Changing Your Relationship with Stuff, through Language?

As a writer, words are very important. As you find out when learning a new language, certain words have nuances and connotations that you can only learn with time, practice and exposure to the new language. But we don’t always pay attention to the words we use in our own language.

Taking a slight detour here, if you are a person engaged in any amount of self-improvement, I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of eliminating negative self-talk. (You’ve got to stop saying, “I’m fat,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m ugly,” or “I don’t have any good ideas.”) The reason why psychologists, bloggers and anyone with a keyboard in front of them says this is because they know how powerful words are. I think you know, too. We learned when we were little kids the chant “I think I can” from The Little Engine that Could storybook/movie.

The words you choose may end up dictating (pun intended) the outcome of the situation. Yet, have you ever thought about how you talk about stuff/merchandise/products and the objects that surround you in everyday life? For instance, it seems as if I’m always donating stuff, but I still have a ton of it. Why is this?

The words I choose to talk about “stuff” ends up guiding my actions. If I’m not careful, I walk around saying “I need this” or  “I have to have that.” If I say and believe I absolutely need something, I’m going to end up buying it. That’s a problem right there. I say things like, “I need a new hair scarf.”  I don’t absolutely require a new scarf for survival, I just want one to match an outfit I have. I’ve been saying lately “I need a new laptop.” Do I really need a new one if I can go to the library and type for free or use my netbook at home? No. I want one for my comfort and convenience. Yet somehow, whenever I think about something to buy, it’s always phrased as “I need.” Do you do the same thing?

I’ve been thinking about where we learned this curious behavior. I always like to blame my parents and other older relatives for my ingrained faults– like modeling the “I need” behavior when I was a kid. But I remember my Mom always saying “Do you really need that?” whenever we’d ask for a toy or candy.  As much as I’d like to, I really can’t blame them for this.

Advertisements and the media could certainly shoulder most of the blame for brainwashing the public into believing we need specific merchandise to have a great life. Example: I need razors to shave my legs. Why? I’m a woman and the rule of society says I have to shave my legs. If I don’t shave my legs people will think I’m weird and possibly ostracize me. If I want to fit in, I have to shave. Yes, shaving one’s legs is best done with a razor. But I don’t actually need to do it. I want to and I choose to and that’s why I buy the razor.

We actually need very little. We have a ton of wants that help us fit into society better– like those uncomfortable work clothes, that let us keep our job that pays for our giant shelter. But we probably don’t need those work clothes, or that job to pay for that shelter. We could find a smaller shelter that costs less, that we could pay for with a job that didn’t require those work clothes. See what I’m suggesting? Most of the things we think we need, are actually choices we’re making to indulge our wants. When there is a choice, and not a need, there is always another option. I try to remember that when I speak about my wants and my choices. That way I’ll be more deliberate with my actions.

At the end of the day, though, this is how our American society works. It’s how the human society has advanced. Humans have actual needs, kind-of-needs, mild wants and extreme desires. We invent things to make life easier, fun and more comfortable. And that’s okay. The key is to know what is really a need or a want (or a choice), why it is so, and speak about it appropriately. Words dictate actions.

We have to change the narrative regarding our wants and needs. If you think about it, most of the stuff we “need” is something we want very badly for comfort and convenience. Call it the modern conveniences of society, or first world problems.  The first step to changing the narrative is to THINK about the words we are choosing. Then, if we’re trying to save money, buy less stuff or whatever, knowing and speaking accordingly makes it easier to resist buying when necessary.

I can blame the media, our society or whoever. I can even blame myself for being easily manipulated by the system of our society.  But that doesn’t solve the problem either.   I have to be honest. I’m not really sure how to banish my desire for things. I don’t know if it’s possible, even if I’ve become a Nirvana seeking Buddhist who has denied all earthly attachments.  But I can stop saying that I need things that aren’t required for the survival of my earthly life. I can change the way I talk and think about stuff. And thus I can change my actions henceforth.

