Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fear and limitations

This blog title sounds like something that would usually either scare or bore me away. There are countless books and articles about fear and how to conquer it, but none of that will truly resonate with you until you conquer your fear on your own. It's kind of like reading about a hair care method with rave reviews and thinking to yourself, "Wow, that sounds pretty revolutionary...I think I'll try it." And then not trying it. You will never know how revolutionary something can be for you if you ultimately fail to give it a try.

So maybe I'm wasting my time writing about fear and limitations. (And maybe there are very few of you out there who are still willing to read along or listen to me anyway, considering my serious abandonment of this blog lately.) But I'm not here to lecture or preach about things you've already heard a million times. I'm simply here to share my own unique experiences and hope that maybe, just maybe you can take something positive away from them.

I realized an unfortunate, yet empowering truth the other day: Fear never goes away. There is no cure. When you face one fear, there are a million more ahead of you. No one ever becomes completely immune to it. This realization was quite distressing until I realized another truth: One the other side of fear, there is growth.

I know, I know. It's been said a million times, but like I said above, you can't grasp the truth of something until you try it for yourself. I've been doing a lot of scary things lately---things I never thought I could do and things I didn't know I had in me. And I'm still alive. I am also still distressed by the fact that so much fear and newness still lies ahead of me (especially this year), but I know that I will only get closer to who I really am by walking directly towards it and not letting it paralyze me anymore. I've been more or less paralyzed for 5 years, and fear is beating my legs with a baseball bat and teaching me to walk at the same time.

I have no idea what I'm doing, and I know that there are certain things that will take a lot of time and courage, but I feel like I'm slowly learning about what I'm capable of and who I can be. And all of it lies behind that giant wall of fear.

So that's my two cents for today. Sorry I haven't contributed in awhile.

I also want to leave you with this: It's okay to seek help in dealing with your own fears. A lot of the time, we simply cannot do it on our own. We need counselors, teachers, friends and colleagues. Seeking help does not make you weak. It does not make you weak. 

Additional reading that I can relate to right now:

<3 Madison

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New year, new me

Hello friends!

I hope you're all having a happy new year so far. I didn't exactly make any resolutions this year (I never keep them), but I've been doing some thinking about who I am vs. who I want to be vs. who I don't want to be.

A lot of us have ingrained habits and personality traits that we don't really think about or pay attention to. Whether or not people can change has been up for debate for years, but I do think people can change if they really want to...If they're truly willing to do the work of paying attention to themselves and reprogramming their minds. It's obviously much easier said than done, but I think all of us change no matter what. It's up to you if you want to change for better or worse.

So over the last few days, I have been trying to simply pay more attention to myself. Not make any drastic changes. Not epically plot to re-invent myself. Not tear myself apart over the things I don't like as much. Just listening and paying attention and seeing what I discover.

Here are the parts of myself I'd like to see less of...

- The part of me that tries to resentfully will others into changing, even though the only behavior I can control is my own

- The part of me that stays quiet about the things I believe in

- The part of me that avoids eye contact with strangers instead of smiling at them

- The part of me that chooses money over passion

- The part of me that spends more time thinking than doing

- The part of me that assumes defeat before I've even tried

- The part of me that questions my needs

- The part of me that runs away from fear

And here are the parts of myself I'd like to see more of... 

- The part of me that asks for help when I need it

- The part of me that laughs more and doesn't take everything so seriously

- The part of me that encourages others, even when I have a hard enough time encouraging myself

- The part of me that says "yes" more often

- The part of me that says "no" more often

- The part of me that stays dedicated to the people and things I love

- The part of me that faces my problems instead of avoiding them

- The part of me that uses my scars and demons to help others overcome their own

- The part of me that works to make myself proud instead of making others proud

- The part of me that gets out of my head and into the world

Cheers to a new year and a new better you.

<3 Madison

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 12)

~ Forgiveness is easy when love is strong.

~ The only way to continue finding yourself is to continue losing yourself.

~ The people who truly love and care about you won't see you any differently when you have a meltdown, pitch a fit, say things you don't mean, or otherwise behave imperfectly. You don't have to apologize for or justify your need to vent and express your feelings, no matter how crazy or dramatic you sound in the heat of the moment. It's better to rant and rave and make an ass of yourself than sit in a room by yourself and let everything build up until you explode and do something stupid.

~ You deserve to receive, feel and experience genuine love, no matter how you go about getting it.

~ There is always a reason to stay alive.

~ I like to know where I stand with people. I don't have time for up and down, push and pull, or give and take relationships. If I constantly have to question how someone feels about me or whether or not they want me in their life, I'm better off without them.

~ When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

~ A breakdown can be a breakthrough, depending on how you choose to look at it.

