Monday, July 28, 2014

10 more things to remind yourself on a daily basis

My article 10 Things to Remind Yourself on a Daily Basis is one of the most popular articles I've ever written and probably brought many of you to this little blog of mine. That, and my Tiny Buddha articles. Especially this one. (Shameless plug central)

I think it's good to remind yourself of what really matters every day, especially the bad/stressful days when you feel a lot like this.

Although sequels are rarely better than the originals, I would nonetheless like to present you with 10 MORE things to remind yourself on a daily basis in case you're looking for an extra pick-me-up this week:

1. Make sure you're meeting your needs, however big or small. 

A reader recently wrote to me to tell me that she was feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of meeting both her own needs and the needs of loved ones who were depending on her. I want to be clear about the fact that we all have responsibilities and should look after our loved ones (something I haven't adequately emphasized in the past). The trick is to find balance. Balance is everything. While I don't support throwing your responsibilities to the wayside and thinking in terms of me, me, me, it's still important to regularly check in with yourself to make sure your needs are being met. That might mean setting boundaries. That might mean taking a vacation. That might mean writing down your priorities in order of importance. Whatever it means for you, make sure your needs are being met, however big or small. All your needs are important.  

2. Try to be nice.

In case you haven't already noticed, people can be pretty rude to each other. In fact, my last two posts had passive aggressive undertones that I'm not very proud of. Why do we have to be so snarky and cruel towards each other, whether directly or indirectly? I've recently realized that "killing with kindness" is way more satisfying than fighting fire with even more fire. People can't hold kindness against you, so just be nice.    

3. You don't have to justify your feelings. 

For the twelve billionth time, you feel what you feel for a reason. We all experience situations differently, and everyone processes emotions in their own way. If you're upset about something that someone else thinks you don't have a right to be upset about, don't waste your time or breath trying to justify your feelings to that person. You feel what you feel, and you wouldn't be feeling it if you didn't have a reason. Period.

4. Success does not equal happiness. 

I read a really great post recently, and I'd like to pass it along: Being successful will not necessarily make you happy. If you're chasing achievement and equating your self-worth with how successful you are, you will likely feel more miserable and empty than happy. Trust me. I would know.

5. Know the difference between what's worth fighting for and what isn't. 

What are you currently fighting for in your life? Is it truly worth it? Is it worth it to fight for that relationship that makes you feel like a shell of a human? Nope. Is it worth it to fight for that dream that fills you with a sense of meaning? Yep. If you're working too hard for too much, something's gotta go.  

6. You can do whatever you want. 

You are in charge of the actions you take on a day-to-day basis. If you want to read a book, read a book. If you want to take a road trip, take a road trip. If you want to adopt a dog, adopt a dog. Where there's a will, there's a way.      

7. Breaks are not optional; they're essential.

It is important to take breaks when you need them. It has actually taken me a week to write this blog post for various reasons. Had I not taken a break, I probably would've hated it and not published it at all. Your mental, physical and emotional well-being comes first. Always.  

8. Nurture your internal environment.

We all have an internal environment, and it's important to tend to it in the same way you would tend to a garden. Make sure you spend plenty of time cultivating your creativity, being alone, and engaging in activities that nurture your mind, heart and soul.    

9. Put in what you want to get out.

In other words, give what you want to receive. (I'm working on this one.) If you want love, give it. If you want a friend, be one. If you want results, earn them.   

10. Love is needed most when it's hard to get and/or give. 

This is a big one, which is why I saved it for last. You need love the most when you feel you deserve it the least, and the people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.

Have a great week!

<3 Madison  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My aversion to blaming and shaming as a motivational technique

As someone who has suffered from soul-crushing feelings of depression and self-hatred, I can't tell you how fired up I get about people who blame, shame and ridicule others in an attempt to light an unstoppable fire under their arse.

These people have an extreme superiority complex and think they're the bee's knees because of what they've accomplished. They look down on people who have accomplished less. They practically laugh in the face of common, severe, and very human problems such as depression and lack of self-confidence. These are real problems that cannot be fixed with a super lengthy and excessive speech or article about how we're wasting our lives away and need to get off our asses and make something of ourselves.

