightfully so.  This isn’t an album that you’ll fall in love with at first listen.  Or at least you might not.  Alter Bridge isn’t known for writing songs with super catchy tunes; in other words they don’t always get stuck in your head immediately.  But what marks them as a truly great band is that their music gets better & better the more you listen to it.  Their music is like an onion; there are so many layers & each time you listen you hear a little more & a little more.  To me that is the mark of great musicianship & these guys have it.  I think Alter Bridge has always resonated with me because they aren’t a flashy band & their music somehow walks the fine line of facing the harsh darkness of life while always retaining a bit of hope.  To me they are a band that will stand the test of time, & I won’t be surprised if fifty years from now they are more respected & popular than they are now.

9.       Brave, Bold, & Broken by Mindset Evolution

I first heard ME at Uproar Festival in Raleigh in Sept 2012.  At that point they only had a 5-song “album” out but I bought & loved every song on it.  So when their first full-length album debuted in 2013 I purchased it the very day it came out.  And I’ve been nothing short of pleased.  Why these guys don’t get more radio-play I’ll never understand.

10.   Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies by Volbeat

Ok, here’s a rock album that evokes the feeling of the American Wild West.  As if that isn’t a great enough feat on its own, consider that Volbeat isn’t even an American rock band.  They are actually a Danish band!  I’m not sure that this album really qualifies as a concept album, but all of the songs are about characters from the Wild West.  Volbeat is another of those bands whom you can never mistake for anyone else, yet somehow they manage to really evoke the sound of the Wild West in these songs while still remaining true to their own unique sound.  It’s seriously impressive stuff.

And lastly, my most anticipated albums of 2014:

The Outsiders by Eric Church (debuting tomorrow, February 11!)  I have a soft spot in my heart for this NC native because he is passionately devoted to his MUSIC above all else.  He comes across as kind of rough around the edges, but in reality he’s a family man who travels with his wife & infant son on his tour bus.  I admire his willingness to speak whatever’s on his mind even when it’s not always popular & his refusal to bend to the whims of popular opinion.  I’m also partial to his music because of its rock & roll feel.  Going to one of his concerts felt like being at a redneck rock concert.  Needless to say, I loved it & would love to see him live again someday.

Magic Mountain by Black Stone Cherry (coming May 6)  BSC is a band I discovered in 2013 after seeing a picture of an Alter Bridge member wearing a BSC sweatshirt.  I figured if Alter Bridge liked them, they had to be good.  And they are!  The 2011 album Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea by these small-town Kentucky rockers is fabulous & has me eagerly anticipating their new album this year.  I love the fact that BSC’s music has a very Southern rock feel while still being very hard-core.  I also must point out that the current Florida-Georgia Line hit Stay is actually a BSC song from their 2011 album mentioned above.  It really grinds my gears that BSC isn’t getting credit for that song.  (Sorry FGL fans, but their version sucks anyway.)

10 Steps to a Healthier, Happier Life in 2014

Since it’s the beginning of a new year, naturally I have been spending some time thinking about how to make this a happier, healthier year than the last.  It’s cliché of course, but it’s important to think about these things because positive change isn’t something that just happens.  It has to be deliberate.  After some consideration I’ve come up with what I believe are the ten most important things for living a healthier, happier life in 2014.  Since physical health is only one component of overall health, I’ve included measures regarding emotional and spiritual health as well.

  1. If you’re trying to lose weight or eat/be healthier in 2014, be sure to set small, measurable, attainable goals.  It’s fine to have your overall big goal of losing 50 pounds or running a marathon or whatever it may be, but if you don’t set small realistically attainable goals along the way, you will never achieve your larger goal.  It will always remain some unreachable pie in the sky and you’ll end the year depressed and wondering why you never accomplish what you set out to accomplish.  Here are some good examples of small goals you can set:
    1. This week I will drink at least 4 glasses of water each day (instead of sodas).
    2. This week I will eat at least one vegetable and one fruit every day.
    3. This week I will walk one mile 3 days a week.  Next week I’ll do it 4 days a week.