~ When you're lacking strength, all you have to do is ask for it. From God. From your best friend. From your dog. From your grandmother. From your significant other. It's okay to say, "Today is not a good day. I feel weak. I don't feel like enough." Strength can be provided through a hug, some encouraging words, or simply a walk in the park. You don't need to leap over obstacles fearlessly and effortlessly. You just need to have the initiative to put one foot in front of the other.

~ If you're doing it for the money, you're doing it wrong. Yes, money is important. No, money is not everything.

~ If you can only find one thing worth living for, keep looking.

~ Never stop setting goals, even if the best goal you can come up with is, "Get out of bed."

<3 Madison  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Puzzle pieces of the human heart

Hello friends.

As I'm sure you've noticed, I've been super MIA lately. I know I always start off posts like that when I've been away for awhile and I know several of you tell me each time that it's okay and that creativity needs room to breathe, but I still feel weird and sort of empty about not posting as regularly as I used to. I used to update this blog 3-4 times per month, and now I'm lucky if I post half that much.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm one of those people who notices when a blogger I like stops posting as often or stops posting altogether. Although I understand, it doesn't change the fact that I feel disappointed and maybe even a little abandoned. The thought of making any of you feel that way really bothers me. I even tried writing a new post this week, but the words never came out quite right and I ended up deleting the whole thing.

The truth is, inspiration has been coming to me in different forms these days. I don't always feel the need to write an 8-paragraph post about how I'm feeling or what I'm thinking. Sometimes it's more of a fleeting thought or a picture in my head or a subtle moment of hope and clarity. While thinking of ways to share this type of inspiration without writing one-sentence blog posts, I came up with a new project idea. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my new side blog, Puzzle Pieces of the Human Heart. Yes, I am aware of the fact that I started a different side blog once and haven't posted to it in a year. (Hello More to Share, More to Learn.) However, that blog was pretty separate from this one in terms of the subject matter. I want Puzzle Pieces of the Human Heart to be something of an extension for this blog. I want it to have more of a community feel. I want it to be a place where I can share the things that inspire me and give me hope in bite-sized pieces. I want it to be the creative and emotional outlet I've been desperately seeking for over a year. 

I'm not looking for a huge following, but I hope some of you are still out there and decide to be a part of this project. I don't just want this to be my creative space. I want it to be yours too. I want to give you a voice, post your creations and ideas, share the things that inspire and heal you, and generally help you release the thoughts, feelings and stories that have been clogging up your soul.

With that said, I encourage you to take a look around. Read the about page and the submission guidelines. See if it all sounds like something you would like to get involved in.

Thank you endlessly for your support, and I hope to hear from you soon.

<3 Madison    

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things you should not feel guilty about/apologize for

I have a bad habit of putting everyone else's feelings/desires before my own, which has led to a lot of unnecessary resentment, unhappiness, guilt and anxiety. We spend so much of our time caring about what other people think and how other people feel about our decisions, and I think it's time for a reality check: You have to live YOUR life, make YOUR decisions, and meet YOUR needs if you want to be content. Period. Failure to do so leads to depression, inner rage, and excessive worry---when instead, you could be out in the world doing whatever the hell you want, creating whatever the hell you want, and being whoever the hell you want. That's not to say you shouldn't be a good, generous person who helps and cares about others. It's simply to say that if you abandon yourself, you rob the world and the people in it of the person you really are. You become fake, robotic and bitter...And that is NOT who you really are.

Here are some things you need to stop feeling guilty about and apologizing for:

~ Saying no when the answer is truly no

~ Not doing something for the simple reason of not wanting to do it (This is slightly subjective; don't be an asshole)

~ Dreaming big and setting goals, no matter how scattered or unconventional

~ Taking a break

~ Not working while on vacation or spending time with loved ones

~ Ignoring a text or email when you don't feel inclined to write something worthwhile and meaningful in return

~ Asking for help

~ Being slightly socially inept and/or being an introvert

~ Treating your pets like children

~ Expressing an annoying and incoherent amount of joy (Example: Texting the phrase "ASDFGHJKL" to someone when they tell you something exciting)

~ Your feelings

~ Loving who and what you love

<3 Madison  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Instead of quitting...

To quit or to get so angry at yourself for wanting to quit that you decide to work your ass off instead? That is the question.

Now that I have that cliche Hamlet reference out of the way, I quite literally asked myself that question in the middle of the night recently before finding myself on my laptop. Writing instead of sleeping. Taking notes instead of counting sheep. Reconsidering my entire path in life instead of relaxing and waiting for tomorrow.

I am bursting with ideas and potential that I rarely use. I am getting buried under apathy and a lack of self-confidence. And most of all, I am getting angry. I'm angry at the employers and potential employers who keep blowing me off. I'm angry at the friends, family members and peers who expect the world of me only to be let down time after time after time. I'm angry at the stereotypes and expectations surrounding writers---how if you haven't written a best-selling book or don't have a blog that gets millions of page views, you ain't shit. But underneath it all, I realize that I'm angry at myself. I'm angry at myself for not giving my talent room to breathe, for settling for less than what I'm worth, and for wanting to quit 5 million times per week. And I never do because I never can. 