POSTSCRIPT: After writing all of this, and going to review it before posting, I remembered something in a book I read that I wanted to share.  In The Mastery of Love,  Don Miguel Ruiz (I’m so obsessed with this book right now) differentiates between needs of the body (what I call actual, legitimate needs) and needs of the mind (which I’m calling wants). The needs of the mind, he says, can’t actually fulfill the mind, because all the mind needs is love (I’m talking about you chocolate craving). If you’re interested, check out the book. His discussion on needs of the mind on pages 126-129. It’s a very good read/re-read.

Three Ways to Live the Life you Want when You’re Broke & Unemployed

Aging GuitarOne potential problem of the long-term unemployed is that we face this dilemma: Everyday we have so much time that we truly could do anything we wanted, but at the same time, we are burdened with our “shoulds.” We should be working, we should be looking for jobs, should be updating the resume, should be networking, should be XYZ. I’ve been “unemployed” for almost a year now and I certainly haven’t done enough of the shoulds and I haven’t nearly gotten close enough to doing all of the things I want to be doing. What have I been doing with my time? I’m embarrassed to say, but I’ve been worrying too much. I could have been creating my my “perfect” life. I could have been working on tasks that would set me up for where I wanted to be today. BUT there is no point in harping on what could have been done. I can only move forward.

After an angry and frustrated emotional breakdown where I thought to myself, “What’s the point of living if I’m not going to do anything with my life?” I decided to just start doing the things I enjoy. I wasted a year NOT doing things I enjoy, why should I continue down that road? My time of extended unemployment will probably  be coming to an end soon so I might as well make the most of it.  I’m literally only  two weeks in to “living the life I want” (of course with some financial restraints- but money isn’t everything and there are ways to do what I enjoy for free- thank you internet), and I’ve been feeling better.  I’ve been pushing through lazy, and showing up when I don’t feel like it, and I feel like I’m accomplishing something.

My advice for the broke & unemployed:

Let go of who you think you SHOULD be. It’s a waste of time to live there. You’ll never live up to your expectations. For example: I want to get back in shape. Well in my mind, to do that, I would have to get up and workout at 6 or 7am (5 days a week, mind you), even if I have nowhere to be that day. WHY? I don’t know… that just seemed like what I SHOULD do. Now, I just work out when I feel like it. I pick whatever time is good for me that day and I go. Sometimes its in the morning sometimes in the evening. And you know what I found out? That the gym isn’t as packed as I thought at 6:30PM.

Find what it is you love, and find a way to do it for free. And don’t give me that crap about not being able to do it for free. You have plenty of time, dang it! Figure it out. Or maybe you can find a way to make a little investment in your “passion” by selling some junk around the house to save money. Free courses and materials at MIT anyone? CLICK HERE. (Obviously some are more “Free” than others, but still…) I bet you have a local library with books you can borrow for free (or already paid local taxes). Who knows, what you learn may turn into a useful skill set that you can use to generate income.

Stop giving a crap about what other people think about you. People have a lot of opinions to offer the long-term unemployed. Frequently, they add to the “should be” narrative. But they don’t have to wake up everyday and BE you. I’m not saying be reckless or ignore the people who care about you when they tell you you’re being reckless. What I am saying is you are not under a microscope and projected on a billboard for public display. Us long-term unemployed have a ton of time to examine, judge and sometimes envy what other people are doing. Just because we’re surveying everyone else’s actions, doesn’t mean they’re surveying ours. Besides, you don’t have to advertise to everyone what you’re doing. That’s just wasting energy, anyway.

Here are some motivating articles to kick you in the butt. Read them!

The African Way- Just Do It

The Myth of Passion and Motivation: How to Stay Focused When You Get Bored Working Towards Your Goals

Living with a Packrat: How I Make it Work

We just moved from a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment to a 400 square foot studio on a college campus. Nonetheless, for an aspiring minimalist who wishes to live simply, without the burden of stuff (or rent), this is an absolute dream come true. That’s not to say it’s not without its challenges. My adorable little puppy is now on a year (or two-year) long vacation in North Carolina.

