Friday, December 13, 2013

Thoughts on humanity

My younger brother shared the following Edgar Allen Poe quote with me the other day: "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."

It's an interesting quote and probably means different things to different people. But for me, it suggests that people who release their inner insanity are possibly the sanest of us all...

I believe we all have insanity inside of us---darkness, emotional complexity, tangled thoughts and feelings, the desire to lash out like a toddler from hell when we're having a bad day, etc. It's not socially acceptable to have a complete meltdown and let every bit of darkness and pain come out of you when you're an adult. For instance, babies are allowed to cry when they're hungry or unhappy about something, right? They scream and cry until their face is red and their little head looks like it's about to explode. But if a grown-up did that, they'd probably just scare the shit out of their pets or be sent to a psychiatric ward.

As we grow older, we suppress and stuff down the very things that make us human beings---anger, grief, confusion, immaturity, vulnerability. We have all this discomfort swimming around inside of us and then think there is something horribly wrong with us for feeling overwhelmed or dejected by it all. Or for having a blowout over something that's not really a big deal...Like when I swore at a piece of dishware the other day because it had food stuck to it that I couldn't clean off...It wasn't about the dishware. My bottled up emotions needed somewhere to go, so they took the first outlet they could find. That's what happens when we constantly suppress, avoid and deny our emotions. We blow up. We get depressed. We go "insane."

We have to give ourselves permission to be human. We have to give ourselves permission to feel and hurt and get pissed off. We have to find healthy outlets for these emotions and avoid discouraging others from exploring their outlets. (I'd rather be friends with someone who writes poetry about killing people than someone who actually kills people.)

Our dark emotions need love and attention too. They need freedom. They need proper nourishment. If we avoid giving them those things, they turn us into something we're not.

So find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Don't let them control or consume you. And remember that going a little insane doesn't mean you're actually insane. It means you're giving your emotions somewhere to go, so they can be free and stop poisoning you.

How do you feel about the societal normalcy of suppressing our emotions? Do you have a healthy or creative outlet for your darker emotions? Do you often judge yourself for feeling pain and bewilderment?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison    

   

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thoughts on self-love

Lori Deschene, founder of Tiny Buddha, recently released her second book titled Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself: 40 Ways to Transform Your Inner Critic and Your Life. I haven't really given this book a lot of promotion on my blog, and I figured today's topic would give me a good excuse to. Not only am I featured in this book, but it is like a bowl of warm soup on a cold day if you frequently struggle with self-love like I do. I keep it on my nightstand with Lori's other book, and I refer to it when I'm having "one of those days."

I have "one of those days" at least twice every month, if not more. Sometimes my day just gets off on the wrong foot. Sometimes I get struck with jealousy or the need to compare. Sometimes I get really excited about something only to fail at it miserably. Sometimes I get dejected about everything I lack and forget to notice all the wonderful things I have right under my nose. Sometimes I just feel like a total failure.

Unconditional self-love is by far one of the hardest things I've ever tried to achieve. I am going to have days where I feel like I've finally reached that place, and I am going to have days where I want to punch myself in the face...And I might as well, considering the horribly self-depreciating thoughts that are going through my mind.

Imagine if you had a little man handcuffed to your wrist at all times...You would eventually start to hate him a little, regardless of how cute, funny or nice he was, right? Because he is handcuffed to your wrist at all times, and you have to deal with him every moment of every day. I think that's why self-love is so hard. No matter how great we seem to others, we eventually get sick of ourselves because we know everything about ourselves and have to wake up and face that every morning. It can get messy. (The little man analogy is kind of creepy, but I'm trying to make a point. Just go with it.)

I can literally go from wanting to dive off a cliff to feeling super proud of and okay with myself in a span of 24 hours. I never know what's going to set off a fresh bout of self-hatred or when it's going to end. Self-love is one of the most challenging and puzzling topics of all time. It has the smartest of humans and the most established of self-help professionals scratching their heads. Why is it so hard? Why doesn't it last? Why can't we all just reach that place of unconditional self-love once and for all?

Truth is, I don't think anyone ever really does. And maybe that's okay. All we can do is the best we can at any given moment. Sometimes your best is going to be simply picking yourself up off the floor or giving yourself permission to watch 4 hours of Boy Meets World without judging yourself for it.

And if self-love is something you struggle with a lot, the above mentioned book is a must-read. Keep it by your bedside or in your purse (if you carry one), and flip through it the next time you're having "one of those days." You might just come across something you've been dying to hear.

What has your own self-love journey been like? How do you pick yourself up when you're having an awful, self-hatred filled day or week? What does self-love mean to you? Do you have any additional self-love resources to share?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison    
      

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thoughts on change

One of my new favorite humans is Sheryl Paul, international counselor and founder of Conscious Transitions. I wrote a post one time about how I viewed every change as a loss. I then proceeded to write about how viewing change as a loss was a terrible way to view change. While that may be true to a minor extent, following Sheryl's work has made me realize that it is normal and valid to feel a profound sense of loss while experiencing change and transition---because you are losing something. Whether it's comfort, love, security, identity, or peace of mind, we are losing something and figuring out how to embrace something else.

It is especially common to experience fear of and resistance to change as one year comes to a close and another one quickly approaches. We spend time looking back on the past year and thinking about what is to come in the next one. I always go through a quarterlife crisis this time of year. Every year brings new challenges and new changes to face. And I'm embarrassed to admit that all I want to do in the midst of such times is crawl under a table and rock back and forth until it's over.

Popular culture often pushes the notion that change is a good thing and that we should be happy about it and brave enough to face it. And when we resist, we feel as if something is wrong with us for not pushing through our fear and being more positive and enlightened. We think something is wrong with us for feeling terrified, heartbroken or confused.

Change shoves us out of our comfort zones, and while being out of our comfort zone ultimately leads to growth and healing, it's still a scary and sometimes painful place to be. Reminding myself that it's normal to freak out when things change actually makes change a little easier to deal with.

How do you deal with major transitions in your life? Do you view every change as a mini loss and go through stages of grief? Do you ever feel pressured to stuff down your true feelings about change or tell yourself that you "should" be brave or that you "should" be happy?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison  

  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts on success

One of my favorite quotes is, "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded." Another one is, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."

I like to measure my level of success on how happy I am, whether or not I'm helping others, and whether or not I love what I am doing. Measuring success this way helps me feel...Well, successful.

But something I constantly struggle with is feeling profoundly unsuccessful on a mainstream, societal level. My lack of direction, my lack of money, and my lack of "big scale" accomplishments tend to make me lie awake in the middle of the night and feel as if I'm doing nothing with my life. In those moments, I tend to forget about all the people I've helped and inspired and how much I love what I do every day. I am incredibly hard on myself.

It's difficult to stand by my views on success when I'm surrounded by seemingly countless reminders that other people in my age group are succeeding at so much more than I am. I forget to stay focused on my own life and my own goals.

But no matter how many times I remind myself to keep the focus on my own path, I always find myself feeling as if I don't measure up---regardless of how many people I've helped or how much I love what I do.

So what does success really mean? Do you think it means helping people and doing what you love, or do you think it means actually succeeding at an adequate number of endeavors and being able to comfortably stand on your own two feet as a result of them? Can it mean both? Can it simply mean loving and staying true to yourself, regardless of where you are on your journey?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thoughts on love and friendship

I've been thinking a lot about the fragility of love and friendship and the struggle with avoiding attachment, fear and loneliness.

I frequently fluctuate between getting too close to people and not getting close enough. Either way, I get hurt. When I avoid deep connections, I get really lonely. And when I get attached, I get disappointed when people pull back, whether intentionally or not.

I've been struggling with allowing myself to connect deeply without latching onto people for happiness and fulfillment. And it's very difficult to find that middle ground because the only way to experience the joy and fulfillment you get from relationships and friendships is to get close to people. So it's tough when getting close backfires. I get hurt very easily, so the slightest "pull back" on someone else's end is enough to break me. And then I judge myself for taking it so personally and tell myself that I shouldn't have gotten so attached in the first place.