I've never been a fan of blaming and shaming as a motivational technique. That might work for some people, but it doesn't work for me. You never know what someone else is going through. There are people in the world who have a hard enough time getting out of bed in the morning, much less accomplishing something big and note-worthy. There are people in the world who take the slightest form of criticism as a sweeping and harsh judgment of their character (because it's how they're wired). There are people in the world who are still struggling to find themselves and pave their paths, and when these pretentious assholes (excuse me) dump gallons of shame on them for not having their shit together yet, it's quite detrimental to the already excruciating process of growing up and figuring out who they are/what they want as a human being.

And who are these people to blame and shame anyway? What do they know? What gives them the right to sit behind their computer screens and preach to the choir about people who aren't working hard enough or being good enough? Don't they have anything better to do than make people feel worse about themselves when they already feel bad enough?

Clearly, this is a touchy and personal subject for me. I apologize if it sounds like I'm yelling at you or something. But if you're a blamer/shamer, I encourage you to stop and think about the message you're sending out. Does shaming other people make you feel big and important, or are you genuinely trying to help? (You're not, my friend.) Did blaming and shaming work wonders on you, and are you trying to work wonders on others? (You're not, my friend.) If you had no money, no status, no success, no external validation, and no material belongings to your name, who would you be? Would you still feel impassioned by telling your massive success story and berating people who don't have a similar one? I encourage you to consider all these questions if reading this post made you angry because you do everything I described in it.

On the other hand, if you're nodding your head or saying, "AMEN SISTA," then you probably understand where I'm coming from and also feel fed up by the horribly demeaning "motivational techniques" we see popping up everywhere. So I encourage YOU to just ignore them. If you can tell that a video or article is going to ruin your day within the first ten seconds of watching/reading it, don't finish watching/reading it. Gravitate towards the resources that inspire and uplift you. If you want to rant about everything that doesn't, be my guest. (I obviously did!!!) But when you're done ranting, work on surrounding yourself with the things that DO light a fire under your arse and inspire you to be a better person.

We are all doing the best we can. I truly believe (and feel inspired by) that notion. Every person and every situation in life is different. Some people are going to be more successful than others, and that's okay. Good for you, and keep up the awesome work. Just don't go around rubbing it in everybody's face like you're the Queen of Sheba.  

We are all in the same boat. We are all human. We are all fighting the same battles. So let's stand beside each other instead of above each other, yes?

<3 Madison            

Friday, July 4, 2014

On feeling left out

Not to sound like a whiny victim (which means I'm about to sound like just that), but throughout my life, I've repeatedly struggled with getting and/or feeling left out, excluded, ostracized, overlooked, swept aside, ignored...You get the idea.

I don't generally see or hear very many people talking about the deep emotional scarring that comes with feeling like you don't belong anywhere. As a perpetual outcast, I feel the need to be a voice for all the other perpetual outcasts of the world...The outcasts who Google things like "I get left out of everything" at 2 in the morning while squinting at the results on their screen through red, puffy eyes...And then not finding anything better than a wikihow article that tells them to just get out and talk to people. (GEE, IF ONLY I HAD THOUGHT OF THAT.)

My ongoing experiences with exclusion go way back to elementary school. There was a girl in my class named LeeAnn (NAMEBOMB) and I really wanted to be her friend. That's it. I wanted to play kickball with her at recess and be invited to her secret club house meetings and talk about last night's math homework with her. I had a simple craving for her companionship, and I don't think I was weird or pushy about it at all. But alas, she confronted me one day and basically told me that she wanted to be my friend, but just didn't want me hanging around her all the time. Then she never spoke to me (or acted like a friend to me) again. BAM. RIGHT IN THE SELF-ESTEEM. And similar incidents have been taking place in my life ever since---being the third (or fourth or fifth or sixth) wheel while hanging out with a group of people, being the person who walks either in front of or behind two other people on the sidewalk, contributing something awesome or witty to a conversation only to get drowned out by someone cooler or ignored altogether, not getting invited to things...The list goes on and on and on.

The constant ostracization I've suffered has almost completely prevented me from trying to get close to people at all. If I get the slightest nugget of an inkling that someone doesn't want me in their life, I keep my distance. Or worse yet, I let resentment build up in my soul like a flesh-eating virus if I really wish they would like me and they don't seem to.

