To The Strongest Woman I Know

Mom,

Have I ever told you what a remarkable person you are? I should have said it long before now. You should know how unique and outstanding you truly are. I want you to set aside everything that brings you doubt, and listen to what I have to say. I love you and though you may not see it, you have played a major role in the person I am today. All the parts of me you’re so proud of and endlessly support, you don’t think you had much of a hand in, because we’re so different. But I’m here to tell you that is was YOUR example that paved the way for the adult I turned out to be.

I see you giving me that skeptical look. Just keep reading…


First – and this is for all readers – my tribute of gratitude was inspired by This Amazing Post Right Here – a touching article about tolerance and the fight for equality for ALL humankind. Please take a moment to read it, like it, share it, draw your own inspiration from it, whatever it takes to keep it moving and growing.


Now, you’re wondering how I got from there to here? I’ll explain.

Author Jean M. Cogdell shared a memory with us in her post about the moment her remarkable mother planted the seeds of tolerance within her and I was immediately touched, drawn in by my own upbringing. So, I began to leave a comment and that comment, instead, turned into this post–because I realized that the person I should be saying all of those things to, was the very woman responsible for them: My mom.

Let me tell you about my mom. She’s a force to be reckoned with, wrapped in a genuine hug. A second generation American born to Irish immigrants. She grew up in Chicago during the Civil Rights Movement and Race Riots that tore that city, and too many others, apart. She was verbally and physically attacked for having friends from the ‘wrong’ side of the segregation lines and for refusing to leave their sides. She didn’t care what anyone said, she knew that everything happening around her was WRONG!

There has never been a time my mother has backed down when she’s seen someone being mistreated, and she can’t be cowed into thinking or believing anything less than what she knows in her heart and soul to be right. She has literally taken a fist to her face to protect others – not just once or twice – not just in Chicago – this has been a lifelong stance for her. She will not stand by and watch someone else being abused when she knows she can do something to try to stop it. That is the core of my mother. Her biggest strength is her integrity, her unyielding sense of right and wrong, and the enormous heart she offers to everyone, without prejudice.

My mom never had to use her words (though, let me tell ya, she did!) to teach me about tolerance, to instill her moral compass within me – she led by example. She showed me that every last person on this earth deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, compassion and dignity. That our opinion should be based solely on an individual’s actions, nothing else. Not race, background, beliefs, nothing.

Mom, I know you feel like you’re not doing anything special, nothing someone else wouldn’t do – but you really are, and you always have. It takes courage to stand up for others–for strangers–to never stop being who you are or fighting for what you know is right. You’re the bravest, most true-to-self and strongest person I know. I’m proud to be your daughter. I admire and look up to you, and I thank you for laying down the examples you did for me, that I was able to pass them on to my children. I know they will pass these examples on to their own kids (way, waaaay in the future), and with each new generation, your influence will help tolerance and compassion for the HUMAN race gain more ground – something this world still desperately needs to see happen.

Thank you, Mom.

 Love, your ever-grateful daughter.

Readers, if you comment, I greatly appreciate it! But even if you don’t, I still hope you find some inspiration here or in Jean Cogdell’s post. We’re not helpless or hopeless, and every new generation reveals a larger capacity for tolerance and compassion. Like our parents before us, we have to empower the up and coming, to keep change in progress rather than the massive, violent regression we witnessed this past week. With enough nurturing, we might one day see hate crimes and bigotry become subjects of history, rather than headlines in the news.

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inFAMOUS Second Son ★ A Review

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Why yes, that is the Space Needle you see in the background, thank you for noticing. Do you know how awesome it is to play a game set in your home territory? Awesome! And long overdue, since Sucker Punch Productions is based in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle. It was also a huge surprise, considering inFAMOUS was set in the fictional Empire City (based on New York), and inFAMOUS 2 was set in the equally fictitious city of New Marais (fashioned after New Orleans). However, the Seattle in Second Son is not the real Seattle, but I won’t spend all post pointing out the differences. Though I was sad not to see the famous red Pike Place Market sign in the game’s skyline, it was still a total blast to play…twice.

Who, What, When, Where and Why?