But how can we not get attached to people? If you have a great connection with someone and they seem to think you're the bee's knees, you're inevitably going to become attached to them, right?

I don't have very many friends in real life. That's a major downside to working from home and doing pretty much everything from home...I've formed several great friendships online, but offline, my choices are severely limited. And I actually get really attached to my online friends too. Some readers contact me and put me on a pedestal and are afraid to email regularly out of fear that they will bother me or that I'm too busy or something. But nothing could be further from the truth. I love hearing from and making friends with my readers. I practically beg them to interact with me. And when one of them stops emailing or doesn't seem too interested in me or my blog anymore, I get incredibly bent out of shape about it...Just like I would if a real life friend stopped contacting me or stopped thinking I was as great as they once thought I was.

I guess I'm just trying to learn how to fearlessly love and connect with others, both online and offline, without clinging too tightly. When I get too close, I inevitably get attached. When I don't get close enough, I inevitably get lonely.

Do you struggle with loneliness, fear and attachment? How do you get close without getting too close? Do you know how to leave the door of your heart open in case someone decides to leave? Would you still be capable of letting someone new take their place?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison  

Friday, December 6, 2013

New blog series

I've done a couple of different blog series throughout the course of running this blog. There were the Tiny Buddha book discussions in January of 2012, and then I did a "Favorite Quote Friday" series in February of this year.

And I recently came up with a new one. I will publish one post every weekday starting next week, and each day will cover a different universal topic that has been on my mind lately.

I was up at 2:30 AM the other night with what felt like a million things on my mind. But I somehow managed to dwindle those things down to the following:

~ Love and friendship
~ Success
~ Change
~ Self-love
~ Humanity

I was mulling over all of these things and had to refrain from rushing to my computer in the middle of the night to type out a long, rambling chunk of sleep deprived nonsense.

I've just been thinking about the fragility and impermanence of love and friendship, wondering what success really means, feeling afraid of and resistant to change, trying to understand why self-love is such a damn hard thing to achieve, and pondering over vulnerability and humanity in general.

So I want to share my thoughts, feelings and questions with all of you. I hope you will join the discussion, whether you choose to leave comments or shoot me an email. I want this to be an interactive and therapeutic series for all of us.

See you Monday.

<3 Madison


Monday, November 18, 2013

HAPPY OFFICIAL EBOOK LAUNCH DAY!

Hello friends!

As most of you may know, I announced the publication of my eBook a little over a month ago. Aside from writing that post, I pretty much didn't tell anyone about it (aside from a few close friends/family members) because I wanted to wait until it was available on a variety of websites---so that everyone could choose which one they wanted to use and not feel guilted into using a single one. So after several weeks of waiting, working, tying up loose ends, and trying my very best to keep my trap shut every time the book popped up on a new website, I am finally ready to announce the OFFICIAL launch! :-) (I didn't need to change my cover after all because it got approved at the last minute. Yay!)

You can now choose between 6 different retailers to buy from:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/367420

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coming-clean-madison-sonnier/1117251751?ean=2940045348904

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/coming-clean-short-memoir/id732377084?mt=11

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GR0DA8G

Diesel: http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000367420/Sonnier-Madison-Coming-Clean-A-Short-Memoir-My-Journey-Through-OCD-and-Post-High-School-Depression/1.html

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ww/books/Coming-Clean-Short-Memoir-My/8TFP66Y5LEWNSqkrdWzWpQ?MixID=8TFP66Y5LEWNSqkrdWzWpQ&PageNumber=1

So whether you want to read my eBook on your desktop, Nook, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or other nifty electronic device, you can purchase and read it comfortably and at your convenience.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and gotten excited with me throughout this process. You know who you are, and I truly love and appreciate each of you.

If you have not bought my eBook yet, I really hope you decide to. I would love to hear what you think. I hope it inspires you and serves as an always available reminder that you're not alone and that there's always hope---whatever your struggle may be.

Have a wonderful week, and I hope to hear from you soon!

<3 Madison    

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taking small steps and trusting the work of the universe

The other week, I felt so enormously discouraged that I almost considered making a career switch into prostitution. "At least prostitutes make more money than this," I reasoned. If you're a freelancer, you probably understand this frequent train of thought. Or maybe that's just me...

To be honest, I still feel a bit discouraged. But on some days, it's so strong that I feel completely helpless as to what I should do and powerless to do anything at all. I lack long-term vision. I lack substantial income. I lack the self-confidence to tell everyone on the face of the planet how great I am so they will hire me and/or buy my creations. I lack the work ethic to "build a bridge" and then expect myself to make giant leaps and bounds without one. Sometimes I have unrealistic expectations and wonder what is wrong with me for taking so long to get the ball rolling in my chosen field.

But the moral of this downer can be summed up in this simple quote: "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." I think Martin Luther King, Jr. said it. He's a smart man.

I have to remind myself that what I do today matters way more than what I plan to do five or ten years from now. Today is all there is, and I can either use it to make that first step and celebrate little victories, or I can use it to bemoan where I'm going long-term.

You can only take life one day at a time. You can only take your goals and dreams one step at a time. 

And I've noticed that every time I go through a debilitating bout of discouragement, something really good or exciting always happens soon thereafter---something that confirms, yet again, that I am on the right path. It's like the universe slapping me in the face (gently) and saying, "You don't have to sell your body for money and attention. Keep writing."

Every path has its dark alleys and winding roads, but if we keep walking, we will eventually find a water fountain or a pot of gold. Even if it's just a little one to encourage us along.

<3 Madison          

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 8)

~ You are so much stronger than you think. When you're having the worst day, week or month ever, it's tempting to want to take a bath and never come out or pack up all of your belongings and leave everything you've ever known, but I promise you that whatever you're going through is not the end of the world. If you're like me and can easily go from normal functioning human to complete emotional wreck in the span of about two minutes, remember that everything is temporary. You have to hang in there.

~ Revenge doesn't hurt other people as much as it hurts you.

~ Make sure you're giving adequate attention to everything that's important in your life. Don't lean too far in one direction and not far enough in another. Balance is everything.

~ Other people are not better than you. Other people are just other people. Nothing more, nothing less.

~ When people talk about the benefits of unplugging from technology and truly being with people and enjoying nature, they're not lying. Put your cell phone away, and go play outside with your favorite person. 

~ Anger is pain in disguise.

~ To me, occasional crying is like the occasional car wash. You just need a good cry every now and then. Maybe I'm just weird like that. Whatever.

~ Ask, and you shall receive. Sometimes.

~ Bashing other people on the Internet (or anywhere else) is not a good use of time. And it doesn't make you look cool either.

~ Creativity cannot be forced. Mental breaks are very necessary.

<3 Madison

Monday, November 4, 2013

When you feel perpetually behind in life

"Always focus on how far you've come, rather than how far you have left to go." ~ Unknown

As 2013 comes closer and closer to the end of its rope, I've been reflecting on the past year and figuring out where I want to go and what I want to do in the year to come. I sort of always do that this time of year. I love October through December because of the weather, the fun holidays, and the "slow down and reflect on what really matters" pace of it all, but I'm not a huge fan of the feeling that I somehow fell short and took yet another year for granted---the feeling that I'm running out of time to make the year "truly" count. I don't know. Maybe that's just me.

Sometimes I just feel so behind in life. No matter what I do or accomplish, I always get hit with this sinking feeling that I don't measure up. "I should work harder. I should be a better friend. I should have more friends. I should be a responsible grown-up. I should make more money. I should be more social. I should be more business savvy. I should be more educated. I should go out more often. I should have better work/life balance. I should eat more vegetables and less ice cream. I should seize more opportunities. I should have my shit together by now."