Being left out and forgotten hurts, even if you're not as ridiculously sensitive as me. No one wants to feel like the ugly duckling, waddling in the background and trying to keep up. It sucks. And it's okay for it to suck. I totally get it.

If you're currently suffering from a "nobody seems to like me" hangover, the following words of potential comfort are for you...From one fellow outcast to another:

~ Make room for the people in your life who DON'T treat you like you're nothing...even if you can only think of a couple. A couple of true friends are worth more than a million fake ones. Spend as much time with those people as you possibly can, and they will fill in the gaps that those other people will never be able to. Also, Internet friends totally count. But real life friends are better because they can hug you and hold your purse while you go into a bathroom stall that doesn't have a purse holder. (EVERY WOMEN'S BATHROOM STALL NEEDS A FREAKING PURSE HOLDER, AMIRIGHT?)

~ You have permission to bitch and moan a little, as long as you don't make bitching and moaning your trademark. I try really hard not to bitch because most people have better things to do than listen to someone bitch. But a true friend will let you bitch all you want and still validate your right to bitch about whatever you're bitching about. So the next time someone excludes you from something for the umpteenth time, feel free to bitch your little heart out. It's good for you.

~ It is okay to be angry, sad or lonely in the same way it would be okay to say "ouch" if someone punched you in the face. Being left out is like a metaphorical, emotional punch in the face anyway, so ignore all the bullshit articles and books that tell you to stay positive or choose joy when all you feel like doing is throwing darts at a picture of the person who repeatedly snubs your attempts at companionship. Do whatever YOU need to do to feel better. Go for a run until your lungs feel like they're about to explode. Write an angry letter and then delete it. Go out with a friend and vent about how horrible people can be to each other. Go to the beach by yourself and watch the waves. Eat a giant bowl of chocolate ice cream and watch re-runs of your favorite show. Grieving a friendship or relationship that never was and never will be is exactly the same as grieving a friendship or relationship that has died or faded. Feelings of rejection, anger, sadness and loneliness come along with both of those situations, do they not? So don't berate yourself for feeling whatever it is you feel. Your feelings are valid and acceptable.    

~ You can always talk to me if you're suffering through anything that has been discussed in this post. I will understand. I will let you bitch to me. I might even bitch to you and tell you about all the stuff that inspired this post---stuff that I refuse to passively aggressively blog about because I don't want to be THAT person. Believe it or not, there are people out there who will understand you and include you, and I try really hard to be one of those people. YOU MATTER TO ME.

<3 Madison

p.s. Happy birthday, America. xx

Monday, June 2, 2014

What I want

I want to be seen, heard, acknowledged and loved for who I truly am.

I want to do something to make my existence mean something and not just use the excuse that simply being alive is enough.

I want to run through the pouring rain without the fear of getting soaked.

I want to see everyone I love accomplish their wildest dreams.

I want to see the world beyond my own backyard.

I want to stop tying my sense of self-worth to validation from others.

I want to expose myself to heavy things and extraordinary things because those are the only two things I know how to write about.

I want to replace jealousy with gratitude and anger with compassion.

I want to read books and watch movies and eat potato chips whenever I feel like it.

I want to stop feeling inadequate just because I haven't achieved as much as the person sitting next to me.

I want to trust my path, even when it's dark, treacherous, or leads to a dead end.

I want to stop feeling invisible and treating others like they're invisible.

I want to go on the Internet without seeing comments full of rage and hatred.

I want to witness equality for everyone on the face of the planet once and for all.

I want to treat my emotional well-being like the sacred and fragile thing that it is.

I want to prove someone wrong when they tell me I can't or won't do something.

I want to deem myself worthy of the love and kindness I receive through this blog and in real life.

I want to fall madly in love with as many things as possible.

I want to value and encourage the creativity and underrated art in myself and others.  

I want to find a way back to myself every time I get lost or lose sight of the beauty and privilege of having a beating heart in my chest.

What do you want?