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inFAMOUS 2’s Cole MacGrath vs. inFAMOUS Second Son’s Delsin Rowe’s Karma

Just like its predecessors, Second Son is a Karma based game (this is why we play it twice). There is the Infamous (evil) game play and the Hero (good) game play, only Sucker Punch one-upped their own style and added a few more ways your choices affect cut scenes and the way your interactions go with friends and family. That was a nice touch.

The title Second Son seems to apply not only to the fact that we’re now playing a whole new character, but a whole new kind of conduit. It’s also a nod toward the original inFAMOUS, which dealt with the secret society, the First Sons, though this is never referenced or mentioned throughout the entire 3rd installment.

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Delsin’s first weapon of destruction

Who: Delsin Rowe, a much younger and more carefree protagonist than Cole MacGrath, who was always broody and, albeit hot for a game character, needed to stress less. Delsin is pretty much a juvenile delinquent that likes to tag, has funny comebacks and is a member of the Akomish. Washington has 29 federally recognized Native American Tribes, we’re a state overflowing with tribal culture, traditions, art, namesakes (why no one can pronounce our cities or towns) and not a single one of them is the Akomish. This is a made up name – but, with real tribes like the Snohomish, Suquamish, Samish and Skokomish, I suppose Sucker Punch found it a plausible – if not more phonetically appealing – name, without risking possible legal issues.

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What: Brooke Augustine (referred to only as Augustine) and her government-sanctioned D.U.P. (Department of Unified Protection) idiots.
When: 7 years after Cole’s final chapter in New Marais.
Where: Salmon Bay and Seattle, Washington

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Why: Conduits are now labeled as Bio-Terrorists and treated as such by the government and populace with equal prejudice and fear. In short, an escaped convict tries to use Delsin as a human shield, but Delsin ends up leeching his powers just by touching him, thus revealing himself as a conduit…er, bio-terrorist. When Delsin can’t answer any of Augustine’s questions, she reveals herself as an evil conduit and uses her ability to render most of his tribe incurably injured. This happens, regardless if you choose to turn yourself in (good) or sacrifice the tribe (evil). Despite NO conduit ever having the ability to wield more than one power on their own, Delsin has the brilliant idea that he can leech Augustine’s powers, too and save his people. In other words, it was in the script, so we’re off to Seattle…

Highlights

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A lot of the inFAMOUS features we love (just me?) are carried over into Second Son. Again, you’re given the choices between good or evil reactions/actions at just about every turn. A plethora of side missions (colored red for evil, blue for good or yellow for neutral/D.U.P. related) make your trek through an enormous city far less daunting – especially, given there are no grind-wires between rooftops like Cole always got to use. You spend a lot of time chasing down ‘blast shards’ which are now inside of little drone helicopters all over the city, so you can improve your powers and take in the scenery.

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The graphics were amazing, and I was so happy this game was available on the PS4 despite originally coming out for the PS3.

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One of my favorite features (psychiatrists will have a field day with this) was the ability to completely destroy most of the D.U.P.’s structures, barricades and walls all over the city. Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a fan of the color yellow? No, you don’t get extra cool points, it’s just fun! Another add-on not featured before was the ability to ‘unlock’ different jackets for Delsin to wear. Whattaya think? I might have to get this one below in my size.

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The absolute #1, best feature of this 3rd inFAMOUS installment, was the fact that Delsin was right – he is special – and has the ability to leech multiple conduit’s abilities. inFAMOUS 2 kind of introduced this with the “Power Transfer Device” which Cole uses to gain the powers of either Nix or Kuo, depending on if you’re playing evil or good. SP kicked this WAY up a notch, introducing a total of 4 powers Delsin gets to have and switch between by the end of the game. Of course, Delsin’s smoke is going to be the main ability used the longest and upgraded the most. Even after playing the game all the way through twice, I never found any other ability as effective against defeating enemies faster, with less chance of dying, than when using Smoke. But, here’s a look at all 4:

Smoke, is the 1st ability Delsin gets thanks to the escaped bio-terrorist convict, Hank. Hank will play a larger role in the storyline later on, as well.

Neon, is the 2nd ability Delsin gets and the one you’ll use the most outside of smoke, if for nothing more than the ability to run faster than the speed of light through the city. Did I say grind wires between rooftops? Boooorrrriiiinnng! Del gets his neon ability from another escaped bio-terrorist who calls herself Fetch, though her real name is Abigail. First you have to catch and then defeat Fetch, before you can use her powers.

