Complain. Do it Loud and Do it Often.

complaint box

complaint boxOne of the perks of the internet are the plethora of ideas – many of which are fascinating – so I wanted to share with you what really helped in shifting my perspective and sparked an internal dialogue:

1. i want you to complain more. here’s why by Kylie at Effervescence

“There’s a lot of complaining going on when people feel they shouldn’t be complaining. There’s a lot of complaining happening that goes unheard by its audience. There are a lot of stifled complaints, and halfhearted complaints to test what’s acceptable in a given venue.

There’s too much pushing away of the negativity. Not enough letting it be there, letting it breathe.”

When I started my 40 day ‘Get Back to Spirit’ project for Lent last month, I kept thinking of what I’d like to add to my self-made, and steadily growing project. On Twitter, one of my followers had announced that she would “not complain” for 40 days, choosing to focus only on the positive, and joyful side of things. Initially I hopped onto this bandwagon, thinking that this was a good spiritual move for me. But it didn’t resonate, and I rejected the notion completely after seeing another woman suggest that people not complain to avoid focusing on negativity.

I erupted on twitter, quickly jotting down my initial thoughts on why women in particular were so drawn to purposefully silencing themselves. To complain is to be heard, it’s about taking up space, being seen. When you complain, you’re letting people know how upset you are, and it’s about acting on those feelings because you know they’re legitimate.

I’m a fairly big complainer. Once me and a friend went to see the horrific Halloween remake by Rob Zombie. Not only was the movie a total waste of my existence, but a guy in front of me was on his cell for the entire film. Afterward, I went to customer service desk and complained about both the quality of the film, and the talkative patron. While my friend seemed sightly embarrassed, I got us free movie passes because of his disturbance.

While complaining can be healthy, you have to know when to do it and with whom. Many people are compulsive advice givers, so if you complain to one of these people, you’ll inevitably have someone offering you steps on what you should to do to correct your situation. Personally, I find this insufferable, and I’ve gotten to a place where I know exactly who I complain to (if I complain to anyone at all). Some compulsive advice givers are really vocal about this, telling people to stay away unless they want their two cents.

There are people, of course, who are addicted to complaining – the sympathetic ear, having people bounce back at you your own sense of righteousness (deserved or otherwise), feeling validated, understood and that your complaint is rational.  The type of people who, every time you talk to them, they’re complaining about something new, the same old or a combination of both. The types of people who get more fulfillment from complaining than actually doing anything about it.

So there’s a balance – you should definitely complain if you feel that your boundaries were crossed, if you felt as if you weren’t being respected, if you felt cheated in some way. Never, ever keep those sentiments to yourself because they’ll fester, and you’ll be pissed for not standing up to yourself. But you also need to know when your complaining is hypocritical (ie: fuming when your room mates don’t wash the dishes while you don’t wash yours) or when they infringe on someone else’s ability to live their life (ie: when your friends are always complaining about your clothes and expect you wear something they like).

Complaining is about acknowledging your own unhappiness or discomfort with an idea, a person or attitude. Never alone someone to silence you because they’re uncomfortable with our complaining. So complain. Do it loud and do it often. 

Review of 2012 & Preview of 2013

I’ve been reading Happy Black Woman for ages, and in general, I love to read her monthly reviews. Basically, she looks over the past month and discusses what went well, and what she’d like to improve. But seeing as how 2012 ends in two days, a yearly review is in order. Snagged from HBW:

Flickr Credit to: Joli Sourire (OFF)

Flickr Credit to: Joli Sourire (OFF)

What I Want to Remember About 2012:

What was the most valuable lesson you learned this year?

Taking chances on myself, most definitely. That’s definitely something I want to keep doing as the year progresses – investing in myself, and my own personal growth and goals. 

What was the biggest personal milestone you reached this year in your relationships, health, finances, education and/or lifestyle?

