Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Look Back on 2011

I've said it once and I'll say it again. This year flew by. I've spent several weeks thinking about this blog post and the best way to sum up everything I've learned or experienced this year. I originally wanted to list as many things as I could think of, including the good, the bad, and everything in between. But I've since decided to just write a heartfelt little summary instead.

Kind of like this one:

So here it goes.

I feel like so much has changed this year, but at the same time, nothing has. I'm not the same person that I was last year, but at the same time, I still am. I don't hate myself anymore, but I still have this fear that I'll start hating myself again. I don't kick myself anymore, but a small part of me feels like I should still be doing just that.

I found strength I didn't know I had this year. I wanted to change. I wanted to pick myself up and learn to love myself more and I committed to doing that. I didn't stop when the lump in my chest returned. I didn't stop when the voice in my head gave me every reason to. I didn't stop when my foot slipped and I rolled all the way back down to the bottom of "depression mountain." I kept climbing and I kept fighting because what did I have to lose?

I let people help me. I realized how blessed I am and how grateful I should be.

I cried in front of the one person I swore would never see me cry. I walked away from people who made me feel bad about myself.

I got upset over a potential relationship that didn't work out, even though I didn't really like him. But I thought he wanted me and that was reason enough to string him along. All I wanted was to be wanted because I felt like the most unwanted human on the planet.

I fought for answers that were right in front of my face and fantasized about hurting myself because it felt better and easier than fantasizing about someday finding those answers. I felt hopeless. Like I would never find answers and that I would be miserable as long as my heart was beating.  

I stitched wounds caused by people who let me down. I chose to forgive and look ahead instead of over my shoulder.

I let go of burdens that I put entirely on myself. I let go of other people's opinions and expectations and chose to listen to the inner voice that had been screaming at me all along. I put myself first and focused on making myself happy instead of making other people happy.

I traveled in an airplane for the first time and visited a wonderful place. I took mental pictures and made memories.

I complained that life was too long only to find out that a girl I graduated high school with unexpectedly passed away two months after I said that. I learned that life is actually too short and that I was taking way too much for granted. 

I got older against my will and hated time only to realize that time should be valued instead.

I wanted to change everything about my appearance in an attempt to like myself more only to realize that changing my attitude was the only way to accomplish that.

I felt trapped and stuck and suffocated before learning how to free myself from the inside out.

I got a new puppy and she became a part of my family. I saw what real love was supposed to look like when I looked at my dogs.

I fell apart and put myself back together. I cried and screamed into pillows and laughed out loud and grinned from ear to ear. I learned lessons and made memories. I learned how to love myself and have recently decided to let other people love me too. I made goals. I take baby steps towards my goals every day.

And I swore that I was not going to make a list of 2012 New Years resolutions. But I'm gonna do it anyway.

<3 Madison 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Journal entry excerpts from my vacation

Hello friends! I've been in Florida for the past week and a half and I safely returned home yesterday. While I was there, I decided to write daily journal entries so I could document every experience, every thought, and every feeling. I like having something to look back on and if I go on vacation or do anything else that could possibly add new memories to my soul, I always want to write about it.

Since you guys have been out of the loop for awhile, I decided to write a little "here's what you missed" post. I am going to take excerpts from each journal entry I wrote while I was on vacation and share them with you. Most of the excerpts will just be thoughts I had or realizations I came to while I was without internet and couldn't blog it out. So I hope you enjoy and I hope you all had a very merry Christmas :-)

Day One ~ The main piece of my soul that I want to share today is that I’ve been feeling a little sad and nostalgic the past couple of days. Unfortunately, there is no cure for these feelings. I tend to drown them in ice cream and music. Perfect temporary fix. But what I learned today is that spending time with people who make you smile, laugh, and think about other things, a.k.a. my favorite family members that I am currently spending my time with, is way better than drowning your sorrow in ice cream and loud music all by yourself. Ice cream and music may put bandages on the wounds, but surrounding yourself with people who make you happy stitches those wounds.

Day Two ~ I’ve been thinking more about my obvious lack of professional writing skills today and wondering if I will be able to keep myself afloat out there in the writing world. My best writing comes out when it’s natural and authentic. I struggle a little bit with professional, informative writing because writing from my heart and sharing pieces of myself and my imagination in every project is all I’ve ever known.

But I know I shouldn’t worry about all that stuff right now. There will always be room for improvement and I have to remind myself that I’m good enough to make those improvements. I know that I will do work that is meaningful to me someday---Work that is both personal and professional.  

Day Three ~ Once we arrived at the hotel, I felt a little sad and lonely for awhile. The feeling passed eventually, but I must say that I miss my doggies. And once I start missing one thing, I remember all of the other things that I miss too. I replay all of those things in my head over and over again.

I’ve especially been missing some of my old friends lately. I like to be alone and I went through a phase this year where I isolated myself and learned to become my own best friend again. Now that I’ve done that, I think it’s about time for me to rekindle some broken relationships.

I didn’t just start completely cutting people that I loved out of my life during my period of isolation. Most of those people were already gone. But I became a little less concerned with doing all the work of keeping in touch with everybody. You can only stare at a phone that never rings for so long before you decide to stop staring at it. As far as I was concerned, the ball was out of my court.

But I want to try to get back in touch with a few people because I’m starting to realize that some of those people mean everything to me and I do not want to go on pretending like I never met them. I do not want them to become strangers. Old memories are starting to drill a hole in my chest and I feel like I need to get in touch with the people I shared those memories with before that hole gets any bigger. 

Day Four ~ I’m just not a fan of swimming. It’s okay every now and then, but all you really do is get into a pit of water and flail your limbs around. Unless I’m skinny dipping with a sexy Australian dude next to the most magnificent waterfall in the world, I’m just not too interested. 

Day Five ~ I stumbled across several walls covered in writing from different people and stuff like that has always been fascinating to me for some reason. It’s interesting how people take the time to make their mark. People wrote their names, initials, love interests, etc. and I just had to write my initials on one of the walls. If I ever go back to that mini-golf course, I will look for it.

Day Six ~ Today was another lazy day, but I spent most of it working on a writing project and reading Breaking Dawn.

I used to roll my eyes at the Twilight series. I thought the whole “girl falls in love with vampire” concept was dumb. But I recently decided to give the series a chance because I wanted to know what all the hype was about. And I know a few people who are huge Twilight fans and I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. So I’m finally on the last chapter of the last book and I must say that I’m kind of sad that it’s ending. In book series, you get all attached to the characters and when the series ends, you’re not totally sure what to do with your life anymore. I’m definitely not obsessed with the series, but it wasn’t bad. Just goes to show that you should give something a chance before you roll your eyes at it and walk away. 

Day Seven ~ You can’t give people the power to make you feel like less of a human or like you’re doing something wrong when you’re not. You’re freaking amazing and you have to tell yourself that and mean it. There is nothing wrong with you. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about yourself over something stupid. Just blast “Mean” by Taylor Swift and let it roll off your back. 

Day Eight ~ I just think it’s really lame to cling to this “I’m so cool and I don’t slide down slides or swing on swings or build gingerbread houses or start snowball fights” demeanor. No one gives a shit. Slide down slides, swing on swings that are too big, spend your Saturday night building a gingerbread house, and hurl a snowball at someone’s face. Life is too short to think you’re too cool or too old for certain things. I never want to let go of my childhood spark and hopefully, I never will. 

Day Nine ~ I can be pretty stubborn sometimes. My opinions, beliefs, and ways of living are freaking awesome and by golly, you best be agreeing with them. But no. Everyone is different. There are millions and billions of different opinions, theories, beliefs, ways of thinking, and ways of living. It can be overwhelming. Although I can be stubborn at times, I like to keep an open mind as well. When all of these different viewpoints and opinions from people who have pretty valid points hit me in the face at full force, it can be hard to decide what to swallow and what to spit out.

But I have to honor the fact that I have my own opinions and beliefs too. We are all different. My point is that you can’t always fight to be right. It’s not right to shove your opinions and beliefs down other people’s throats. I wouldn’t want anybody doing that to me, therefore I shouldn’t do it either. And I don’t. Like I said, I just don’t think it’s right. 

So I may get heated if someone says something that I highly disagree with, but does that mean I should swear that they’re wrong and I’m right? Or should I just respect the fact that they have an opinion too and just let it go?

Fighting, arguing, and spending precious moments of your life trying to force someone to see things your way is a waste of positive energy. Instead of “you’re wrong,” maybe we should say, “I don’t agree, but I respect your way of thinking anyway” instead. You don’t have to agree with people and you certainly don’t have to conform to what they say is right. But you should respect that we’re all different and that we won’t always agree with each other. No matter what you say, do, or think, someone somewhere will oppose it. Instead of lashing out, just choose not to care.

The bottom line is that peace is better than war. But someone somewhere might disagree with that statement too. 

