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 :-)