I think I’ve had a few milestones this year: I cut off the locs I’d been growing since December 2008, and reading about Oneika cutting her own acted as the final push for me to do it. And today I went to the barber to get it shaped up (since it was uneven) and mowed down since it was way too big. I don’t miss having locs at all, nor do I miss having long hair – which I’ve had my entire life. This was especially enlightening when I did some quick math, and found that when/if I spent $50 a month to get my locs re-twisted, I’d spend about $600 a year. (Wow). But if I just got my new fro cut down every few months, at about $15, that’s obviously a massive savings. 

And I moved to Philadelphia for a new, contract job, even though I didn’t have anywhere to stay when I got here. Everything worked out, and I landed two great room mates and an apartment in a really nice neighborhood. 

I’ve also made some investments in my spiritual growth, such as meditating and praying every day – when I wake up, and right before bed. And I’m on the look out for new material to supplement my growth and finding new ways to help me get the type of life I want. Before, I would spend a lot of time reading, but not practicing. Now – not so much! 

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) were you most proud of this year?

Starting to do web development on the side. I’ve only just begun, but I’m really dedicated to becoming proficient in programming and building my skill set. While the job I have now isn’t best suited to me, it’s really opened my eyes to what I’d love to do – working in technology and computer science. So, stumbling upon a new career goal is DEFINITELY an accomplishment!

What was your favorite family/friends moment from 2012?

Hm. I think my favorite moment was being able to chat with Constance, a friend I made off of Twitter, for like two hours (or something) as we chatted about social justice.

What was the best book/blog/song/movie/restaurant/city/country/etc. you discovered this year?

Another hard one! The best book I think is Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. It’s really, really good. I highly recommend it. I don’t know if I saw any tremendously good movies this year. But one of the best blogs I discovered is about menstruation activism – which I found inspiring and knowledgeable. 

What I Want to Leave Behind As I Enter 2013

Which personal development area(s) did you make the LEAST progress on this year: health, finances, education, relationships, family, work and/or lifestyle?

Finances. That’s definitely my Achilles’ Heel. Even though I make more in my current job than I did in my previous, part-time employment. It’s still really frustrating to have student loans, credit card debt and chronic obligations (ie: cell phone bills, food, internet, utilities, rent, etc). One of my goals is to simply make more money so I can [literally] afford to do the things that matter to me the most. 

I also didn’t make any progress on my health. While I acquired a free membership to a semi-close gym, I actually hate gyms and the idea of working out (or even having to attend a class) agitates me. I looked into taking an aikido class downtown, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I’ve been searching on and off since October, but haven’t locked into anything yet. My eating habits are semi-better, but I really need to learn how to cook. Currently, I eat a lot of pasta. A LOT. 

What promises (to yourself or others) did you break in 2012?

I told myself that I’d take my credit card debt more seriously – since it’s not a lot – and actively work to pay down at least one of the credit cards. I haven’t tackled it at all, but I know why. I just need to DO it. 

What arguments/gossip/hurtful comments, if any, did you participate in or make this year that you wish you could take back and/or apologize for?

Hm… I do like to hear gossip because it makes me feel like I’m in the loop. I don’t hurl hurtful comments, not because of self-control, but because when I’m upset with someone I tend not to go that route.  

What opportunities, if any, did you miss out on in 2012 because of fear or procrastination?

I’m not sure! 

What did you do in 2012, if anything, that was out of alignment with your values?

I’m not sure – my values are changing all the time! Hah. But, I think a big one with my spirituality is that even though I know I should work on it, I haven’t. 

What I Want to Bring Into My Life in 2013

What do you deserve more of next year? What do you deserve less of next year?

More of: Commitment – to myself, mostly. I rarely prioritize myself, and my own goals. I normally spend a lot of time worrying about what other people may want from me (ie: family) or worried about how I’ll be perceived by doing x, y or z. So in 2013 I want to spend LESS time fretting over other people’s opinions – not just about my life, but about things in general. My goal for 2013 is to alter my mindset so that I can manifest the type of life I want. Being around people who doubt themselves, or allowing their negative perceptions of the world to get to me won’t help me. 

