Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5 years


Four days ago, my blog turned 5 years old. (Here's my very first post. What a THROWBACK.)

I never imagined how much of an impact such a seemingly simple decision would have on my life. I started this blog tentatively and with a bit of fear that I would get bored or impatient with it before I had a chance to build up a readership. But I never gave up on it. At one point, it was one of the only things I really loved and felt connected to. It became a sort of passion project for me and has led to so many incredible opportunities.

Radical healing. Work and networking opportunities. A loyal and loving community of personal growth enthusiasts. A romantic relationship with a reader (that didn't end super well, but still). Lasting, invaluable friendships with wonderful people. A book idea.

When I think about it all, my heart feels so full. I'm reminded that trusting yourself, no matter what anyone thinks, is one of the absolute best things you can do. What started as journaling turned into a passion of being vulnerable and sharing my voice with the masses. And I've experienced nothing but goodness ever since.

Everyone has a path, and this is mine. I can honestly never thank you enough for loving what I have to say, hurting alongside me, encouraging me when I'm weak, and sticking around all these years. I couldn't have done any of this without you.

<3 Madison

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Do you like books?

Would it be crazy if I wrote one? Just for you?

Do with that notion what you will. Because I really love you for listening to me for the last 5 years.

<3 Madison

Monday, June 6, 2016

Friendly reminder: You're human, not damaged

I'll come right out with it: Yesterday was a bit shitty through no fault of anyone in particular. It was just one of those blah days where I cried in the bathroom for an hour and then stayed up until 1am watching Hulu before dragging my sorry self to bed. I woke up this morning with leftover remnants of shittiness in my bloodstream and actually began to punish myself for that, thus making matters even worse.

I meant every word of my last post and have been riding that wave of peace for the last couple of weeks. But last night, I felt like I was losing it. I felt like it was coming to an end, and I would revert back to the dark place I was in, unable to claw my way out. This assumption was false.

I just had a bad night and a bad morning. And I will have more. 

For as long as we live, we will have bad days. We will struggle - mostly with things we thought we were done struggling with. You're not broken or damaged if you experience a setback or forget how to recapture a moment or feeling that temporarily showed you a greater version of yourself. That version of you is still in there, but sometimes it needs a break. Being happy all the time is exhausting, because happiness takes work. Real, honest, conscious work. And sometimes we just need to allow ourselves to be okay with sadness, suckiness, anxiety, failure, and all the other unpleasant experiences of being alive

I will be okay, and you will be okay. We're all human, and all humans suffer.

Real peace comes from recognizing and embracing your current state of mind, no matter what it is. So if today sucks a little, so be it. Maybe, just maybe tomorrow will be good again.

<3 Madison  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Looking up


I don't have very much to say today, but I feel compelled to say this:

I feel like things are looking up. I've been in a lot of pain and have made a lot of mistakes lately, but for reasons I haven't figured out yet, I feel like a changed person. 

This isn't a fleeting state of the union. I'm not on happy drugs. I wasn't temporarily inspired by a quote or article I won't even remember tomorrow. I truly, deeply, honestly, and undeniably feel as though I've just shed a bruised and festering coat for a shiny and relatively unscathed one. All the memories are there, but all the markings are gone. I'm ready to start fresh.

Within this week alone, I did all of the following things:

I spent time with someone I've carelessly overlooked a bit in recent weeks, and I had the wonderful, mindful time that I should have. I did something I've been putting off and making excuses not to do for the past 6 years. (Yes, years.) I let go of something I thought I couldn't live without. I spoke up about important things and was met with pure triumph. An issue that caused me burning and unbearable anxiety for months didn't cause me any anxiety at all. I am so happy, even though I have so little reason to be. I just am. I'm just happy to see myself like this.

First steps are amazing. But following through is even better.

<3 Madison   

Monday, May 2, 2016

5 questions to ask yourself this May

The fact that it's May already has me feeling a bit anxious and reflective. This specific time of year always makes me think about the rapid passage of time - even more so than my birthday or New Year's Eve. Maybe it's because I realize that the year is almost half over, even though it feels like it's barely started. Maybe it's because the flowers are blooming while I remain in a bud. Maybe it's because big changes always seem to happen in the spring (and fall).

Whatever the reason, I'm more focused on trying to get my life together than I've been in months, if not years. I feel the pressure. I feel the burn. And I wish I could say I feel the passion and motivation, but those two are a bit more fleeting.

All of that said, I think it's good to feel scared and to feel the pressure a little. It means you're able to recognize that something in your life isn't quite right and that you're not making the most of the fleeting amount of time you have. If we're not careful, we'll blink and find ourselves living a small or unsatisfying life a decade from now. We only have so many tomorrows, so many months, so many years.

If you share these slight feelings of May panic and uncertainty, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions with me.

1. How do I feel when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed at night?

Track your thoughts and emotions for a week or two if necessary.

2. What are my top ten priorities?

Be honest with yourself. I can almost guarantee you have things on that list that shouldn't be there.

3. What makes me happy?

Make room for what makes you happy. MAKE ROOM FOR IT.

4. Am I taking care of myself?

Spoiler alert: My answer to this is a resounding "NOPE." Points for self-awareness?

5. On a scale of one to ten, how strong is my support system?

You can't fight your way through the suckiness of life on your own, no matter what society says. Reach out. Spend time with people who care about and encourage you. Talk about things.

