Monday, July 30, 2012

Giving change a chance

The Dollar General store, that I know like the back of my hand and have been going to on a bi-weekly basis for years, recently closed down and moved elsewhere. This all happened pretty quickly, and all that's left of it now is a barren white room---like something out of the Twilight Zone.

Strange how something I had become so accustomed to had been swept away so quickly and with little warning.

Yesterday, I finally and somewhat reluctantly went to the new Dollar General to pick up a few things. It was my first time going in there, and while I was sort of looking forward to seeing what it looked like inside, I couldn't help but miss the old store---the one that felt familiar to me.

But the new store actually turned out to be pretty cool. I was especially fond of the automatic doors, considering there were NOT automatic doors at the old store. No more awkwardly attempting to shuffle my shopping cart through the door while random strangers stare at me and wonder if they should help or not.

Don't get me wrong. I still miss the old store and the proximity of it to my house. Like I said, I had been shopping at that store for years and effortlessly knew my way around. I still haven't adjusted to the new store. It's rather large, and I'm probably bound to get lost at some point. Or get frustrated because I have no idea which aisle the maple syrup is on. But I will eventually get used to this change, and the new Dollar General will become just as familiar as the old one in due time.

So I guess the moral of this incredibly boring story is to give change a chance instead of making up your mind that it's going to suck before the change has even taken place.

This isn't a happy clappy post about how wonderful change is and how you should embrace it. It would be extremely hypocritical for me to sit here and tell you all of that because I hate change and struggle to come to terms with it on a daily basis.

But that mundane little trip to the new Dollar General yesterday taught me about giving change a chance. (I find inspiration in the strangest places.) It taught me to NOT make up my mind about how something is going to be before I've even given it a try.

So that's all I wanted to share today. I hope you all have a wonderful week. :-)

<3 Madison    


Friday, July 20, 2012

We all grow up (Ways to recapture life through the eyes of a child)

As you probably all know by now, I think growing up sucks and has been one of the greatest challenges in my life so far---that nightmarish, almost overnight transition from kid to adult.

A few people have responded to my attitude towards growing up by telling me that no one ever really HAS to grow up. In a way, I understand what they mean (and I'll get to that later), but actually, we DO grow up. All of us. Whether we like it or not, every single one of us grows up and gets older.

We have to face responsibilities.

We eventually have to let go of certain things.

At family gatherings, questions like "Did you have fun on the playground today?" turn into questions like "What are you doing with your life, and will I approve?"

Things change, and life doesn't slow down for anyone. So yes, we DO have to grow up.

But there are some ways we can practice seeing life through the eyes of a child again, and I want to share those ways with you. If I miss anything, feel free to share your own ways in the comments.

~ Ways to recapture life through the eyes of a child ~

1. Stay present. Children don't spend time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Whatever they're experiencing, they experience it fully. They know how to be involved in every moment. I know "stay present" is one of the oldest sayings ever, but it's something I try to practice regularly.

2. Tell the truth. Younger children are very honest, and most of them don't understand the concept of lying. Ask them what they saw, they'll tell you what they saw. Ask them what someone said, they'll tell you what that person said. Ask them how they feel, they'll tell you how they feel. It's okay to be honest with yourself and others---unless you're protecting yourself or someone else from a potential threat or something. (Example ~ You're shopping at a somewhat shady and deserted grocery store in the middle of the night when two large, intimidating dudes approach you and ask if you're alone. Obviously, you'd tell them that your 250 pound body guard wasn't far behind.)

3. Be amazed. Everything is exciting to children. When they discover something new, all is right in the world. They take the time to really notice things. There is always something to be amazed about. Just look around.

4. Stop judging others. Children see human beings as nothing more than human beings. They don't care about your social status, financial status, the way you look, your sexuality, what you do for a living, what you do or don't have, etc. They see you as a person. Treat people like human beings, and don't label them or put them in a box based on your opinion of them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding what keeps you going

I sometimes wonder if I confuse you guys with my frequent thought/mood swings. I'll write something super inspiring, and people will be like, "Wow, you really know what you're talking about" or "You sound like you're on the right track." And then there are days where I'll write something super depressing, and it sort of gives away the fact that I have NO idea what I'm talking about or that maybe I'm NOT on the right track.