<3 Madison

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

17 quotes about feeling different, finding your place in the world, and discovering your self-worth

Sometimes I feel glaringly different from most people, which makes it nearly impossible to find people who truly "get" me.

Sometimes I feel incredibly lost, confused and scared and don't really know where I belong anymore.

Sometimes I feel perplexed over why my existence makes a real difference in the world.

If you can relate to any of the above statements, maybe the following 17 quotes will comfort you as much as they have comforted me:

1. "The point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

2. "You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone." ~ Maya Angelou

3. "More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity." ~ Francois Gautier

4. "What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden, and it's not. A lot of the time, it's what makes you great." ~ Emma Stone

5. "You have to leave the city of your comfort zone and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself." ~ Alan Alda

6. "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." ~ Henry David Thoreau

7. "I believe if I knew where I was going, I'd lose my way." ~ Christina Perri

8. "You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop." ~ Rumi

9. "We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog because we see ourselves in them." ~ Shane Koyczan

10. "To be nobody but yourself in a world doing its best to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight." ~ E.E. Cummings

11. "What a gloomy thing, not to know the address of one's soul." ~ Victor Hugo

12. "I don't entirely approve of some of the things I have done, or am, or have been. But I'm me. God knows, I'm me." ~ Elizabeth Taylor

13. "I'm a creep. I'm a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here." ~ Radiohead

14. "You have to be the bravest person in the world to go out every day, being yourself when no one likes who you are." ~ Matthew Dicks

15. "I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive." ~ Joseph Campbell

16. "Nobody can say anything better than you can, because you have your own story to tell, your own life to live, and your own lens through which you see the world." ~ Ashlee Gadd

17. "It's okay to not know where you're going. For some people, direction is a vision, a plan, an exact idea of where they want to go and how. I admire those people, but I'm not one of them. Rarely in my life have I known exactly what would fulfill me in the future." ~ Lori Deschene

<3 Madison

Monday, May 5, 2014

Rough patch

I haven't really let on to you guys because I have a habit of wanting everything in my life to seem at least adequately "together," but I've been trudging through a rather treacherous rough patch in my professional life lately.

I've been thinking a lot about the long-term, which is something I rarely do. It's okay to live in the moment and take life day by day. In fact, it's pretty essential for me. But I think it's also important to at least consider the long-term repercussions of your big decisions, whether it's choosing a career, a life partner, a house, a new city to live in, etc. And the more I think about the long-term repercussions of my career choice, the more daunted and discouraged I feel. At the rate I'm going and with the extremely unfortunate lack of motivation and experience I have under my belt, I can't help but envision a future of working four jobs I hate while doing my freelance work on the side IF I even feel like it.

I wonder if I've had my head in the clouds this whole time. I knew being a freelance writer wouldn't be impossible, but I didn't think it would SEEM so impossible at times. When I get discouraged, I basically want to hide under my covers and check out from the rest of the world. It's awful. Picking myself up and deciding to keep going every day just doesn't even feel like an option sometimes. I WANT to keep writing, but I'm seriously starting to wonder if writing alone is going to cut it when not having a stable career is no longer acceptable. I've been working another little job on the side, and while it's nice to have more money to play with, it still doesn't give me the financial independence I long for.

It's like I've lost sight of my reasons for wanting to be a writer in the first place, and I can only remind myself of those reasons so many times before they start to sound like an annoying and meaningless broken record. I've worked for free. I've worked for less money than I make at my other job, and my other job is twenty times easier (What's wrong with that picture, my fellow creatives?) I lack the social skills and self-esteem to network and promote myself. I've gotten lazy. I've gotten confused. I've gotten lost. I have epic epiphanies about following my true path and then completely forget which path I'm on two weeks later. I write down goals, intentions, insights, and reasons for continuing to do what I do and then let them all collect dust. It's this constant push/pull, up/down, wonderful/awful process, and I just flat out don't feel good enough to manage it without breaking into hives or crying. What if I'm NOT good enough? What if freelancing isn't for me? What if I have to start all over and rebuild my little work life from the ground up? If I can't be a writer, I don't really want to be anything.