When my confidence gets shaky, I seem to lose sight of everything I stand for and believe in. And I stand for unconditional self-love and believe that everyone measures up in their own way, regardless of where they currently stand in life. It's just not always easy to remind myself of those things when I get stuck in the cruel cycle of my own mind.

So this is what I am going to tell myself and you today:

There will always be an endless stream of reminders from well-meaning sources about how you don't measure up. You can either choose to think other people are better than you, or you can choose to recognize that although every journey is different, we are all on the same journey. The people who seem to have super awesome lives have days where they hate themselves and think other people are better than them. We're all in the same boat here.

There is nothing wrong with you, and until you embrace that truth, you will never make the changes you want to see. You have to want things from a place of self-love and patience---not comparison, pressure and self-judgment. You are perpetually going to screw up and have your flaws yelling in your face. Be okay with that. Love yourself through it all. Because when you do, wonderful shit will happen. You can't make wonderful shit happen when you sit around telling yourself how behind and underdeveloped you are.    

Maybe it's time to focus more on what you've done, rather than on everything you haven't. And for the love of all things, please believe me when I say you've done quite a lot.

<3 Madison

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Big news, little eBook


Weeeeeeee!!!!

My eBook is now available for purchase! I'm not quite ready to fully celebrate yet because it is still awaiting official review before it can be distributed to major retailers, but in the meantime, it is available to purchase through smashwords.com. After it's reviewed, a few things could be subject to change (like the cover, which is pictured above), but it will (hopefully) be distributed to various retailers in due time. I will also be publishing it with Amazon's Kindle Direct at some point. 

I initially started writing this memoir in the fall of 2011 after reading a vulnerable, honest and inspiring book that made me want to open up about my own personal struggles. I never thought I'd actually publish it. I just wanted to challenge myself to "go there" and write as openly as my favorite memoir authors. And despite the emotional turmoil involved in "going there," it was an incredible relief to come clean about the things I've struggled with and share what I learned and how I grew from those things. 

But the more my little 17,000-something word memoir collected metaphorical dust in laptop document land, the more I started to wonder if I was doing a disservice to myself and others by allowing it to continue collecting metaphorical dust. About 17 months later, I read back over it and decided I liked it enough to put it out into the world and give it a chance. 

So I doctored it up, wrote and re-wrote a few things, proofread it a few nine times, got some wonderful people to write some wonderful testimonials, proofread it again, doubted it, called myself a self-indulgent fraud who should care more about the people being starved and raped instead of my own stupid stories about OCD and depression, formatted it meticulously, stressed out about acquiring the perfect cover, sought everyone's opinion on the cover, changed the cover, (will probably change the cover again in the future), proofread it one last time, got really nervous about publishing it, got really excited about publishing it, and to make a really freaking long, 2-year story short, it is finally available to feast your eyes upon and judge as you will. 

But before I provide you with a link, I want to provide you with a couple of excerpts. The eBook is divided up into two parts since I wanted to write about two unrelated things. Part 1 is about my struggle with OCD, and part 2 is about my struggle with post-high school depression. 

Excerpt from part 1

"Constant checking is a common symptom of OCD. I would clean my room, walk out, and then walk back in about two seconds later and stand in my doorway to make sure nothing had been disturbed during my two-second absence. Then I would walk out and walk back in again. I touched my bed, my nightstand, and anything else within reach to make sure everything was still intact. Then I would walk back out and turn right back around and walk in again. The third time, I’d usually walk around my room and closely observe everything. If I saw a spec of dust or a piece of fuzz anywhere, I’d dispose of it and then wash my hands afterwards. Sometimes I would even walk into my room randomly throughout the day and just stand in my doorway and stare.
My room wasn’t the only thing I constantly checked. I would often finish a homework assignment and then read it over and over again before feeling comfortable enough to put it away. I would typically read over any piece of work I finished about five to ten times.
I never wore shoes in my room. If I was going somewhere and needed to go back to my room to get something, I would take my shoes off at the door, get what I needed, and then put my shoes back on as I came out. Either that, or I would just crawl into my room on my knees and be careful not to let my shoes touch the ground.
No one’s feet except mine were allowed in my room. If my younger brother Garrison walked into my room, shoes or no shoes, I would order him to get out unless he had clean feet. If he had just gotten out of the shower or something, then it was okay as long as he didn’t touch anything. It got so bad that he eventually would just stop in my doorway and ask for permission before crossing the line onto my carpet."

Excerpt from part 2

“Are you depressed?” She asked me.
Yes, I think I might be. I walk around feeling worthless all the time. Nothing in my life makes sense anymore. You’re the only friend I have left. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep, and sometimes I can’t even sleep at all because I have too much on my mind. I feel like I’m constantly being judged, and I feel pathetic. I feel like my life is going nowhere. All I do is sit around wishing I was good enough and wishing I could do something right. I’m not ready to grow up, and everyone on the face of the planet expects me to. I’m not even sure I know how. I’m isolated, insecure, and I feel like shit every second of every day.
“What?” I asked incredulously. I nervously shoved a forkful of hash brown into my mouth and looked out the window. My friend dropped the subject.
Part of me hoped that she would bring it up again—that she would urge me to talk to her and tell her how I was really feeling. I was tired of convincing everyone, including myself, that I was perfectly fine. But she did not bring it up again, so neither did I." 

To purchase my eBook, click here. Yes, I think you need a Smashwords account to buy it, but it's easy and free to join. 

If you love me, you will buy this eBook. Just kidding. I'm not one of those people.

But seriously though...I really am excited about this, and I happy danced for the better part of yesterday afternoon. I would happy dance even more if I actually sold a few copies. Help a sister out? 

And finally, if/when you buy it...

a) Accept my virtual hug.
b) Enjoy it.
c) Email or tweet me and let me know what you thought.
d) Share it!

Thank you endlessly.

<3 Madison     
    

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When your stress level is high and your self-esteem is low

I'm having one of those days where I want to sell everything I own and hitch-hike to some faraway place where money and other humans don't exist. Unfortunately, there is no such place.

Amid financial issues, work troubles, an impending eBook release, the pressure to stop being a terrible blogger, personal worries, cabin fever, lack of inspiration, and depreciating self-doubt, I've been feeling a lot of temptation to just take a nice, refreshing leap from a cliff. I suppose it happens to all of us.

Sometimes I need to step back and summon my "inner wise woman" to tell me the things I'm too distracted or stubborn to tell myself. Here is what she has to say:

1. This will pass. It always does.

2. Writing and releasing a memoir is not self-indulgent. It's brave and inspiring, and as long as you know your intention behind writing it, it doesn't matter what anyone else may or may not think.  

3. Keep trying to please yourself, and stop trying so hard to please others.  

4. Stop taking everything so personally.

5. Happiness is a choice. That sentence would've pissed you off about two years ago, but now that you understand how powerfully true it is, remember it the next time you decide to dig yourself in a hole.  
 
6. Stay in touch with the people who love and put up with you. Write "call or text so-and-so" on one of your daily to-do lists if that's what it takes. Being totally alone in the world isn't fun. You would know.  

7. That $5 you spent on the ice cream you just had to have could've gone towards something useful. Like feminine products. (TMI. Whatever.) The unfortunate truth is that you are very poor right now. Start acting like it.

8. Celebrate your little victories. And for God's sake, give yourself a pat on the back every once and awhile. There is nothing wrong with celebrating yourself.  

9. When you don't feel inspired, don't blog. Or your blog posts will suck.

10. October is your favorite month, and it only comes once a year. Enjoy it.

<3 Madison  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 7)

~ There comes a time when you have to decide between doing what's right and doing whatever you want, even when you know better. Sometimes you just have to be big enough to do what's right. And doing the right thing won't suck forever.

~ Having a viewpoint that differs from someone else's doesn't make the other person wrong. No need to rant about how wrong they are on social media. Just agree to disagree, and peacefully move on.

~ Sometimes letting someone know that you're there for them and that they're not alone is better than giving advice that they probably won't take anyway.