Video, is the 3rd ability Delsin gets and suddenly all of those satellite dishes atop every rooftop makes perfect sense! While it’s a little badass having digital angels and demons come to your rescue and the ability to fly, or feed yourself through the airwaves – it just wasn’t that effective of a power against enemies. Like with Fetch, Delsin has to first find, then defeat Eugene in order to gain his powers.

Concrete, is the final power Delsin gets and it is also at the very end of the game – so, if you finished all of the side missions prior to this, there’s really no reason to keep playing other than to see just how far you can upgrade your new abilities. While I liked the concrete better than the video, it still never became my go-to power when up against a swarm of D.U.P. soldiers and their merciless machine guns.

Downsides

The annoying as hell sidekick: In InFamous, we had the insufferable chatterbox, Zeke, who was like a man-child unable to let go of his glory days, while simultaneously suffering from cock-envy. In InFamous 2, Zeke was far less annoying, but then we got sidled with Nix and Kuo, who were like the angel and devil on Cole’s shoulders – the living embodiments of his good and evil choices – but at least they were passionate and believable in their personalities.

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In Second Son, your A.A.H.S. is Delsin’s older brother, Reggie – the sheriff for the Akomish – and about the most prejudiced character I’ve ever had to listen to for that many hours. All of the characters in S.S. were rather flat and didn’t evoke any emotion from me. Delsin at least had witty comebacks and when he goes evil, he doesn’t go halfway. The lack of characterization in this game was further amplified by the pathetic dialogue. There was no depth or even likeability – especially, for Reggie. That was just a bad character all around. I got more emotion out of the conversations we had to find the right signal to eavesdrop on from the faceless, nameless D.U.P. soldiers. Yes, that was another downside. I wish I could’ve made Delsin throw that damn walkie-talkie off the roof a thousand times.

Final Conclusion

Aside from the horrible dialogue and flat sub-characters, inFAMOUS Second Son was still a kick ass game that introduced many more conduit abilities and harder to beat enemies. Hell, even just defeating Fetch and Eugene – who end up becoming your friends – was extremely tough! I loved that the amount of side missions were both plentiful and different than inFAMOUS 1&2. The only one I didn’t care for that much was the tagging. It was just kind of a blahzay thing you had to do to clear the areas.

What did I miss? Believe it or not – I missed the public throwing rocks! LOL In inFAMOUS 1&2, if you were evil, you had to dodge bad guys AND mobs of pedestrians who would throw rocks at you, even as you were scaling buildings. In Second Son, they cheer and crowd around you when you’re good (so irritating when you’re trying to move fast) but they scream and run from you when you’re evil? C’mon, Sucker Punch! Where’s the passion?

With all that said, I’m not sure I would play another inFAMOUS installment, unless the character depth could be reintroduced into the storyline. Second Son was fun. inFAMOUS 1 & 2 were epic. Something got lost in between…

Currently Playing: Rise of a Tomb Raider slowly, but surely. So far, I’m on the fence…it’s bound to be an interesting review when I’m all done. 😉

All images were found on the internet and I do not own any rights to them, the story, game or characters mentioned in this post. No copyright infringement intended.

 

We’re in a Magazine!

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Yep, that’s Avarice up there in the top right hand corner! 🙂

In all honesty, I completely forgot that I had even submitted for this months ago, so it’s not really a surprise to me, but it’s still exciting to see the results at last!

Indie Authors Monthly is a brand new e-magazine and best of all it’s Free & chock full of Indie resources, helpful articles, author spotlights and yes… even AWESOME ads (like Avarice!) 😀

I was given this opportunity through the Goodreads support group: Navigating IndieWorld Discussing All Things Indie. This is truly an amazing and supportive group for Indies and they’re really open to collaborative blog events, self-promoting and their discussions are endlessly insightful! Plus, the atmosphere there is very friendly and welcoming. Best Selling Children’s Author, Carole Roman is one of the group mods and she is frequently offering amazing, can’t-find-anywhere-else promotional opportunities – Like stuffing your printed books into the swag bags at Hollywood Awards Shows and running ads on Podcast sites.