What personal milestone(s) do you most want to reach in your relationships, health, family, finances, education and/or lifestyle?

Relationships: Dating. Even if it doesn’t end up with a relationship, I want to explore that. 

Health: Taking up a sport or physical activity – preferably self-defense or martial arts. 

Finances: Make more money, pay down credit card debt. 

Education: Continue attending web development courses, so I can learn to program. Find a mentorship and a network of other women who program to nurture and support me. 

Lifestyle: Live in my own apartment (no room mates). 

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) do you want to see for yourself next year?

For my writing to become a bigger part of my life/work. To be able to program – and get paid to do it. 

What do you want to learn in 2013?

Love. Manifestation. God.

What do you want to cross off of your bucket list in 2013?

Moving abroad to work. 

What I Want My Life to Look Like in 2013

What part of your life do you want to pay more attention to in 2013?
My work life. I definitely want my resume and cover letter and networking skills to be top notch!

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2013? Who do you want to spend less time with in 2013?
Hm. I’m not sure. I want to be present for myself, and spend less time with people who I don’t like or connect with. 

Which activities, habits or behaviors, if any, do you want to stop doing in 2013 because they no longer serve you?
Procrastinating. Doubting myself. 

Which activities do you want to start and/or continue doing in 2013?
My spiritual habits: praying, meditating, reading books (both fiction and non-fiction). Writing. Learning to code. Photography. Practicing the spiritual lessons I’m learning. 

What will your ideal day look like next year?
My ideal day would start off with me waking up in my solo apartment, with my cat purring next to my face. She’d be fluffy and adorable. The day will start with prayer, meditation and yoga. Then a shower. I’d eat breakfast first: toast, eggs, orange juice (my favorites). My cat will be meowing for food. Later I’d pop open the laptop, checking my e-mail while my partner is singing and getting ready for the day. The cat is on the laptop, swishing its tail. So I pick her up and take her to the balcony, where our apartment overlooks the Mediterranean ocean. That day all I have is a meeting over Skype, some code to clean up and to put the finishing touches on my novel before sending it to the publisher. My lover is ready to head out – we’ll be spending the day in Paris, and I can easily work on the train, and then spend the rest of my day meeting up with friends, and going out to dinner in my favorite city. 

Day 8 || Ideal Job For You

Today’s prompt: If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it), which job would you want?

I think about this rather frequently. Not this prompt specifically, but about my next job, my next steps. What do I want to do? A huge part of my problem is that I don’t know what my strengths are, what I’m decent at except writing. But, this question is about pure idealism, so let’s just pretend. If I had all the instant training, qualifications and certifications: I’d be a teacher.

To me, teaching is rather versatile: you can do it anywhere, you can teach anyone anything, and the best way to learn things is to teach it to others. I once saw a quote, I forget where, that what you’re teaching to others, are things you’re learning yourself. Which, I think, is a great way to look at it. A lot of the time, it feels like teachers (in a more abstract usage of the word) are those who are have come much further than you, and it’s up to you to catch up to them in their wisdom. But that’s not necessarily true.

Teachers are also students – something I definitely am. Always learning, always trying to incorporating more knowledge into their own lives. To me, this is the perpetual student versus the idea of someone who avoids reality by burying their heads in academic text (ie: staying in college for all eternity).

So I think I’d like to graduate, so to speak, to a teacher. That would be pretty amazing.

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Day 6 & 7 || Getting Caught Up

Last night, in the US, were the presidential elections. I mostly kept updated with Twitter and the Huffington Post, and waited until 1am for Romney to do his concession speech before heading to bed (apparently he didn’t do it until after).
So I ended up not blogging. It’s not that I was wrapped up in the election; I could’ve taken 30 minutes out to unwind and churn out a blog post. But I stayed glued to it, because I tried to convince myself that following the election was more important than a commitment I had made to blog each day of November. And now I have to catch up, and get myself back on track.

