Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Addressing uncomfortable nighttime thoughts

"Every human being on the face of the Earth has a steel plate in his head, but if you lie down now and then and get as still as you can, it will slide open like elevator doors, letting in all the secret thoughts that have been standing around so patiently, pushing the button for a ride to the top. The real troubles in life happen when those hidden doors stay closed for too long. But that's just my opinion."

~ The Secret Life of Bees

I just finished reading The Secret Life of Bees for the second time (it's one of my favorite books on planet universe) and I dog-eared the page with this excerpt on it because it is sooo relevant.

We can easily distract ourselves throughout the day as we go about our daily routines. But at night, when we lie down to go to sleep, we're not safe from those thoughts in the back of our minds. When we don't have anything distracting us, those thoughts bob up to the surface like a rubber ducky in a bathtub.

I think the thoughts and feelings that bob up at the end of the day are the thoughts and feelings we need to address the most. Because until we do, they will continue to bob up every single night.

I fall into my most vulnerable state during nighttime hours. You can sometimes find me lying awake and staring at the ceiling or writing in my journal at two o'clock in the morning. That's because everything that I easily stuff down during the day comes right back up at night. And then I have to sit with all of it. And it's uncomfortable.

But all of those thoughts and feelings are trying to tell us something.

Turn those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings into useful realizations instead. I turn my uncomfortable thoughts into realizations all the time. I just have to be willing to break those thoughts open and look inside.

<3 Madison

p.s. I hope this made sense...I sort of rambled.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Who made you King of Anything?

In case you didn't know, this title was inspired by the song "King of Anything" by Sara Bareilles. That song is FIERCE. I kind of want to stand on top of a table and sing it whenever someone judges my personal life decisions. But that's not what this post is about...

First of all, I don't exactly consider this to be a self-help blog. I basically just spill my guts, life lessons, and personal ramblings here. HOWEVER, my entire soul leaps with joy when people tell me that I've inspired or helped them in any way. I do love helping people and making people's hearts feel better. So I consider that to be a huge accomplishment. 

And second of all, I actually love self-help blogs---the honest and vulnerable ones. So maybe that's where my influence comes from.

But I kinda sorta despise it when self-help bloggers act like they have all the answers or that they never experience pain and struggle. They come across as really preachy and obnoxious. Like...I understand that your job is to tell people how they should solve their problems or whatever, but if you sit there and act like YOU don't have problems, no one is going to take you seriously.

I personally don't want to listen to someone who talks AT me, rather than TO me. When someone makes me feel like they're in the same boat as I am, I'm more prone to listen and take in what they have to say. I relate to them. I don't relate to people who pretend to be robots from Planet I-Got-My-Shit-Together.

I am not a robot. I am a human.

I prefer to read blog posts like this... http://keltiecolleen.buzznet.com/user/journal/17231997/heartblog-hate-myself-little/

And this... http://www.theunlost.com/life-in-general/the-declaration-of-real-the-crushing-of-the-world-of-fake/

And also this... http://tinybuddha.com/blog/its-okay-to-not-be-okay/

So allow me to just strip myself down and be really honest here.

I'm not always happy and I don't always love myself...Sometimes I'm a complete mess and I absolutely hate myself.

I'm not an expert at navigating life and love...I can barely navigate my own freaking neighborhood, much less life and love.

I don't always bust through obstacles like a fearless bastard...Sometimes I stand in front of obstacles and try to will them away with my mind.

I don't always treat people with unconditional love and respect...I drive people away and screw up relationships all the time.

I don't always feel like looking for the lessons within my struggles...Sometimes all I want to do is curl up into a ball on the bathroom floor.

I don't always give the best advice...Sometimes I wonder why people even listen to a word I say.

I don't always know what I'm doing or where I'm going...Sometimes I have no freaking idea.

Self-help isn't about standing above other people. It's about standing beside them.

<3 Madison

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let yourself be happy

I'm in a ridiculously good mood this morning. What is this?! 

That exact thought crossed my mind as I was making my coffee this morning. I just woke up in a good mood for no reason in particular and that was enough to make me wonder why I was so gosh-darned happy in the first place. (Did I just say gosh-darned?)

Anyway. I have this habit of questioning my emotions. Like there has to be a solid reason behind every single one or else I'm stupid for feeling it.

And usually, whenever I'm feeling a positive emotion like happiness or excitement, I instinctively tell myself that it won't last forever and that I might as well enjoy it while it lasts---which doesn't exactly help me enjoy it.