Day Ten ~ I can’t believe it’s already day ten. It seems like just yesterday when I was sitting on my temporary bed at my uncle’s house and deciding that this was not going to be a professional travel log. I’m happy with that decision too because it’s hard to write professional content when you’re either lounging around counting how many ducks are in the scummy pond by your hotel window or getting distracted by whimsical looking buildings and wondering what they look like on the inside. Why be professional when you can just be yourself? Don’t answer that.

Day Eleven ~ I miss my dogs. Every parent, whether you’re a parent of an animal or a child, needs a break from parenting every now and then. But you soon realize how much you miss your little objects of affection and going home to them is pretty much the greatest thing ever when the time comes. So I can't wait to see their wonderful little faces again. 

Day Twelve ~ It is truly heartbreaking and terrifying how quickly time moves. Think about it. Every second that passes is a second that is gone forever. Moments are constantly being replaced with new moments. Moments are constantly turning into memories. People always say to savor each moment, but each moment still flies by whether you savor it or not.  

Today, my whole life flashed before my eyes. I was just riding in the car listening to Taylor Swift when it happened. And then I started crying. I was wearing sunglasses and pretending to be asleep, but I felt the warm tears as they rolled down my cheeks. All those moments. Gone.

I even watched the sky out my window as it went from blue to purple to red to black and it all seemed to happen so quickly. The day was coming to an end before my very eyes and all I could do was watch.

It’s just really hard to stay present when I’m constantly looking over my shoulder and feeling nostalgic. This year went by so fast and I’m going to be 20 years old in less than four months. I can’t even make myself accept that yet. 

Thanks for reading. <3 


Monday, December 12, 2011

Caring is enough

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all of the sadness and suffering in this world? Have you ever felt like maybe you aren't doing enough to help? I feel that way all the time and I'm sure a lot of other people do too.

If I don't donate my paycheck to this charity, I must be selfish.
If I don't have anything to offer this homeless person on the street, I must be heartless.
If I don't know what to do or say for my crying friend, I must be a bad friend.

I'm sure we have all had similar thoughts to the ones above and it puts an unnecessary burden on our shoulders.

You are only one person. Just because you can't help everyone everywhere every second does not make you a bad person. 

By simply caring and being thoughtful, you are making a difference. I swear.

Once upon a time, I was a self-loathing loner. (I'm still kind of a loner, but not a self-loathing one) I completely did not like myself at all and I was so lonely. I never talked to anyone about how I was feeling. I would just plaster on a smile every morning and drag myself through the day, pretending everything was fine.

But I needed to get all of that yucky, messy hatred out of my system somehow and I did that by writing and....tweeting. With that said, I don't recommend venting on the internet. But I did and I will say that for the most part, I'm kind of glad that I did. Because there was this one friend that I had on Twitter who was there for me more than people I knew in real life. When I would tweet something depressing and follow it up with something along the lines of, "No one is going to read this because no one gives a crap," she was there to assure me that SHE did.

My tweets were a cry for help. I didn't tweet depressing, "life sucks" tweets for attention or because I wanted people to feel sorry for me. I just needed to get my thoughts out of my system and deep down, I really just needed someone to care about me. To be there for me.

So there she was. My Twitter friend whom I had never met. She stayed up late talking to me. She told me she cared. She once told me that I was my own worst enemy and that that was something I could overcome. And she was right. I eventually did overcome it.

This same girl once tweeted something along the lines of, "I never know what to say when one of my friends is upset. All I can do is be there and listen."

And that is enough. 

She didn't have to fly thousands of miles to my home and hold my hand while I cried.
She didn't have to invent a magical formula that makes people happy.
She didn't have to buy me a puppy or bake me a cake made out of rainbows and smiles. (Yes, I just quoted Mean Girls.)

She was just there. She may not have physically been there, but she was still there for me. She was my friend when I needed one and she talked me through too many messy days to count. I will never forget about that and I am so grateful for her.

Being there, caring, or simply letting someone know that you're thinking of them can move mountains.

That is also a good thing to remember this holiday season while you're running a hole in your wallet. You don't have to buy gifts for every person you spoke to or made eye contact with this year. The thought alone really does count.

<3 Madison

Friday, December 9, 2011

December update

I know I've been MIA lately and I feel obligated to write SOMETHING to make up for it. I didn't forget about you guys or this blog. To be honest, I'm constantly trying to come up with new things to write/blog about and I often go weeks without coming up with anything.

It makes me feel like a failure, but I'm starting to learn that maybe it's better not to force anything. If you feel uninspired, that's okay. An idea will come when it's good and ready. I feel like I'm contradicting that nugget of wisdom right NOW though, because here I am just typing away for the sake of posting something new. But maybe that's not such a bad idea either. Maybe I should just start writing the next time I feel uninspired and see what comes out of me. The result could be a pleasant surprise.

But anyways. Just thought I'd drop in and let you all know that everything is fine. (Except for the fact that I've been sick this week and my current best friends are a box of tissues, tea, NyQuil, a snuggie, the couch, and the latest book I'm reading.) 

I plan to write a blog looking back on the year of 2011 soon. All in all, it was a good year for me. Not fantastic, but definitely not horrible either. I have so many things to be grateful for this year and I hope you do too. 

Happy December and Happy Friday :-)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Accepting people as they are

Hair color. Hair style. Facial hair. Piercings. Tattoos. Skin color. Financial status. Social status. Personal style preferences. Taste in music. Taste in sports. Hobbies. Interests. Personal viewpoints. Personal opinions. Level of education. Career of choice. Sexual orientation. Weight. Height. Eye color. Pet preferences. Food preferences. TV and/or movie genre preferences.

You don't get a say in any of these things when it comes to being friends with or being in a relationship with another person.

Every single human is different from every single other human. You're going to love some of these humans. Others? Not so much.

You may disagree with someone else's choices or preferences. That's okay. What's not okay is trying to change them to better fit your standards.

If you're the type of person who describes your ideal soul mate or best friend right down to what they should look like or what kind of music they should listen to, I hope you enjoy being lonely. You don't get to create what kind of people walk into your life. If you're willing to throw away a genuine connection with someone because they don't like the same kind of music you like, or they're someone from outside of your "social circle", you really need to take a good look at YOURSELF.

Nothing else should matter if you meet someone who makes you happy. Someone you just click with, even if you're completely different from them. Even if you don't always agree with them.

Stop trying to change the people that you love. Let them be as they are, or they won't stick around much longer.    

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's okay...

It's okay to tell the truth.
It's okay to cry in front of the person you've always been strong for.
It's okay to be scared.
It's okay to not have all the answers.
It's okay to grow up slowly.
It's okay to hear countless nuggets of wisdom about something you're struggling with and STILL not get it.
It's okay to walk away from someone or something that doesn't make you happy.
It's okay to let someone new into your life.
It's okay to still think about him/her.
It's okay to fall in love.
It's okay to admit that you were wrong and apologize.
It's okay to want to be alone.
It's okay to stand up for yourself or someone else, even if it means standing alone.
It's okay to admit that you still have one more inner demon to slay, even though you thought you got them all.
It's okay to be best friends with music or your pet instead of a person.
It's okay to get back up even though you've fallen down a million times.
It's okay to feel sad, angry, embarrassed, nervous, or guilty.
It's okay to feel upset and not even know why.
It's okay to be completely different from everyone else.  
It's okay to make your own choices and learn from your own mistakes.

<3 Madison

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank You

I just wanted to write a quick post expressing the excitement and gratitude that I'm feeling today. I occasionally log on to check my stats and I noticed that my blog got over 150 pageviews today. I literally clamped my hand over my mouth and danced in my seat when I saw that. That's the most I've ever gotten. The most before that was like 34. I remember when I used to get ZERO pageviews and I would dance in my seat if I was lucky enough to get more than one. So I want to say thanks.

To anyone who has ever clicked on a link to a post on my blog.
To anyone who has ever read an entire blog post.
To anyone who has ever bothered to visit my page.
To anyone who has ever commented on a post.
To anyone who has ever enjoyed my writing, whether they let me know or not.
To anyone who has ever read and enjoyed my tweets or guest posts on other websites.
To anyone who is reading these very words right this second. Yes, I am talking to YOU.

It really does mean a lot to me. So thank you :-)

<3 Madison

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life Optimizer guest post!

One of the things that I make a conscious effort to maintain in my life is balance. I've noticed that most people never just step back to take a breather or spend quality time with themselves.

You always hear people say, "I don't have time" or "I'm too busy." It's sad that people spend too much time working and running themselves dry and not enough time living and taking a few minutes every day to just enjoy the simple things.

I'm all about the simple things. I know people are busy and I know people get wrapped up. But I think everyone deserves to escape from that every now and then, even if it's for a few minutes.