My books don’t qualify, even if they were in print, no S-E-X allowed in the grab bags!

If you’re not already a member, I highly recommend the NIW group and they have a new website where they advertise Indies with their own author pages, and love getting guest blog articles!

#AuthorsSupportingAuthors

♫ ♪ “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…” ♪♫

 

Truth In the Name: BDSM

It’s nearly impossible to escape the influx of BDSM themed novels since the popularity was heavily increased by a certain trilogy that will go unnamed. I’m not here to add fuel to fires on either side of the Love/Hate line – but I have seen a lot of reviews and discussions that lead me to believe not many people actually understand what they might be getting by choosing to read a BDSM novel. You might have an inkling or preset expectation due to one of these situations:

Perhaps, you’ve read a light-hearted romance that had a little kink thrown in, a little handcuffing and mild spanking? That is not BDSM.

Maybe you read that one (or all gazillion) about the Billionaire with control issues and a loosely assembled contract he/she never actually follows and set of rules he/she fails to properly enforce, because his/her love/lust for this desired-after sub is enough to have them throwing all their previous unyielding, closed-off ways out the window to become an ordinary lover with a kinky side. This, unfortunately, is the new standard in Fictitious BDSM – it is not even remotely close to Real Life BDSM. No, seriously.

However, this is not a post designed to persuade you either way. This is simply a guideline for readers. A piece of advice, if you will, that if you’re unsure what a novel tagged as BDSM might entail, the best place to start is to take a look at the name, itself…

Bondage/DSM

Most likely a BDSM novel will have bondage scenes, whether this is with traditional equipment such as a St. Andrews Cross, Spanking Bench or the good ol’ leather shackles attached to the bedposts. Sometimes the bondage will be creative and will include items that are readily at hand, such as a woman’s stockings, a man’s tie or a pair of panties.

Bondage serves the purpose of giving a dominant control over the body, while keeping a submissive in a state of vulnerability. It is equally a fetish for both parties, as much as it can be used to build trust and break down a submissive’s self-preservation walls in order to hand more control (power) of themselves over to their dominant.

At its heart, BDSM is a Fetishist Community made up of kinksters in various levels of Power-Exchange dynamics. It is all Consensual, but still takes time to develop like any other relationship. To help expedite that, kink is used just as much for pleasure as it is for forging those bonds.

B/Discipline/SM

This is the one I see people having the most trouble with. For most readers, it’s completely okay for a submissive to get sensual spankings detailed as a kind of foreplay, but the moment their bottoms are getting whipped for stepping out of line, readers are screaming abuse.

It’s difficult to address this issue without actually diving deep into Real Life BDSM, which would bore readers to tears. Discipline is an important part of Behavior Modification and every D/s dynamic is employing some form of Behavior Modification, because it is desired by both parties. Discipline comes in as many forms as you can possibly think of from the mild end of being put in a corner, to the extreme end of being ignored by their dominant, and every spanking, humiliation or orgasm denial in between.

In novels, unfortunately, a writer is limited to what keeps the readers interested, and the story from falling flat. For BDSM novels, the ‘tension’ between lovers is often expressed when the Discipline comes into play. Spankings with hands, belts, whips, floggers and riding crops are the go-to Discipline trope in all Fictitious BDSM novels – to make it worse, when used as the source of ‘tension’ between characters, Discipline only ever seems to happen when the ‘Dominant’ is angry. Hitting anyone out of anger is absolutely abuse. Also, I’d like to note here that any Kink played while a dominant or submissive is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also crossing into an area that can be deemed as abuse – and in my own personal opinion, that goes for straight up vanilla sex, as well. A person’s mental state should not have to be altered in order to gain consent.

Neither one of these popularly used instances in fiction would ever actually fly in Real Life BDSM. A sub would walk out and never return and possibly report the Dom/Domme to their community’s authority, if not smear their name through the Kinkster social media mud.

If you find that you can’t handle reading a BDSM novel where Discipline is used to enforce/reinforce rules, not out of anger, but possibly disappointment or simply just for discipline itself, then perhaps BDSM really isn’t a genre for you, because that is a very large part of BDSM and goes back to the whole Behavior Modification aspect.

