Friday, July 24, 2015

I will face a fear if you send me your questions!

Hello friends!

This year got off to a good start in regards to getting out of my bubble more often. I faced difficult truths in my life and dared to start over. I made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I danced at my brother's wedding. I survived a long string of bad news. I created opportunities instead of waiting for them to show up on my doorstep. I changed my hair. I started writing a book. I stopped taking everything so personally and learned how to lighten up more. I embraced human contact instead of avoiding it. 

But I've noticed myself retreating again lately. My anxiety levels are higher than I'd like for them to be, and if I'm not careful, my discouragement levels quickly follow. It's ridiculous how easy it is to fall back to a part of yourself you thought you didn't recognize anymore. I don't want to recognize the part of myself that is paranoid, isolated, astronomically anxious, and overly sensitive. That's not who I really am.  

So I want to do a simple little something about this, but I need your help! 

I've always loved watching videos of my favorite bloggers (because I love seeing the person behind the screen), but I've always been too terrified to post one of myself. I can't even tell you how many times I've considered and obliterated the idea. Maybe finally making a video of myself will help me take a huge step out of my comfort zone and (hopefully) show me that it's not so scary out there. 

And if you guys enjoy my blog and are anything like me, I'm sure you'd love to see me in person, hear the voice behind the blog, and marvel at how unforgivably awkward I am in real life! Right?! (No pressure there.) And it would also be good for me because I would be facing a massive fear while also connecting with you all on a new level. It would be like removing a mask after years of feeling safe behind it. 

So here's the deal: If I get AT LEAST 10 questions from 10 different people (no cheating), I will answer your questions on video and post the entire unedited monstrosity right here on my blog for everyone to see. You are more than welcome to submit more than one question, but I want to hear from at least 10 different people so I can rest assured that I won't be practically talking to myself. Ya feel me?  

If I end up getting a surprising amount of questions or receive questions I do not feel comfortable answering publicly, some of them may get cut. Otherwise, I will be happy to answer any questions you have...And don't feel confined to asking me questions about writing or personal growth! You are also welcome to ask me basic or random questions like what my favorite color is or if I've ever punched anyone in the face. (Spoiler alert: Blue and almost.) 

If YOU would like to help me face my fear of public humiliation, please post your questions in the comment section of this post or email them to MadisonSonnier[AT]gmail[DOT]com. The deadline for question submission is August 5, 2015. If I receive my minimum of 10 questions (from 10 different people) by then, I will make the video and post it sometime within the week following the deadline. 

And if you never see the video or hear another word about it, you can safely assume that I didn't receive my minimum number of questions. I will not make this video if no one is interested. I REFUSE, I TELL YOU.  

Sound like a plan? Then ask away!

<3 Madison  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Where I've been

Hello friends.

I don't need to tell you that I've been MIA lately because you can clearly see that for yourself. This is the first time I've gone more than a month without blogging, and that has me a little worried about my sense of direction and the little readership I've built up over the last few years. I don't want to disappoint you or myself.

I don't really have anything specific to share, but I wanted to pop in and let you all know that I'm still alive and hopefully offer a bit of insight as to why it's been so quiet over here in my corner of the Internet.

~ Some recent events in my personal life have left me unable to properly verbalize my thoughts and feelings --- out of respect for my family's privacy (including my own) and an inability to process those things myself, much less try to write anything about them. I've found it difficult to focus on blogging the way I generally know how, and every post idea that crossed my mind was quickly squashed. As I said once before, I won't write a shitty blog post for the sake of posting something new. I'd rather just stay quiet.

~ I've had a good deal of writing work keeping me modestly busy lately. (Yay!)

~ I'm trying to read as much as I write. Book recommendations are welcome and appreciated.

~ One of the reasons I started this blog back in 2011 was because I felt lonely and depressed. I thrived on the little online community I created and had more friends on the Internet than I had in real life. But my face-to-face relationships have been growing recently, and that has proven to be more meaningful to me than the words I've exchanged with strangers through a computer screen. That is in no way an insult towards the wonderful people I've come to know through this blog. I will always want to talk to you guys. But when I need a shoulder to cry on, I should reach for a real person --- not an electronic device.  

~ I'm working on a new book, and I never announce stuff like that unless I believe I'm creating something that could actually take off. I hope to have more news throughout the rest of the year and maybe start an official website for updates on my writing life in general, but I just feel compelled to note that I've been very dedicated to this project in recent weeks. It has been a vital source of creative therapy for me, and I work on it every day.

~ I need to live my life and solve my problems before I can help you live and solve yours.

I thank you for sticking around, and I'm sorry if I've been failing to do the same. Feel free to email me if you want to talk or hear a little more about what I'm working on.

<3 Madison

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Moments

I feel perpetually overwhelmed by moments and how quickly they come and go, almost as if they never happened at all. I live a relatively unextraordinary life. I wake up, I climb out of bed, I get dressed, I pour myself a glass of water, I check my email, I check the weather, I try to be productive, I try to be present, and I try to be and do enough.