My daily routine pretty much goes as follows: After I wake up, get dressed, give my dogs fresh water, and all that jazz, I get on my laptop and do my online lesson for the day if I have one. Then I do my chores, which include dishes, laundry, and sometimes, cleaning. Then after that, I might check my Twitter account or watch a little TV. Then I write for 2-3 hours, whether I'm working on a new project, researching publications, or just writing for fun or practice. By that time, it's usually three or four in the afternoon and I spend the rest of my day doing whatever my little heart desires. I don't watch much TV, but sometimes I'll do that. Or read. Or play with my dogs. Or take a walk. Or bake cookies. Or watch YouTube videos. Or visit my favorite blogs.

And then I go to bed feeling balanced and content because I worked AND played.

(Get to the point, Madison.)

Okay, okay. So I wrote an article for about maintaining balance. I would assume that most people are typically busier than I am, given my description of my daily routine, but you can still make time for others and yourself at the end of the day. It is a choice. No one is THAT busy. You have to enjoy life and nurture yourself too, you know.

So my article is about ten ways that you can find balance and serenity after a productive day. Everyone needs daily "me time." So if you're a crazed work-a-holic who doesn't know how to sit still, maybe you can give some of my simple ideas a try. Thanks for reading!

My article:

And thank you to Donald Latumahina for featuring me on his site! :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living in spite of fear of what other people think

I have a confession to make, mostly for myself. I want to write it down and see it in front of me so I can stop trying to convince myself that it's not true.

One of my biggest fears is being judged. I don't like how criticism makes me feel and it very negatively affected me for a long time. It consumed me. It still does sometimes.

I guess it all started when a girl I played with on the playground every day in fifth grade kinda sorta told me to go away and stop hanging around. When you're ten years old, that's an ouch. This ostracization got even worse in middle school. I sat at lunch every day with a group of girls who clearly did not want me around, but I sat with them anyway and ate my lunch in silence while they ignored me.

This need to feel accepted and this fear of being judged has sort of followed me around for as long as I can remember. It's like a scar that will always be there.

But here's the good news. I stay true to myself and live the life I want in spite of it.

Don't get me wrong. It wasn't always that way. My immediate reaction to criticism used to be to change whatever it was that I was being criticized for. It made me completely miserable and I soon decided that I was going to stop doing that to myself.

If someone tells me that my hair looks bad when it's parted down the middle, I'm not going to rush to the nearest mirror and style it differently.

If someone tells me that my boobs are too small, I'm not going to rush to the nearest plastic surgeon and have them enhanced.

If someone tells me that I'm too meek and quiet, I'm not going to rush to the nearest microphone stand and give a speech.

If someone tells me that I should be a pharmacist instead of a writer, I'm not going to rush to the nearest pharmaceutical training school and sign up.

So yes. I have a fear of being judged. But I live in spite of that fear and at the end of the day, I still have a clear focus on who I am and what I want.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Perfectionism is exhausting

I have to credit Brooke White (Season 7 American Idol contestant) for the title of this post. A few weeks ago, she tweeted, "Perfectionism is exhausting. Let go." And it came at just the right time and I haven't been a crazy, rip-my-hair-out perfectionist ever since.

I just submitted my next article and it didn't take me twelve million years to write it and edit it before sending it in. Usually, whenever I start on a new project, my inner critic immediately jumps in and says, "Psh. They're gonna reject you. You're not good enough to write for THAT website." And it leaves me questioning my worth as a writer. I feel the need to write, re-write, perfect, and over-perfect, and edit it at least fifteen times before biting my lip as I hit "send."

I did this before submitting my Tiny Buddha article. I kept telling myself that something was missing. That I could do better. That it was lame. That it was going to get rejected.

The very next day, I had an email from Lori Deschene (Founder of Tiny Buddha) saying that it was wonderful and that she would be honored to publish it. When it was posted on the site, people wrote to me for two straight weeks with their wonderful comments. And to think that I thought it wasn't good enough.

So today, if you're feeling overwhelmed or not good enough and you feel the need to drive yourself bananas with perfectionism, loosen up and cut yourself some slack instead. You're enough just the way you are and people will appreciate you for it.

<3 Madison

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The top ten women who inspire me

Girls rule. Ever since I was little, I loved the phrase "girl power" and I used it all the time. I really like people (both women AND men) who aspire to inspire before they expire. I want to list the top ten women who have had the most positive impact on me. These are the women that I look up to.

10. Ke$ha. It bothers me when people say that all Ke$ha cares about is drinking and partying. There is so much more to her than that whether you want to believe it or not. She cares about people and thinks everyone should be treated with respect regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc. She's an animal rights activist. She encourages people to unapologetically be themselves and break society's rules. She kinda does whatever she wants however she wants whenever she wants and gives the middle finger to anyone who has anything to say about it. She's strong, brave, and thinks life itself should be one big party.

9. Skylar Grey. The thing that I admire the most about Skylar Grey is that she blatantly refused to give up on the one and only thing she wanted the most. A music career. She was asked in an interview what she would rather do if she wasn't doing music and her response was "Die." The music industry sent her spiraling into depression at one point, and she still didn't throw in the towel. She took some time off, lived in seclusion, put her life and career into perspective, worked on making more music, and then she put herself back out there again. That one thing that was the main cause of her pain was the one thing that she fought for over and over again. She didn't have a plan B and refused to come up with one. I don't think that's stubborn. I admire people like that a lot. People who refuse to settle for anything less than that one thing that makes them happy---the one thing that makes sense. And Skylar has since worked with some major names in the music business and will be releasing an album soon. Persistence pays off.

8. Avril Lavigne. I've loved Avril since her "Sk8er Boi" days. She is such a unique artist and I love how she's not afraid to evolve, whether it be her look or her music. She's honest and true to herself. I remember that her record company tried to get her to go for a pop, dance kind of sound for her 4th album because that's what would sell. Avril refused. She fought to make a raw, stripped down, personal album because that was the kind of album that SHE wanted to make. And the album is amazing, by the way. I personally think raw, personal music is better than all the catchy pop songs you hear on the radio. WAY better.

7. Shannon Kaiser. As most of you may know, Shannon let me interview her awhile back. (  She seriously has no idea how much I admire her. We have both kind of been in the same boat as far as being in a position in life that made us uncomfortable and unhappy. And then we both pursued our real passion, which is writing. I think this is why I relate to her so much. And now she shares her story of how she pulled herself out of depression and found the courage and passion to go after what she really wanted. She genuinely wants to help other people do the same.

6. Rachael Ray. I watch Rachael's show half because watching people cook is strangely therapeutic and half because her enthusiasm is contagious. She's always smiling and laughing and dancing around. She's so full of love and life and just really seems like an incredible person. (And an incredible cook. Duh.) She inspires me because she's so NICE to everybody and because I can't help but be drawn to people who always have a smile on their face. She's adorable. The end.

5. Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen inspires me to not take life or myself too seriously. We both agree that the simple things in life are the greatest things in life. And if you're not smiling and laughing everyday, something isn't right. I love Ellen. I don't really see how it's humanly possible to NOT love her.

4. Keltie Colleen. This chick is amazing. Let's see...Dancer, blogger, author, fashion designer, entertainment news reporter, love & life guru, fashion guru, life enthusiast. I think that's about everything. Keltie never settles. She's always adding more things to her bucket list and she's passionate about inspiring other people to do the same. She has taught me a lot. She's so honest too. If she's having a crappy day, she's not afraid to say it. And when she's having a wonderful day, she passes her good mood on to others. She gives great advice too. And she's true to herself. Damn. I can't gush enough about Keltie.

3. Lori Deschene. Founder of The website that has gotten me out of so many ruts. I really relate to and feel inspired by Lori. She's so positive, honest, insightful, and kind. She genuinely cares about the Tiny Buddha community and couldn't care less about how many page views she gets or how many Twitter followers she has. She's grateful and honored for all of that, of course, but her main focus in running Tiny Buddha is to help people. I read some of her blog posts sometimes and think, "Has this chick been stalking my life and reading my journal?" I recently learned, thanks to her, that I'm not the only person who carries on conversations with myself in my head. She calls it "internal monologue." I was so pleased to hear that I'm not the only person who talks to myself in my mind.

2. Taylor Swift. I can't make a list of inspiring women without putting Taylor Swift on that list. Do I even really need to explain this one? I have learned so much about life, love, and myself just by listening to her music. She's so relevant. And she has accomplished so many incredible things and she's only one person. Like...Does she sleep? Oh right, she stays up writing songs at 3 in the morning. Nevermind. Taylor is brave, passionate, classy, humble, and loving. I am honestly just so proud of her and can't wait to see what she does next.