~ People will still love you when you don't love yourself. And those are the kinds of people you should work really hard to keep in your life.

~ Not having your shit together doesn't mean you're weak and inadequate. It means you're human.

~ It's okay to put yourself first. In fact, sometimes it's mandatory.

~ Break your dreams down into manageable, bite-sized chunks, and they will be easier to achieve.

~ When other people hurt you, remember that it's probably because they're hurting too. That's no excuse for being hurtful, but it's still something to think about.

~ Love is fragile and uncertain. Love anyway.

~ Whatever sucky thing you're going through right now will pass. You have my word.

<3 Madison

p.s. If you are (were) a fan of my blog More to Share, More to Learn, which I worked so hard on and promoted so much (le sigh), you might want to hop on over to my Facebook page and read the announcement I posted the other day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Chat About Self-Love with Lori Deschene

 

I am a huge fan of Lori and Tiny Buddha, as most of you may know. So I was beyond excited when I got an email asking if it would be okay if she featured one of my Tiny Buddha posts in her upcoming book, Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself. It was a no-brainer.  

The excitement continued when she asked if I would be interested in posting a Q&A with her on this little blog of mine. It was another no-brainer. I've always wanted to interview Lori, but never had a relevant theme or topic in mind. Now I have one! 

So I sent Lori some questions about self-love, and she got back to me with these wonderfully insightful responses. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspired me.

1. What initially inspired you to write Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself

It's something I've planned to do for awhile---start a series of "Tiny Buddha's Guide to" books, drawing from the many inspiring stories on the site.

Self-love seemed like the perfect topic to start with, since this is the core of all personal growth and the foundation for loving others and loving life.

It's also the foundation of my greatest struggles.

For a long time, I thought my life was a mess because of my depression, or my former eating disorder, or my lack of purpose, or my lack of money, but at the heart of all those troubles was my unwavering self-loathing.

2. We all struggle with loving ourselves sometimes, and no one ever truly arrives at a place of complete self-acceptance. It's human nature to be hard on ourselves. How do you deal when loving yourself is hard?

Reminding myself of this truth is the first thing I do. Sometimes I get hard on myself for getting hard on myself, which is incredibly ironic when you think about it.

It's piling judgment on top of pain---emotions on top of emotions---and it's a surefire way to get stuck.

Beyond that, it varies. Sometimes I'm proud of how I deal. I get outside and out of my head and take good care of my mind and body. Other times, I shut down and guard myself until I feel better. I'm a work in progress!

3. Do you ever struggle with looking for truth in the less than flattering things people say or think about you? If so, how do you move past that?

Absolutely. For a long time, I interpreted every criticism or judgment as proof that I was a fundamentally bad person. I literally feared other people's perceptions of me because I saw each one as a mirror.

I became a chameleon, trying to be whatever I thought people would accept. And later, I adopted the "indisputably good person" persona, thinking no one could possibly judge me if I tried really hard to be a short, blond Dalai Lama.

I feel I've made tremendous progress here because I now realize that being disliked by some is a sign that I am being real---and creating the possibility of being liked by others who actually appreciate me for who I am.

4. Why do you think the voice in our head that tells us we're not good enough is often louder than the voice that tells us we are? 

Most of us form this belief young, based on interactions with our parents, teachers and peers.

We assume it means we are not good enough when someone hurts us, or fails to meet our needs, or compares us to someone else.

Once we've formed this belief, we go through life looking for further evidence to support it. It's as if we're wearing "I'm not good enough" glasses that filter everything through the lens of that understanding.

Aside from that, we're now dealing with a whole new set of challenges with social media. There's no shortage of reminders that other people are falling in love, getting married, having babies, traveling the world, launching businesses, or otherwise doing something that seems better than what we're doing.

It's like that Steve Furtick quote: "We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind the scenes to everyone's highlight reel."

I know I've been there!

5. You're very open about your personal struggles in your writing, and that honesty helps people feel connected to you. Do you believe that having the courage to show your flaws and scars contributes to a greater feeling of self-love?

I think so. Every time I've shared something that I once held in secrecy and shame, I've felt a tremendous sense of relief and an increase in self-acceptance.

I shared one personal story in this book that I formerly assumed I'd never share publicly. But putting it out there reminded me that I have every reason to be proud of myself. I am not someone who needs to hide my experiences or myself. I am someone who deserves to be seen and can help other people by doing it.

6. I'm a quote nerd. What is your favorite quote about self-love?

One of my favorites is: "What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful." ~ BrenĂ© Brown

It reminds me that I don't need to be anything other than what I am. I just need to embrace and embody it.

7. What helps you minimize the comparisons you make to other people? 

It helps me to remember my own unique values, priorities and needs. My professional life is one area where I struggle with comparisons. I've gotten to know quite a few other bloggers-turned-authors, many of whom have gone on to become well-known self-help gurus.

At times, I've wondered if I'm somehow less than because I'm not leading workshops and seminars around the world and creating this type of notoriety. Then I remember that I'm not doing that because it doesn't align with what I want for myself.

It's not the path I want to follow, so it's irrelevant if other people are doing it and doing it well.

Of course, there are times when I compare myself to others who are walking the same path and seem to be doing it better.

It helps me to remind myself that no matter where I am in life, there will always be someone else who seems "ahead" of me. If I obsess about getting "there," I'll never learn to appreciate here. And here is all there is.

8. Do you ever find yourself seeking permission or validation before doing or saying something? How do you free yourself from that? 

Yes, I do seek validation at times. It's usually when I'm feeling bad about myself or feeling unconfident in a choice I want to make. It helps me to ask myself, "What do I wish that person would say to me?" Then I tell it to myself.

10. What's next for you and Tiny Buddha?

For me personally, I am about to realize a long-held dream of living a bi-coastal lifestyle with my fiancĂ©, so we can spend time with both of our families (his in the San Francisco Bay area, and mine in the Boston area).

For Tiny Buddha, I'm working on the next guide-to book and a series of apps, but primarily focusing on spreading the word about this book. I'm proud of the end result, and I believe it will help others feel less alone and more confident about their worth.

Readers can pre-order the book (and receive the self-love bonus pack of related eBooks, eCourses and workbooks, valued at over $150) at:

http://tinybuddha.com/guide-to-loving-yourself/

            
Big thank you to Lori and to you for reading. Be sure to check out the book!

<3 Madison 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I'm still alive.

Hello friends.

I realize that I've sucked at blogging this month, and being the overly apologetic and paranoid person that I am, I wanted to briefly explain why and just pop in long enough to share a few things that have been on my mind lately.

First of all, if you've seen my latest Facebook status, you probably know what the deal is. If you haven't, click on over for a few reasons as to why I've been so absent. (Nothing bad! I'm just a bit busy and distracted right now.)

Fall is almost always an exciting and busy month for me...At least it has been over the past few years. In the fall of 2011, I overcame depression and started pursuing my passion. In the fall of 2012, I spent a lot of time being happier, watching little victories unfold, and learning to open myself up to love and friendship again. This fall, I'm releasing my first eBook and also being featured in a print book written by one of my favorite humans (Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha). I'm also working harder, getting clearer on what exactly I want to accomplish in my life, and working up the strength and courage to get out of my comfort zone so I can start being interesting again. I can only write so many blog posts about how I'm not living up to my full potential before people start to get bored, annoyed and depressed. I hope you're not bored, annoyed or depressed because of me. Sometimes I get really bored, annoyed and depressed with myself. I guess I just want to change that in any little way that I can.

And aside from the fact that I'm preparing for everything going on this fall and the fact that my attention span has refused to sit in one place long enough for me to crank out some adequate content this month, I've also been having a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Internet lately.

I love blogging (when I'm inspired) and being able to work from home. I love all my Internet friends. I love all my favorite blogs and social networking sites. I love how easy it is to connect with people and learn how to do things at the click of a button. I love being able to look up words on dictionary.com when I'm not sure if I've used them in the right context. I love spell check. I love killing time on YouTube.

