Hong Kong’s Battle for Democracy: Thoughts From the Middle Ground

My thoughts on the situation in Hong Kong comes late like many others. People that don’t particularly want to meddle around in the grey area or get into political debates. Like many others, I stand by democracy but cannot deem myself informed enough to form a solid stance on whether the current movement is right or wrong. The theme is important and raising awareness for the cause has be more than valuable. So let us take a step back from the political debates and understand the challenges of the bigger picture.

Change management does not come overnight. For large groups of people in teams, organizations and communities to transition to desired states is not something that can be confined to the downfalls of one particular leader or government. With all great accomplishments takes enormous efforts from all parties. There are many reasons that the people of Hong Kong are asking for change. The voting system, the education system, the housing policies and many more non-locals may not be aware of. Choosing what strategy to implement and methods of evaluation should never have to come down to anyone getting physically harmed in any way, shape or form.

Billions of peoples’ lives are on the line. I say this in light of China having ruled out amending their initial decision from August 31st stating that Hong Kong’s leader will be elected in 2017 after candidates have been selected by a nominating committee made up of a proposed 1,200 people. It is difficult to imagine what consequences a shift in the voting system could potentially have on the lives of over 1.3 billion people in China. What if they too would like to seek out more democratic governing? How will a nation that large be able to focus on its economic development in the likely event that its people take to the streets to protest for democracy?

There is little middle ground available for Hong Kong’s governing system, China’s 2017 decision and the current beliefs represented by the people of Hong Kong. No one can say one party is right but what we as a global community can do is seek ways to prevent the suffering of more people. The pressure is on to resolve this problem but as we are all quite aware, the challenges will be continuing long after the current movement is over. As people that truly care, it isn’t necessarily about wearing the yellow ribbon, it’s about the fight after the media no longer sees value in reporting the matter.

A lot of us can’t help but notice that Western styles of democracy is often referenced in the current Hong Kong debates. Yes, Hong Kong is seeking out similar forms in their voting systems but it isn’t always relevant to compare them side-by-side. It has long been established that the people of Hong Kong are looking for a “one person, one vote”system where everyone has direct influence on who their next leader will be. Here in North America for the most part, we are only able to elect representatives for our communities. We are in no way directly voting for a specific leader to represent us to one overarching national governing body with a completely different political beliefs. That is why, I am hesitant to say that what Hong Kong is thriving for right now is the system that I am personally living under.

Ultimately one of the most important things to understand is we shouldn’t lose sight of why this movement began in the first place. The student leaders originally put out very ambitious proposals to the government including demands for Hong Kong’s top three officials to resign for political reasons so they can re-elect a leader they believe in under a new voting system. However, as we move away from this, we will notice that the movement is no longer solely run by and represented by people that believe in democracy, but people that are suffering under current localized issues like the increase of housing prices, unemployment and heightening poverty. The problems have always been far greater than one single voting system.

Embrace the challenges of the future and stay safe.

Do I really have to ask you again? [Part 1]

I asked my sister to help me run an errand last week out of pure laziness. When I got back from work, I was pleasantly surprised with my package having been picked up and dinner ready.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as asking something of someone and having them exceed all expectations you had for them. Rarely does this happen, but when it does–it’s a glorious day.

More than anything it seems like we’re easily annoyed by all the little things. When your significant other is late for dinner, when your roommate eats your last pizza pocket, when someone doesn’t clean up after themselves around the house–when they aren’t really “listening” to the things you have to say. Being with others in general is not only a constant state of change but also filled with what feels like many unfulfilled expectations.

In moments of temporary resentment we resort to criticizing as an immediate response. Lucky for us, there are “new and improved” ways to respond to these situations with family and friends.

Acknowledge it. Move on.

Sometimes life happens and the trade off between being resentful and letting go–letting go is just freeing oneself of disappointment. Do whatever works for you. This isn’t a lesson of calming exercises as much as it is realizing real life experiences of upset and anger. It’s a human tendency to dwell on feelings of hurt and disappointment. Prolonged resentment is what makes our lives at home seem dissatisfying at times. This is one of the few cases where over-thinking benefits no one as it prolongs pain and damages relationships.

Start. Empower. Inspire.

The times we want to nag roommates or family to do certain chores–criticize them for their lazy choices–realize it isn’t going to prompt anyone to take initiative next time around. It isn’t often that negative emotions, extreme or not, inspire others to make changes–let alone fulfill unmet expectations.

