It Really is Your Story

Stop searching for your purpose. Whatever you’re doing,  find the meaning in that right now.  By Madeline Johnson

And no one, I mean, no one, I promise you –  no one is going to create your story for you.

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Let’s challenge ourselves shall we? Let’s question the stories we tell ourselves–  about why we are here, stuck over there, or wondering where we are headed.

Loosen up the noose around your neck.

Take a breath why don’t you.

Free yourself of fixed ideas, of old stale notions about your story.

Flip the script you’ve been writing.  It’s time for a plot twist.

The truth about your story is you get to make it up along the way.  Every day.  You are the only one to give anything any meaning in your life.  And your life can mean anything you want it to mean.

What do you care about, what do you think is important? Not for the world, not for society, but for yourself?

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Your life is anything you want it to be.

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Stop searching for your purpose. Whatever you’re doing,  find the pleasure in that thing, place, moment, right now,. . .appreciate every aspect of it, and find the meaning in it.

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Inspiration

The 10 Essential Rules For Slowing Down and Enjoying Life More by Leo Babauta

Books

Essential Zen Habits

Featured Artist

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What do I care about, what do I think is important? Not for the world, not for society, but for myself?

Olaf Breuning

What We Learn Along the Way

Life happens. Life teaches. 
Some of the most important things I have learned along the way. By Madeline Johnson

Life happens. Life teaches. We live and we learn.

Some of the most important things I have learned along the way.

Life can be unpredictable. The weather can get dark and stormy.  Clouds roll in. No matter what happens, be prepared and stay centered. Don’t let every little thing that happens throw you off balance.  You get to decide what rocks your boat, what drives you crazy.

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Pay attention to the details. Sloppy and fast requires do overs. You don’t want to have to redo what you didn’t want to tackle in the first place.

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Sometimes that thing we don’t want to do – what must be done. Do your best and move on. 

We don’t listen deeply enough to each other. Communicate clearly and elegantly. Get your point across. When it’s your turn to listen, listen with all of your senses. 

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Most of us want bad situations to be over as soon as possible. We will do anything to escape confrontation. We just want to move on. Sometimes they take time to work out. Patience really is a virtue.

When bad things happen, it’s even more important to take extra good care of yourself. Provision yourself well –  to ride out the storm. 

Think long and hard before you say yes to commitments. Especially long term commitments.

Don’t rush into relationships or situations. Weigh your decisions carefully. Uncover the truth, then take smart, calculated risks.

Always remain grateful, even when all you have is just a little.

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You don’t know what you or someone else is capable of doing until they’re really desperate.

Pay attention to your life. Don’t be lazy. Do what needs to be done now.

We are never really blind-sided. Heed the warning signs. Examine the red flags. Listen to the small pains that can become big headaches. Don’t wait. Act now.

Focus on the good that is happening in your life, even when times are dark and bleak.

We all lie. We lie to ourselves. Big lies, small lies, white lies, dark lies. We deceive each other. We do this because we don’t want to hurt ourselves or others. Face the truth. The truth will set you free. Seek what is fact, not fiction in life.

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Most of us see situations the way we want them to be, instead of how they truly are – stay in reality.  Reality may be harsh, but it is your friend

Know that when someone is lashing out in anger, they are usually very sad and frightened. 

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Featured Art

Anna Tsvell Anna’s surreal portraits are full of bohemian melancholy mood. She paints women of almost alien appearance which makes her portraits extremely recognizable and attractive for the art collectors all over the world.
Long curved necks ,chaotically combined parts of the face and body (since summer 2018) are the main distinctive features of Anna’s remarkable style .

 

 

The Messy Process of Loving Yourself

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. By Madeline Johnson

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. Self-acceptance requires patience and practice and maybe even managing those great expectations you have for yourself while holding onto your standards.

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Expectations can sometimes get in the way of lessons and joy found in unexpected experiences.

-George Leonard, Poet/Philosopher and the granddaddy of the consciousness movement.