I was honestly going to try my best to end this post on a positive note. I was going to write myself a letter or offer advice to people who were going through the same thing. But now that I have all these unfiltered thoughts out in front of me, contradicting them would feel like forced bullshit. And I don't ever want to feed you guys forced bullshit. I try my best to be inspiring and offer as much hope as I can because it's the number one reason I do what I do, but sometimes I just don't have the answers. I don't expect you to have the answers either.

I'm not going to give up or stop writing, you guys. But I am going to stop thinking that I somehow deserve the success I don't even know how to earn anymore. I am going to try to find myself again because the only way to find yourself is to lose yourself....over and over and over.

<3 Madison  


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 11): Love and friendship addition

~ Some people will never give you what you want. "Expectations are the root of all heartache," a quote wisely spoken by William Shakespeare. You can always ask for what you want, but you still open yourself up to the possibility that you may not get it. You eventually come to realize that you can live without more attention, an apology, respect, adoration, or whatever it is you're longing to receive from someone else.

~ I once heard someone say that it takes courage to stand up for the love you really deserve. Courage. I had never thought about that word. I always thought it took self-awareness, self-respect, and self-love to do that (and it does). But yes, it also takes courage. A lot of people run full speed in the opposite direction when presented with the opportunity to actually be involved in something real. Being treated well feels so alien to them that they run back into the arms of the person who treats them like crap. Why? Because being treated like crap never really leads anywhere, and that feels safe to some people. They know they can come and go as they please and not have to face the responsibility of a real relationship. But you might be surprised by how much joy and fulfillment you can feel by giving the person who adores and respects you a chance.

~ Grief doesn't have an expiration date. Don't listen to people who tell you to "move on" when you're hurting. You might even randomly start hurting months or years after you thought you'd moved on for good. Pain needs to be felt, so just feel it.

~ Holding grudges poisons your soul and gives you back problems (for real). Let go. Forgive. Choose love.

~ Trust your instincts about people. If you have a bad feeling, stay away. If you have a good feeling, freaking go for it.

~ Leave the past in the past. Don't stalk your exes on Facebook to "see how they're doing." Don't badmouth someone who did something that pissed you off three years ago. Look at who you have standing right in front of you. Appreciate the present.

~ I like the idea of keeping your private life private. Don't give people too much to formulate an opinion on. Your relationship is yours and yours alone. Gossiping about your partner and giving away too many details takes the magic out of "you and me" and turns it into "you, me, and everyone else."

~ Feelings of inadequacy are normal in a relationship, but they don't actually mean that you're inadequate. Challenge your insecurities, and pull them up by their roots.

~ When you feel torn over whether or not to trust your head or your heart, consider trusting both. The voice of reason and the voice of desire can both teach us something.

~ Thoughtfulness really does count. Do thoughtful things for the people you love, and remember to give what you hope to receive. (I'm still working on this one.)

~ Love is so much more than the words you say. Love can be spoken through a long hug, a kiss on the hand, a smile, a greeting card, a random act of kindness---The list goes on and on.

~ It's okay to feel like half of a whole when you're separated from a loved one. Popular wisdom suggests that you don't need anyone and that you should feel whole right by yourself, but I somewhat disagree. It is normal human behavior to need a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, and a person to help you feel like more of who you are by simply being by your side. Needing someone doesn't make you crazy. We are born with the instinct and desire to mate with others and form emotional attachments.  

~ Sometimes people will do and say things that make you angry and then manipulate you into thinking that you have no right to be. They will make you feel as though you should be happy for them, or that you should mind your own business, or that you should get over yourself, etc. But here's the thing: If you're angry, it's for a reason. There's always a root. You can either find the root and solve the conflict or choose to no longer associate with the people who make you angry.    

~ Good friends are super hard to come by. Good friends that actually stick around over a long-term period of time are even harder. If you have someone in your life who makes an effort, cares about your well-being and happiness, doesn't talk shit behind your back, knows you better than you know yourself, and makes you feel like you can do and be anything, you have a damn good friend. Treat them like royalty because genuine, loyal friends deserve a gold medal.

~ Some people say that choosing to be single for an extended period of time is like a spiritual awakening. They take the time to learn how to love and care for themselves before they love and care for somebody else. Embrace the joys of being single until someone worth giving that up for comes along.

<3 Madison