So today I've decided to put my foot down on this silly habit. If I'm happy, then I'm going to be happy, damn it. If I'm excited, I'm going to be excited. Why should there have to be a reason? Why should I have to justify it?

This rule should apply to EVERY emotion. Don't question it or stuff it down. JUST FEEL IT.

If you're happy, let yourself be happy. Don't let that nasty little voice in your head tell you that you have no reason to be or that you don't deserve to be.

I deserve to feel happy. And so do you.

<3 Madison

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nostalgic ramblings: Growing up sucks

I've recently started watching re-runs of Boy Meets World on MTV. (I can't believe I forgot to include this show in my post, "A trip down memory lane"~ http://journeyofasoulsearcher.blogspot.com/2011/08/trip-down-memory-lane.html)

I was watching a movie on the DVR a few weeks ago, and when I finished watching it and returned to live TV, I noticed that Boy Meets World was on and I just HAD to drop everything to watch it. I felt about 90 different emotions as I sat there watching a show I had not seen in years. I just sat there gaping at the TV like a blind woman seeing for the first time.

So yesterday, I wondered, "Hmm...I wonder what all these talented, adorable cast members are up to these days." So I googled it. And although I already assumed they were all grown up now, I was still pretty shocked to see them...Well, all grown up. They're like in their thirties and some of them even have facial hair and premature wrinkles. (Gasp) But seriously. It kind of freaked me out.

And then I realized something. GROWING UP freaks me out. The breakneck speed of time passage freaks me out.

And then I realized something else. Growing up is the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life...And I'm not even trying to do it. Time is doing it. Aging is doing it. Being a normal, growing human being (something we all are) is doing it. It's the hardest thing to me because I have no control over it. I'm a recovering control freak (My recovery isn't going so well), and when something that I have no control over starts happening, I have this instinct to crawl under my bed in a fetal position and repeatedly tell myself that I wish whatever was happening could just stop happening...Knowing full well that it won't.

I can't stop time. I can't hand pick an age that I want to remain forever. I know that I have to keep moving forward and suck it up, but I'm not totally sure I even know how to do that.

We all go through countless phases and chapters in our lives, but I think the hardest one we go through is going from being a kid to being an adult. It almost happens overnight. We spend 18-20 years of our lives being taken care of and having minimal responsibilities and then all of a sudden, we have to pay bills and drive cars and get our hearts broken and work our asses off. And we soon forget how it feels to just BE.

I was babysitting my 4-year old cousin a couple of months ago, and she was just so fully involved in every moment. She wasn't sitting around dwelling on past regrets and worrying about future accomplishments. She just played with toys and ate cookies and drew pictures and got so excited about the slightest things. All I remember thinking was, "I hope this child never has to grow up." But she will. She will grow up and get hurt, stressed out, and scared just like the rest of us. It's sad, really. Inevitable, I know...But still sad.

So here I stand on the shore...Staring out at a foggy, vast ocean full of scary things like sharks and the risk of drowning. I wait and wait and wait for someone to bring me some floaties or at least build me a boat. But I realize that I'm waiting for nothing because I know that I have to build my own boat and be brave enough to sail that ocean WITHOUT floaties.

So I continue to stand, trying to memorize the feeling of the warm, safe sand beneath my feet before I inevitably have to walk away from it forever.

I'm sad.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The elimination of the phrase, "if only..."

A marathon of "if onlys" ran through my mind last night and it sent me to bed feeling kind of poo-ish. I don't enjoy feeling poo-ish, and I don't think any of you guys enjoy it either.

I've read a few articles here and there about how saying or thinking, "if only ___" is damaging and unproductive. I've always agreed with that, yet I still do it. Just like last night.

"If only I had my driver's license, maybe people would accept me."

As you may or may not know, I'm nineteen years old and I don't have my driver's license. Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and laugh. Everyone else does. Well...not everyone. But most people.

What I realized is that there will always be more "if onlys". Even after you obtain that thing you thought would bring you all of the happiness and acceptance you had been chasing, there will be even more "if onlys" just around the corner. And they will continue to snowball until you choose to eliminate the words, "if only" from your vocabulary altogether.

After I get my license (Lol), the following thoughts could arise:

"If only I had more gas money, maybe people would accept me."
"If only I had a sense of direction, maybe people would accept me."
"If only I could park without taking up nine spots at once, maybe people would accept me."

The same rule applies if you're using the words "if only" to dwell on past regrets.