Have you ever had to get yourself back on track?

There have been times when I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my life. I had this small epiphany when I was living in Seattle – not the best situation; a crap job, an awful room mate and no idea about what I wanted to do at all with myself. So I left, and wandered around in Orland for awhile trying to figure out who I was. Quickly I learned that I loved comics, after getting the chance to be part of a large anthology created by and for women. This one decision has led me to write for a comics site – and it’s been one of the best choices I’ve made.

This aimless wandering, and general fear of being dependent on others also led me into my current position: I’ve acquired a new job that I enjoy, with a company that’s really great and I get to live with two really awesome people in a brand new city.

Everything is still a work in progress as I discover that even now, with my situation bringing me more happiness than the last, there’s still something missing. I’m still wandering. Still trying to figure things out, to catch up.

Not to “catch up” as in a race, but to catch up to the image I have of myself, of my future. I want to be that person that writes every day, that wakes up early and eats breakfast, to follow through on the tasks she sets out for herself. So I’m writing my post for two days to catch up to that person.

A lot of the time, I find myself comparing my life to others not because I want their lives specifically, but because it seems like those people are already doing what they’ve set out to do. They’re living their lives, doing their dreams. Naturally, there’s always a filter when observing someone else’s life – so the picture is never complete, you never get the whole story, only what you choose to see and what others allow you to see.

Someone I follow online once suggested that you just stay in your own lane, focus on what you’re doing and don’t get too caught up in others.

I should try that, maybe that’ll help me get a lot closer to who I imagine myself to be.

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Day 5 || Giving Things Up and Productivity

Earlier today, I read a post by Penelope Trunk about productivity.

I really wanted to write about productivity, and make promises about dealing with my internal scripts about why I procrastinate on my writing, or why this is the second blog post I’ve written at nearly midnight – hoping to catch the deadline of writing once a day, every day.

It’s not that I don’t care about writing – I love it, in fact – it’s just that I have issues. I forget how much I love writing, perhaps because it comes so naturally to me. My relationship to writing is like a trine; in Astrology a trine is very harmonious aspect, it shows the relationship between the two planets as having an energy that flows naturally, without conflict. The problem is that the trine makes the person lazy in terms of how they incorporate that energy into their day to day life because they don’t notice it. Which is very much unlike a square, a hard aspect where the two planets are in conflict with one another. This conflict is very apparent and you spend a good deal of time trying to work on the energy of those planets, attempting to craft a type of balance or harmony between them.

Maybe for some people, writing is like a square – a hard aspect – where they realize that they have to write because it’s a pain not to. For me, it’s not a pain to go without writing, but when I actually do it, I realize how much more in harmony I am with myself.

Perhaps my issue with productivity has more to do with seeking harmony – or not seeking it, as the case may be – and preferring chaos, and disorder. Part of that chaos is procrastination which is essentially prioritizing activities (or people) who don’t help you further along the path you’re trying to create for yourself. Another part of that chaos is not even realizing that you’re creating it, or not being aware of the long-term effects. For example: I don’t really enjoy waking up in the morning, I prefer to sleep in even though I normally wake up early enough to bathe, eat breakfast and get some writing in before arriving to work on time.

Instead I wake up and try to measure how much more sleep I can get – which doesn’t really become sleep as I wander in and out of consciousness hoping that I don’t wake up too late and be tardy to work. Then I realize what time it is, and pray that my room mate is just brushing her teeth instead of taking a 30 minute shower. As usual, my own shower ends up being too long and if I want to eat breakfast, then I run the risk of being late. Normally I skip out, preferring to snack on some junk food as I make the nearly ten minute walk to the train station. When I arrive to work I’m starving, and kicking myself for not having written when I said I would and spend the whole morning looking forward to lunch.

My day isn’t ruined by the chaos, but I’m not productive and I feel less like myself when I procrastinate.