Have empathy.

Have empathy for the person you want to criticize. Chances are you’ve neglected promises to do house chores as well. Rationalize the situation without using accusations and demanding language to create a defensive atmosphere. In this way, we get the point across without harboring resentment. Of course this takes much more control on our part but the results are certainly worth it. I’m sure you’d feel much more inclined to help someone who got their point across without demanding that you HAVE to do something but by using more appreciative words.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Unfollowed.

Is there ever a good way to address the problem of unfollowing? Before the time of social media, this form of rejection never existed.

At one point or another in our lives, we get unfollowed. I don’t just mean via our social media accounts but rejected in various aspects of life as well. A friend might delete you off Facebook and a business partner could want to stop working with you. Some of these things we can shake off easily and move on. Then we are left with those that can haunt us for years to come, until we make an effort to seek out new perspectives in our lives.

After every single rejection we fret over how we’ll be able to put ourselves out there again after being so hurt. We become jaded over the frustration and anger. The same negative emotions pester us to no end and build a negative energy over and over again.

I won’t deny that to a degree, we all need the validation of others. But what’s more is that freeing yourself from being unfollowed or blatantly rejected in life only truly begins when you find fulfillment in yourself.

Most recently I had the pleasure of working with someone incredibly bright in the field of academia with multiple upcoming publications. When she broke down, stating she was alone and that everyone hated her–it was all nonsense to me. Despite having been successful in her field of choice, landing the job of her dreams and having many adoring students she had read negative messages directed towards her while at the same time ignoring all the good.

Anyone in a similar situation would feel lost. Because of this, our motivation is temporarily heightened as we feel the need to obsess over results. This is what happens when we weigh our fulfillment on validation from others and their judgments. Staying grounded is key to having more self-love.

Before you decide on what to wear from your wardrobe each morning, you should wear the confidence. Why? Because it looks good on you.

There is no pleasing everyone. And if they unfollow? Good. You didn’t abandon yourself to keep them.

What we really need aren’t opinions from others on how we should feel. We need to do something. Anything. As long as we do it while treating ourselves with value.

It’s true what they say about us giving up power for others to hurt us by their rejection. Even when we look back to the people that unfollowed and countless more rejections that slapped us across the face in the past, we manage to see the good in it for being the pivot points of our lives. We survived another episode of rejection. And guess what? It wasn’t so bad after all.

So next time you get unfollowed or rejected in one way or another, know that it was just what you needed. Not that “they shouldn’t have!” or “you deserve better! nonsense.

Happiness that remains dependent on judgments formed by others will always be temporary. Beyond that, it’s difficult to recall the world we lived in before part of our validation became based on how many up-votes our thoughts received. Instead of fishing for compliments from others, we can try constantly complimenting ourselves instead. Why not tell yourself you’re awesome everyday?

Can we really learn from rejection you may wonder? Of course we can. Perhaps the rejection happened to show us that our approach was all wrong and yes, ultimately meaning we screwed up. Not only is it important to ask ourselves “Why?” but it’s just as important to ask “What can I takeaway from this rejection?”. We’re capable of reflections that make us better as human beings and prepare us for upcoming opportunities in our lives. Being rejected or unfollowed isn’t a “me game” where the whole situation revolves around you and you only. There isn’t a need to be battling more fears and insecurities of the imagination. Sometimes we’re more capable of nurturing ourselves after rejection than anyone else.

We’re the only ones responsible for healing our own wounds. Not time.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Make Your Own Life

You’ve been over this before. Frankly, your brain is sick of hearing it. There is something you want to do that you just haven’t yet. You want to go back to school, you want to start your own business, you want to learn to cook…

The non-existent book you have yet to write.

Perhaps HALF of a book draft that you just haven’t been able to bring yourself back to touching since work got in the way.

And I could go on with this list, but what’s the point? You’re such a smart cookie you’ve already got where I’m going with all this talk.

We’ve got to take the “you only live once” and direct it in the most positive way possible. It shouldn’t be an excuse for acts of recklessness. What it should help us realize, is that we ought to stop preventing ourselves from doing the things we want to.

Funny thing is, we like to assume we’re being realistic and logical for not pursuing the things we are deeply passionate about. Common logic: No money, no time, not young enough to fail again, don’t want to start over, don’t want to do something you’re not the best at etc. They say we’re afraid of failure, but it seems we also have a fear of great success. To know so much is to have more potential fear.