Let's try to end 2016 with a bang.

<3 Madison   

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's okay to be a late bloomer.

(The following post was submitted and declined on another website, so I'm publishing it here instead. Weeee, creative control!)

~

There are so many things I'd love to shout from the rooftops for all teens and young adults to hear, but if there's one thing that especially hits home for me, it's this:

It's okay to be a late bloomer.

You are going to encounter many moments of feeling hopelessly behind in life. You are going to compare yourself to other people in your age group and feel tempted to treat life as a contest or a finish line you have to pass in order to achieve happiness and success. You are going to feel anxious, depressed, ashamed, and find more questions than answers about the path that lies ahead of you. And believe it or not, that's okay. That's normal.

I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that everything is going to be okay. I wish I could tell her that it's actually pretty weird to be engaged, married, a parent, or a homeowner before the age of 25. (Hell, maybe even a little after that age.) I wish I could tell her that growing up sucks and she still has plenty more years to be acceptably young and confused.

I wish I could tell her that she will reach little milestones in life in her own time and in ways that are unforgettable. Her first kiss won't be with a boy who hasn't sprouted leg hair yet or the asshole she was infatuated with in high school for some reason. It will be loving, memorable, adorable, a little awkward, and worth every second of the wait. She will experience first love and loss with a best friend who will always care about her, not some guy who tossed her cheesy pick-up lines and tried to get into her pants before getting into her heart. She won't get her driver's license when all the high school beauty queens with rich dads get theirs. She will get it at the same age Carey Mulligan got hers, and one of her best friends will be there to witness the long-awaited triumph. She will spend the first few years out of high school being a badass writer with her name published all over the Internet and then get her first service industry job when her skin has thickened enough to deal with hangry people and grumpy co-workers. And she will have a positive attitude and work hard because having her own money will be more of a priority. She will grow up slowly, but be told on multiple occasions that she's wise beyond her years.

Sometimes life comes to us slowly and in smaller, unexpected doses. Time is a thief, and we spend too much of it worrying about things that don't matter. It doesn't matter who gets married or pops out a baby first. It doesn't matter who finishes college or lands a dream job that actually pays the bills first. It doesn't matter who falls in love or has sex first. These things happen when they happen. Some people peak early, and some people peak late. It's just life, and no one makes it out alive anyway.

While moving forward will always be important, you don't have to rush. Set simple and achievable goals that will lead to the bigger and more life-changing goals. Ask questions. Forge professional and creative relationships. Learn as much as you possibly can. Stay in touch with yourself, and know that it's okay to change paths, even when the one you're on is all you've ever known. Wake up every morning and consciously decide to put one foot in front of the other.

It's okay to be a late bloomer – as long as you choose to bloom at all.

<3 Madison 



Friday, April 8, 2016

Why you should never burn bridges and build walls

This topic has been heavy on my heart lately, and I can only hope that I say something that reaches you before it's potentially too late.

Don't burn your bridges.

Don't cut people off, push people away, or believe that you don't need old friends, lovers, family members or employers anymore. I'm so notorious for this. I see it as an exercise in leaving the past in the past and moving forward in the only way I know how. And in the moment, I believe I'm doing what's best for me. But I've missed so many opportunities and connections. I've abandoned so many homes I fear I'll never be able to return to.

A few examples:

1. I had a terrible falling out with a very good friend soon after high school. We wreaked havoc upon each other and became living, breathing definitions of bridge burners. That was 6 years ago. I have no hard feelings whatsoever, but we're strangers now. Her current life couldn't be more different from the life she had when we were in high school. She's married. She has a good career and a nice apartment. She's pregnant. Things will never, ever be the same between us, even if we do reconnect.

2. I pretty much poisoned some of my closest friends against the first person who broke my heart. I told them everything, including things that were probably none of their business. I wanted to make sure they knew how much pain I was in. I wanted to make sure they didn't let me go back to him. I wanted to make sure I didn't go back to him. I concluded that he would never be a part of the lives of the people around me anyway, so why the hell not? Well, since healing tremendously and rekindling the wonderful friendship we had prior to our brief romance, that person has become one of my best friends in the entire world - someone I love and respect deeply. Although we may never be romantically involved again, I actually love the idea of him someday being acquainted with some of my friends or feeling like a small part of my family. Too bad everyone thinks he's a jerk.

3. After losing the first freelance job that paid pretty well and really put my ass to work every day of the week, the client I worked for tried to help me find another job within the company. I turned down every offer (with good reason), but still expected her to stay in touch until something clicked. She didn't. I tried reaching out to her during a horribly dry spell of unemployment a couple of years ago, and I didn't hear back. She could've helped keep the ball rolling for me if I had simply stayed in touch and given her something to work with. And she's not the only client I've lost touch with over the years either.

The lesson: You never know what will become of a person's role in your life and heart. You might be angry at someone now, but find yourself wanting to call them in the midst of a difficult or stressful situation later. You may think you'll never work with someone again and later realize that they may be your ticket to a major work opportunity. You may think a friendship or relationship is over and then discover that maybe it never really was.

Whatever the case, you can't see the future. You NEVER know how involved certain people will be in your life later on down the road. So keep them within reach. There are clear and obvious exceptions to this rule, as is the case with every rule, but more often than not, your feelings towards people are fleeting. Anger passes. Pain heals. Indifference evolves.

Build bridges. Don't burn them.

<3 Madison