1. Christina Perri. I'll try not to stay here all day. Okay, so...a little over a year ago, my life was pointless. I woke up every single morning feeling like there was absolutely no reason for me to get up and face life. I was searching for happiness in all the wrong places, all the while failing to realize that it all starts with your attitude and your outlook on life and yourself. I don't remember exactly what it was that Christina said or exactly what it was that Christina did, but something changed one day. Something shifted. The bigger a fan I became, the more my life started to get better. I could write an essay on everything that Christina has taught me. When I was in a dark hole, she tossed me a rope. She didn't pull me out, but I was able to slowly and gradually pull MYSELF out. And I haven't been the same ever since. I know for a fact that Christina crossed my path for a reason. I had epic life realization after epic life realization just by reading her blog posts, hearing what she had to say in interviews, and listening to her music. I can't even begin to explain how she makes me feel about life and myself. This blog and all the positive messages I share on it would not exist if it wasn't for her. I wouldn't be happy again if it wasn't for her. I wouldn't have blocked out the voices of other people and started listening to my own inner voice if it wasn't for her. I hope I get to thank her in person one day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Goodbye October, Hello November

At the beginning of October, I had this epic feeling that it was going to be a great month. I could feel it in my bones. And I was right.

The weather got cooler, which is awesome because I hate hot weather. October weather is perfect because it's not too hot and it's not too cold. It's just breezy and friendly. I started taking more walks and spending more time outside. Pretty weather puts me in a good mood. So I was basically in an awesome mood all month.

I got published on one of my favorite websites. I've already started working on my NEXT article for the same website because being featured on it was a mini dream come true and the responses blew my mind.

I spent less time alone and more time hanging out with the people who matter the most. I realized this month that love is pretty much the ONLY thing that matters. When you're lying on your death bed, you're going to be thinking about how much you lived and loved while you were alive. Nothing else is going to matter. Not money, not the job you had, not your college degree, not your broken dishwasher, not the mean kids from middle school. I got my priorities straight this month and realized that making memories is more important than making money.

And last night, I saw a movie called October Baby with my mom. It is now my new favorite movie. I laughed, cried (bawled), and felt inspired. The movie is only showing in select theaters right now, but is expected to be released nationwide in Spring 2012. SO GO SEE IT. And please spread the word.

I hope you all had a happy Halloween and a wonderful October. Hopefully, November will be nice to me too.

<3 Madison


Sunday, October 23, 2011

How was your weekend?

I spent my weekend watching a baby deer drink milk out of a bottle, swinging in a swing that was too small for my 19 year old butt, walking along a dirt road while talking to my younger brother about life, looking through old photos, playing Mexican train, and eating twice as much as I normally eat.

Yep. My brother and I stayed with my grandma this weekend. I used to stay with her all the time, but this weekend was the first time in a long time. I figured it was time to come out of my confined "me" bubble and keep her company like I used to. I got to re-charge on love, peace, and childhood nostalgia.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Decisions, decisions..

I've been thinking a lot about decisions today and my attitude towards decision-making. One of the biggest and most life changing realizations I've had this year has been "Believe in your decisions and believe in your path." I read that on a blog and I was just like, "Oh my God. This changes everything." And from that day forward, I believed in my decisions and I believed in my path.

In other words, you make the decisions you make for a REASON. If something feels right to you and your gut is saying YES YES YES, then believe in that decision and trust yourself, regardless of what anyone else has to say about it. TRUST YOURSELF. Also, believe in your path. Believe that everything will work out in your favor and that you're in good hands. When you make a decision and it feels right and it feels official, don't question it. Know what you really want. I talked about this in my Tiny Buddha post, but I just wanted to go into a little more detail with this whole decision-making thing.

Usually, I'm a horrible decision maker. Especially when it comes to simple decisions such as, "Should I buy the regular M&Ms or the ones with pretzels in them?" I could literally stand there with both packets of M&Ms in my hands, looking from one to the other while the cashier looks at me, wondering if I'm about to steal them or something. But making decisions should not always be that complicated and I try to tell myself this. Just ask yourself these questions:

What do I REALLY want?
What makes sense or feels right to me?
What is more important to me?
Will I be able to wake up with a smile on my face in the morning if I make this decision?

So, next time you're faced with a difficult decision, whether it's what kind of M&Ms you should buy or what path you should go down in your life, ask yourself those questions.

Today I realized that I am on the right path as of right now and it made me really happy. If I would have listened to everybody else and gone down the path they expected me to go down, I would have missed out on all of the amazing things that have been happening to me lately.

And THAT is incredible to me. THAT proves that the universe always has bigger plans.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finding Your Happy: Shannon Kaiser interview

As I've said before, I love inspiring people who use their talents to help others. Shannon Kaiser is one of those people. I've never interviewed anyone before, but I've always wanted to. Shannon was nice enough to let me ask her a few questions.

Shannon once followed a career path that she hated. But it wasn't just the ideal "I hate my job" syndrome. It made her feel empty, lost, depressed, and not good enough to break free. She cried all the time and turned to self-abuse and drugs. She felt like a prisoner of her own life. Shannon's true love was writing. She began cheating on her advertising job with writing. ( She had found her real passion, but felt too afraid to leave her secure job and secure paycheck to pursue what truly made her happy.

It was a scary journey for her. But she made it out alive and is now a happy, healthy travel writer.

I'll stop talking (typing) now and share Shannon's interview with you:

Q: At what point did you realize that advertising was not what you really wanted and how did you feel when you realized that? I realized advertising wasn't the best fit for me in 2008 when I was sent oversees to New Zealand for a work assignment by the ad agency I worked for. On that trip, I was so thankful to be in a new country, but the work I was doing felt forced. I couldn't connect with it or the people in the office. I wanted to spend time exploring the country, and that is when I realized my desire for travel writing. At the time, I felt depressed, hopeless, and stuck. It wasn't until I learned that I could change my circumstances that I gained confidence in my dream. But if I were to be honest with myself, even in college when I was pursuing a degree in advertising, I felt a tiny nag that something wasn't quite right.

Q: Most people turn to harmful actions when feeling empty or depressed. Did you ever result to doing anything extremely harmful to numb the pain? Yes, sadly my journey went to some dark places. I ignored my inner voice for so long that I turned to every harmful action possible. I went through periods of trading one addiction for the next. I was a workaholic (70-80 hour work weeks), bulimic, exercise maniac (3-4 hours of exercise a day), sex addict, food addict, and a drug addict. I turned to self-abuse and sabotage because I didn't see a way out. But now I know there is a healthier, happier, and more compassionate way to live. And treating myself the way I did only kept me from getting what I really wanted. But by going through each dark moment, I was able to learn what it really feels like at rock bottom. Now I can relate to people going through the same thing and I can genuinely help them.

Q: What advice do you have for people who genuinely feel like there is no place for them in the world and that they have no real passion? I can relate 100%. I felt this way for the majority of my life. Feeling different from everyone and feeling like I did not belong and that there had to be something more. My advice would be simple. Follow your heart. Remember that you do matter and that you are greatly important. The world needs you and your greatness, so shine your light and trust yourself. Also, recognize fear for what it is. A false indication of reality. Learn to become friends with your fear. When we want something, that little voice comes into our head and says we are not good enough, strong enough, rich enough, etc. It is our duty to say, "Fear, thank you for your contribution, but we are going to bust through because I am good enough, strong enough, and I have everything that I need." Some actual things that helped me were praying and meditation. I asked myself what I valued in life and made a list of my top five values and created a life around those values. This helped me find a place for myself. I started to meet people with the same values.

Q: What is your favorite place that you've traveled to so far and why? I loved Paris because of the food and the self-realization that came from traveling for two weeks in a country where I didn't speak the language. It is a beautiful thing to immerse yourself in the unknown and work your way through getting comfortable. My overall, most memorable experience was Morocco. I ventured into the High Atlas mountains and slept on the sand in the open Sahara Desert. Riding a camel and hanging out with local Berbers drinking mint tea was the most intense evening of my travel life. Seeing people make a life out of nomads through the desert with nothing more than the clothes on their back, but still so much peace and happiness in their hearts was inspiring.

Q: What kept you motivated in following your true passion? Leading from my heart, rather than my head kept the passion and motivation alive. Also, reminding myself why I am doing it. I want to make a difference and inspire others to love their life fully. I ask myself how I can be of service to the world. The notion of combining my passions and values together in a job is rewarding and if I wasn't doing it, I would feel like I was dying. So the motivation is always there. However, there are times when I feel like I am working too hard. When it feels like an uphill battle, that is when I step back and relax. Sometimes, not doing anything at all is the best course of action. I judge each day by the seeds I plant, not by the harvest. Everyday I let my heart lead me to the best course of action towards my goal. And as long as I am planting seeds, I am on the right path. Because the harvest always comes. Just trusting is key.