The point is to make SMALL changes every day because if you try to drastically change your lifestyle you are almost certain to fail.  But if you take small steps every day, eventually you will be amazed to find that you have truly changed your life!  Indeed, this theory is true for so much more than just weight loss, so you can apply it to all kinds of goals you might have for 2014.  I can tell you from personal experience that this is how I gradually lost 15 lbs over the course of late 2012 into early 2013.  I was only trying to lose 10 lbs but by making small realistic changes every day, I ended up losing more weight than I even hoped to lose!  And I’ve consistently kept it all off, minus 2-3 lbs that I regained over the holidays, but I know I can lose that again quickly by making the same small changes for better health every day.

2. Find those people who you really love and hold them close.  Some of them might be hundreds or even thousands of miles away, but in today’s technology age that no longer means you can’t stay in regular contact (with some exceptions for the military or people in areas without consistent internet access, of course).  For example, one of my best friends is in England.  I have only met her once in real life and it wasn’t until a year or more after that that we actually became close.  But we have managed to BECOME and STAY close via Facebook chat & Skype, and I am now planning a trip to see her in England sometime this year.  As a nurse I am constantly reminded that what really matters in life more than anything is the relationships you build with your family and friends.  If there’s a relationship in your life that is broken or just isn’t as strong as you wish it was, make 2014 the year you try to repair and rebuild it.  Not every relationship can or even should be saved.  (For example a woman whose ex-husband beat her probably shouldn’t try to reignite that relationship in any way.  It just wouldn’t be safe.)  But if you have a relationship you think should be salvaged, don’t let pride stop you.  Stay in regular contact with those you love as much as you can, and never forego a chance to say “I love you.

3. Do something at work that scares you.  As a nurse for me this often means trying an IV on someone who seems to be an impossible stick.  If I didn’t try everyone I thought was going to be a hard stick I’d have started a LOT less IV’s than I have in my career.  In 2013 I also trained for and starting working as a charge nurse on my unit.  It was scary at first (and still is occasionally), but I’ve learned to really enjoy this new role because I see it as a way to help my fellow nurses.  So whatever it is at work that scares you, make a real effort to tackle that this year.  You might not succeed 100% at everything (I certainly don’t get every IV I try), but you will probably succeed more often than you think.  And your greatest confidence is built in doing those things you thought you couldn’t do.

4. Building on number three, don’t be afraid to speak your mind about things that really matter to you.  I started this blog as a way to share my ideas and observations about life, largely in an effort to clear my own mind but also to hopefully encourage and inspire others.  However, it has taken a lot of courage for me to write some of the things I’ve written, being unsure of what kind of reaction I might get even from those close to me.  For example my post The Purity Myth garnered a fair amount of disagreement and criticism (of the idea, not me personally) even from some people close to me.  That is totally fine of course because everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but writing that post was scary for me.  The ideas in it were so important to me but I knew they contradicted a lot of what my family believes, so it was difficult to share something that I knew many would not like.  But I did it anyway.  As it turns out The Purity Myth has been my most popular post to date (I guess sex really does sell, huh?  HA!), and no one has disowned me for having more “liberal” ideas.  I was also afraid to share a lot of my posts about anxiety, but those have all been fairly popular and I have received quite a few messages and comments from people (strangers & friends alike) thanking me for my honesty in writing about such issues.  Knowing that I have not only helped myself but also helped others through my writing is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever known in life.  Yes, I may have offended a few people from time to time by speaking my mind about something (whether on this blog or in “real life”) but that is somewhat inevitable in life anyway.  What I’m slowly learning is that as long as you have a loving, compassionate attitude towards others that will come through to your audience no matter what your actual message is.  The greatest regrets in life are often of what is left unsaid rather than what is said anyway.

5. Listen to music that isn’t on pop radio.  I’m fully aware that I’m a bit of a music snob in some ways, but I’m a former band geek so I can’t help it.  But in all seriousness, do explore music beyond the Top 40.  There is so much more out there with so much more to say about life, love, and everything in between than Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, and One Direction.  If you don’t think you like country music, try Kacey Musgraves.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  If you don’t think you like rock, try Stone Sour, especially their latest two-part album The House of Gold and Bones.  Again I think you might be pleasantly surprised.  The point is music can be such a huge source of inspiration in life.  I know it is for me in too many ways to count.  So explore it.  Nowadays with YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes we have greater instant access to every kind of music in the world than anyone ever has before, so take advantage of it.