But I hate all the cruelty I see on a near daily basis...hateful comments and demeaning gossip blogs. I hate how the Internet gives bullies an easy outlet to unleash their rage and envy. I hate stupid Twitter hashtags like #ThingsGirlsDoThatGuysHate. I hate feeling like I'm doing nothing with my life when I read a blog post that tells me I'm worthless if what I do for a living doesn't accumulate a certain amount of money and notoriety. I hate the comparison game...how everybody tries to one up everybody else. I hate spending more time on the Internet than I do with my dogs. I hate spam. I hate Googling answers to questions I don't want to answer myself. I hate that I don't write in my journal anymore. I hate feeling like I honestly have nothing better to do if my Internet is down. I hate getting distracted by Yahoo headlines while I'm trying to work or do research. I hate that I relate to this photo on more days than I care to mention.

So I guess a part of me is just trying to find a balance between sharing my life and actually living it---a balance between relying on the Internet for entertainment and relying on my own imagination and creativity. When my life experience meter is running on empty, it's pretty hard to blog about anything aside from how uninspired I feel.

Thank you for staying with me and for understanding. I hope you'll keep checking back for new posts on the regular and sending me emails when you want to talk. :-)

In the meantime, keep an eye out for my first eBook this fall (yay) and a Q&A with Lori Deschene going up next month.

Talk to you soon.

<3 Madison          

 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The green-eyed monster


Reluctant confession of the week: I've been feeling a bit jealous of someone lately---someone I love and think is wonderful. I'm proud of her and happy for her, but at the same time, I've been feeling pangs of jealousy here and there.

It's a really strange feeling to be equally happy for and jealous of someone. And then you feel like a terrible person for being even slightly tempted to write passive aggressive rants on the Internet about how much you hate it when "someone" thinks they're all that and a bag of chips. (Thankfully, I refrained.) 

I really do think this person is awesome. I'm happy for her and excited for her. But sometimes I flare up with jealousy when I hear about how exciting and eventful her life is in comparison to mine. Then I feel guilty for feeling jealous. Then I turn into a grumpy, melancholy, self-hating human for the rest of the afternoon. 

Perhaps you can relate.

So I decided to be proactive for once and work through these feelings. Because the green-eyed monster doesn't exactly cultivate respect and lasting friendships. 

Step 1: Identify which areas of your own life you're dissatisfied with.  

Bonus points if it's something the person you're jealous of has and you don't. For example, you may be jealous of someone who is making more money than you because you're dissatisfied with the amount of money you make. Or you may be jealous of someone who travels all the time because you don't have the means or motivation to travel yourself.   

Step 2: Ask yourself what little steps you can take to be more satisfied in those areas.

These don't have to be big or overwhelming steps. Think of one little baby step you can take, and then go from there. For example, if you want to travel more, figure out how much it would cost to visit and spend a certain amount of time in a place you've always wanted to travel to. Then you could start setting aside a certain percentage of your income each month until you have enough money saved to fund the trip.    

Step 3: Count your own blessings.

Don't be so busy counting someone else's blessings that you forget to count your own. Look around. You always have something to be grateful for. I always feel better about myself and about my life when I take the time to truly notice and appreciate what I have.  

Step 4: Remember that the people you're jealous of are not perfect, have their own battles to fight every day, and may even be jealous of you

Don't be presumptuous enough to assume that the objects of your jealousy have all their shit together. No one ever does. One time I read something online that said something like, "If you threw all your problems in a pile with other people's problems, you'd grab all your problems back." (Something like that. I don't feel like Googling it verbatim.) It is a waste of time to compare your life to someone else's. You never know what is going on behind the scenes.

If you follow these steps, I think your jealousy will be cured. Mine is. 

<3 Madison   

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Never enough

Sometimes I feel like I'm not living up to my full potential. And the really sucky, embarrassing truth is that I know I am not. I am so not.

I could be working harder. I could be a better person. I could get out more and make my existence mean something in the real world and not just on the Internet. 

It's exhausting to always feel like you never quite measure up. I have a friend who works her ass off and has done and been so many things, and even she feels like she doesn't measure up. She's always reaching for the next rung on the ladder---always pushing to make herself feel like a worthy, important, contributing member of society. And yet, she hates herself a little every single day.  

Does anyone ever feel like they measure up? It's like no matter what we do and no matter how hard we try, somebody somewhere is going to make us feel like it's not enough. We're going to make ourselves feel like it's not enough. 

Everyone thinks this way. Ask anyone, and I highly doubt you will find someone who says something like, "Oh, I definitely feel like I measure up. I know I'm good enough, and I'm living to my absolute fullest potential." If you find someone like this, please email me their contact information so I can learn their secret. 

I just really feel like a complete, total failure at life some days, and the thing I hate the most is that I rarely feel like doing anything about it. Getting dejected doesn't motivate me at all. It just makes me want to stare into space for half an hour as my mind assaults my soul and makes me feel like the most insignificant human being on the face of the Earth. 

Then I start wondering why I should work on my dreams every day if it never quite seems like I'm doing enough. I start wondering if I'm truly on the right path or if I should pave a new one. I start wondering what the people in my life see in me and what all of you see in me when I can't even find too many good things to see in myself.

It's a messy mentality to get stuck in. 

So how can we truly know if what we're doing in our lives is enough? Is our self-worth measured by what we do or who we are? How can we motivate ourselves to do more and be more when we feel too dejected to do anything at all? 

Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

<3 Madison   

Monday, July 22, 2013

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 6)

~ People won't take you seriously unless you give them a reason to. It sucks, but sometimes you just have to let it go.

~ Being successful won't make people like you. Being a good person will.

~ Creativity can never truly be squelched.

~ Pay attention. To everything.

~ The hand of death is unbiased and unpredictable. Tell someone you love that you love them.

~ Life and love do not come with rulebooks. How many times do I have to tell you? There are no rules. Zilch.

~ It's okay to seek advice and support, but don't abandon your own inner voice in the process. It may be the quietest voice, but it speaks the loudest.

~ It's really sad when something fun or soul recharging isn't happening anymore. I guess the best way to deal with it is to find something new to look forward to. And then when that's over, repeat the process. Try to always have something to look forward to.

~ Sacrifices are far from easy, but sometimes they're necessary.

~ People aren't always judging you. Sometimes they're just genuinely curious or concerned, and it can come across as judgment.

~ Being unemployed is often a blessing in disguise. And you are not your job status.

~ Treat your emotions gently. They will come and go as they please, and no amount of fighting will make them subside before they're ready.

<3 Madison

Friday, July 12, 2013

A formal introduction to the blog no one is reading yet

I know the title of this post sounds super snarky, but that is not my intention. I'd prefer to think of it as clever and attention-grabbing. And some people actually are reading the blog. Like 4-5 people per day. I suppose that's better than nothing.

Anyways. I decided to show Journey of a Soul Searcher some love on my new blog today. (Click here to see.) Then I decided that while I was at it, I would dedicate an entire post to giving you a more official introduction to said blog. If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to give it a chance. If you think it totally sucks, you have my permission to never visit again. 

The name of this blog is More to Share, More to Learn. It's a lifestyle blog where I write about other things I'm interested in aside from the inside of my soul. I write about stuff like relationships, organization and food. It's a little more grown-up. A little more 20-something. (But I also still write about the inside of my soul a little bit, so that's a plus for my existing blog readers.)  

If you still need some convincing, here are 4 reasons to check out More to Share, More to Learn: 

1. It's a creative extension of little old me.

I used to think I was a one trick pony. (And let's be honest...I sort of am.) Once I started feeling excited about other topics aside from my own personal life ramblings, I needed a creative space to put them in. So I decided to launch a new blog. If you ever get tired of reading about topics pertaining to several of the same themes, my new blog might be a breath of fresh air. It shows that I can write about other things too. 