Q: What was your greatest challenge in getting to where you are right now? The biggest challenge for me at first was busting through the fear. The fear kept me paralyzed for years and that is when I turned to some not so healthy things. Then I outed my fear and it wasn't so bad at all. In fact, it felt way better. The second most challenging thing was trusting. Leaving corporate and branching out into the big sea of the unknown was terrifying (more fear) because I didn't know what would happen, where money would come from, etc. But learning to trust was critical to my success. Also, having patience. I have learned to be patient because I may think that I want something and I want it now, but as time unfolds, it may not have been the best thing for me in the big picture. For me, learning to trust that everything was in the right order and that I was always taken care of was huge. Also, letting go of expectations. I had all these expectations on what would make me happy. Having X amount of followers/fans, making X amount of dollars, etc. But the real value of success has been recognizing the blessings that I do have. And even if the outcome doesn't look like I imagined, the feelings of peace, happiness, and love are always with me. And that is true happiness and success for me. 

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring travel writers or just aspiring writers in general? 1. Declare your worth. Many writers shy away from their dream because they have fear, whether it is not feeling good enough, smart enough, etc. Turn that fear around and believe in the power of you. 2. Write. Write when you take trips anywhere, even to the bar down the street. Everything can be a story. And get your messages out there. Submit to blogs, editors, etc. Network at events. Volunteer to write for local magazines and newspapers for free. Just keep writing. 3. Follow someone you like. Look out in the market and see who is doing what you want to do. Align yourself with them to see what works, then make yourself different by being true to you. Learning from example is a great way to get footing into the world of writing. 4. Read travel writing books, how to be a travel writer, get on Press release lists from tourist boards, and start a blog. A blog is key. 5. Forget what you hear from everyone and follow your heart. I can't stress this one enough. People will always be keen to share how they did it and how that is the only way, therefore convincing you that that's how you should do it. But trust that there is no right or wrong way. Only you know what is true for you. So always ask yourself if it feels right or if it feels forced. Always choose the path of least resistance. It will help you make your dreams come true faster.

Shannon is currently working on securing a literary agent for her first book, Find Your Happy: An Inspirational Guide on Loving Life to the Fullest. It is a memoir in which Shannon shares the tools she used to pull herself out of depression. She wants to help readers remove blocks to reach the happiness within. Shannon suspects the book to be out in 2012.

Shannon's website:

Thank you Shannon for answering my questions, and thank YOU for reading.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Eminem

I wouldn't normally write a "Happy Birthday *insert name of popular celebrity here*" post, but I want to make an exception because I have a vulnerable story I want to share with you guys.

On this exact day around this exact time last year, I was up late and sitting in my mom's dark office turning to the internet for comfort. I had been in zombie-mode for weeks. I had not smiled a real smile. I had not laughed a real laugh. And I had not cried. Even though I wanted to, I just couldn't. It felt as if I had a lump of lead in my chest instead of a heart. I was going through a phase of feeling very sad, lost, and empty for several different reasons. So I was sitting at the computer desperately searching for SOMETHING to make me feel better. I came across many different inspiring words of wisdom, but none of it was getting to me. I felt completely emotionless. But just as I was about to give up and drag myself to bed for yet another restless night, I came across the lyrics of the song "Beautiful" by Eminem. I felt the lump in my chest slowly dissolving as I read these lyrics and by the time I was done, I had burst into tears. Literally BURST into tears. And I didn't stop. I cried for well over an hour and cried myself to sleep. They weren't tears of joy or pain. They were just tears that had been building up inside of me and needed permission to come out. I cried out all of the yucky emotions and woke up feeling like a new person. That song hugged my soul. It made me feel better, even if it was only temporary. And ironically, this all happened on Eminem's birthday. I didn't plan that. It was just a cool coincidence. It's amazing how much music can heal people.

I wanted to share this with you because I just really love strong, inspiring people who use their talents to help others.

Always reach out and share your strength. You could possibly send a person to bed feeling like they actually have a reason to get up the next morning.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Have you smiled today?

As I promised myself and you guys, I went out and sat on a street corner while holding a sign that said, "Have you smiled today?" It was a bit different from how I imagined it would be.

Expectation: I would feel awesome, content, and in tune with the rest of the world as people honked, smiled, and waved at me as they drove by. I would sit there in the beautiful weather on a soft patch of grass while "Fix You" by Coldplay played on my portable CD player. I would sit out there for half an hour and walk home feeling happy and full of love.

Reality: I felt extremely awkward and only a few people smiled and waved. No one honked at me. I barely made eye contact with anyone, even though I was wearing sunglasses. The weather was a bit hotter and stickier than expected. "Fix You" by Coldplay (One of my favorite songs on the planet, by the way) played on my portable CD player, but I barely paid attention to it because I felt awkward and uncomfortable. I got attacked by gnats and a few ants. The grass I was sitting on wasn't soft or lush. I sat out there for about ten minutes before walking home feeling a bit disappointed in myself.

What I learned from this is that things don't always turn out how you expect. You fantasize about doing certain things and when you do them and they don't turn out like you imagined they would, you become disappointed. The best moments in life are unexpected & unplanned. They just happen and they're magical. And sometimes, things turn out even BETTER than you expected.

I'm reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower right now (Yes, I'm just now reading that. How late am I?) and Charlie sort of reminds me of myself. (Only way cooler and nicer) He's thought consumed and observant and lives in his own little world all the time. I wish I could tell you how to get out of your own little world and into the real world, but I haven't figured that out yet. But like I've said before, being imaginative is never a bad thing.

What I do know is that I went out there with my sign and sat on the street corner like I said I would. I didn't leave as soon as I sat down or even when gnats started attacking my face. I stayed and let myself relax into the moment a little bit. And some people DID smile and wave. Others drove right by without a glance, but that's okay too. I guess the best way to get out of your head is to get out into the world, even if it's scary or makes you uncomfortable at first. I hope I at least made one person feel better though. That was all I really wanted to do.

Have YOU smiled today? I have.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tiny Buddha guest post

I am very honored and excited to announce that I am being featured on Tiny Buddha today! I have been such a fan of the website for a long time and writing for it was sort of a little dream of mine. So many inspiring people sharing their pain, strength, and wisdom. Such a wonderful community and I'm so happy to now be a part of it.

Check out my article here:

Huge thank you to Lori Deschene for being so wonderful to me.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fear is a jerk

"Fear is such a weak emotion. That's why I despise it." ~ Lupe Fiasco

I despise fear too. I'm probably one of the biggest wimps you'll ever meet in your life and I hate it. If I could change one thing about myself, it would be my terrible habit of talking myself out of everything. I always get an idea that seems wonderful at the time, and then that little voice called "FEAR" begins spouting off reasons why I should turn and run instead. Fear tends to drive my life. I want the wheel back.

When I was younger, I used to have a "just do it" attitude towards fear. In 3rd grade, I performed two different dance routines in front of a giant arena of people. I swallowed my fear and danced my heart out. In 7th grade, I gave a speech in front of my entire student body. I swallowed my fear and gave the best damn speech they'd ever heard. In 8th grade, I played a goofy character in a play. I swallowed my fear and got an applause after my scene.

I miss that girl.

Something I noticed today is that whenever I'm with my younger brother, I'm not afraid of anything. I'm not afraid of what people think. I'm not afraid of what people do. I'm just 100% me because my brother is my best friend and I feel comfortable around him. We walked to Sonic for ice cream today and I openly danced to a song that was playing when we got there. I didn't care if people thought I looked stupid. I didn't care if people stared. I'm like a completely different person in front of my brother.

Maybe I should act like I act with my brother even when he's not around. Brave, confident, and secure.
Maybe I should stop trying to talk myself out of everything and "just do it."
Maybe I should pretend that I'm not afraid at all and that fear is just an illusion. Isn't it?

The other day, I got an idea. I wanted to buy a poster board and write "Have you smiled today?" in big letters with a sharpie and sit on my street corner holding the sign. Just for fun. Just because I like making people's day when I can. But then stupid, irrational fear started putting "what-ifs" in my mind. What if people laugh at you? What if someone kidnaps you? What if people throw rotten fruit at your face?

How about this. What if someone is driving home to kill themselves and seeing that sign changes their mind? What if someone had a horrible day and seeing that sign gave them the boost they needed? What if someone likes your sign so much that they want to be your new bestie?

Fear is stupid. I'm sick of dealing with it. I'm going to buy the poster board for my sign. And I'm going to sit on that street corner with the hope of making at least one person feel better.

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ugly toes, Beautiful day

I have ugly toes. I was sitting in the bathroom trying method after method to achieve more attractive toes when I realized that I was wasting time obsessing over this minor flaw when I should have been outside enjoying a beautiful day.

Waiting outside my backdoor was a friendly breeze and blue skies. I slipped on a pair of flip-flops, toes showing and all, and walked out. My dogs rushed up to me, tails wagging and ready to play.

In that moment, I no longer felt so insecure about my toes. My dogs love me for me, not my toes. I should start learning to love me for me too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I am human

Today I was reminded by one of the strongest and most inspiring women that I know that I am a human being. I was in the midst of feeling like a jerk who should just go jump in front of a moving bus when I read her latest blog post. Part of it went something like this:

I always forget that it turns around.
I always forget that it works out.
I always forget that my feelings won't kill me. 
I always forget to trust in my path no matter what. 