6. Do something for someone who can never repay you.  Whether it’s giving food to a homeless person or volunteering with disadvantaged children or something else entirely, just do it.  You will feel great and the world will be a better place because of it.

7. Don’t let strict gender roles define you.  But on the same token, if you find yourself fitting some gender role stereotypes, as long as you’re happy, don’t feel like you need to change things.  This is the 21st century.  If a man wants to be a stay-at-home dad, great.  But if you can’t imagine doing that as a man, that’s fine too.  If you have a master’s degree but want to be a stay-at-home mom, don’t let anyone tell you you’ve sold yourself short.  At the end of the day, you answer to yourself.  Don’t let other voices run your life when yours are the ones you have to sleep with at night.

8. Be honest about your emotions, with yourself and others.  Don’t bottle things up or try to deny how you’re feeling out of guilt or anything else.  If you’re sad, allow yourself to be sad.  If you’re angry, allow yourself to be angry.  Be an adult and learn how to have strong emotions while not ACTING on them in negative ways.  That’s the key.

9. Find what makes you tick in life.  In other words, the things you are really passionate about.  For me it’s music and writing.  For others it might be photography, dance, art, cooking, interior design, sports, or marketing.   Whatever it is, just find it and do it as much as you can.  Consider making a career out of your passions, but also remember that sometimes your passions can be just as therapeutic as hobbies.  The point is that you find out what they are and seek them out as much as you can.

10. As a follow up to number nine, remember that having fun and making good memories is what life is all about.  The world needs people who are passionate about life because these are the people who inspire others and inevitably make a positive difference wherever they go.  Try not to obsess over little things by asking yourself something like this: “In the course of a lifetime, what will this matter?”  It may sound morbid, but think about what will be important to you at the end of your life and remember that could be any time because none of us is promised tomorrow.  Make decisions and choices in life that align with your values, goals, and dreams.  Learn to cherish the little things because when you look back on your life you will find those were the things that mattered the most.  Take time to smell the roses, to cherish a beautiful sunset, to listen to the sound of the waves on the seashore, and to share it all with those you love.

I wrote this as much to myself as to anyone, but I hope this was of some inspiration to you as readers as well.  I hope 2014 will be a great year for all of us.  Just remember, life is what you make it.  No excuses, no exceptions.  This is both terrifying and exciting, but don’t let the fear of striking out keep you out of the game.

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Yesterday I renewed my gym membership and in the process of doing so someone said something to me that I hear quite often which got me thinking that this could make for an interesting blog post.  So here goes.

After I paid for my annual membership, I told the gym manager that as a paying customer I thought he should consider changing up the music selection a bit because I’m tired of hearing Britney Spears every time I work out.  The manager asked me what I would prefer & I told him that to be honest a lot of the music I like probably wouldn’t be appropriate for the gym because a lot of people are much more easily offended than I am, but nonetheless a few hard rock songs here & there would be a refreshing change of pace.  The manager, who is a man probably in his mid 30’s, told me what I have heard so many time before.  “You just don’t seem like the kind of girl who would be into rock music.  You’re too nice & soft-spoken.”

[Ok, those of you who really know me should get a good laugh about the soft-spoken part of that comment!]

The real crux of this scenario is that I am often told I seem “too nice” to like rock music.  I just don’t understand where our society gets the idea that a “nice” person can’t like hard rock or heavy metal.  This is 2013 & yet people who like this kind of music are still invariably considered “weird, different, mean, angry,” and a whole lot of other generally negative adjectives.  Now let me give you a little background about how I got into this kind of music before I explain why it’s my favorite genre.