It must be an early twenties kind of thing. I'm in the "figuring shit out" phase. The truth is, when I write something inspiring, it's because I'm feeling inspiring that day. And when I write something dark or pensive, it's because I'm feeling dark or pensive that day.

I read a fact the other day that 75% of our thoughts and feelings are delivered by our subconscious minds. So we can read inspiring books, quotes, and articles all day long, but when we're feeling or thinking anything negative, we seem to forget about everything we've learned and immediately shift into the "woe is me" mindset. When you're in a bad mood, it's highly unlikely that you'll think about or even remember that article you read two months ago about how to turn your bad mood around---even if you thought it was incredibly inspiring and life-changing at the time.

So I've discovered that one way to solve this problem is to keep the things that matter to you and the things you want to remember in front of you as much as possible---All those things you forget about when you're convinced that the world is coming to an end and that life can't possibly go on. You need to find what keeps you going.

When I tell myself that I'm all alone and that no one cares about me, I look at pictures of my family, friends, and pets, and remember that I am more loved than I will ever realize.

When I tell myself that I'm a crappy writer and that I will never be as good as *insert name of talented writer/blogger here,* I read the nice comments, emails, and tweets from you guys, and remember that there are many people who don't think I'm a crappy writer at all.

When I tell myself that my life is going nowhere and that I will grow up to be a vagrant, I remind myself of how far I've come and the things that I've accomplished so far, and remember that I am capable of continuing to move forward and accomplish even more things.

Find the things that keep YOU going. And keep those things in front of you, not behind you.

Big hug from me: {{{{ }}}}

<3 Madison


Friday, July 6, 2012

Your heart always wins.

We all do it---place protective shields around our hearts, distract ourselves from our emotions, and run like the wind when someone or something threatens to chip away that shield or make distracting ourselves impossible.

I always get caught up in this cycle of letting myself feel what I feel and then eventually doing everything in my power to make sure I don't have to feel what I feel.

I'll let myself feel vulnerable and open to any pain that's inside my heart, but as soon as that pain gets too uncomfortable or too vast, I feel weak and begin doing everything I can to numb it.

I used to (and still do sometimes) wake up every morning and dive headfirst into any kind of distraction I could find, whether it be listening to loud music, drowning myself in work or studies, or watching hours of TV and/or movies. I'd fill every possible open minute of my day with SOMETHING that didn't involve sitting with myself and letting my heart or soul writhe in discomfort. And then before going to bed each night, I would take Advil PM so I could avoid that window of time before sleep when your mind starts wandering and reminding you of everything that feels wrong in your life. I also wanted to avoid the possibility of not falling asleep at all, which is the absolute worst thing in the world when you don't like yourself very much.

As long as we're alive, we are inevitably going to be at war with our hearts at some point---way more than once.

It's almost like a survival instinct to avoid this kind of pain.

We avoid giving our hearts to that person who has the power to shatter it into a million pieces at any given moment---as if our hearts are sensitive bombs that could go off if placed in the wrong hands.

We ignore our gut instincts, the whispers of our soul, and that little voice in the back of our minds.

We work, sleep, and drink away our feelings all to avoid surrendering to them.

Because when at war, we never want to surrender, right? We never want to be the one waving that white flag in the end.

So we fight away our feelings, fight away our desires, and fight away our instincts.

Yet we still end up losing somehow. Nothing good or fulfilling ever comes out of doing any of the above actions. 

The truth is, your heart always wins the battle in the end. It's stubborn, and it refuses to be reasoned with.

What if we gave ourselves permission to surrender? What if we lied down and stopped fighting? What if we looked at it as letting go instead of giving up?

I am trying so hard to stop fighting with my own heart.

<3 Madison