But every now and then, I am lucky enough to experience moments that exceed the ordinary and mundane. For me, those moments are everything. While they're happening, I'm on top of the world and nothing can hurt me. When they end, it feels like falling off a cliff and fading into oblivion in a matter of seconds.  

I experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. An encouraging compliment is enough to make my day while a glance of judgment or disapproval is enough to ruin it. If my emotions aren't shooting from 0 to 100, they're in a coma. Special moments sustain me and prevent my ability to feel from failing me entirely. I thrive off these moments. I live for them. And yet they never fail to depress me even more because they always have to end.

But the worst part isn't that the moments end. It's the ghosts they leave behind. The empty seat that was once filled by someone you love. The quiet house that was once full of noise and life. The frail body that was once held by comforting arms. The rainy sky that was once filled by sunshine and blue. The dry throat that was once filled with laughter and champagne. The favorite pair of shoes or jeans that don't fit anymore. The back of a book that once had a beginning and a story yet to be discovered. The full casket that radiates nothing but emptiness. The retelling of a moment like it happened yesterday only to be met with deafening silence and tragic forgetfulness by the person you shared the moment with. The beautiful and innocent yesterdays being measured against the scary and uncertain tomorrows.

We must constantly seek out and create new moments. We must forget the people who forget us and let go of the things that don't want to be held. We must remember to take more pictures, pay more attention to each other, put our phones away more often, and say the things we want to say before it's too late.

We must find new moments and constantly look for reasons to look ahead instead of over our shoulders. Because as much as I love it back there, I will never see where I'm going if I don't turn around.    

<3 Madison 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Freedom of expression

I'm not a big fan of "rules" when it comes to life, love and art.

You don't have to go to college. You don't have to get a "real job." You don't have to get married, have children, or buy a house. You don't have to love someone with the same age, religion, sex or ethnicity as you. And you don't have to sacrifice the authenticity and value of your art to please someone who doesn't understand the importance of self-expression.

That last one is huge. And it's the one I want to focus on today.

I think a lot of people don't truly respect and appreciate art—or the people who have the guts to create and share it with the world in the first place. And although that shouldn't bother me because no one should give a shit what anyone else thinks about their art, it still bothers me. It's something I really want to address to all the raw, brave and creative souls of the world. These people are my friends, my family, my brothers, my sisters, and my soul mates. I am very protective of them, and I want them to succeed just as badly as I want to succeed myself. 

It bothers me when children are told that their drawings and pieces of artwork are stupid or wrong because they colored outside the lines or painted their dog pink instead of brown.

It bothers me when young dancers are taught to focus more on stamina, poise and perfection than freedom, emotion and humanity.

It bothers me when writers are told to keep their work squeaky clean and not include sex, profanity, or weighty issues that every single one of us has to deal with at some point in our lives.

It bothers me when actors are criticized for acting out realistic events, regardless of whether they play the good guy or the bad guy. Playing a rapist doesn't mean you advocate rape. If anything, it raises awareness about it. 

It bothers me when singers are taught to focus more on pitch and vocal range instead of telling the stories behind their songs with real emotion and conviction.

It bothers me when an artist of any kind feels deterred from creating the kind of work that feels right to them just because their peers or family members decide to be judgmental and critical instead of understanding and supportive.

Art is not always going to be pretty, clean and shiny. In my opinion, the best art is anything but. I like songs that make me cry. I like movies that unsettle me. I like books that make me cry and unsettle me. I want people to swear because swearing means you feel strongly about something and aren't afraid to emphasize it. I want people to be selfish and make mistakes and hurt others and themselves because we all do those things. I like weird stuff. I like deep stuff. I like disturbing stuff. I like messy stuff. If you're willing to travel into the weird, deep, disturbing and messy parts of yourself and turn all of it into art that can heal, entertain and inspire others, you have a wonderful and irreplaceable gift. And I will never chastise you for it.

My hope for you is that you will try to ignore unsolicited, hypercritical, or passive aggressive remarks about your art form, whatever it may be. By choosing to please others instead of yourself and allow the emptiness that comes with that to widen and fester, you are doing a massive disservice to yourself and to the people who will buy your books, albums, movies and photographs someday—the people who will cherish them, wear them out, and salvage them in the event of a fire.

You have something to say, so you must say it fearlessly.

And maybe, just maybe, one person will stand out from the crowd and say, "I couldn't have said it better myself."   

<3 Madison  

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:

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/learning-is-a-series-of-steps-7-tips-to-master-a-new-skill/

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/we-have-to-let-go-of-who-we-are-to-discover-who-we-can-become/

https://www.lifelessbullshit.com/do-whatever-you-fucking-want/

http://blog.lovegrowsdesign.com/2015/01/looking-back-looking-forward/

<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