Chalk it up to my recent fascination with tiny houses, but I was so excited for this experience. However, at some point during the packing process, I realized that I (and my husband especially) had too much stuff for that tiny space. Even if we sold all of our furniture, I had visions of the new space overflowing with crap. I didn’t realize this at the time, but part of the reason we have so much extra stuff is because we both are working on side gigs. This aside, days before the actual move, my mind set into panic mode. This is not the minimalist life I envisioned. I thought, “He’s not getting rid of enough stuff.” Still, I stayed fairly silent as my mother-in-law packed the rest of his stuff. I’m thankful that she was there to help, because I probably wouldn’t be able to handle packing items that hadn’t seen the light of day in the last two years.

That afternoon, after the 14ft Uhaul was loaded and unloaded, I stared at a room that looked like the most recent episode of Hoarders. Boxes, bags, suitcases and stuff were stacked atop dorm furniture, six and a half feet up the wall. There was a narrow walkway leading to the bed and the  kitchen area. I was drowning in my worst nightmare.

Flash forward a week later, and I was calling myself the “box murderer.” I emptied and struck boxes dead, one at a time. And after putting away what could be up away, I pondered how I was going to get my husband to get rid of the stuff he doesn’t use. I already separated the things I’m going to sell or donate, even items I would use in this tiny space if there was enough room.

It must have been the day I started unpacking the kitchen when I had my epiphany. We have a full kitchen worth of cooking supplies that we use!! And this awesome new deep fryer and Kitchen Aid on the way. (Okay, we probably have too many appliances, but we like them, and we use them.) So I just had to make do. I had to make it work. I spent a good portion of the day organizing and reorganizing that tiny space until I got most of our dishes and appliances to fit behind six cabinet doors and four drawers. At this point, none of our dry goods or spices had been put away. I kept telling myself: “I just have to make do with what I have.”  I felt to proud of being able to even find a place for some of those items too.

Originally I had only seen two options in this situation: suffer in the clutter, or force my husband, packrat, grad student, and Grad Assistant (coach) to declutter. After having no choice in dealing with the itty bitty kitchen, my brain was primed for finding a creative solution to my problem. A third option appeared before me: Find a way to make it work. Find a place for his stuff, organize it. Make it work.

So my advice to someone living with a packrat, is to just accept the situation for what it is. If you love them, and want them in your life, you have to start with acceptance.  Once you get into the “making it work” state of mind, things change. That’s what the slow-paced lifestyle is all about.

Happy Herbivore had an idea that worked for me as well. The idea is that you have a clutter free areas. And the other person has their “do whatever” space. I can keep my workstation and wardrobe area however and he keeps his his way. If you have a bigger house, you may be able to have a whole minimalist room to yourself.

What I’m going to end up doing is using an ikea kallax shelf (old expedit) with the 16 square-shaped shelves, and storage bins and baskets to get everything in order. I can store the remaining kitchen items, electronics, books, and my husband’s fifty-thousand shoes (ok I’m exaggerating, but I never counted), and other miscellaneous homeless items on that organizer. In the place of acceptance, I was able to find a vision that would make it all work.  For me, as long as everything has a proper place, and can be put away, I’m comfortable. No, it’s not an ultra-modern tiny house, and it’s not ultra-minimalist, but it works for me.

New Beginnings: How to follow through on resolutions 12 days into the New Year

take nothing leave nothingIt’s been a long time since I’ve written. I experienced a number of extremely difficult challenges in the early to mid-part of last year. And while none of those challenges actually precluded me from writing, by way of time consumption, I didn’t write here. I didn’t focus on creating the deliberate slow-paced, self-designed lifestyle that I wanted for myself. I’ve fallen into some consumerist and stressful habits.

Yet with the soul searching, and reading, and studying, and praying, I have been put in a situation that allows me to start building something for myself and my new husband. This past October, my then-fiance was awarded a graduate assistantship which gave us housing at virtually no cost. So at the start of this year, we downsized from a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment to a 400 square foot studio (more thoughts on this next time).

