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      

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Do you ever randomly start thinking about an ancient flame, friend, or other person who was once a major part of your life, but is currently no part of it at all? I do. Sometimes it's a fleeting thought after hearing their favorite song on the radio or accidentally on purpose getting a glimpse of their profile picture on Facebook. Sometimes it's like someone tipped over the dirty laundry basket titled "old feelings" inside my soul and the contents of that basket begin to fester and contaminate and make me have dreams and thoughts about said person on an alarmingly consecutive basis.

Four years ago (FOUR YEARS), I had a very dramatic and upsetting fall-out with one of my best friends. (Dear people I know in real life who read this blog: Please don't ask me who this person is if you don't already know. That is irrelevant and my business.) Once upon a time, we were thick as thieves. We told each other everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING). We were there for each other unconditionally. She spent time with me because she wanted to, not because she felt obligated to. And she spent time with me without needing other people to be around to break the ice. She was like the sister I never had. I am a better, more open person for having had her in my life. But shit happened as shit often does, and we haven't seen or spoken to each other in four years. After the expected period of grief and anger, I moved on pretty smoothly. Bad feelings diminished. I felt healthier and happier. I rarely gave her a second thought, and whenever I did, feelings of rage and betrayal were no longer attached. I had moved on. I was happy.

So why has she been taking up so much of my mental space lately? Why do I find myself fantasizing about having a conversation with her? Sitting in the front seat of her car again? Having her number in my phone? Being in her wedding someday? It's not so much that I want or expect us to be best friends again. I just all of a sudden feel like she is a piece of unfinished business in my life. Sound familiar?

There is so much taboo surrounding the subject of thinking about or pining away for things from the past. "Move on," people say. "Things change. People come and go. Focus on the present!" While all of that may be true, I am not going to preach it here because it sounds too simplistic and verges on insulting. That's like losing your thumb and hearing someone say, "Welp...You don't really need that sucker anyway. Be grateful for all your other fingers." And no, I don't think this analogy is too far-fetched because I've actually heard people compare break-ups to losing a vital limb or body part. I can't say I've ever gone through a personal loss of that magnitude, but I can understand how someone would feel that way, based on the losses I have suffered and the knowledge of how awful it would be to lose people I currently have a strong emotional attachment to.

Loss and the feelings associated with it demand to be acknowledged, no matter how much time has passed. 

I can't tell if the feelings I'm currently having are because I want to reconcile a friendship that was never meant to end or simply because I need closure---to let her know that I forgive her and don't hate her and that I hope she can say the same about me.

But whatever the case, I think I'm just going to try to let it go. Closure is incredibly elusive, and a lot of people never get it. Not all endings need to be wrapped up in a pretty bow, and I believe you can forgive someone without directly contacting them. I think old feelings pop up to teach us something about ourselves, not the other person.

I believe that the fact that I haven't yet found "my people" is contributing to my desire to reach out to my old people---the people who were only meant to be my people for a little while, teach me a valuable lesson, and then be set free. Maybe that's all this is about. 

After reading this, you might still be tempted to contact people from your past. That's okay. It might even be beneficial. In spite of everything I just wrote, I might still reach out to my old friend if these feelings persist (although that is unlikely). But just brace yourself for the fact that contacting them could reopen old wounds, frustrate and bewilder you all over again, or kick you right back to square one of the healing process.

And if you decide to NOT reach out to them, then just feel your feelings with the comfort of the knowledge that they will pass once again. Shed new tears for old circumstances without shame or embarrassment. Figure out what your soul is trying to tell you by tipping over your dirty laundry baskets. Forgive yourself in addition to forgiving others.

You don't need closure from someone else. You need it from yourself.

<3 Madison      

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

12 things I learned from Christina Perri's Head or Heart show

In honor of Christina Perri's 28th birthday today, I wanted to share some things I learned/experienced from attending her Head or Heart show in Atlanta on April 30th with my mom. And if you are befuddled as to why this was a big deal for me, then you haven't read my eBook yet. I AM ON TO YOU.  

Anyway, I feel obligated to share the following monstrosity of a photo before I begin. (We were only allowed to take one photo, so I didn't have an opportunity to manipulate my face into a more attractive expression. Oh well.)

The following are things I learned both from the trip to Atlanta, the meet and greet, and the concert. I am writing this because I want to commemorate this event somehow. So if you're not a Christina Perri fan, I'm sorry. And go away. Just kidding. You can stay if you want. You might learn something.

1. It's okay to ask for help. 

After driving up and down the same road about 67 times, my mom and I finally stopped to ask a security guard for directions. He looked lost in thought and the task at hand, so we were afraid he would wave us along and not help, but that was not the case. He pointed us in the right direction, and we arrived at the venue in time. Speaking of the venue, we also had to call and ask THEM if it would be a problem if we were running a few minutes late for the meet and greet (which we were), but it was not. Had we not asked for guidance in those instances, we probably would have gotten hopelessly lost and missed the meet and greet altogether. Most people will be more than willing to help you as long as you are willing to ask them to. 