I honestly just forget everything--Maybe because I'm human. Maybe because I'm small. Maybe because I'm learning. 

Brilliantly said, right?

I've felt many different emotions this past weekend. Sadness, anger, fear, guilt. But today is Monday. The start of a brand new week. And that blog post turned my morning of mixed emotions and scattered thoughts into one of inner peace and a reminder to myself that I am indeed, human. We all are.

It's okay to be angry. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be uncertain and afraid. It's okay to say the wrong thing and feel guilty about it. Perfection is imperfection.

Happy Monday. <3

p.s. CLICK IT 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Free falling

You know that moment right before you fall asleep? When your body is relaxed and your eyes are closed, but you're still aware?

I was lying down, trying to block out my fears for awhile. I had my TV turned on to a music channel that plays soft, relaxing music mixed with sounds of nature. As I try to drift off to sleep, I see myself falling out of a comfortable nest. I continue to fall gracefully, occasionally looking down to see if the end of my fall is near. It isn't. All I see is darkness. I look around me and everything is blurred. I'm falling quickly and it's exhilarating at first, but after awhile, all I want is to float back up to the nest where I felt safe and loved.

Today I am one step closer to growing up. That's how life works. You spend all your time wanting to be free. When you finally fall out of the comfort of your nest, the world around you blurs and it's too late to stop and take it all in. You keep falling, never knowing if you'll land safely or hit rock bottom.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unbearable Lightness

I just finished reading Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi and it was THE most raw, honest, and brutally exposed book I've ever read. I don't think I've ever cried while reading a book before. I've cried during movies, songs, American Idol eliminations...But never books. Not that I can remember anyway. But there were parts in this book that literally made me emotional because it was so heartbreaking.

Although I've never suffered from an eating disorder or been scrutinized under the public eye, I could sort of relate to this book. I think any person who has ever dealt with low self-esteem, loneliness, an overwhelming desire to be accepted, a fear of being judged, or just a daily battle with the voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough can relate to this book. There were many moments where I would read a line and think, "Wow. I totally get that. I know how that feels."

I won't go into any details about my own mental and personal struggles, but I do want to say that Portia is EXTREMELY brave to be able to have written such an honest and exposed novel and put it out for everyone to read. I KNOW it had to have taken blood, sweat, and tears to write this, and especially to publish it. It deserves to be a bestseller.

This book is brilliantly written and it will teach you a lot about yourself, your body, love, and self-acceptance. I'm glad I read it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A trip down memory lane

As promised, I am going to share a list of things I loved when I was younger. I'm a 90s child, so if you are too, you will probably find yourself saying things like, "I remember that movie!" or "I loved that show!" Here is my list. Enjoy. :)

The Wizard of Oz ~ I literally used to watch this movie every single day. I never got tired of it. I used to collect anything associated with The Wizard of Oz. I have toys and figurines of all the characters and I dressed up as Dorothy one Halloween, ruby slippers and all. I even tried to make myself go to Oz one day by repeatedly banging my head on the kitchen counter. (Not joking)
Lizzie McGuire ~ My favorite show as a tween. I saw every episode, knew every detail about every character,  and owned several Lizzie McGuire toys and books. And don't we all have an alter ego in our head saying everything we wish we had the courage to say, just like Lizzie did? Of course.
Blues Clues ~ I LOVED Blues Clues. My little brother and I were both obsessed with that show as kids. We like Steve better than Joe. We were sad when Steve left to go to college. :-( I will always love Blues Clues. Always.
Zoey 101 ~ Another one of my favorite shows as a preteen. PCA is pretty much the coolest school ever.
The Amanda Show ~ How could anyone forget The Amanda Show? Cutest, funniest show ever. Amanda please!
All That ~ I wanted to BE on this show. I watched it religiously and I'm so sad that it doesn't come on anymore. I miss all the 90s Nick shows.
Hannah Montana ~ I watched this show in my early teen years. I never missed an episode up until the last season I think. I had sort of lost interest in it by then. But I definitely used to watch this show all the time. I remember watching an entire marathon once. Who does that??
Barney ~ I wanted to play and dance around with Barney.
The Chipmunks ~ Nothing could tear me away from the TV while I was watching The Chipmunks. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked when the movie came out. I was even more stoked when I found out that one of my favorite actors would be voicing Simon. That made me want to see it even more.
The Nancy Drew Mystery Series ~ I read these fat novels one right after the other. I would typically finish one every three to four days or less. They were hard to put down.
Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events ~ I was never a big book series person, but I LOVED this series.
The Rainbow Fish ~ One of my all time favorite children's books. Such a cute story about sharing and friendship. I want a shiny scale too!!
When the Sun Rose ~ Another one of my favorite children's books. I love the illustrations. So beautiful.
Crash Team Racing ~ The only video game I ever loved. I wanted to play this game every single day. 
Barbie ~ I collected the dolls. I also made them talk about life, love, and fashion with each other. Yep.
Beanie Babies ~ I STILL love Beanie Babies. Who doesn't?
Amazing Allie ~ This doll was my best friend back when I didn't have any. We had tea parties together and knew everything about each other. Poor thing. She was loyal to me and I just stuffed her in a wooden chest one day.
American Girl Magazine ~ My favorite magazine as a kid. I always got so excited when a new issue came in the mail. I would sit down and read every page right then and there. I was even published in the magazine once! My first writing success. (With mom's help) ;) I also loved the American Girl books.
The Berenstain Bears ~ I loved the show AND the books.
The NeverEnding Story ~ This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I thought Atreyu was hot. And the storyline was just epic.
Veggie Tales ~ Um, talking fruits and vegetables? Yes please.
Casper ~ The original Casper movie with Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci. It was epic. I watched it all the time, secretly wishing I had a little ghost friend of my own.
Rugrats ~ I was a huge Rugrats fan. I loved all the little adventures they would go on. It was by far my favorite cartoon.
N'Sync ~ I was in love with them. We had tickets and backstage passes to one of their shows when I was in 4th grade, but it got cancelled due to bad weather. I cried all day long and people at school thought I was terminally ill or that someone died.
Britney Spears ~ I saw her in concert three times when I was little. My mom even recorded all of Britney's TV appearances and kept them on a tape for me. I watched the tape every day.
EVERY 80s/90s ANIMATED DISNEY MOVIE ~ If I listed all the Disney movies I was obsessed with as a child, I would be here all day. But some of my absolute favorites were A Bug's Life, The Fox and the Hound, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Toy Story, The Pagemaster, and The Brave Little Toaster.

*Sigh.* This makes me miss my childhood even more.
What did YOU love when you were younger? :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Imagination is never a bad thing

I spent my Saturday night listing the things I loved/was obsessed with when I was younger. I sort of got to re-live my childhood and it made me really happy. I will share the list with you in a later post, but for now, I want to share something that got me thinking tonight. When I was little, I had an imaginary friend. Yep. I am no longer embarrassed to admit that.

I really hate when people make such a big deal out of kids having imaginary friends. I think it's wonderful. This is a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I don't care. I understand that parents want their kids to be socialized and have real friends, but if a kid wants an imaginary friend, let them have one. (After all, imaginary friends are there for you whenever you want them to be.) Imagination should never be discouraged. My mom never discouraged me from having an imaginary friend. She played along and welcomed her into our home.

I've always been very imaginative. I still am to this very day. I believe that imagination shouldn't be discouraged because the kids who live in their own little world and have a big imagination are the kids who grow up to have creative, expressive careers. These are the writers, artists, actors, and musicians.

If you can create imaginary friends, alter egos, etc., you can create ART.

I was the weird kid. I was the outcast. I was the quiet, socially withdrawn girl. That's who I was and who I still am today (Since we're being honest). And I'm not ashamed.

Please excuse me while I go create characters, share my heart and soul through lyrics, inspire others, and pursue my writing dreams. I got my pen, my paper, and my big old imagination. Let's do this.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I don't understand myself

I seriously don't understand myself sometimes. I'm up and down more than a roller coaster. It amazes me how I can sometimes go from being completely euphoric to being completely unhappy all within a day.

Some days, I am productive and driven and go to bed feeling proud of myself. Other days, I sit around complaining that there is nothing on STARZ and eat anything I can get my hands on and go to bed feeling like I wasted another day of my life. Some days, I am a bit OVERLY positive and try to put everyone around me in a good, optimistic mood. Other days, I hate nearly everyone and could almost punch the next person who looks at me wrong and by the end of the day, people are slamming doors in my face. Some days, I make mental lists of why being alive and well is awesome. Other days, I make mental lists of why being alive and well isn't worth it. Some days, I jump out of bed, excited about the day ahead. Other days, I don't feel like getting out of bed at all. Some days, I laugh. Other days, I cry.