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To be unaware of our irrationality and

derangement of our own thoughts

is what keeps us stuck.

Read More: The Three Levels of Self-Awareness by Mark Manson

An argument for loving and accepting yourself . . .

When we refuse to accept ourselves as we are, then we return to the constant need for numbing and distraction. And we will similarly be unable to accept others the way they are, so we will look for ways to manipulate them, change them, or convince them to be a person they are not. Our relationships will become transactional, conditional, and ultimately toxic and fail.

Go deeper into learning about how to better handle adversity in your life. Read his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

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Featured Art

Leif is an artist and Creative Director. His work explores themes of connectedness, the relevance of nature and the psychedelic experience. By utilizing these subjects he attempts to inspire the viewer into a realignment with themselves and their surroundings.

New Ways to Experience The World

Expanding your cognitive horizons through new experiences. Reimagining what exists in completely new ways. By Madeline Johnson

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The Objective:

Expanding your cognitive horizons through new experiences. Reimagining what exists in completely new ways.

Why we need to do it:

The complexity of today’s global society and the accelerating rate of change requires that we continuously learn, think, create, and seek to build and experience new innovations. Truth be told, we simply don’t have a choice.

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Understanding how we learn.

Fluid vs Crystalized Intelligence

Fluid intelligence is your capacity to learn new information, retain it, then use that new knowledge as a foundation to solve the next problem, or learn the next new skill, and so on. When you encounter an entirely new problem that cannot be solved with your existing knowledge, you must rely on fluid intelligence to solve it.

One way to think of fluid intelligence is that you’ll use it slightly differently each time you’re in a new situation, so it’s flexible and adaptive – like water in its fluid form.

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By comparison, crystallized intelligence is the ability to use all the learned knowledge and experience stored in our heads. When you’re taking a class at school, you use crystallized intelligence all the time. When you’re learning a new language, you memorize the new vocabulary words and increase your vocabulary over time. You can improve your crystallized intelligence by reading new books and taking classes.

Read  Five Ways to Improve Your Fluid Intelligence

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You can build your fluid intelligence by constantly exposing yourself to new things, as you are prime your brain for learning. What is new and unseen triggers dopamine, which stimulates the creation of new neurons, and this also smooths the journey to learning. “Always look to new activities to engage your mind—expand your cognitive horizons,” says Kuszewski.

High Attitude

Gains in intelligence don’t come from sticking to the same old routines. Keep exploring new things in life and keep learning new things. Tackle learning a new language. Take piano or drum lessons. Visit a new country and learn about the people and culture.

A Case for Immersive Experiences

A wide range of new studies are finding that motor skills, hand-eye coordination, aerobic conditioning and daily physicality are important for maintaining working memory and fluid intelligence.

Craving New Experiences & Exposing Yourself To New Ideas

I am the type of person that craves new experiences, specifically those that involve as many of my senses as possible.  I am more than willing to spend money and time on mesmerizing, immersive experiences like Jump into the Light, a new virtual reality experience in Manhattan; Fuerza Bruta, a dynamic, theatrical performance that started in New York and an Inipi Sweat Lodge Ceremony in Miami.

We also gain fluid knowledge by socializing, networking, mixing and mingling. Being with other people, we expose yourself to new ideas, environments, and opportunities.

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Featured Artist

Eugenia Loli

Starting off in the working world as a nurse, Eugenia then took a U-turn and became a computer programmer, which lead her down the path of becoming a technology journalist and a filmmaker.

What are we free for?

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. By Madeline Johnson

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. Free to experiment and do more with your day.  Free to build what you can’t find but you know you need. Free to have an original thought and express that thought elegantly.

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Why then do we so often choose to waste this freedom? Why are we so careless with the free time we have? Why do we waste our weekends, our evenings, any free time we have in idol pursuits? Surfing the internet, watching bad Netflix series and trolling through Instagram?