I have the opportunity, time and space now to get my career together, without the pressure of a huge onslaught of bills. I do have some serious financial obligations, but nothing is so pressing that I’ll lose any sleep. Anyway, with all of this available time, and unlimited potential before me, I see how I could easily become a freeloading slacker. Being slow-paced isn’t necessarily being lazy. It’s just living a productive, meaningful life, without the chains of societal expectations holding you back.

So last year, while struggling through the consequences a job termination, totaled car (no injuries), and death in the family, (all of which occurred within a calendar week) I filled my mind with positive and productive ideas to keep me moving. At times, my state of physical and emotional burnout overtook me. And then there was the craziness of planning our November wedding in an extraordinary short period of time.  Outside of those moments, I was flying high off of everything that I was reading and a few ideas stuck with me. I wanted to share those ideas that I came across/figured out for living a meaningful, deliberate and productive life:

  1. Talking about an action depletes the energy needed for that action.  This basically means if you need/want to do something, don’t say you have to do it. Just do it.  Don’t share your excitement of this great idea you have, because if you do, you won’t have the energy to do it. For me, this is a big one: I’m all talk and no action sometimes  I’ve probably heard this statement a thousand times from my husband, but it wasn’t until I read it in The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity by Edwene Gaines that the idea actually stick with me.
  2. Find a way to keep yourself accountable. This seems to contradict number uno, but this just means have a system in place to make sure you’re doing what you’ve set out to do. I don’t mean telling other people your goals and having them check up on you. Keeping myself accountable to other people, ie telling them “I’m going to work out 5 days a week,” doesn’t work for me. Either they annoy the heck out of me or make me feel guilty for not reaching my goals. What I’m talking about could be as simple as putting quarters in a swear jar or marking off items on a check-list.  For me, writing this blog reminds me to stay focused on the life I want to live. It is a way to chronicle my journey.  I think detailing your day in a journal, after you complete whatever it was you set out to do, is very effective and is a positive way to track your progress.
  3. Lower your standards, especially if there is something you are just getting started with. This is one I keep seeing from different bloggers, the first was Kazumoto from AJAAT (click the links in his article, they’re good further reading on the subject.) If you say, “I’m going to write a thousand words on my novel today,” and you haven’t written anything in a month or two, chances are it’s not going to happen. But if your goal is to just write something in your novel today, you’ll reach your goal if you write five words, fifty, or five thousand. (I’m totally, obviously not talking about myself, here). Now I don’t mean to produce poor quality on purpose.  I just mean, just do something, or do more than nothing. Let me tell you something: it is easy as heck to just do a little better than nothing, and as many of the others have said, you may find you do a quite a bit more than nothing (no pressure though).
  4. Be mindful of the process, and don’t fixate on the end goal. I seriously want write a whole post on this, but in brief, idea is to immerse yourself in the task at hand.  Don’t do something just to have it finished. If you focus on the process, before you know it, you’ll actually finish instead of lamenting how much time it is going to take.  So many of the things we love can be tedious. We plateau, get stuck, have to back-up and redo. A task you thought you liked might become tedious if you’re having trouble.  I am very much guilty of fixating on the end goal. But I noticed when I focus on the process of the task I’m completing, I enjoy myself more, and the task actually gets completed. Less stress in the end.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope these four thoughts can help you stay motivated with your New Year’s resolutions, life goals, or whatever ticks your clock. I’m signing off for the night.

Thanks for reading.

Peace and Blessings.

Get Rid of Stress/Anger/Frustration, and Find Inner Peace

I’ve been going about this slow-paced lifestyle all wrong: trying to ease the stressors of everyday life by trying to organize the outside factors in my life. I’m not saying that doesn’t help, but it certainly doesn’t solve everything. 

I’ve had an epiphany just now and realized that it doesn’t matter how empty my house is, (minimalism) or how stress-free my work environment is, if I’m not contained in a bubble of inner peace. I need an aura around me that neutralizes any energy that conflicts with stress-free, slow-paced life I’m trying to establish here. Because even if my world is chaotic, I won’t even notice if I’ve surrounded myself in 360 degrees of inner peace.

