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.

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Dear Vancouver, It’s about time you stopped talking about the weather

I’ve always been quick to bring up the weather in conversations and despise myself for it. I never quite understood why so many of us do it. All those times we’ve found ourselves stuck on the train with someone we haven’t spoken to in months: “I hope there isn’t going to be this much rain on the weekend!” Blame it on living in Vancouver if you must.

As soon as I bring up the weather topic in a conversation, I feel slightly uncomfortable. As if commenting on the rain will be the death of the conversation. There must be better things to talk about.

Maybe we can think of it this way – we too often worry that anything else we bring up in conversation won’t interest the other person.

Sure it’s not common for us to know too much personal information about our co-workers and acquaintances – but does that make it a bad thing to ask? Since when did asking how their parents are doing become classified as digging too far into uncommon territory?

Not that I’m particularly preaching upon the fact that technology is making people extremely disconnected or whatnot. Certainly communicating through technological mediums did not suddenly make all of us decide that our only common denominator comes in the form of discussing the rain and how many umbrellas have been flipped.

If you’re thinking this is about whether we’re being pessimistic or optimistic judging from whether the conversation is based around the rain or sunshine, you’d be wrong. Just because you sounded excited when mentioning the sunny weather doesn’t dilute the fact that you refused to make some sort of social connection.

You might think that all the talk about the depressing rain is getting you down but maybe it’s just refraining from a social connection that’s hurting  your personal well-being more.

Mind you, it doesn’t always have to be an ongoing meaningful conversation or so to speak. What really matters is that talking about the weather or whatever your go-to topic of conversation is – stops becoming a repetitive fallback when you feel like there is nothing left in common. And hey, if you’re not a meteorologist or just someone that religiously refreshes the weather application on their phone every 5 minutes, I don’t see why the topic of weather should really extent beyond a minute at most.

Stop being lazy and make a bit more of an effort tomorrow morning. Sure most days we wake up and it’s raining. Sure the commute to work is long and treacherous. Sure you feel just a little bit irritated when someone tries to start a conversation with you while your socks are wet. But who is to say it won’t be worth it if you’ve never tried?

So Vancouver, here’s my challenge to you: The next time you feel a sudden urge to throw out a line about the weather, mention something more fun. Like seriously.

— 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.

Your Back-To-School To Do List

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The cash registers at school supplies stores around the country are singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!” as school is due to start in just about 2 weeks. Whether you are heading back to school or helping someone prepare, here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Get excited for the season of rain and pumpkin spice!
  2. Realize that ‘Freshman 15’ is a myth. If you make an effort to not consume cafeteria food everyday and keep your consumption patterns relatively the same you’re probably going to only gain 5 pounds! Doesn’t sound very reassuring? Take advantage of the gym facilities around campus –after all, you’ve already paid for those services in your student fees.
  3. Wear your lightweight summer clothes as often as possible. This is all part of enjoying what is left of summer to the fullest. Perhaps where you are living the sun doesn’t seem like it will be going away anytime soon but you’ll miss it once its gone.
  4. Hustle for your textbooks. Talk to people that have taken the same classes before and make sure you need the books first and be cautious of the market prices. The last thing you want to do is buy all your textbooks from the campus bookstore when you’re living off student loans. Which brings me to my next point…
  5. Make sure you have all your funds lined up in time to pay tuition. Visit the financial aid office in case you missed a potential scholarship/bursary you can apply for as well. The worst feeling is the idea of a missed opportunity.
  6. Spend one afternoon going through your boxes to dig out the old school supplies that can still be used and go frolicking in the school supply aisles of colourful binders, boring lined paper and crayons you no longer use but still want to buy.
  7. Draft your budget for the year. Seriously. You overspent last year.
  8. Every summer you make plans to go places, meet people and discover different hobbies. Well, what have you accomplished this summer? Make an effort to get out of your room as much as you can in attempt to rid the evidence that you spent most of the summer aimlessly browsing Facebook, scrolling through Tumblr and sending out snapchats.
  9. Don’t sign-up for any new credit cards on campus. It might be tempting to do so with all the free swag they give out along with signing up but you’ll be thankful at the end of each month when you have one less bill to pay.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Viewpoint: For The People That Don’t Want Your Help

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Have you ever tried to help someone that refused to accept your assistance? It seems to be in our good nature to be drawn into counselling those around us that are down and help them see optimism. As much as logic tells you that it wouldn’t make sense for them to decline your helping hand, it is more than common that those you offer help to refuse it. If you’re someone that loves a “quick-fix”, the learning curve for you may be steeper when they don’t want your “fix-it” personality.