And some days, I'm my own best friend. Other days, I'm my own worst enemy. Both the friend and the enemy tend to have an equal influence on me sometimes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bad days CAN get better

I woke up this morning and stubbornly convinced myself that today was going to be a bad day. I told myself that it would be one of those "wake me up when today is over" kind of days. First of all, I woke up to find a bug on my floor. If you know me, it goes without saying that I'm terrified of bugs. ALL bugs except for butterflies and ladybugs. So THAT automatically put me in a bad mood even though my brother picked it up and disposed of it for me. Because then I became all paranoid. "What if it was in my room all night? What if it crawled on me? What if it had babies? What if it comes back to life and hunts me down?" 

Second, my sink has been clogged for the past few days, which is a terrible nuisance for a compulsive dish washer like me. I like the sink to be CLEAR. But I couldn't wash all the dishes because I couldn't rinse them without the sink filling up and then taking 9 billion years to drain. AND I was very low on dish soap. Another nuisance. 

Third, I had a few incomplete writing assignments/projects that needed to be done and I didn't have an ounce of motivation in me at that point. So all I wanted to do was get on Twitter and listen to Pandora radio until the sun went down and it was time for bed. 

So I basically told myself that bad days don't get better. Once a day starts off bad, it all goes downhill from there. I made a mental list of everything that annoyed me, everything I was stressed out about, and everything that was ruining my day. Even though I was pretty much ruining my OWN day by doing so. 

But you know what? As I sit here looking back on my day as a whole, it wasn't so bad. Today was Christina Perri's 25th birthday and I celebrated by watching some of her YouTube videos, listening to her album, and reading her positive tweets/blog posts. Instant mood booster. AND I got off my butt and finished every writing activity that needed to be done and I did it with a positive attitude. My mom even came home to tell me that she "really really really really really" liked a story I wrote, which was one of the writing activities that I completed today. It made me happy because my inner critic told me it sucked. 

I played with my dogs. I saved a caterpillar's life. I watched the Alice in Wonderland movie for the first time. And most importantly, I changed my attitude and refused to have a bad day. I may have had a bad morning, but it's not fair to take it off on the other 8 hours of the day.

So today I learned that bad days CAN get better. Maybe with a song, maybe with a tweet, maybe with a nice compliment, maybe with cute puppies, maybe with an accomplishment, maybe with an epic movie, or maybe with a change in attitude. 

~ Madison :-) 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time flies

Today is my little brother's first day of high school. Oh, how time flies. I didn't completely wrap my head around it until he was out the door this morning. When I look at him though, I don't see him as a high schooler or a young man growing up and coming of age. I see him as my little brother.

I still vividly remember my first day of high school and today is bringing every bit of it back into my mind. I remember wearing a little blue shirt with fabric flowers sewn onto the shoulder. I remember having my hair in pigtails. I remember being terrified and excited at the same time. I remember the highlight of my day being when the boy I was totally in love with gave me a hug. I remember the bell to go back to class ringing as soon as my friend Abigail and I sat down with our lunch trays. I remember being innocent, hopeful, and optimistic. But that was just the first day. I had amazing days and I had horrible days as high school flew by. Overall though, high school treated me well.

I hope it treats my brother well too.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why do most people only get recognized when they displease?

This is just a thought that came to me randomly today and it's one of those things that I can only explain through examples. So take a look:

Instead of telling a person how horrible their new haircut is, why not compliment them on their rad new shoes?

Instead of arguing with your child because they didn't have time to do a certain chore, why not reward them for doing the chores they DID get around to?

Instead of bashing someone for choosing not to go to college, why not commend them for at least graduating high school?

Instead of gossiping about a young girl getting pregnant, why not notice how great of a mother she is?

Instead of telling someone they suck at basketball, why not tell them how great they are at soccer?

I could go on, but this will do.
So I hope you get my point. It seems like most people only feel entitled to point out people's flaws or weaknesses. Or just certain choices that someone else made that they don't agree with.

It's so much easier to build someone up than it is to tear someone down. Why not tell someone how much they mean to you or how proud you are of them instead? I will if you will.

~ Madison

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Keep moving

My goal is to keep this blog as positive as possible. I want to inspire and encourage people rather than put a damper on their mood. With that being said, I also want people to relate to me and know that I have bad days too. I don't want people to think that I'm a ray of sunshine all the time. I get discouraged, I get my feelings hurt, and I run into obstacles. I want to share it all with you guys.

Now on with the subject. I often compare living life to travelling down a road/taking a road trip to a desired destination. Isn't that what we're all doing? Going on a journey until we reach our desired destination? But the trip will not always go exactly as planned.

So my point is that sometimes we will come to a dead end and have to turn around and find another way. Sometimes it will get stormy and we will have to pull over and wait it out. Sometimes we will get lost and panic. Sometimes we will run low on gas and have to figure out a way to fuel ourselves back up again.

But does that mean that we should ever just stop moving and stand in the middle of the road? NO.

No matter what happens or what unexpected/unwanted curveballs are thrown your way, the important thing is that you keep moving.

"It's not about how many times you fall. It's about how many times you get back up."

~ Madison <3

Friday, July 29, 2011

Downside of being a writer

I just went through some old journal entries and lyrics I wrote from a time in my life where my self-esteem was pretty nonexistent. Why? Because I'm trying to sort of take myself back to that time in order to write a story for a major website that I'm a big fan of. I want to write something good. Something raw and real. I want to really connect with the readers and inspire them if my story gets accepted for this website. That would be a huge honor and I'm taking it very seriously.

SO ANYWAYS. Reading those old journal entries and lyrics messed me up a little bit. I was sitting there reading them and thinking, "Why am I doing this to myself right now? Why am I forcing myself to re-live the past?" I'll tell you why. For the sake of making my story good, like I said above. Sometimes, as a writer, you have to take yourself back to the times when you were in pain. The times when you were at your lowest point. For the sake of writing something that's real, honest, and vulnerable. There have been many times in my writer life where I had to rip open old stitches and reach inside the wounds to pull out something worth sharing for the sake of a writing project. It's not an easy thing to do. But it's necessary sometimes.

They say to leave the past in the past. But I had to pay the past a little visit today for the sake of this next project. But if you ask me, this verge-of-tears-with-a-heavy-heart state that I'm in right now will be worth it when I write an epic, true story about overcoming inner monsters.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My First Obstacle

I wrote this in my journal last night and decided to share...

There's a girl trapped inside of me. She's a girl who knows what she wants but isn't a hundred percent sure how to get there yet. She's a girl who has been waiting to accomplish some of the same things for the past three years, but has done everything she can on her end. She's bold, creative, ambitious, and loves to express herself. She needs change and lots of it. She needs the strength to let go of her fear. She needs money and a driver's license. She needs a vacation. She needs life breathed back into her.

Something is in this girl's way. It's like being on the other side of a brick wall, desperately trying to figure out a way to break through it. They say that the only person who can stand in your way is you. Maybe that's true and maybe it isn't. Maybe I'm standing in my own way. Maybe my mom is standing in my way. Maybe everyone expects me to grow up except her because I'm her little girl and always will be. Maybe fear is in my way. Maybe it's doubt. Maybe it's sheer confusion or a hunger for answers. Maybe it's the ten million questions that run through my head at night. Maybe it's the fact that I plan more than I practice. Maybe it's just a lack of patience.

What I do know is that I've stumbled into my first obstacle. Something is holding me back and it's not me. It can't be me. I've done everything I can to progress in life except scream the words of this journal entry at the top of my lungs. This girl inside me grows larger every day. She will eventually either break through or become cramped and lost and wither away into the depths of hopelessness again. 

Dear mom, please let me grow.
Dear fear, please go away.
Dear ocean of thoughts, please stay calm.
Dear desires, please be patient.
Dear ambitious heart, please come back.
Dear Universe, please listen.
Dear unknown obstacle, please move.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I believe in you

I'm not the type of person who steps on other people's dreams. When someone tells me their dreams, plans, or goals in life, they need not worry about me scoffing about it or discouraging them. Everyone is put on this Earth to fulfill a journey and I commend the people who follow through with that journey despite nay-sayers.

I believe in ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I have a lot of respect for people who believe in their path and listen to their gut instead of listening to other people. I've come to realize that in the end, the only person who can stand in the way of your happiness is YOU. You can choose to listen to negativity and let that slow you down or you can block it out and go on your merry way. I'm definitely not saying it's easy to completely ignore criticism. It's not. I've been there. It takes a lot of self development to grow out of allowing yourself to be influenced by other people. Sometimes you have to just isolate yourself from everyone and work on fixing yourself. Remove yourself from people who wreak havoc on your self-esteem and surround yourself with people who believe in you and want you to succeed in whatever you do in life. That's the first step.

I'm still working on myself and I have a long way to go. But I took the initial step of saying, "enough is enough" and took myself away from negativity. That's when I started to blossom. That's when I started to dream. That's when I started to hope.

