Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Complaint Project - Weeks 2 & 3

I decided to combine Week 2 and Week 3 of the Complaint Project into one post because, honestly, not that much really changed at first. I felt like I needed more quantifiable data (wow, I really do work for Microsoft now) before I could make any observations insightful enough to warrant a post. Three weeks have now passed since the beginning of this project, and while I still cannot guarantee any shrewd nuggets of wisdom, I'll give it a go.

I have learned that I complain about things relating to transportation a lot. Like A LOT a lot. Traffic, parking, other drivers, construction, the number 5 to downtown, the Uber app, Uber drivers, the 520 bridge, how badly the rain affects the driving of Seattleites, and parking yet again. The Complaint Project has really made me zero in on exactly *how much* energy I am using griping about transportation. And the thing is - these are not things I can control. I can complain and whine and bitch, but that is accomplishing exactly nothing. So instead, I'm just trying to enjoy the downtime I have in the car to listen to music & think. I started bringing my book on the bus which makes the time fly. And if I take the bus, I don't have to worry (or complain about) parking. As far as Uber goes, well, they still frustrate me. But I am thankful I have them as an option for a safe ride home.

I have learned to believe in the power of positive thinking. No, really. It's been actually quite incredible how quickly the Complaint Project turned my sometimes-rotten attitude at work (my previous manager calls it "Grumpy Emily") into something else entirely. Dare I say it? Have I become an optimist? By refusing to give in to the Grumpy Emily (I picture her wearing a threadbare Santa hat, Grinch-style) sitting on my shoulder, it's been a lot easier to put a brightside spin on things. No, not everything at work is always going to go the way I'd like it to go. Sometimes I am going to be met with roadblocks and unforseen challenges. Sometimes I am going to be intimidated. Sometimes I am going to feel frustrated. Sometimes it's going to be hard to assume positive intent. But instead of complaining both internally & to everyone who will listen to me about things which, again, I cannot control, I have taken my own advice (shocking!) and put a positive on those things. I may be challenged by a particular coworker or struggle at work, but I am really amazed by how much I learn every day. We don't necessarily have the same communication styles, but I know that we both have the good of the project and the company at heart. I have become, oddly, sunny. I think folks are getting worried....or possibly wondering if I have a secret.

And finally, I have learned that dropping the complaints about things that I *can* control was actually not so tough after all. You know, the "I'm tired"s, the "I'm stressed"s, the "I'm so busy"s. After acknowledging how often these complaints came out of my mouth and then seeing how often they come out of other's mouths, I realized how much they are eating into the simple joys of each day. So I stopped. Because seriously, we're all busy, tried, and stressed. Instead of sighing and replying, "I'm so busy" when someone asks you how you are, try smiling & saying, "I'm amazing!". I swear, your whole morning will improve. Because seriously, complaining about stress is, like, so 2005.

As you can see, the first 3 weeks of the Complaint Project have put me on track to becoming that person that adds "#grateful" to all of their Instagram posts. I'm all Zen and shit. Who knew I had it in me?

Stay tuned for one final week of the Complaint Project because I've got one last hurdle to jump, one last hill to traverse. I will attempt to cross through the perilous & looming territory of the Throes of Hell Threes complaint-free and without waking the Beast named Boo. Miles to go before I sleep....

Thursday, April 9, 2015

In This Room

I will sit in the same room as you.

Sometimes, there just aren't any words. Sometimes, it isn't about having answers or solutions. Sometimes, conversations are unnecessary. Sometimes, being there for each other is just that, being there. Sometimes, we do not have to talk. But we can sit in the same room.

In that room, we can find strength. We are not alone in our sorrow or our grief or our hurt. We have each other to help bear the weight. We do not need to say it because we already know. In that room, we are free to experience emotion. We do not apologize for our tears. We do not apologize for our anger. In that room, we are whoever we need to be, and we do whatever we need to do. In that room, there are no guidelines, no rights and wrongs, no censorship of our emotions. In that room, there is only us and complete acceptance.

There is no time limit on how long we can sit in this room. We can talk or not talk. Yell or not yell. Cry or not cry. We can welcome distractions or face it head-on or pretend like everything is the same as before outside of this room. We do not have to leave until you are ready. I will not leave until you are ready.

You didn't leave until I was ready.

When there was nothing anyone could say to me to make it better, you sat in the same room as me. We were alternately silent and loud. We were sad and angry and peaceful and optimistic all at once. You held my hand as I felt all of these things. You were there with me in the same room, and you did not leave. When we finally departed, I still wasn't better. I was not healed, but I knew I was not alone.

I would do anything to make it better for you. I know I can't. But I can sit in the same room as you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Complaint Project - Week 1

And we're off!

I spent much of this first week of the Complaint Project trying to tune in & recognize when I was complaining & what I was complaining about. What did I discover? I complain A LOT. But much of that complaining was actually done in my head. I internalize a lot of it and only express my irritation through such passive aggressive moves as eye-rolling and exasperated inflections of my voice.

What else did I discover? Toddlers incite A LOT of frustration. Not complaining while coexisting with a 3-year old is damn near impossible. This is gonna be a lot more work than I originally thought.

And so, like in every other area of my obsessive Type A life, I made a list. Here are some of the things that I whined about during Week 1.

  1. So much boring organizational work 
  2. People on calls that talk and talk and talk and talk and talk
  3. The grocery store automatic cashier
  4. People that refuse to stop saying "Adorbs" and "Totes" (via Twitter)
  5. My stupid cat throwing up all of the time
  6. My stupid cat meowing all of the time
  7. I'm tired, I couldn't sleep, I am anxious, I am stressed, I am worried
  8. Boo whining (ironic, I know)
  9. Tim being late to pick me up
  10. Tim being early to pick me up
  11. Boo refusing to get dressed. Boo refusing to wear clothes that are not 4T. Boo refusing to put his undies on. Boo refusing to answer me. Boo refusing to go to bed. 
  12. Anti-vaccination posts on Facebook
  13. I feel sick from eating an entire bag of Starburst jellybeans
  14. My Uber driver not going the way I suggested
  15. I'm hurt. I'm sick. I'm can't get rid of this bronchitis cough
  16. Twitter spoiled the Walking Dead finale
And the list goes on....and on....and on...

Aside from assessing all of my complaints this week, I also tried to remember to look for the bright side of things. For example:
  1. I have so much boring organizational work to do....but I am very lucky to have such a great job.
  2. The grocery store automatic cashier is so irritating....but it was a small price to pay to have wine to drink tonight.
  3. Tim is late picking me up....but overall, he's a pretty damn good husband. 
  4. Boo is incredibly frustrating and annoying....but it's so amazing when he hugs me & tells me he loves me unprompted. 
  5. My Uber driver did not go the way I suggested....but at least I will not get a DUI tonight.
Has anything changed so far? Not really. But I do feel more self-aware when it comes to how my complaining affects my mood. I have also taken note of how many Starburst jellybeans are too many Starburst jellybeans. And finally, I've noticed how often and easily strangers or acquaintances on social media can put a black rain cloud over my day. The little things add up.