I argue, like Colin Wilson that to be truly happy most human beings need a certain amount of stimulus during their free time or they will grow dull, lethargic and perhaps for some, even depressed. This is not a motivational rant about having a positive attitude or being grateful.  This is about doing more with our minds and our lives. This is about using the free time we have to create something new and original.

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Playing it Safe is The Riskiest Thing You Can Do

Many people will account their lives to be successful if they get through them with only minimal pain.  Few aim to rise above a plodding existence. And this, not-withstanding that they often have within them the ability to do something that which perhaps no other human being has done before.

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Merely to do what others have done is often safe and comfortable; but to do something truly original, and do it well, whether appreciated by others or not – that is what being human is really all about and it is alone that what justifies the self-love that is pride. 

From Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride.

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Occupy your day with interesting tasks, challenges and problems to solve.

Strive to spend the majority of your free time creating, exploring, learning, doing.

Challenge your capacities and improve your talents.

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Creative risk taking requires perseverance, struggle and the short term sacrifice of pleasures and comfort, to explore and cultivate the gifts within us, and thus to enjoy the fruits of genuine pride.

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The goal: to attain personal excellence of the kind that sets you apart from others.

Read Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride

Watch Why Passivity Breeds Mediocrity 

Featured Artist

Afarin Sajedi was born in 1979 in Shiraz. She came to Tehran to study at the Azad University of Tehran where she got her degree in Graphic Design. Sajedi’s creativity, technique and powerful presentation are sure to ensure her an elevated position in the world of Iranian art. She has several motifs she enjoys portraying. However, whether she is depicting her Japanese people, her clowns or her theatrical personages she only portrays women. In all her works her women’s faces are highly made up be it in pain or joy to show how she visualizes women when they leave the security of their homes to enter the world outside. “Women have often told me how much they enjoy using make up because it allows them another face,” Sajedi exclaims in despair. She confesses that she has been highly influenced by Heinrich Boll’s Clown and by Gustav Klimt. She uses Klimt’s depth of color to vivify the pain of the modern woman in any role she decides to thrust herself into. Red plays an important role in the works of this painter. “It’s an aggressive color,” Sajedi says, “and I love aggressive colors.” Sajedi has participated in four group and four solo exhibitions. She is presently living and working in Tehran.

 

 

To Be Real

Seeking wisdom and being true and real to oneself. Madeline Johnson

To be absolutely real with ourselves. Stop playing it so safe. How freeing. What a release. What a relief.  True to you. No more disjappointmenting yourself because you put your needs on the back burner.  You said yes, but you meant no. You didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so you over promised. You took that project for the money.

When we are not true to ourselves, we starve ourselves of care and respect. Integrity begins with honoring our hearts. It’s not selfish. It’s healthy and it helps us all.

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Stripped of all of our masks and desire to be needed.  To understand ourselves fully, to know more about our own existence.

Why I am seeking wisdom. 

  • Lie to myself, no more!
  • Life is tricky. People are strange. I contradict myself. Why?
  • Decisions are difficult. Which are the best ones?
  • Worry is constant. I shall remain calm.
  • This wisdom helps with clarity. Clarity is freedom.
  • I know I don’t have all the answers. We are here together for a reason. I learn from you.
  • Life moves too fast. My strong desire to slow down. Savor. Relish.

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Why I seek wisdom.

  • To be more emotionally and intellectually intelligent about myself and others.
  • Because I am realistically insecure and my experience will only take me so far. What can I learn from your experience?
  • I want to accomplish more of what is important. What is important to you might inspire me.

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Featured Artwork

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College in her hometown before studying painting in Chicago (haunting the Art Institute where she learned what painting was.)   In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona (a mere outpost at the time).  Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out: The Guest RoomThe Truth About CometsEine Kleine NachtmusikInterior with Sudden JoyInsomniasPalaestraTamerlaneFar From. By 1956 Max and Dorothea had chosen to live and work thenceforth in France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included, for Dorothea Tanning, an intense five- year adventure in soft sculpture:  CousinsDon Juan’s BreakfastFetishRainy Day CanapéTragic TableVerbXmasEmmaRevelation or the End of the MonthHôtel du Pavot Room 202.