For example, here's one of mine: "If only I had taken that opportunity to go to Australia for six months as a foreign exchange student, I would feel happier and less fearful."

This isn't productive thinking either because I didn't take that opportunity and as much as I regret it, whining about it won't do any good.

So whether you have your eye on something you don't have yet and you think having it will make you feel happy and accepted, or you're dwelling on something you could've had, but didn't get, try to get into the habit of eliminating these thoughts NOW before they snowball LATER.

We're missing out on the moments and opportunities that are right in front of us when we spend our time saying and thinking, "if only..."

Don't go to bed feeling poo-ish tonight like I did last night.

<3 Madison

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 Things to Remind Yourself

Come hither my friends and check out my article on MindBodyGreen! http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3986/10-Things-to-Remind-Yourself-on-a-Daily-Basis.html (Thanks MBG!)

Thank you to everyone who read and commented! I would reply to you all, but I think I need a Facebook in order to do that and I do not have one at the moment. (I know. I'm L A M E.)

And I just want to say how truly grateful I feel when people tell me that I've helped them in any way. That really is the ultimate goal. I love helping people, connecting with people, and making people feel better, happier, less alone, etc.

I hope you enjoy the article!

<3 Madison

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free soul pancakes!

Today, I am giving away some free soul pancakes because I'm just nice like that. First of all, I would like to give credit to Keltie Colleen for the term "soul pancake." A soul pancake is basically anything that fills up your soul and makes you feel fulfilled, inspired, less alone, empowered, etc.

I get my soul pancakes from many different sources, but I mostly get them by reading blogs. I'm not a crazed, obsessive blog reader who keeps up with five hundred billion blogs, but I do have a few favorites. Obviously, Tiny Buddha is at the top of the list. If you read my blog on a regular basis, I'm sure you probably already knew that. But today, I want to share three different blogs that I found through Tiny Buddha. I am TELLING you...If you want to find some good blogs to read, browse through some Tiny Buddha contributors'. That's basically where I've found about 98% of the blogs I read.

Plus, I just really love giving shout-outs to deserving peeps. If I admire you, I'm going to let you know. If you mean something to me, I'm going to let you know. If I think you've done a fantastic job on something, I'm going to let you know.

So let's do this. First, I will talk a little bit about each blog and then I am going to share three of my favorite posts from each of those blogs. I really hope you enjoy and find these posts as rad as I do.

The Unlost: Therese Schwenkler is the founder of this blog and she basically writes about the uncertainty of life. Let's be honest here. No one on planet Earth has any freaking idea what they're doing. We're all just walking around searching for purpose, setting goals and hoping they pan out, and trying not to drown in all of the inevitable pain, fear, and struggle that comes with being alive. This is all pretty serious and relevant stuff, but what I love about Therese is that she makes it funny. All of her posts have a very light tone. You can tell that she doesn't take life too seriously or cry "woe is me" from the rooftops. Life is inevitably going to suck for all of us sometimes and we're all going to feel lost and confused, so we might as well just laugh it off and go through it together.

My favorite posts from The Unlost:

Dearest Sweet Honey Child: Do You Know That You're Never Alone?: http://www.theunlost.com/life-in-general/dearest-sweet-honey-child-do-you-know-that-youre-never-alone/ Bursting into tears in the middle of Starbucks actually sounds a lot like something I would do. I have a lot of moments where I look around at other people (OR I could just be sitting in my dark, quiet bedroom all by myself) and start to feel this overwhelming, face-punching feeling of loneliness. This also happens when I'm going through something and I convince myself that no one else in the universe could possibly know how it feels to go through it. But that's really not true. No matter how alone you may feel, the truth is, you're not. If you're feeling alone today, read this post.

Why I'm Getting Naked For 3,737 People: http://www.theunlost.com/life-in-general/why-i%E2%80%99m-getting-naked-for-3737-people/ This post is all about vulnerability---stripping yourself down to the real you and exposing your pain, fears, insecurities, flaws, etc. I think vulnerability is a huge connecting factor. It's a major turnoff to pretend that you know all the answers and that you're just this radiant beam of awesomeness all the time. It's okay to let your walls down. Letting mine down has brought more people into my life that ever came when those walls were up. If you're feeling trapped behind a wall or facade today, read this post.