2. The content is more diverse.

I'd like to think there's something for everyone on my new blog. Whether you like reading about love, life, food, weddings, family, entertainment or home improvement, I'm sure you'll find something useful and interesting.  

3. There is at least one picture included with every post. 

I don't include a picture with every post on this blog. On my new one, I do. I even posted an adorable photo of one of my dogs in a post about my Pinterest boards. Go look for it!     

4. It's written in the same personalized tone as Journey of a Soul Searcher.

In case you're worried that my new blog is going to sound super detached or removed, I'm happy to tell you that you're wrong. It's written in the same personalized, conversational tone as this one. (I still put lots of phrases in parenthesis and stuff.) 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you decide to stop by. http://more-to-share-more-to-learn.blogspot.com/

<3 Madison

p.s. Self-promotional posts are super awkward to write and not really my cup of tea, but I can't expect people to know about things if I don't talk/write about them.

p.p.s. Be sure to follow More to Share, More to Learn on Twitter if you like what you see.   

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The freedom to just be

Every now and then I stumble across a really inspiring article about accepting yourself just as you are instead of constantly looking for ways to change or be better. We live in a world that is very fixated on self-improvement. Self-improvement is great and all, but I agree that sometimes it can be exhausting and debilitating to get trapped in the, "I can be better" or "I'm not quite good enough" mindset.

I don't like preachy wisdom. I don't like it when people look down on others just because they're in a different or "lesser" phase of their journey.

I suck at so many things. I suck at being a grown-up. I suck at being super fast-paced and productive. I suck at busting through fear and anxiety. I suck at finding new ways to be a better person. I suck at living life to the absolute fullest. And in a way, these facts can be helpful. In fact, most of you may be thinking, "You can be a better grown-up! You can be more productive! You can bust through fear and anxiety! You can be a better person! You can live life to the absolute fullest!"

And I'm sure you're right. But I think you're missing the point a little. In a lot of the articles I read about accepting yourself just as you are at any given moment, there's still one little tidbit thrown in there about how you still have to change---about how not changing will make you miserable in one way or another. In other words, they're kind of saying, "You're enough just the way you are. But you should still figure out what you need to change."

I don't always feel like figuring out what I need to change. I don't feel like comparing myself to other, more successful people. I don't like feeling like I have to prove myself. Sometimes I just want the freedom to simply be. No change, no improvement, no self-abuse. Just pure, 100% acceptance of myself.

Today I give you permission to...

Accept yourself if you're feeling weak.
Accept yourself if you're feeling nervous.
Accept yourself if you're feeling scared.
Accept yourself if you're feeling clueless.
Accept yourself if you're feeling unsuccessful.
Accept yourself if you're feeling lazy.
Accept yourself if you're feeling stuck.
Accept yourself if you're feeling angry.
Accept yourself if you're feeling bored.
Accept yourself if you're feeling less than you think you should be.

When you stop judging yourself completely, you leave more room to love yourself. I'm speaking from experience when I tell you that positive growth always blossoms when I treat myself with love, kindness and patience. When I judge myself, I hate myself. Nothing good or positive ever comes out of hating myself or comparing myself to others. That may work for some people, but it doesn't work for me.

And believe it or not, there is more right with you than wrong with you. At least that's what Jon Kabat-Zinn says.

I choose not to judge myself today.

<3 Madison

  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eliminating the "I could always just quit" mentality

"If this opportunity is too challenging or involves too much hard work, I could always just quit."

I don't know about you guys, but I have a bad habit of thinking the above thought. It's like a safety net or emergency exit I formulate in my mind..."If this gets too hard, I could always just quit."

When I do this, I basically consider the idea of quitting before I've even started.

It's one thing to decide in the midst of a new opportunity that it's not really right for you after all. It's quite another to think about quitting before you think about your capabilities as a resilient human to pull off whatever it is you're trying to pull off despite the challenges and hard work that may and probably will arise.

I've noticed that whenever I truly give myself a chance and commit to not quitting, I handle conflict and new opportunities exceptionally well.

Maybe you just landed a new job that seemingly involves an overwhelming amount of pressure.

Maybe you're moving to a new city for one reason or another, and you have no idea what's going to happen once you get there.

Maybe you're having an ongoing conflict with a friend who really means a lot to you, and you're wondering if it's time to walk away even though that's the last thing you want to do.

Once you start something or at least somewhat commit to something, you can't just decide that you're going to quit. Especially if you know that's not what you really want to do anyway---if you know that you would regret quitting and mentally harass yourself about it for a long time.

I'm a recovering quitter. My tendency to quit everything kept me standing in one place for a long time, wondering why I never got anywhere. The truth is, I still have a tendency to quit certain things that maybe I shouldn't be giving up on so soon.

Everyone will inevitably be tempted to quit at some point in their life. Quit school, quit their jobs, quit their relationships, quit their dreams.

But please don't quit yet. It's not over until your soul says it's over.

<3 Madison

p.s. Here are some additional resources in case you need a little extra push to keep going:

http://keltiecolleen.buzznet.com/photos/dontgiveup/
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/learning-is-a-series-of-steps-7-tips-to-master-a-new-skill/
http://www.lovegrowsdesign.com/2013/05/answer-to-prayer-slap-in-face.html#.Ucm7TPlJMmU


   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why all choices are ultimately the right choices

In case you guys don't know, I have an inner wise woman living inside of me. She frequently gives me blog ideas.

The other day, she said, "I guess there really is no such thing as a wrong choice."

I very often obsess over whether or not I'm doing the right things and making the right choices and going down the right paths. It takes me twelve hundred billion years to make decisions---especially big ones. I have a tendency to doubt and second-guess myself a lot. Sometimes I can be so sure about something and then wake up one morning with a sinking feeling that I have no clue about it at all. It's frustrating. It's confusing. It's heartbreaking. And it sucks.

It makes me wonder sometimes...How can we ever truly know if what we're doing/deciding/saying/planning is the right thing?

We can't. 

I know that can seem like the worst thing ever sometimes, but if you look at it from a different angle, it can be the best thing ever.

In the end, there are no wrong choices. Sure, we make mistakes and have regrets. But every single choice ultimately takes us exactly where we need to go. Some of those choices may lead to bumps in the road, but that's all they are. Bumps. They can't stop you or destroy you. They can only help you grow and encourage you to keep going even after you hit them.

Every little thing that happens to you and every little choice you make is shaping you into who you are and who you will become.

If you don't believe me, just think about a time in your life where you felt horrible as a result of a perceived wrong choice. Maybe you dated "the wrong person" and they broke your heart. Maybe you made a series of "wrong choices" that led to a downward spiral. Maybe you uprooted your whole life for something that didn't work out. Maybe you just simply did something you wish you could take back.

Within all of these circumstances, there was a lesson, wasn't there? There was a lesson, and there was growth. You may not have realized it at the time, but those things later shaped you into who you are today.

Where would we be without mistakes? A life without mistakes would be awfully boring, and I assure you that this blog wouldn't exist and my whole life as I currently know it wouldn't exist if I did everything "right."

There are no wrong choices. Every choice leads to experience, learning and growth. So do whatever you want and try not to worry about the outcome.

I will if you will.

<3 Madison  

Friday, June 14, 2013

You can't Google your way through life.

I can be super dependent on the Internet sometimes for two main reasons.

1.) I work from home and on the computer, so I frequently get distracted by gossip blogs on Yahoo and cat videos on YouTube. (Just kidding. I'm more of a dog person.) Sometimes Googling what I should eat for lunch seems like a better alternative to just opening the fridge and finding something on my own. 

2.) I have a really hard time thinking for myself sometimes. It's something I struggled with in the past, and I am someone who can honestly admit to Googling, "What should I do with my life?" on multiple occasions. I would always cling to an external source to tell me what to do and how to do it instead of just making my own decisions. I never trusted myself. I have since gotten a lot better at trusting myself, but I still fall into familiar old patterns of relying on the Internet to tell me what I should do. And if you tend to do the same thing and you're anything like me, you probably read articles and then fail to truly take action on anything you read in them. I'll read something, think, "Hmm...Interesting," and then just go right back to what I was doing. 