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Not all BDSM novels touch on the extreme end of the Sadism spectrum. For instance, Daddy/Mommy Doms/Dommes don’t tend to have many Sadistic qualities. They’re nurturers and providers, they mainly lean heavily on Behavior Modification, and their Disciplinary actions tend to favor compassionate techniques, rather than straight out lashings, though spanking does typically play a big role in these novels. This is ‘typical’ not to say that a Daddy Dom novel won’t boast an extremely sadistic Daddy, so just make sure to read a book’s blurb or use the ‘Peak Inside’ feature to make certain.

As with all things, Sadism is individual and can range from mild to extreme, and it is not always a physical need to inflict pain. Sadists get their pleasures in many forms, including Denial, Degradation and Humiliation- or any combination thereof. Inflicting extreme pain is, of course, a typical Sadist’s desire in BDSM novels, so again, just make sure you read any Trigger warnings the author has taken the time to put in place (hopefully).

BDS/Masochism

Masochism plays a really small part in most Fictitious BDSM novels, I’ve noticed. It seems to be more popular for the ‘sub’ to not be a masochist at all, but still ends up craving the sexual pleasures derived from being dominated or even (mildly) disciplined. This stems from our societies belief that Masochism is a ‘Weakness,’ when all it really is, is basic biology just like any another personality trait.

Like Sadism, Masochism levels can vary and does not always have to do with craving pain. Some masochists thoroughly enjoy being degraded, abandoned, denied and humiliated, just to name a few. In the seldom BDSM novels I’ve read where Masochism actually does come into play, though, it’s typically of the pain-craving variety.

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While the truth behind the genre can be found in the name, BDSM can also depend on the rest of the genre. Supernatural/Paranormal creatures, for example, are probably going to explore the extreme ends of all BDSM, because they’re stronger, more resilient and this gives the writer more leeway to explore areas they can’t necessarily delve into with ordinary human characters – without someone ending up in the hospital or dead.

Realistically, whether an author does their research or has actual BDSM experience, it all boils down to Word Count limits and keeping the story flowing, with plenty of tension between characters – Therefore, the more a writer tries to implement Real Life BDSM scenes, the more readers lose interest. That’s the unfortunate truth, because Real Life BDSM is time consuming and everything is discussed and agreed upon BEFORE any kinky stuff even begins to happen. Before any clothing is shed – if it’s shed during a D/s couples first scene together at all, which is unlikely. Sexual intercourse is also a rare reality in an actual BDSM scene.

Just remember to shop smart, watch out for genre tags: Any time a book is tagged “Dark” or “Taboo” that means it is going to cover areas not very many people are comfortable with or can handle. Also, watch for Trigger/Content warnings and take advantage of the “Peak Inside” feature. This might not only give you a better idea of what kind of BDSM novel it is, but also an example of the writer’s style. I love that feature, really and rely on it far more than reviews or blurbs.

Hope everyone had a great Cinco De Mayo weekend and are fully recovered from the excessive Tequila consumption! LOL 😉

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#MusicMonday

Kings and Queens

by: Thirty Seconds to Mars

Into the night
Desperate and broken
The sound of a fight
Father has spoken.

We were the kings and queens of promise
We were the victims of ourselves
Maybe the children of a lesser God
Between Heaven and Hell,
Heaven and Hell.

Into your lies
Hopeless and taken
We stole our new lives
Through blood and pain
In defense of our dreams
In defense of our dreams

We were the kings and queens of promise
We were the victims of ourselves
Maybe the children of a lesser God
Between Heaven and Hell,
Heaven and Hell.

The age of man is over
A darkness comes at dawn
These lessons that we’ve learned here
Have only just begun

We were the kings and queens of promise
We were the victims of ourselves
Maybe the children of a lesser God
Between Heaven and Hell.

We are the kings
We are the queens
We are the kings
We are the queens

Small warning: An unexpected moment in this video might make you jump, watch with caution if you startle easily or have a heart condition.

I do not own any rights to this song, video or lyrics. All rights remain with the artists and their respective agents. No copyright infringement intended.

Before he was the Joker… a full length novel could be written about Jared Leto’s immense range of Platinum Album, Save the Planet, Oscar Winning talents and it was really hard to choose which video I wanted to share today, but I think this one showcases his powerful vocals really well.