Confessions of a Freakishly Nerdy Blogger: Why I'm Leaving My Job, My House, and My Life As I Know It: http://www.theunlost.com/work/confessions-of-a-freakishly-nerdy-blogger/ I already had mad respect for Therese before she wrote this, but this post makes me have raging respect for her. I really really really admire people who will risk everything just to follow their gut. Even when everyone else is like, "WTF are you DOING???" I think life is too short to not follow your gut. If you're passionate about something and it feels right to you, then I really think you should trust that instinct. Your instincts are YOURS, not someone else's. No one else can know how something makes you feel deep down in your guts. If you have a gut instinct that you're afraid to listen to today, read this post.

The Last Broken Home: Adam Alvarado is the founder of this blog and he writes about his journey from teen depression to self-esteem and explores his own personal definition of a broken home. We have all gone through something in our lives that has kept us from being the person we want to be---the person we can and should be. We come out of the womb as a perfect, unscathed little human and then we go through a bunch of shit and it makes us scarred, fearful, and insecure. Adam writes about not letting your past dictate your future, basically. The process of letting go of past pain and working on ourselves can feel like the equivalent of climbing up Mount Everest by our fingernails, but if we want change badly enough, we can make it happen. And we all deserve that. As someone who hated myself and felt depressed for a little over a year, I can tell you that learning to feel better about myself was a daily challenge. It still is. But it is a fight worth fighting.

My favorite posts from The Last Broken Home: 

Explaining Teen Depression: The Effect of Broken Homes, pt 1: http://thelastbrokenhome.com/teenage-depression-1/ So there is a part from this one that kind of made me cry. (Yes, I am the one who admitted to bursting into tears in the comment section). This is somewhat of an introductory post where Adam explains his definition of a broken home. It's all very interesting and true. And kind of sad. If you're feeling inadequate today, read this post. (There is also a part two, which is great as well.)

Why Should You Trust Your Instincts? Your Tummy Says So...: http://thelastbrokenhome.com/trust-instinct/ This is an interesting thought. When you're hungry, what do you do? The most common answer would be to find some food, right? (I hope) But when you have an instinct or a gut feeling (which kinda sorta comes from the same place as hunger), what do you do? Do you follow it or do you fight/ignore it? If you're having trouble trusting your instincts today, read this post.

Living at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone, The Tip of Your Fears: http://thelastbrokenhome.com/comfort-zone/ I know what you might be thinking because I thought the same thing at first. "UGGHHH. ANOTHER BLOG POST ABOUT FACING MY FEARS! I DON'T WANT TO FACE MY FEARS. THEY'RE TOO SCARY." But this one is different. This post doesn't make you feel like you SHOULD face your fears or that you HAVE to face your fears (or else). It makes you actually WANT to face them. At least, for me it did. By the time I finished reading this, I almost wanted to leap out of bed and face all of my fears at the exact same time. I love the answer he gave his parents when they asked him why on Earth he wanted to fly to the Middle East all by himself. "Because it scares the shit out of me." I have this theory that if we all do at least one thing that scares the shit out of us, we will come out of it a changed person. If you're feeling ambitious, yet afraid, read this post.

Own Your Life: An Bourmanne is the founder of this blog and she writes about living your own life instead of someone else's. She shares simple, yet extremely powerful/inspiring thoughts and the first time I looked at this website, I completely lost track of time and stayed on for almost an hour just browsing through it. It really makes me feel like (WAIT FOR IT) it's actually OKAY to make my own decisions and do what makes ME happy. Who knew?

My favorite posts from Own Your Life: 

Notes from a recovering comparison junkie: http://ownyourlifecoaching.com/?p=1667 This seriously blew my mind. I am so guilty of comparing myself to other people, no matter how hard I try not to. We all feel the need to compare ourselves to other people sometimes. But we're not them. We're us. If you're feeling less than good enough today, read this post.

How fitting in can make a girl all teary-eyed: http://ownyourlifecoaching.com/?p=1607 I love this so much. I think the contact lense story was a beautiful and creative way to set the tone for the message of this post. We don't always have to do things the "official way" or the way everyone else does them. We have every right to do things our way. We can choose what feels right to each of us as individuals. If you're trying to fit in or live up to certain expectations against your will today, read this post.

Beauty: http://ownyourlifecoaching.com/?p=1896 Honesty is beautiful. Individuality is beautiful. Speaking your mind is beautiful. If you don't feel special or important enough, read this post.

Well, that about wraps it up, guys. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy your soul pancakes, and please show these amazeballs bloggers some love.

Happy first day of February! :-)

<3 Madison