So instead of quitting, I'm turning my entire life into one big writing assignment. Every situation I go through and every emotion I feel is going to be turned into an article or story. To hell with not having a specific person or publication to send it to. I'm going to re-read "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. I'm going to get up in the middle of the night when I have a new idea, even when I'm tired or have to get up early the next morning. I'm going to say no whenever I want to say no and yes whenever I want to say yes. I'm going to stop selling my soul for pennies and dollar bills. I'm not going to be afraid of doing a shitty job the first time, and I'm going to realize that "perfect" doesn't exist. I'm going to let my passion and enthusiasm be greater than my level of experience or expertise.

I will always have days where all I want to do is stay on the couch all day. I'm certainly not immune to discouragement, which is a big fat "DUH" if you read this blog regularly. But the fact that I've felt like quitting so many times has ignited a fear in me that one day I really will---and then be subjected to a lifetime of unhappiness and failure because of it. I'm going to get so mad at myself for even wanting to quit that I fight back with every ounce of motivation I still have standing.

And I promise you I will get somewhere.  

<3 Madison

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts on social media (plus a week-long challenge)

Ah, social media. It's been spoken about countless times, so my ramblings might look like blobs of redundant nothingness through your computer (or smartphone) screens. But I still want to share my thoughts about it in my little corner of the Internet over here.

While social media has connected us in many wonderful ways, it has also disconnected us---not just from others, but from ourselves. I feel like I wouldn't even know who I am if it wasn't for this blog and the validation I receive through it. If I write a post and no one comments on it, I feel like an insignificant bore. If I post what I believe to be a witty or inspiring tweet or status update and nobody "likes" or "favorites" it, I become quite certain that everybody hates me. And I know I'm not alone in this.

When we don't get validation in real life, we try to find it on the Internet. When we STILL don't get it, we fall into a soul-sucking black hole. (I tend to exaggerate everything, but that observation sounds about right actually.) People resort to cyber-bullying and creating fake profiles and tricking people into downloading computer viruses and making it their goal in life to get "x" number of followers on *insert social media page here* by *insert date here* so they can have an excuse to celebrate or feel important---even though they have every damn right to celebrate for no reason whatsoever and would still be important if they lived in a box under a bridge. But no. People have to prove their worth by getting noticed on the Internet these days. It's like the world is screaming, "If you don't have a substantial social media following, then screw you."

One thing I pride myself on is not having a personal Facebook. About 98% of the people I know have one, but I know that I would much sooner gouge my eyes out with a fork than subject myself to the validation seeking, popularity contest, land of comparison that is Facebook. But even so, I still find myself falling into some of its traps through my Facebook blog page.

I've even heard that excessive social media use leads to a severe lack of empathy for others. And it's no wonder! Technology is turning us all into self-centered robots. Most people's biggest concerns of the day consist of someone calling them ugly on Instagram or unfollowing them on Twitter.

And I've noticed that I'm more myself on the Internet than in real life. Or maybe I'm actually less of myself. Either way, it sucks. No one should define their identity or self-worth through a blog or social media page. It's like a slow death of the human spirit. I can barely remember who I was before I started using the Internet and creating social media profiles. Can you?  

Here's my challenge: 

1. Do not check stats or pageviews for a week (or a month if you're feeling ballsy) if you have a blog or social media page that allows you to do so. If you want to take it a step further, never check them again (unless you have to for business purposes).  

2. Because Facebook is the worst social networking site in my opinion (sorry Facebook), no Facebook for a week (or a month if you're feeling ballsy). Turn off your notifications. Do not go on Facebook at all, even if you're not officially logged in to YOUR page. NO FACEBOOK PERIOD. (I bet a vast majority of you will fail at this one. I'm not trying to be mean, but I know that Facebook addiction is a real thing.) If you want to take it a step further, delete your Facebook altogether.   

3. Give three people a compliment in real life (or six people if you're feeling ballsy). If you want to take it a step further, tell three (or six) people who would least expect it---a co-worker you've barely spoken two words to, a stranger at the grocery store, or one of those telemarketers that everybody hates.  

4. No cell phones at the dinner table for a week (or a month if you're feeling ballsy). Even if you're not using it, don't let it sit by your dinner plate like a dying tomagotchi. Using it or not using it, taking your cell phone to the dinner table with you is rude. I've done it plenty of times before, but I always feel like an asshole when I do. No more. Put it away and try having an actual conversation with whoever you're eating dinner with. If you want to take it a step further, encourage your dinner mates to put theirs away too.  

If you do the challenge and would like to email me about it, my address is: MadisonSonnier[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Let's do it together starting NOW.

<3 Madison