At some point someone might have told you you’re not capable of the thing you wanted. You didn’t want to believe it. You thought you were capable of not listening and not caring about what they said. Why is it that you went ahead and followed through on someone else’s words instead of your own?

Your single belief should be the only thing that matters.

Some of us are just naturally the ‘glass half empty’-types. We pride ourselves on being able to avoid all disappointment because of the lack of risk in our lives. And as our ancestors might have advised us from the dinosaur era, stay in a place where there is the lowest possibility of your predators ever hurting you.

There is no short-cut out of the pessimistic mindset. For every 10 lovely compliments you receive, you may only find yourself pondering the one time someone doubted you. Not only doubted your dream but also doubted you as a person. It’s important we make an effort to facilitate encouraging interaction between those that we care about and care about us in return.

We will forever notice more reasons to not do something we want than to go for it. At the end of the day, we don’t ACTUALLY need a perfect track record clear of failures in the long-run –so stop being so OCD about it. Take the first step. And if it doesn’t work? Well, now you know what the better step is to take the next time around. To give yourself a chance at succeeding is to gift yourself with a new habit; the habit of accepting better solutions to old problems.

You’re doing it for yourself. To remind yourself that you’re amazing and deserve to follow through with your own words and not others’.

Make your own life.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Give Yourself Permission

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If you have writer’s block, give yourself a chance today. Give yourself permission to produce work that isn’t your best. Enough with the advice that suggests that we should never openly show work that isn’t our best. How else will our growth be recognized? Some of us have never been editors by nature but that’s alright –we can all learn to be. Love the flow of words instead of being caught up in the fluidity of which they sound together initially.

Hate and criticism comes in the form of silence as well. Just as you thought you’d be able to save yourself from hurt and judgement for expressing your thoughts in writing by stopping, the same people can still criticize you for remaining in silence. Don’t let them forget the beauty of your words.

There is no reason to hide the fact that you’re afraid.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” ― Ambrose Redmoon

And aren’t we so often told to embrace the struggle? If you take out the sugarcoating you’ll realize there is no heavenly bittersweet moment experienced until the struggle transforms your writing for the better. It’s the enlightenment that allows us to appreciate the struggle and motivates us to subject ourselves to it over and over again. But hey, even your dream job has its own little downers.

Your voice is as original as it gets when it comes to writing. What you’ve developed through continuously reading, writing and even imitating your favourite writers will become the basis of your growth. You will discover opposing ideas and conflicting voices that make you just that different. Just original.

Back your ideas up with a story. Shared ideas are not owned by individuals, stories on the other hand are.  Put a twist on the idea and make it your own story. Realization of the story is the most difficult part.

Regardless of whether the  ideas conveyed through your stories are agreed or disagreed upon at the end of the day, you voice will grow stronger. As for the people you’ve reach? Your voice has allowed them to learn more about themselves –love it or hate it.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

The Neglected Books

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Day after day you remained perched on my desk, guilt-tripping me at every glance for not picking you up again.

I still remembered the day I brought you home from the store. There seemed to be an endless amount of potential  that the words on your pages could bring to my life. In fact, I was more than delighted to have sent the little money I had on you, over what could have been a nice evening to the movies or a month’s worth of Netflix subscription. You temporarily deceived me into believing I was perhaps capable of becoming anything beautiful words could form: a writer, dancer, hippie, philosopher, entrepreneur…. there was no way I would’ve passed up the opportunity to know you.

Let it be known I appreciated the knowledge I have extracted from our short-lived time together. But why must you continue to emit non-verbal judgement as I go about my daily activities? As of now, you represent everything I thought you weren’t. You represent my unfinished meals, undone chores, piling schoolwork as I engage with passive entertainment like surfing Youtube and social media networks.

For weeks upon weeks I trudged to work, classes, and meetings with you. You would help me pass time with your many words of wisdom at the doctor’s office while waiting for an appointment. I couldn’t be more grateful but the weight you’ve placed upon  my shoulders while in my backpack has no doubt made me shrink a couple centimeters if not more. I despise you for this.  Shame.