But there’s no moral to this post: in order to be productive, you have to figure out what doesn’t serve you, or what doesn’t align with your long-term picture and get rid of it. But it’s hard because being productive is also about responsibility and taking ownership of what we want – which can be scary.

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Day 4 || Opera

Flickr Credit to: Bahman Farzard

It’s probably a bad habit, but I spend a lot of time wishing my life were different. Not in terms of regrets, per se, because it’s impossible (and foolish) to regret what you couldn’t control or have predicted. But I do spend a great deal of time grieving over a plausible life situations that never came to pass (and never will): a life where I’m a musical prodigy, the kid who just had to be placed in gifted classes because of my great IQ or otherwise bursting with enormous talent.

Instead, I’m a pretty average person. Normal, even. But I guess that’s okay – there’s no pressure for me to be or do anything. No one thinks I’m wasting my “potential” – so I’m free to follow any path I choose. The perks of normalcy I suppose?

Anyway, in the past thirty minutes or so I’ve been listening to various songs. First from Disney who used an opera singer to voice Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, then I stumbled upon my favorite opera singer – Diana Damrau. She’s absolutely fantastic, and her performance in the Queen of the Night, is hands-down my favorite piece of music. One of my goals is to listen to more opera, learn more about contemporary opera [music]. This, of course, is alongside my goal to learn violin – since I love the way it sounds and would die to be able to play Mozart or Beethoven on one.

In this life, I wasn’t born a opera singer (or a genius, or a prodigy) but at least I can appreciate the people who were. Enjoy the video – it features Diana Damrau singing Queen of the Night Aria:

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Day 3 || An Almost Fashionista?

There are these rare moments when I wish I was a fashionista. I don’t follow fashion blogs, I don’t like talking about style, I don’t read fashion magazines and 99% of my wardrobe was donated to me via gifts or hand me downs. So I’m pretty sure I don’t even likefashion.

Flickr Credit to: CubaGallery

But not too long ago, I bought a strapless dress from a consignment store. It’s black and red, with white dots (but not polka dots). I have absolutely nowhere to wear this dress. Additionally, I have nothing to even go with it. I don’t own any leggings or stockings, and only have sneakers and a single pair of brown knee high boots. Consequently, the dress has sat tucked away in my drawer, perhaps collecting dust, only occasionally coming across my mind. As I walk around downtown Philly, I pass by a consignment shop that seems to cater to the younger crowd, the mannequins always have great outfits. And when I traveled through New York, I was always amazed by the great ensembles I saw many of the Asian girls wearing on the train. Their super cute shoes, and no matter how strange the individual pieces were, their outfit seemed to pull itself together nicely.

I never felt badly about my permanent collection of blue denim and sneakers but I wondered.

I wondered when I looked at my gussied up room mate, with her knee high boots and face full of make-up. I wondered when people recounted stories of all the compliments they received about an outfit. And when I visited my mother not too long ago, she asked me if I ever regretted not learning make-up from her as a teen. I said no, I don’t even like make-up.

Oftentimes I wonder if being a fashionista is what I really want, but have just been rejecting because I felt like it was being forced on me. I felt that it’s expected of me because I’m a girl, and because I’m nearly 25 I’m supposed to dress, act and look a certain way. But what way is that? And who gets to decide how I look? And why isn’t the way I dress, act and look satisfactory ALREADY?

Bottom line: I’ll never be a fashonista because I don’t care about fashion, or about looking a certain way. I’m not really interested in dressing for my body type, and my overall goal is to be comfortable and ready to leave the house in fifteen minutes. I can admire things without owning them, or feeling like I need to own them to make myself feel better because I’m not “girly enough”.

It’s interesting to talk about this, though I’ve met a few other women who dislike shopping and I imagine there must be other people who dislike dressing up (unless the situation demands it like a job interview or wedding).

What about you? What’s your relationship to fashion like?

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