I think our reliance on the Internet is causing a huge disconnect. It disconnects us from genuine human interaction, it disconnects us from taking action on things, and it disconnects us from trusting ourselves and making our own decisions without a second opinion from eHow. And I know this insignificant little blog post isn't going to change that, but I guess I just wanted to address the issue and get it off my chest like I do with every other blog post I write. 

So I'm going to present myself (and you, if you're interested) with a challenge. No Googling how to do something mundane or personal for the rest of the summer. If I'm doing research, that's different. But I am going to do my very best not to Google things like "how to make a difficult decision" or "how to communicate effectively" or "how to not be scared of bees anymore." Because chances are, in the end, I will still have a hard time making a difficult decision, I will still communicate ineffectively (or not at all), and I will still be scared of bees. I realize now that no amount of Googling will truly change those things. But taking action and thinking for myself might.

Take the challenge with me?

<3 Madison       

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thoughts on self-hatred


This isn't exactly breaking news, but I really hate myself sometimes. In fact, I've been hating myself off and on for the past couple of weeks.

Self-love is really hard when you know yourself better than anyone else on the planet. Every flaw, every mistake, every rude thought, every limiting belief, every weakness, every failure---It's all there at the forefront of your mind screaming, "Look at me!"

I don't entirely know why, but I've just been in this horrible off and on funk for the past couple of weeks. I've had a really hard time loving myself.

I've judged and blamed other people in my head, which makes me feel like a bitch. I've chosen chocolate chips and doughnuts over carrots and broccoli, which makes me feel like I lack self-control. I've been working and wasting time more than I've been playing, which makes me feel like I don't really remember how to play. I feel like I've been running from myself, and I have no idea what exactly I'm running from, which makes me feel stupid and weak. I've been comparing myself to other people, which makes me feel like I don't measure up. I've been failing to write inspiring, uplifting content, which makes me feel like a fraud.

And while not everyone will write these confessions on the Internet, I think a lot of people feel the same way. That's one of the reasons why I do this. It's hard to write your fears and weaknesses in permanent ink and let everybody else read them, but I can only hope that there will be one person out there who thinks, "Finally someone understands."

Hating yourself really sucks. Thinking that the self-hatred will pass quickly and then waiting around while it takes its sweet time sucks even more.

I wish I had some kind of super inspiring after-thought, but I don't.

All I can say is that maintaining an unconditionally loving relationship with yourself is hard work. But I try to get a little better at it every day.

<3 Madison    


Monday, June 3, 2013

A friendly reminder to say, do and feel whatever you want

I recently finished watching You've Got Mail for the first time, and there were a couple of lines in it that stood out to me and inspired me to write this post. I want to take a moment to share them with you. (In case you haven't seen the movie, Kathleen and Joe are the main characters.)

Kathleen: People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all...has happened.

Joe: It wasn't personal.
Kathleen: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's personal to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal anyway?

I just admired how open and blunt Kathleen's character was. She didn't really pay a whole lot of attention to "rules" and commonly tossed around words of wisdom like, "Change is good" and "Don't take it personally."

She was heartbroken by said change, and she simply did take it personally...Regardless of whether or not that was how she was "supposed" to feel.

So that got me thinking...

Maybe it's okay to be hurt and angry because of something someone else said/did instead of forcing yourself to "let it go" or figure out the role you played in the situation. Maybe you can just simply give yourself permission to be upset when someone else says or does something that you know is wrong.

Maybe it's okay to lead what society would call an "average life" instead of constantly striving for greatness and figuring out a way to leave some sort of epic mark on the world. Maybe you can just simply wake up, tell your loved ones good morning, eat a bowl of cheerios, and go to work and let all of that be meaningful enough.

Maybe it's okay to be terrified and resist change and grieve loss instead of doing something proactive or busting through your negative feelings. Maybe you can just stay in bed all day, cry, or have a mini anxiety attack if that's what you feel you need to do.

Maybe it's okay to change your mind about a goal instead of feeling like you owe it to yourself to follow through no matter what. Maybe you can just choose another path and still be happy and fulfilled.

Maybe it's okay to sit at home all day and watch TV or play on the Internet instead of going out and making new friends every day. Maybe being your own best friend and having a comfortable handful of loyal friends who won't forget about you two days later is more than enough.

Maybe it's okay to keep personal matters to yourself instead of feeling obligated to share everything or answer people's questions when they ask things like, "Are you dating anyone?" or "How much money do you make?" or "What's your bra size?" Maybe you can just say, "I'd prefer not to discuss that," and not give two shits if your unwillingness to discuss it offends the person who asked the question.

Maybe it's okay to call yourself a writer, cook, musician, grown-up, whatever even if you're not widely considered to be a "real one." Maybe you can just write, cook, play music, or have responsibilities and allow that to be a perfect reason to call yourself a writer, cook, musician or grown-up.

Maybe it's okay to do something even if your family or friends disapprove. Maybe putting your own happiness first is more important in the end. (Spoiler alert: It is.)

Maybe it's okay to consume fast food, heavy pasta, dairy products, soda, meat, cookies, chocolate cake and caffeine. Maybe making a green smoothie every morning or reading blog post after blog post about why your eating habits suck isn't your cup of tea.

Maybe it's okay to roll your eyes at widely distributed bits of wisdom that don't serve you and help you feel like the awesome human being that you are. Maybe you can just say, do and feel whatever you want.

<3 Madison    

 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sometimes

Sometimes I get so paralyzed with fear at the thought of doing something new that I almost convince myself that I'm not good enough or ready enough to do it at all. But then I realize that every other time I've tried something new, despite the fear and inexperience, I survived and adapted.

Sometimes I get so tempted to hurt and judge the people who hurt and judge me. Then I realize that that's just more hurting and judging and doesn't solve anything.

Sometimes I get so discouraged that every little thing that happens throughout the day evokes uncontrollable tears. Then I realize that discouragement is always temporary and that something good may be just around the corner.    

Sometimes I convince myself that I deserve nothing wonderful and that my happiness is invalid because it won't last. Then I realize that it's okay to be happy and that I deserve everything that makes me feel that way. 

Sometimes I get really sad for no reason in particular and decide to torment myself with junk food, darkness, and sad songs and then torment myself for tormenting myself. Then I realize that I have every right to eat junk food, sit all alone in the dark, and listen to sad songs if that's what feels right to me in the moment.    

Sometimes I put a lot of pressure on myself to write inspiring content for you guys and then tell myself my content sucks when it has no real rhyme or reason to it. Then I realize that you guys still think I'm pretty great and seem to like my simple, random posts. 

I'm just really glad you decided to stop by today.

<3 Madison  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 5)

~ Be nice. That sounds generic and overused, but please be nice. Don't tell someone who doesn't listen to the same kind of music that you listen to that they have bad taste. Don't get snappy with your grandmother when she has a hard time catching on to modern technology. Don't open up a floodgate of complaints and insults when someone makes you mad over something ridiculously stupid. When you pour a glass of lemonade for yourself, offer to pour some for someone else as well. Hug people. Smile at people. Befriend people. Laugh at people's jokes, even if you don't think they're funny. Don't judge, gossip, belittle and criticize. The world would be a much better place if we could all just be a bit nicer to each other.

~ Here's a dream following analogy for you. You're stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere, and your only source of food is the fish in the body of water surrounding your island. You have to constantly throw out your fishing pole and wait for a bite. You have to constantly be reeling in fish. You may have days where nothing is biting, and you're hungry and grumpy. You may have days where you want to just give up and lie face down until you starve to death. But you don't give up. You keep fishing and you keep reeling and you keep feasting because you know it's what you have to do to stay alive. Think of reaching your goals and dreams the same way. It won't always be easy, and sometimes you will feel discouraged and frustrated. But you have to keep fishing until you get a bite. And you eventually will get a bite...as long as you don't give up.