Now I’m beginning to question your value. You’ve hurt my ambitions to achieve greater things in the world of literature.  Admittedly, I should have read you months ago whilst the wonderful summer rays but I procrastinated. Now my OCD is preventing me from neglecting you completely. I am unable to start again with other great written works because of your presence. All I ever really wanted was to maximize the lessons learned from you –not read every word you had to offer.

Believe me, I wanted to learn everything when I caught sight of you. From insight on global economics to math to poetry. I convinced myself you were a worthy investment. Now tell me the honest truth –has anyone ever managed to intake your every word? Do they work? Are they users of public transit that trudge through the cold rain with you on their side? Have they elected to read you over papers they should have read for class instead? Perhaps they took you to more interesting places. Maybe they wrote their first published novel with you by their side, took you travelling and introduced you to everyone at a party. Your thoughtfully composed sentences certainly do deserve more than 15 minutes of fame.

Don’t even get me started on your fictional counterparts! Such tall tales of magical kingdoms, wizards and vampires have had more than enough unwarranted exposure at the bookstore. Sometimes the story even turns into something like a bad pun. A considerable effort to convey a message but the bad punch line leaves a bitter aftertaste. The time I thought I was capable of burrowing through a 10 novel series has come and gone along with a series of unfortunate events.

So, to the books I have neglected on my desk for too long, I can only say I want to be the ambitious ordinary superhero you told me I could be and reach my goals with the wise words you have kindly bestowed on me. Today, I have no choice but to retire you to my shelf along with some other dated folks and visit the bookstore again.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

10 Signs You’re Under Significant Financial Pressure

  1. You’ve never once considered purchasing warranty. The nice salespeople always suggest that you buy some sort of expensive warranty for your expensive electronic (which you probably shouldn’t be getting in your financial situation anyway) and you can only politely decline. Not that you take amazing care of your iPod/Smartphone/laptop, but you just can’t bring yourself to fork out money that otherwise don’t have leave your ever-so-flat wallet.
  2. Learning that an amount like $30 can be stretched throughout a 2 week period between paychecks. As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. Is it ever relaxing living from one payday to the next? I didn’t think so. During these times you learn to channel your inner frugality and avoid activities that require spending of any kind, including but not limited to eating.
  3. Regretting the purchase of lottery tickets. Yes, those lottery and scratch-and-win tickets provide you with a tiny little glimmer of hope but you soon realize, after week after week of disappointment, that you might as well have just thrown your money away. Now wouldn’t it have been great if you had thought that one through and purchased a meal instead of starving yourself?!?!!! It just goes to show the power of having hope –so keep that going (just lay off the lottery tickets).
  4. When something you need goes on sale, you buy it. In fact, you buy it EXTREME COUPONING style. Sales feel like a once in a lifetime experience when you’re broke. If you miss it you won’t be using that product for awhile. This is sort of like when you’re so hungry you can’t help but gorge yourself at the end of the day despite knowing you don’t need all of the food.
  5. Reconsidering your scheduled days off at work because you need the money from extra shifts. At times you’re actually super relieved to have a day off once every so often to take a break and just breathe… but as soon as you hear your boss mention an extra shift you instantly feel the obligation to comply. Pressure from your boss? Nope. Pressure from being broke? Totally.
  6. Always going for the personalized hairstyle. By this, I mean you probably cut your own hair at times to dodge a visit to the hairstylist. Long story short –the haircut isn’t worth the price and you sure as heck can’t afford it. Not to say you won’t regret the fact that you chopped all your hair off by accident and gave yourself a bad perm. Forgive yourself already, it’ll grow back.
  7. Sometimes thinking that even student pricing is too much. Aside from the usual children/seniors admission to events you probably have the most affordable admission to events at one point but the price still kept you from going. At some point you may have pre-planned the excuse of not having your cash or your bank card readily available to pay for access. What a bummer.
  8. Hording napkins from fast food restaurants. What more can I say?
  9. Who needs a hotel for roadtrips anyway? Just sleep in the car. They say to collect all the nice soaps and shampoos when you’re staying at a hotel and save but… can you really afford to stay at a hotel in this sort of financial situation? You take a look at your bank account balance and wonder why you ever thought the entire trip would make a good idea.
  10. Daily meals of instant noodles. Funny how you thought you would be leaving this kind of lifestyle behind after you graduate from post-secondary and land your dream job, huh? Little did you know that you were neglecting the debt from student loans and had miscalculated the chances of you actually landing a job, let alone the big dream.

— itsfruitcakeweather.