I believe in you. Go out into that big scary world and do whatever the hell you want. Life is too short to seek approval from others.

<3 Madison

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A random, inspiring thought

My soul is opening
My wounds are closing
My heart is soaring
My strength is growing

I'm alone, but I'm living.

Friday, July 15, 2011

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was falling apart
This time last year everything was different
This time last year I was lost in the dark
This time last year came and went

If I could go back and talk to the girl I was back then,
I would tell her to be her own best friend
I would tell her that she would be okay
Just not today

This time last year I could've sworn it was the end of my life
This time last year no one understood my pain
This time last year I was screaming and bleeding inside
This time last year I didn't know about today

If I could go back and talk to the girl I was back then,
I would tell her to be her own best friend
I would tell her that she would be okay
Just not today
Just not today

The longer you walk down the tunnel, the closer to the light you'll get
You may feel hopeless now, but you never know what's next

If I could go back and talk to the girl I was back then,
I would tell her to be her own best friend
I would tell her that she would be okay
Just not today

If I could go back and talk to the girl I was back then,
I would tell her to be her own best friend
I would tell her that she would be okay
Just not today


Yeah...I've been writing lyrics for almost five years.
And this is lyric poem #230

Fun fact :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Everyone has a story

Something that has always fascinated me is the idea that everyone in this world has a story. Everyone has gone through something that changed or shaped them. Everyone has experienced pain and/or joy. Everyone learns lessons as they grow up. I always find myself looking around at all these people and thinking, she has a story, he has a story, they have a story. I love hearing people's stories. And I listen.

Just a thought.

~ Madison

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm just done.

I'm done speaking up because no one gets it.
I'm done trying to please other people.
I'm done falling asleep and waking up with a lump in my chest.
I'm done listening to negativity and narrow-minded comments.
I'm done sitting around and waiting for something to happen.
I'm done letting people in.
I'm done leaving incomplete goal sheets lying around.
I'm done conforming to the expectations of society.
I'm done being treated like I don't exist.
I'm done explaining my reasons behind every decision I make.
I'm done letting unhappy thoughts seep back in.
I'm done being ignored.
I'm done thinking about the people who have hurt me.
I'm done faking smiles.
I'm done getting discouraged.

I'm just done.

Why am I so quiet? Because no one ever listens.

"And all the while I feel I'm standing in the middle of a crowded room screaming at the top of my lungs and no one even looks up."

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies.

And I feel this way all the time...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's the simple things

I'm not a hard person to please. I'm also not a hard person to displease. BUT that's not what this post is about. The simple things have always brought me the most joy in life. I've always appreciated simple, beautiful things that other people take for granted. Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the fresh air.

I love songs that give me goosebumps or bring me to tears.
I love baking cakes while blasting pop music in the kitchen.
I love how happy my dogs are to see me each morning.
I love snuggling up with a good book in a quiet, peaceful room.
I love the sound of rain and ocean waves.
I love laughing at my own lame jokes.
I love grocery shopping with my mom.
I love riding in the car at night.
I love giant bowls of ice cream.
I love hearing people's stories and having people listen to mine.
I love writing in my journal under the covers in the middle of the night.
I love the feeling of the wind blowing my hair back.
I love simple, sincere compliments.
I love long walks around my neighborhood.
I love "too tight" hugs.
I love pictures of landscapes.
I love sitting in bed and blogging about the simple things I love.

And I love YOU for actually reading all this.

Good books and bad guys

I plowed through this book in two days. Keltie is one of my favorite bloggers, so I was obviously beyond thrilled to start reading her book. It's a beautiful work of raw, honest nonfiction and I am NOT lying when I say I got very emotionally attached while reading it. I know that writing this book must've taken lots of blood, sweat, and tears, considering it's one of the most personal books I've ever read in my life. Keltie shares her joy, pain, struggles, and life realizations and it spans over the course of about ten years of her life. As I read it, I felt her fear, I felt her excitement, and most of all, I felt her pain. This is the part where I go off on another topic. But before I do, this is a good book. I liked it. It didn't let me down. NOW I shall get off topic.

Something I've learned about love so far is that the perfect, cheesy, poetic, wonderful, prince charming of a guy who says things like, "You're the only girl for me" or "I'll never hurt you" or "You have the face of an angel" are the ones who are going to hurt you the most. I'm not one to be stereotypical, but this is my blog and I feel the need to be VERY stereotypical about this. I'm speaking from experience here AND speaking on account of some of the things I read in this book. If guys try to pull the whole "I'm sweet, charming, perfect and want no other girl except you" card....RUN. Don't even walk, sprint, or skip. Run like hell and don't look over your shoulder. Most girls who are hopeless romantics would probably roll their eyes and look over this blog post without a care in the world. But they've had fair warning. Ok. I'm ranting. I'll get to the point. Genuine guys do not act like Disney movie guys. It's an act. Trust me. If a guy is being overly wonderful and almost TOO nice and perfect, I can ALMOST promise you he's treating some other girl (or girls) the exact same way. These are the cheaters, the liars, the users, and the heartbreakers. Again, I AM SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE. Go for the guy who stays up eating pizza with you until one in the morning. Go for the guy who makes you laugh without trying. Go for the guy who thinks flowers and horse drawn carriages are overrated. Go for the guy who could pass as your brother or best friend or bodyguard. Go for the guy who will threaten to beat the living crap out of anyone who hurts you. THESE are the keepers. Not the guy who is too nice, too innocent, or too wonderful. These are the guys with secrets. These are the guys who will leave you crying on the bathroom floor at 4am. These are the guys who don't deserve you and most importantly, you don't deserve THEM.

Reading this book proved my theory about overly wonderful guys to be even more correct. I love Keltie for sharing such a deep and personal pain with the whole world.

Read this book. Protect your heart. And remember your self worth.

Keltie Colleen's blog:

Monday, July 4, 2011

My love for San Francisco

I visited California for the first time ever a few months ago. I still think about it all the time. It was my first time flying in an airplane. It was my first time being three thousand miles away from home. I loved every minute of it. The cramped plane ride. My view of snow covered mountain tops as I flew farther away from home. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor of my cousin's home and using the ironing board as a table for my purse. The faint glow inside the fish tank in my temporary room. Eating a bowl of Kix for breakfast every morning. Coffee shops with cute waiters. Meeting one of the nicest girls I've ever met in my life. People playing guitar on the side of the road for spare change. Big, sparkling buildings.

And San Francisco. We spent one day in San Francisco while I was there and I fell in love. No, I seriously fell in love. With the people, with the history, with the Golden Gate Bridge, with the music, with the culture, with the food, with the ocean smell. Everything.

I go back there all the time. In my head.

And I wrote this blog post to help me remember how happy I felt while I was there. I was happier than I seemed and I wish I would've acted as happy as I really was. Because for the first time in my life...I was infinite.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Christina Perri

In addition to sharing my pain, joy, and life realizations with you all, I also want to share my interests. I'm a huge music lover and my newest favorite artist is Christina Perri. I discovered her one morning while I was watching music videos on Vh1. Her video for "Jar of Hearts" came on and I was captivated. I love music videos that portray dark, intense emotion. I remember thinking, "Who is this chick? She's incredible. I love this song and I love this video! I will probably buy her album someday." And I did! I've been listening to her debut album "Lovestrong" every single day. It calms me down and forces me to feel. She speaks to my soul. Her voice is unique and pure and her music is honest and real.

Not only do I feel inspired by her music, I also feel inspired by her life story. She's so strong. She never gave up and always looked at the positive side of things. It inspired ME to be the same way.

Just thought I'd show her some love...

Check out her website if you've never heard of her: 

I am already painfully aware of my flaws

"I know my flaws before other people point them out to me." ~ Taylor Swift

We all have flaws. We all have fears. We all have traits we're not thrilled about. I'm not perfect, the person sitting next to me isn't perfect, and the people who feel the need to tell me everything that's wrong with me definitely are not perfect. I personally choose to focus on my strengths, not my weaknesses. Those weaknesses are in the back of my mind. Having people blatantly point out those weaknesses doesn't help me. I don't handle criticism well, which is one of the main reasons why I like to be alone all the time. Criticism hurts. It hurts, it burns, it damages, and it scars.

Needless to say, I had my flaws pointed out to me in great detail today. They were analyzed and over analyzed. Wonderful. I feel like a million bucks now. Thanks.

People are GOING to criticize you. There's no avoiding it. No matter who you are or what you do, SOMEONE is going to find something wrong with it. I think you just have to be strong-minded to ease the burn of criticism. You just have to pick yourself back up when people knock you down. Because you're enough just the way you are...and there's always room for improvement. YOU be the judge of what you want or need to change about yourself. Don't let other people do it for you.

I'm human. I'm young. And I'm still learning.

~ Madison