When Your Struggles Become Your Strength

Reflecting and learning from painful experiences is how you turn your struggles into strengths. by Madeline Johnson

Like many of you, some of the most challenging moments in my life have been the best for me because I have learned so much from them and I have grown so much confidence through fighting and finding my way through each problem.

Confidence comes from over coming problems you thought you couldn’t handle.

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For example, I learned that I am a very strong, determined and persevering human being after helping my middle daughter Ariel through a traumatic brain injury. She was in a terrible car accident and on life support and those seven years of helping her and watching the doctors bring her back to life, taught me never to give up, to fight for life, to ask for help and to continue to ask questions and seek solutions even when everything seems impossible.
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Having to close my marketing and PR agency during the process and begin consulting during her recovery had me learning new skills, like how to build WordPress and Shopify websites, video production, editing and reaching out to clients through platforms like LinkedIn, Upwork, Clarity and Angel List, basically – starting all over again.
You can learn more about my work here.
Evolving and growing, while remaining humble, that’s what we must do as humans.

We either evolve or we die.

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Being my mom’s advocate during her fight with stage four lung cancer taught me that relationships are everything and it is an honor to see someone pass through this existence, to be able to have the time to tell them how much they mean to you and that their life was very, very important to you.
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Getting back together once again after divorcing my husband, the love of my life, taught me that we should always be open to forgiving. Forgiving ourselves and those we love because it frees the heart and actually strengthens you. Whether work or personal or both, relationships in life are everything and relationships won’t grow unless you do. It’s about becoming self-aware and open to change.
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I have learned that painful experiences when reflected upon properly offer so much in the way of lessons and self-improvement.

What have you learned from your most painful moments?

 

Featured Art

Polish artist, Zdzisław Beksiński, who made a name for himself with his dystopian surrealism paintings, filled with post-apocalyptic imagery and creatures that come straight out of nightmares.

 

 

What Motivates Most of Us

What really motivates us is our need to be loved and heard. By Madeline Johnson

What motivates most of us is . . .
. . .the desire to feel loved and appreciated. . .
. . .the wish to be admired and acknowledged. . .
. . .the longing to be heard and to seem relevant. . .
. . .the need to feel important and significant. . .
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When you say Never mind, Whatever, Forget about it, I really don’t care,  It doesn’t even matter . . . .you are lying to yourself.
You’re being dishonest with yourself and with the world.
And this is what holds you back.  This is what keeps you from getting anywhere.
Reality is, you do care.

Now just imagine if you were vulnerable enough to express yourself. . . if you could share your inner truth . . .  see my worth, recognize my value, love me for who I am dammit!

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Then you’d be sharing some hard core truth.
The goal should be to get closer to a state of “self-congruence” — in which what we say, think, and feel is consistent with who we are inside. And the truth is we are dying inside for some unconditional love.
Honor this. . .the truth, because the fact is, you do care. You care so much it hurts.
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So go ahead, pay attention, tend to yourself and your need to be loved, acknowledged and heard.
Grow to become more honest with who you are and less delusional about yourself.
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Artwork by
Rene Magritte was an internationally acclaimed surrealist artist of all time, yet it was not until his 50s, when he was finally able to reach some form of fame and recognition for his work. Rene Magritte described his paintings saying, “My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does that mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing, it is unknowable.”

Close Encounters of the Real Kind

Such a refreshing thought – to actually meet someone who is genuinely real and speaking the truth.  Now that is some rare shit.

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Sometimes the very people we are closest to become unreal to us. We might easily assume we know what life is like for them and forget that, like us, they are always changing, their experience is always new. We lose sight of how fully they too are living with hurts and fears, how hard life can be on the inside. – excerpt from Radical Acceptance 

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Now I’ve been accused of being too tough on my family.  My tone too harsh . . . .coming in too hot. . . way too aggressive, they cry.   I’m not soft enough, gentle enough, kind enough.  I don’t give them enough room to be human.