~ New beginnings are always a bit rocky. It's important to remember that they won't be rocky forever.

~ Happiness comes from the inside, not the outside.

~ If you're nervous and afraid, it matters to you.

~ Laughter is what love sounds like.

~ I read lots of articles and blog posts about living life to the fullest and doing more than simply existing. As much as I hate to admit it, they don't usually affect me or speak to me at all. I'm happy and I do what I love every day, but I can't honestly say that I "live life to the fullest." But there was something about this post that just made me want to tell everybody I love that I love them, throw caution to the wind, create something beautiful, and be the very best me that I can be---today. http://keltiecolleen.buzznet.com/user/journal/17326008/heartblog-high-winds-changing-things/

~ You should read my new blog and tell your friends about it. http://more-to-share-more-to-learn.blogspot.com/ 

<3 Madison

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The difference between giving up and changing your mind

I used to justify my tendency to easily give up on things by saying stuff like, "I just change my mind a lot." And that was true. I did change my mind a lot, and I still do. But there are some things I gave up on that I wish I hadn't.

I try my best to avoid regret, and I generally don't spend too much time looking over my shoulder and wishing I had done things differently 3, 5, 7 years ago. But today, I just wanted to explore the difference between giving up on a dream/goal and changing your mind about a dream/goal.

Like I stated earlier, I change my mind a lot. But over the past couple of years, there are certain things that I have surprisingly not changed my mind about. These days, when something really matters to me, I fight for it with everything I am.

If you change your mind about something that really matters to you, that's giving up.

If you change your mind about something that no longer feels quite right and doesn't make your soul sing anymore, that's changing your mind. And I just wanted to let you know that it's okay to change your mind.

Sometimes I make goals and then rinse them down the metaphorical drain within weeks. I always seem to feel bad about that---Like I owed those goals my willingness to follow through no matter what.

But things change, and that's okay. People change. Minds change. Hearts change. Paths change.

You might think you want something, and you might even put a lot into it. But if you wake up one morning with a tug in your heart that's trying to guide you in a different direction, or if you wake up one morning with a vague sense that you don't really want what you thought you wanted after all, it's okay to wipe your slate clean or go in another direction. When it comes to instincts, whether small or large, I say follow them.

Ultimately, your instincts, wants and needs deserve your attention way more than a goal you wrote down two years ago and swore you'd achieve.

One thing I know for sure about life is that it's far from a straight line. We will constantly be taking steps and bounds in every different direction. Two steps forward, nine steps back, three steps sideways, etc.

Don't give up on the things that bring light to your soul. And don't be afraid to let go of the things that no longer do.

<3 Madison

p.s. I launched a new blog last week! Please check it out and spread the word if you like what you see. http://more-to-share-more-to-learn.blogspot.com/    

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Committing to and trusting your decisions



I've mentioned it once before, and I will mention it again. I am a terrible decision maker. It usually takes me a really long time to make a decision about anything, whether it’s something big or something small.

I also change my mind and doubt myself a lot. I’m not always in tune with what I really want or need, and sometimes this leaves me feeling completely lost and directionless.

But lately, I've been realizing that there's something to be said about just making a damn choice and sticking to it, even if you don’t know what the outcome of that choice will be. I think that’s the main reason why a lot of people, myself included, struggle with making up their minds. It’s because of uncertainty and being afraid of the outcome.

Here are some of the things I've recently come to realize about decision making:

1. Not making a choice at all is still a choice---a bad one.

2. No one ever has any way of knowing how something is going to turn out. That can either be paralyzing or beautiful. Let it be beautiful.

3. We’re faced with decisions for a reason. We come up with ideas for a reason. We are presented with opportunities for a reason. We have gut feelings and intuitive instincts for a reason. Sometimes simply trusting yourself and trusting your decisions is the single best thing you can do.

4. Fear, doubt and uncertainty have a way of trying to convince you that you’re making the wrong choice. But deep down, you know if something feels right or not. Deep down, you already know what you need to do. Trust that and commit to that. 

I've been faced with some meaty decisions lately and plan on making a few different changes in my life. It has been extremely powerful to just quiet the voice of fear and insecurity and allow myself to be lead down these new paths. 

It's not an easy thing to do at all, and I know that I will continue to struggle with it at times. But it's exhausting to constantly look over my shoulder and second-guess myself. Sometimes you just have to trust that the universe has greater plans. And it's okay to have no idea what those plans are.

<3 Madison    

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

10 ways to alleviate mild to moderate angst

Anyone who truly knows me can attest to the fact that I'm a bit emotionally charged at times. I have a tendency to fly off the handle or claim that my whole life is over when something I don't like happens. I've been getting sort of better about this lately, but it's still a fairly regular thing.

Sometimes I get so worked up that I almost swear I'm going to drown myself in the bathtub or run away from everything I've ever known and be homeless forever. And then ten to fifteen minutes later (or longer, depending on the situation), I'm totally fine again.

The discomfort involved in these little episodes is profound. During the bad ones, I pretty much resort to hating myself and everything about my life in general. And even though that feeling is always temporary, in the heat of the moment, I'm usually a complete mess.

If you're the same way or if you're prone to having mini meltdowns of your own, here are ten ways to alleviate the angst:

1. Get some fresh air. Get out of your house, apartment, hotel room, wherever, and get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Pace your yard a few times. Go for a drive and roll all the windows down (if you want). Whenever I sit around and stew in my own negative feelings, they multiply. It helps to get active or just go off by myself for a little while.

2. Cry. I'm talking about the kind of crying that would embarrass you if others were around (Side note: Make sure others aren't around.) You may feel pathetic and ridiculous, but you will feel so much better when you're done. Seriously. It's like a full soul cleanse.

3. Create something. Write. Draw. Build a Lego house. Put your intense energy into something useful.

4. Destroy something. Destroying something can feel just as therapeutic as creating something. I admittedly don't really like to destroy things too much because I tend to feel sympathy for inanimate objects. I will only destroy something if I know for a fact that it's okay or that it must be destroyed. Try destroying an old piece of junk or hacking away at something that needs to come down and/or apart.  

5. Read some inspiring or uplifting content. I bookmark inspiring blog posts on a pretty regular basis. I like to read back over things when I'm feeling particularly dejected. Here are a few examples: Don't Ever Give Up, Transcendence, How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship When You're Depressed

6. Surround yourself with nice people. I love nice people more than I can ever explain. There's nothing like being showered with love and kindness when a dark cloud is looming over your head. Try to stay away from negative, critical and belligerent people when you're having a bad day. They will always make you feel worse.  

7. Listen to music that matches your mood. I have a variety of different songs on my iPod---happy songs, angry songs, sad songs, inspiring songs, etc. When I'm in a bad mood, I like to listen to the angry, sad or inspiring ones. They make me feel less alone with my feelings, and I think that's ultimately what we all want when we're feeling something unpleasant.   

8. Reach out to someone. I've been getting better about reaching out for support. I used to avoid doing that at all costs out of fear that I would seem weak or self-indulgent. There is absolutely nothing weak or self-indulgent about admitting how you feel and reaching out to someone who can help you. Everyone needs a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on every now and then.  

9. Be proactive. As I mentioned earlier, when something I don't like happens, I tend to bathe in my own misfortune or claim that my whole life is ruined. My whole life is not ruined  There is always a way out. There is always another option. There is always something I can do to make progress towards fixing my current situation. I've been trying to be more proactive about things.     

10. Let go. This is one of my mantras. It's very simple, yet very powerful. Bad moods and mini meltdowns are sometimes triggered as a result of holding onto something that can easily be thrown to the wind. Take a deep breath. Forgive people. Practice mindfulness and acceptance. Figure out how to access feelings of happiness and contentment (which is totally possible, by the way). Be good to yourself and others. Let life happen.

<3 Madison