Yesterday was a pretty horrid day at work. Things did not go my way. And I took to the Internet looking for a way to assuage my anger and frustration. It’s funny how all articles geared towards calming you down are really there to shake their finger and say you shouldn’t have gotten angry in the first place… helpful, right? Well it didn’t help me. So I after watching too much anime (call me a nerd, I don’t care), I realized that I needed a bubble of protection. So, no matter what the goofballs swing at me, their thoughts/actions/energy wouldn’t touch me. Imagine a sword having no effect as it nears your body; the sword melts into oblivion while you stand there protected by your bubble/positive aura/whatever.

Where might I get this bubble you might ask? Well I’m going to pull it out of the roots of my being and surround myself with it. And what the heck am I going to pull out of I’m feeling horrid? I’m going to pull out the wonder of the universe. I’m going to connect with nature, and use the full force of the Universe to support me. I’m starting to think that reconnecting with nature will help me establish a strong, stress-shielding bubble.

Ah, but what about the anger, you say?  All this thinking and I hadn’t figured out how to get rid of it. Until I found a couple YouTube videos on guided meditation. I watched this one video…. focused my attention on these naturalistic images, pushed my thoughts away, and the anger began to subside.

After a second and third video, I started to feel a little better. But what I realized is that you have to be ready to let it all go. If you aren’t truly ready to let the anger and frustration go, it will stay… and I’m not 100 percent now, but I’m way better than I was. I mean, I was holding back panic attacks while I was meditating.  I’m not there yet. I honestly think a few weeks of this will do me justice.

I’m not saying quit minimalism, spend money recklessly, and fill your life to the brim with obligations and responsibilities. I’m saying that even in the midst of chaos, you can find a peace so still and calm that it won’t matter how quickly the wind blows.  Am I there yet? No.  I still get angry at a lot of things before I even have the chance to “ACT,” instead of instantly “REacting.”  Nonetheless, I’m going to to work on changing all of this, and I’d like to share this journey with you.


8 Methods of Grounding and Connecting to the Earth’s Frequencies

8 Methods of Grounding and Connecting to the Earth’s Frequencies

Quite an interesting tidbit from the article:

The economic system is set up to keep people inside generating information, in large buildings of stone and metal that disconnect us from the Earth. We surround ourselves with machines and technology that constantly bombard us with electromagnetic radiation, i.e. telephones, computers, televisions, etc. We are sold pieces of insulating plastic or rubber to put onto our feet when we are out in nature, hindering the flow of energy from the Earth up into our physical vessel. Pollution and invasive procedures within the Earth distort the electromagnetic field.

I know why you are so unhappy…

Everything in your life stands as a barrier to happiness: That high-powered corporate job, or blue-collar service job, your cell phone, your iPad, your money or lack there of. Everything in our world, everything artificial, stands in the way of pure happiness. Everything you do has no purpose. You work to pay bills, to get stuff and keep stuff, and then what?

The purpose of life is to enjoy the universe.

To those of you who scream: YOLO whenever you do something stupid, that is, drink too much, smoke too much, party too much, do too many drugs, drive recklessly in the BMW you can barely afford, that is not enjoying the universe. None of those things matter.  You waste your time.  I ask my students all the time Why do you party? The best answer I ever get is to forget my problems. That is exactly right: people party to escape the world, the transient, ephemeral, superficial, artificiality of the world.  Well, what’s wrong with this world? We have all of this stuff to keep us company.

I used to believe my mom was wrong for not wanting to celebrate Christmas.  What was the point in being here if you weren’t going to enjoy the experiences in it? How could you forgo the unabashed grandeur of it all? Our consumerist culture truly is the way to happiness right? NO!  It is just a barrier to keep us from enjoying the universe.

I guess I’ve been watching too much anime or something.  I’ve been watching this one where this girl goes back in time from modern day to the feudal era.  (wow, I sound like a total geek right now, bear with me, I have a point).  Anyway, she is without all of these modern technologies, and enjoys sleeping under the stars. And in this one episode, she is forced back to modern times and is slowly forgetting her adventures in the past era.  And for some reason, the rote monotony of her modern life hit a chord with me.  All of this crap we do everyday has no point whatsoever. Toiling away with these trivialities makes us generally unhappy.