My favorite song of theirs is actually Hurricane. Did you know the Joker once played a Dominant? – Sign me up, please! 😛

Thirty Seconds to Mars made their music video/film for “Hurricane” back in November of 2010 before the current BDSM craze, but was unfortunately banned for awhile, before the full-length Uncensored Directors Cut found its way onto YouTube at long last. It is not strictly a BDSM video, but that plays a large part. I recommend watching the Making Of Hurricane first, you’ll have a much deeper appreciation for the song, artists and video. They are very graphic, NSFW videos. Please watch responsibly…

♥♥ To learn more about the Echelon Environmental Initiative started by Thirty Seconds to Mars as ABeautifulLie.org, an attempt to bring attention to the melting sea ice shelf in the Arctic Circle, please visit their Facebook Page Here.

You Just Never Know…

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This meme is being used solely for the purpose of showing why “Judging By Appearance” is totally off-base. Not intended to offend anyone.

I went to the salon last night and got my hair done – FINALLY! It was so over due. Nothing feels better than walking out of the salon after spending an hour or so getting put back together again. I didn’t even do anything different or wild, just a trim and re-color (you know to cover all the damage from having teenagers), but man do I feel 100% better.

I refuse to go anywhere else than my normal beautician – I think we can all agree, when you find “The One” – you will travel miles to get to them! Yes, I’m still talking about my stylist. 😛 Which just happens to be in the same town my mom and sister live in, so I had to stop by and show off the do.

My sister and I have the same problem. We can’t just get our hair dyed on a whim. We have to make sure the dye isn’t red based. We have natural red highlights that our hair will amplify to the millionth degree and it isn’t pretty or flattering. That became the topic of our conversation when she asked exactly which color brown I had gotten (warm chocolate) which my hair still gives an appropriate amount of red tint to.

“Thank you Grandma Doris!” We both exclaimed. Grandma was a natural born redhead and even though that gene skipped our dad, we’ve been struggling with the mild side-affects for years!

I know how odd our family’s appearances are based on the dominant ethnic groups we descend from. I’m not sure what people think when they see me, or if they give any thought to it all. We’re all Heinz 57’s. But I had someone who ‘just knew’ I was of Hispanic descent, because of my dark hair/eyes and slightly tan (olive?) complexion. My sister has the same dark coloring, but she is fair skinned. I wasn’t offended, but we’re not of Hispanic or Latin descent, so I corrected them… kinda.

“It’s Native American.”

This isn’t a lie, nor the most honest explanation, it’s just the easiest without going into a long, drawn-out genealogical report. People have no qualms accepting my Native American heritage, because of my appearance. But, I didn’t get my coloring from my father, who is the one that carries the Native American bloodline.

My dad has dirty-blonde hair and blue eyes, even though he tans darker than me in the summer. His dad also had blue eyes, but before that:

 

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My dad’s grandfather (L) and great uncle (R)

See, my dad’s mom was the naturally born redhead, Grandma Doris. But she’s not the Irish bloodline, she’s from a strong English descent. I know, English redheads are just as common, so that’s not really odd. Try explaining your Native American dad having blond hair and blue eyes because of his English mother, though… see how this is becoming complicated?

Then where the heck does all of this dark hair and eyes come from? My mom. Who is 90% Irish and 10% English. Her father was from a long line of ‘Black Irish’ (dark hair/eyed Irish) from Tynagh, County Galway. Though her mother was also half Irish, she had blond hair and blue eyes. My mother, on the other hand, only took after her father and his entire family with dark brown hair, pure brown eyes and fair complexion. My grandpa’s family has very strong genes!

In essence, even though people wholeheartedly accept my Native American heritage based off how I look, the only thing I really have to show for it, is my slightly tanner than normal complexion. Otherwise, my sister and I both have dark hair, and dark eyes – all thanks to our very Irish mother.

So, when you see that doe-eyed brunette out on St. Paddy’s day wearing the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirt, don’t look at her like she’s crazy – she is: Black Irish crazy. Best to just give her a smooch than push your luck! 🍀 😉

Oh, and I guess the moral of this story is don’t judge a book by it’s fabulous, multi-heritage cover, because you just never know…

🍀 This blog post is approved as appropriate for March, if nothing else. 🍀