2. Hugs are important.

I love hugs, but often feel weird about giving or requesting them. But Christina hugged every single person that went through that meet and greet line, whether they asked/wanted her to or not. If you want to give somebody a hug, I say go for it unless the circumstances are completely inappropriate or creepy.   

3. All good things are worth waiting for.

My mom and I got to the venue a pretty good while before the show was set to start, which was a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing because we got an awesome spot (front row!) and a bad thing because we had to wait and wait and wait for the show to start. Being in a standing room only venue while not feeling super well (lady problems) can be a tedious experience. But Christina (and her opening act Birdy) put on an amazing show, so the standing and waiting was worth it. But it WAS nice to sit down when it was over...   

4. Lighten up, even if it's your job to be super serious.

A downside to being in the very front row at a concert is the Hitler-y security people that banish you to shame when you try to take photos. Because of this, my mom and I only got one photo and it was of the back of Birdy's head. I know that guy's job was to prevent people from filming/taking pictures of the concert, but I don't think it would have killed him to lighten up a bit and "pretend" he didn't see a few camera flashes. People are going to take pictures at concerts anyway, amiright? The next time you want to reprimand someone for doing something that isn't really that big of a deal, be cool and cut them a break instead. If nothing else, consider it an act of kindness.   

5. Put your entire heart into the things you're passionate about. 

I think you can tell when someone is truly passionate about something and not just going through the motions or doing what they're doing out of a sense of obligation. Christina was incredibly enthusiastic throughout her entire show and never once looked like she wasn't enjoying herself or wanted to get it over with. There was a powerful sense of abandon in her performances. She just let go, had a good time, and did the best she could. That's how we all should treat the things we love---and not just career related things.  

6. Don't be afraid to share your stories.

I love when artists share the stories behind some of their songs before they sing them at concerts. Christina did this with several of her songs, and some of the stories were pretty personal. But people paid attention, and people were moved because she told them in a way that people could relate to. I think we all have similar stories because we all sort of go through the same things. Sharing your stories (like I do through this blog) bridges the gap between you and "other people." Because believe it or not, those "other people" are actually a lot like you.   

7. Know that you are never alone. Ever. 

One of my favorite moments from the show was when Christina sang "I Believe," one of my favorite songs by her. It's a song about not being alone in what you're struggling with, and she cut the audience into three groups and made each group sing a certain lyric/mantra towards the end. And if you've heard the song, you know those lyrics/mantras are:

"This is not the end of me, this is the beginning."
"Hold on."
"I am still alive."

Doing this was a fun way to connect all the strangers in that audience to one another, and I'm willing to bet that every single person in that room was moved by that song because they could relate to it. If you've never heard it, I encourage you to go listen to it because I'm sure you will relate to it too. But the bottom line is that regardless of what you're feeling right now, somebody somewhere is feeling the exact same way. I can guaranteed it.      

8. Love openly and fearlessly.

If you're familiar with Christina Perri's music, you know she writes a lot of songs about love and relationships. As I wrote earlier, she shared some of her love (and heartbreak) stories during the show, and it became very clear to me that she falls hard, fast and fearlessly into love. Call me a hopeless romantic or an idealist, but I think that's the way it should be. It may mean having your heart broken more easily, but love is one of the most extraordinary things a person can experience, whether it lasts ten days or ten years. So love the people you love with your entire heart, and maybe one day you will find someone who loves you the exact same way.      

9. Fear is all in your head.

This is something I am constantly learning and relearning. One of the stories Christina shared during her show was about how she absolutely would NOT sing in front of a crowd when she was first starting out as a musician. She literally felt like she couldn't do it and would (and still does) get incredibly nervous before going on stage. She went on and on and on about how afraid she used to be and how much she held herself back, but just look at where she is today. She said she realized that her own head was the only thing standing between her and success. Once you get your own thoughts and beliefs under control (which is easier said than done, but totally possible), you will become a force to be reckoned with.  

10. The people you look up to struggle with the same things you do.  

One of the reasons I feel so drawn to Christina Perri is because she is unafraid to wear her heart on her sleeve and be open about her struggles, both past and present. Even her tweets are honest and authentic! I feel like she and I have shared (and continue to share) similar struggles because we're both very emotional people. Not only do I look up to her, I feel like I can genuinely relate to her. It's important to remind yourself that even if someone seems to have a glamorous life, they still have fears and insecurities just like the rest of us.  

11. Music brings people together. 

As cliche as it may sound, music is a huge connecting factor. Sometimes a single song can lift a weight off your shoulders in a way that nothing or nobody else can. And there's something really special about standing in a big venue with people you don't know, and yet they are people who are there for the same reasons you are. I definitely recommend listening to music daily and attending more concerts. Music is good for the soul.   

12. Enjoy the simple things.

I get really excited about the simplest of things, which is probably one of my favorite things about myself. As my mom and I were driving back from Atlanta, we got wonderful views of the Atlanta skyline. I LOVE city skylines, so this made me really happy (even though the traffic was a nightmare and gives my mom anxiety every time she thinks about it). Even if you live in a big city and see the skyline all the time, try to see it from a tourist perspective every now and then. Try to see EVERYTHING from the perspective of someone seeing it for the first time. You live in a beautiful world, so pay attention to it.

Thanks for reading!

<3 Madison