Now for all of you naysayers out there, I must point out: you may argue that it is how one perceives all of these trivialities is what determines whether one is happy or not. That may be true, but at least for me, I have to argue that I feel imprisoned sometimes by the monotony of everyday life.  I want to be outside, get fresh air, eat food I’ve grown myself.  Living in an apartment (without a balcony no less) creates barriers and prevents me from connecting with the universe in the way I believe people should.

Every history class I ever took in school had me believing that the Native Americans were crazy. Don’t you remember learning that their religion was called animism: which, according to wikipedia, ” is the worldview that natural physical entities—including animals, plants, and often even inanimate objects or phenomena—possess a spiritual essence.” Who in their right mind thinks that a tree has a spirit? We learned that Christianity was normal, and that the Native Americans were kooks. (Because one old white man who sees over every man, woman, child and every other living creature, and dictates their fates, answers their prayers, and judges what will happen to them in eternity, makes A LOT more sense).  I think they were (are) on to something.  The universe, in its natural state, anyway, is such a rich place.  We destroy all of its riches to create all of this artificial crap. 

The reality is that in the last 500 years we have spent so much time closing ourselves off from the natural world that we are completely unaware of the natural essence of things. Have you ever stood before a great tree that made you silence your thoughts because its power was just so awesome. What about the thrashing waves of the ocean on a cool summer night?  How does being in the presence of powerful, natural elements have such an effect on you? How could inanimate objects contain so much power?

There are too many barriers keeping us from the universe, the world in its natural state.  We are unhappy because we are imprisoned by useless junk and we don’t take the time to just be with the world.  The earth can provide everything we need to survive and thrive. We just have to take the time to get to know it.


Why I Stopped Shopping at the Mall

It’s been about six months since I started wearing the skirts everyday. It was done in part so I could connect with my more bohemian self, and also so I could simplify my outfit choices. It worked wonderfully at first. And then, in one misguided trip to Macy’s I got carried away. I bought about $150 worth of clothing, on sale and all that.  I walked away with two giant bags filled with stuff.

Now that I have many more clothes, I find myself at a loss of what to wear most mornings.  Without blogging, I find myself falling back into my old habits. It’s time to purge again and get rid of the junk. (And return to writing, too)

Furthermore, I haven’t had most of this stuff more than a couple of months and some of it already looks like crap.  These clothes aren’t meant to be worn frequently.  I feel like I’ve wasted my money. Many times I don’t want to wear what I have simply because it looks shoddy.  How often does that happen to you? I’m tired of it happening to me, so I have officially quit shopping at the mall.

It is  a shame that these large companies don’t take the time to put together quality clothing, but it’s not surprising.  I mean, they are paying scraps to little kids in China to put these scraps of clothes together.  Clearly, they care more about their profits than anything else.  If profits weren’t their main concern, they’d pay their manufacturers better. Why not cut corners on quality, too?

Do you know what “pilling” is?  It usually happens when a fabric has little tiny balls of fabric stuck all over it. So if a canvas tote bag you’re carrying rubs up against a synthetic, polyester t-shirt, you get pilling. Pilling is the bane of my existence.  It makes relatively new clothing look pretty shoddy. I’m starting to think clothes were only meant to be worn once.  I saw an article on Yahoo! over the weekend, “Britney Spears Explains Why She Wears the Same Outfits in Public.” We as a people in this country have serious problems if we have to explain wearing the same clothes over again. I know it doesn’t apply to me, the regular, not-famous human, but the fact that this even made the tabloids, speaks volumes about our society.  And us normal people don’t want to repeat outfits too frequently either. So of course  clothing manufactures can get away with selling this clothing of such poor quality.  Besides, this low-quality crap is the only thing that most of us can afford.

Nonetheless, I know how to pick out high-quality items on sale.  However, the time required to find the style/color/size I want coupled with the availability of superior quality items (and fair price, anyone?) makes it very difficult to find what I’m looking for, especially last minute–and that, of course, is how I do most of my shopping. It takes work. Work that I’m just not interested in doing. Malls really aren’t my favorite place, ya know?