I grew up thinking rock music = devil music.  I had no interest in it & on the rare occasions that I actually heard real rock/metal I hated it.  I honestly couldn’t understand how anyone could like this stuff.  However, as I got into high school I started hearing a few more rock songs here & there, & I gradually, gradually began to realize that there is so much more than initially meets the eye (or should I say the ear?) with this type of music.  Once I got to college & finally had the freedom to listen to whatever kind of music I wanted, I gradually began discovering all kinds of music that I never even knew existed: European symphonic metal bands like Nightwish, American metal bands like Five Finger Death Punch, and so much more.  I soon realized that I loved this music, & I think after a solid six years of listening to rock/metal more than any other genre I am finally figuring out why this music appeals to me so much.

Anyone who has glanced at my iTunes collection knows that I like a little bit of everything.  My music collection spans everything from Alice in Chains to Godsmack to Toby Keith to Eric Church to Flo Rida to Lady Gaga to Beethoven to Mussorgsky.  In short, there really isn’t any genre of music I don’t like.  Some, like rap & bluegrass, aren’t my favorites but there are still certain pieces from those genres that I do really enjoy.  However, I think the reason rock music speaks to me so much is its brutal honesty.

By comparison, rap music so often celebrates an urban, party-it-up or “gangtsa” lifestyle that exists only in manufactured music videos.  Country music too celebrates a lifestyle that doesn’t actually exist in real life.  Trust me, I grew up in small town America & I can tell you from experience that the only country music singers who consistently tell the truth about rural life are Eric Church & Kacey Musgraves, especially the latter.  It ain’t always a pretty picture either.  The vast majority of modern pop music is so superficial & vapid as to hardly be worth mentioning.  (I’ll discuss classical music in another post some day.  As many of you know, I am a total classical music junkie.)

So that brings us back to rock music.  Yes, the stereotype is that rock music celebrates sex, drugs, & devil worship & generally seeks to push the envelope in every possible way.  Sure, there are a few groups whose music focuses largely on those things.  But would you judge all Christians based on Westboro Baptist Church or all Muslims on the 9/11 terrorists?  I certainly hope not.  You cannot make an accurate judgment about any group based on its most extreme members.  That is just unscientific.

People often say that rock music makes people angry or inspires people to commit terrible acts of murder & violence.  I say music is music.  Nothing more, nothing less.  If someone’s mind is so twisted & sick as to commit heinous violent acts, music isn’t to blame.  The person is.  I say music is perhaps the greatest form of therapy known to mankind.  If you listen to enough rock you’ll find that every emotion you’ve ever felt is covered in this music, from love to anger to jealousy to confusion to pain to joy.  It’s all there.  And it’s all expressed in an outlet that cannot possibly harm anyone.  We all get angry sometimes & experience other “negative” emotions.  That is not a sin.  Emotions are what make us human; they are what tells us we are still alive.  It’s what we do with these emotions that can be sinful at times.  (If you want to read more about this fascinating topic, check out Corey Taylor’s book “The Seven Deadly Sins.”  It is without a doubt one of the most intriguing & well-written books I’ve ever read.)  What better way to express your anger or hate than through a song?  It’s much preferable to actually hurting someone or bottling it all up inside so that inevitably you explode.  Besides, what other kind of music pumps you up enough to make you want to finish that grueling workout at the gym or to stay up all night caring for sick people?  On my way to work I invariably pop in a fist-pumping rock album & by the time I get to the hospital I am ready to face whatever comes my way.

So in summary, no, I don’t have tattoos or unorthodox body piercings.  I don’t dress in all black or wear dog collars around my neck.  I don’t give a crap if other people do those things but they just aren’t for me.  I am not an angry person who hates the world.  But I do love rock music.  I am proud to be a headbanger.  And some day I hope that the world will realize that rock stars & their fans are some of the kindest people in the world.  And more importantly I hope our society will learn the greater lesson here: don’t judge a book by its cover because we are all more than meets the eye.

So what do y’all think?  For those of you know me, is it really that surprising that I like this kind of music?  If so, why?  Or better yet, have you experienced anything similar to this where people are surprised to find out you like a certain type of music or whatever?

In the spirit of the post I’m including a link to one of my favorite rock bands, Pop Evil.  I have been following them religiously for a few years & own all three of their albums, so naturally I am very happy to see them finally getting some great radio airtime with their latest hit, “Trenches.”  (Ladies, google Leigh Kakaty & I promise you will thank me.)