We never want to let it go though. We don’t want to feel like we’ve given up on them before trying to help.

The missing piece of the puzzle is for the other person to want help and at no point can we force upon them our own beliefs no matter how right we think we are. Admitting to having problems is upsetting but change can be horrifying. Before you feel utterly disappointed in them for not realizing they need help, understand that we all like to think we are capable of managing our own problems (before it gets out of hand and desperation ensues). Once we become obsessed with idea of being at the bottom of the well, we don’t bother to figure out where the light is coming from at the opening –let alone build motivation to get out.

While there is no “quick-fix” answer to helping those that don’t want your help… there are certainly things you could avoid saying to those in a panicked/anxious state of being:

  • “Calm down.” Take action instead of telling them this. Being unaware of their anxiety will make their issue worse.
  • “I’ll just leave you for a minute.” Does it ever trouble you when you’re left alone with negative thoughts? Try distracting them with a story.
  • “Stop overreacting.” While we accept that physically falling causes pain and an upsetting reaction, we should also acknowledge that the stress of anxiety is in the mind and equally painful.

When you’re trying to help the  person that doesn’t want your help, they don’t see it as a favor, in fact, they may become defensive as if you are accusing them of living their life wrong. For those of you that want to help and be there for others: When at first you give suggestions and then push them to heal they may become stubborn and overreact… you can let them know you care but sometimes they need to realize their problems on their own.

Frustrating as it is –you can’t help someone that won’t let you help. Don’t be angry.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

“One Of Those Days”

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You’re miserable. You claim that today is just “one of those days”.

On occasion you feel like you’ve reached a dead-end. Just you and your sad desk lunch at work –day-in, day-out. There you are loving the city you live in, but it’s producing bills you can’t afford. You’re thankful for the fact that you aren’t unemployed, but your current job is taking you nowhere. You’re frustrated but you stay put.

What do you blame? The circumstances? The economy? How about yourself?

Blaming yourself is perhaps the worst. While it seems to be appealing as a result of having no physical demands –it drains you. Mentally you’ve all been programmed by social norms to take disappointment hard and reflect on mistakes. Emotionally you want reassurance that you’re headed the right direction. It’s one thing to reflect upon mistakes but another to dwell on bad memories.

The self-inflicted pain needs to stop before anything else. You don’t have to look for something to blame. Certainly not yourself. Because in reality, does it really matter so much how your circumstances came to be when your misery is being prolonged?

So if you’re having “one of those days” consider this the sign you’ve been looking for. I hear your distress and want to help make your day better.

Before you know it “one of those days” will become “one of those weeks”, “one of those months”, “one of those years”. No one ever says it because we realize our time is limited. The thought of having “one of those years” is too overwhelming to bear. There just aren’t that many years.

So be honest with yourself. Having “one of those days” is for your recovery, not mulling over the bad memories and extending your own misery.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

More On Making Today A Little Better For Yourself

Here is the initial: On Making Today A Little Better For Yourself

  • Take the long route home today. Make a stop by the park to people watch in the evening. Sometimes we all need a few minutes to slow down and clear out negative thoughts. Maybe you’ll even develop a new habit of taking walks.
  • Purchase something that smells good. Perhaps this sounds weird at first, but air freshener and the occasional scented candle may really help on your sad days. Not to mention help you fall asleep if you happen to be a night owl!
  • Break a social norm. Why is it that we feel obligated to tell people we’re doing well when they ask how we are? Tell the truth when they ask today. You may be amused to find that you’ve caught them off guard as a result of not replying with: “I’m doing great! How are you?”
  • … I realize that the above can be somewhat out of your comfort zone. But fear not! Just have a friend break a social norm as a you observe. (I guarantee to you’ll get a kick out of it!)
  • Watch the TV show that everyone has been raving over for the last couple of months. I know you might want to refuse to believe it’s as good as they all make it seem… or that you’d be disappointed after you watch! But come on, you’re kind of not getting any of the jokes these days.
  • Clear out your closet. If you compulsively hoard items such as clothing (much like myself) I highly suggest trying one! You pretty much know you’re never going to wear those items again so chuck them out with your negative thoughts.

— itsfruitcakeweather.