So at one point, I thought, to save money (and time, and stress, and frustration) I should sew my own clothes.  I thought that going old-fashioned was the solution to the crap at the mall. “Old-fashioned” has been my solution to slowing everything down a bit.  It worked very well for improving my diet, but apparently not for my personal style. See, I’ve had the machine for a while now and the only thing I’ve made is a giant pillow-bed for my dog.  I’ve hemmed a couple of things, but I really don’t think I’m going to do much more sewing than that.  Sewing projects really just aren’t for me. I think it is an important skill to have, but I’m going to stick to crocheting hats and scarves for now. So lately I’ve been pursing Etsy for people who hand-sew clothing.  I bought a hand-sewn purse a good while ago (not online) and it is still in wonderful condition.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything of that quality at the mall. I paid $50 for it. A tote of that quality is worth FAR more than $50 dollars retail. 

It is clear that these big companies, really aren’t looking out for the needs of the consumer.  I need durable clothing (purses and shoes) that can stand frequent wear. I think I would save far more money if my clothing didn’t wear out as quickly as it does now. The items I buy would stay nicer, longer. The reality is, I’m just not going to be able to find that at the mall, for the amount of money I’d like to spend.

P.S. I also decided to stop shopping at the mall because I want to support black businesses.  It is very difficult to do that at the mall.  My community is suffering and the least I can do is spend my money where it’s needed. 

I Stopped Fighting, But I’m Not Giving Up

I spent a year and a half fighting for my graduate thesis. Fighting for  every line and every word my adviser had something to say about on my draft.  It was my writing after all. It was mine, and I vowed, at age 10, that I would never again let someone coerce convince me to write something that I didn’t want to write.  I saw it as selling out. I probably could have finished my thesis “on time,” or early, if I had been willing to walk the path of my predecessors– you know, the one of smile and nods, and just doing whatever they want me to do, just so the work can be over with. In the end–of my thesis, anyway– I got on the conveyor belt, and behaved how a good graduate student should.

My entire life, I’ve never been quite fond of rules.  I complain endlessly for society trying to push me into line.  Don’t get me wrong, I agree to common courtesy, honesty, kindness, and following the law. But sometimes I just fight. I really just don’t like doing what I’m told.  My mom always told me, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”  Nonetheless, that’s what I do when I get pissed. It’s definitely not slow-paced living at all.

Today, after a less than favorable job performance review– I have to say, probably my first– understandably, I was devastated.  I want to do well in my place of employment. I was actually desperately in need of some confirmation I was doing okay. And I got the complete opposite of that today.  So the fight within me starts- I’m ready to pound my fists into the wall.  I’m thinking, “How the hell can I still do this my way?”  and “How am I such a failure?”

Why do I always have to do things the hard way– which is mostly my way, I suppose? Here I am, about to make the same mistake I made with my thesis. Fighting tooth and nail for what want, knowing that in the end, I’m not going to get what want, and I’ll be climbing up the steep side of the mountain all for naught.

I’ve spent a significant portion of the last couple class periods telling my students that they may not like their system of education, but they have to take what they can get from it– mostly, learning the discipline to do things they don’t want to do. Because, you know, if you don’t suck it up and do things you don’t want to do, how are you going to be able to push through the challenges and least interesting parts of achieving your goals?

Now aren’t I the silly hypocrite? How can I know so much and express this to others with exceptional clarity, but have a fog in front of my eyes. I’m trying to learn from Taoism- to stop fighting, to live in harmony with the universe, and to let the wind carry me in the direction it blows.

As of this moment, I’ve stopped fighting, but I’m not giving up. I’m going to do what I have to do to turn the review around (I have a second chance, ya’ll).  I’m going to get in line, and walk deliberately with the flow of traffic.  Although now, at least I know where I am, and can hop off the conveyor belt when I choose to do so.Image

(sorry for the accidental, unfinished post earlier… “Why I stopped shopping at the mall” should be up soon).