I have also been described by my family as angry, enraged, and demanding and someone who can never be pleased.  This in turn has made me a lightening rod for blame.

It’s a terribly messy situation and it has also alienated me quite a bit.

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Recognizing Our Humanmess & Pulling Our Emotional Weight 

I had to ask myself, am I really that emotionally insensitive? or . . . .am I perhaps emotionally exhausted, with very little patience to have the “tell me what I want to hear conversations“. You know how they go.  The one you where you are trying to give some good sensible advice and it sucks all of your time and energy. . .and the troubled one cries, moans and complains and then goes on to make even bigger, unavoidable mistakes.

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Now having a mentally-ill ex who uses the children as weapons does nothing to elevate the family dynamics one bit.  He is sick, he is weak and the weak grasp onto anything they can to stay afloat. It’s truly painful and pitiful and annoying as hell.

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Growing up with a bullet-proof, hard-headed immigrant family I have been trained to do one thing and one thing only. When we have a problem we fix it. Simple as that. No added drama and delusional ego defense tactics. We simply make the repairs. . . . we change our behavior, our environment, our thinking, whatever it is we need to do, including removing ourselves from the messes left behind.

I was taught to humbly take complete ownership for myself, my life and my actions.

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Yet I do believe it is okay to ruminate for a solution and to sometimes overthink things – -but it’s not okay to go around thinking badly or poorly. The world is not out to get us. The real problem is you, it is very, very rarely what happens to you.

This lack of desire to sit with another and hold space for them for a very long time, when they do nothing to face their challenges – is the issue.

You see when I think about their complaints about me, I realize its not just my tone that they don’t like.  It’s how they interpret the tone.  When I am firm, they hear you’re not good enough, you’re a mess, you are just terrible and you really don’t have it together” and there in lies the suffering – the sever in the relationship.

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Stuck, it’s my lack of desire and willingness to placate them. To sit with their suffering. To buy into their woe is me helplessness.

For this I have been pegged as emotionally unaware, arrested in my growth and a non-compassionate person. Which is the farthest thing from the truth. I am wildly compassionate and loving but also a huge fan of the being absolutely honest with ourselves.

So, I do two things at once. I call bullshit on their desire to expect me to sit and stir the pot of sadness and sorrow that they decided to make for dinner and eat for left overs.

But, more importantly, I apply a bit of compassion to their pain and suffering by asking myself two questions before we begin –

What does she need right now?

What does this person fear right now?

These two questions help bring us closer together as humans.

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Hardwired for Happiness

Changing your thoughts to create your future by Madeline Johnson with Dr. Joe Dispenza

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza in this lecture, 95% of who we are by the time we are 35 is a memorized set of behaviors, a pattern of emotional reactions, continual unconscious habits, hardwired attitudes, rigid beliefs and perceptions.
We become very predictable people.
If we decide that perhaps we want something better, perhaps change in our lifes, we must start with our thoughts.

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If you agree and believe that the way you think has some effect on you life, than changing the way you think is the only real solution for transformation.

In order to become better versions of who we are for a better life, we must change our personalities.

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How Our Personalities Are Formed

We have around 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s an average of 2500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour. Out of those 60-70 thousand thoughts that you think, 90% of those thoughts are the same thoughts as the day before.

If you believe (like I do) that your thoughts are some how connected to your life, then the same thoughts always lead to the same choices, which eventually lead to the same outcomes.

Thoughts for Change

Since the same choices always lead to the same behaviors, the same behaviors create the same experiences.

The same experiences produce the same emotions.

Those very same emotions drive those very same thoughts.

A vicious circle and a predictable life.

Your thoughts, fueled by emotions effect your entire life, including your biology, your neurocircuitry, your neurochemistry, your neurohormones, and even your genetic expression. It is all equal to how you think, how you act and how you feel.

How you think, how you act and how you feel is called your personality and your personality creates your personal reality.

Art by Robert Jahns