3.14.2019

The Only Way to Defeat Fear


     Fear of someone or something is the most powerful motivator

     besides love.

     I believe this with all my heart, based on observation, readings, and experience.

     Fear makes us hide in the corner of a room at an overcrowded party. It limits us to our habits and makes us the sum of our activities. Living afraid, we grit our teeth and silent scream in loneliness.

     Drowning in responsibilities and wondering why we did this to ourselves, we wonder if anyone will notice. Will anyone notice our trembling hands, our whispers in the dark?

     And fear makes your heart beat 120 beats per minute.

     But do you know what else makes your heart beat that fast? Love. "Perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18)

~

     If I say, "Don't think about a giraffe wearing a top hat," what do you think of?

     A giraffe.

     You can't get rid of fear by yelling at yourself to stop thinking a certain way. You must replace those fears and negative thoughts with something else.

     "Think about an elephant."

     Okay, now we're getting somewhere. And you're going to focus on that elephant, that love, that truth which counteracts the fear. You're going to focus on it until everything else becomes blurry.

     I've used this technique a lot in the past semesters. Focusing on truth instead of the lies swirling in my head has helped me to be more confident. Focusing on love when fear threatens to choke me has helped me show grace to others.

     This technique is difficult, but it can be practiced until all it takes is a slight adjustment of the knob to tune you in to a different radio station.

     So tell me. What truth are you focusing on today? Hit reply if you're reading in email, or comment below.

~Madeline

*Note: If you are dealing with severe anxiety, please see a medical professional.

3.13.2019

Why Madeleine L'Engle Called Her Journal a Free Psychiatrist


     Most people who have known me well for more than a few weeks know that Madeleine L'Engle is my favorite author, though she is not my namesake.

     Who is Madeleine L'Engle?

     I have to briefly explain that she is the genius behind the book series A Wrinkle in Time. Most people have at least heard of the first book of the same name since the release of Disney's movie in 2018.

     But what I love most about Madeleine L'Engle is her soul's similarity to mine, a revelation I had while reading her first published journal, A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journal, No. 1). I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, and it moved at lightning speed to the top of my favorite nonfiction books.

     I've gone on to read L'Engle's other Crosswicks Journals, and I recently finished one of her nonfiction books, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. This one had been quoted so many times by many of my favorite bloggers, and I knew it was a must-read for a creative mind.

     Returning to L'Engle's books has been like visiting a favorite grandmother. In Walking on Water, her thoughts on journaling only confirmed that we are kindred spirits.

2.11.2019

Dear Marie Kondo: Minimalism Takes Time


Dear Marie Kondo,

     I read your book when it was at least warm off the press, and now every college student I know is curious about your new Netflix series.

     I stand all of my clothes up in my dresser drawers, and my dorm room is cleaner than ever. You're right - it's harder to fall back into old habits when you're focused on keeping the things that spark joy. I haven't fallen back into clutter, and I've seen my three closest girl friends each catch the tidying bug.

     But it takes time.

1.31.2019

3 Reasons to Be Still


     Yesterday, my professor had us take three minutes at the end of my psychology class. She told us to listen to her mindfulness app for three minutes, and the sounds of waterfalls and birds fell on our open ears, relaxing our softly closed eyes.

     Just hours later, at the end of a yoga class focused on breathing and listening to our bodies, we spent a minute in complete silence, eyes closed.

     "I get it, God," I whispered in my mind.

12.26.2018

Why New Year's Day Is the Best Holiday


     Recently, I was in a conversation with my mentor, and I mentioned my love for New Year's. As the conversation progressed, I realized it was more of a passionate speech on my part.

     I was spreading my love for the overlooked holiday without even trying.

     "It's all about new beginnings and creating the best year yet," I said. "There are precisely seven days between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, during which no one will invite you to a holiday party because they'll assume you're out of town."

     She smiled, and the wind blew through my hair, making me sit up even more eagerly.

     "But you're not. You're not out of town. You're cooking up goals for the new year and choosing a word that you want to learn about. You're summarizing the past year in the last few pages of journals and selecting which journals you'll fill next."

     With so many fresh starts, organizational opportunities, and writing ideas, it's no wonder I love this holiday.

11.23.2018

Claim Your Identity


     Years ago, I learned from many writers' blogs that it was important to call myself a writer, never to shy away from the title that accompanied what I was already doing.

     And so I said, "I am a writer," and went on to write a 42,000 word novella over the course of my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I persistently kept up with The Little Decorator, this labor of love that you are reading right now.

     I started networking with other writers on Twitter and found both academic and professional ways to keep growing in my writing skills...because calling myself a writer inspired the way I intentionally pursued my craft.

     Now, in college, the landscape has changed. I'm so longer so very active on Twitter, and I haven't participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for many years. Blog posts are less frequent, and my writing is rarely for fun.

     But I'm an English major at Mississippi College now, and I work in the MC Writing Center as a writing tutor. I also edit the MC Writing Center blog, both writing my own posts and gathering posts from other creative people.

     I may not be writing poetry in my free time, but I'm learning firsthand research skills and analysis skills. I'm dissecting my own writing with sentence diagramming, and I'm collaborating creatively with my wonderful peers.

     The bottom line? Madeline needs to stop worrying about whether or not she's a writer. She needs to claim her title once more. Then she can continue to pursue her main hustles: writing and editing. One day, this path may even take her to be a boss editor lady in New York City.

~

     What is the title that you are too terrified to claim? It may be floating on the surface of who you are, just waiting for you to embrace it fully.

     If I hadn't picked up my title, you wouldn't be reading this.

     Just embracing your title could be the catalyst for change you need.

~Madeline

10.08.2018

2 Simple Steps to Making Wall Art {for the Price of a Latte}


     It's been a while since I've written about anything crafty I've done. I suppose that throughout the last year, my most artistic endeavors have consisted of the arrangement of RedBubble stickers on my laptop.

     Yet here I am with a little bit of DIY inspiration for your next piece of art!

A Super Complicated, Super Expensive *5 Minute & 3 Dollar* Tutorial

1. Buy a postcard. Any {cute} postcard. I found this set of 8 in a local shop for $16, which broke down to $2 per card. They're silhouettes with famous authors' quotes, including Maya Angelou, E. B. White, Jane Austen, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Classy, non?

2. Buy a frame, preferably from your local garage sale (and probably 5" x 7"). Garage sales really pick up in the fall and spring seasons because of the cooler weather, and I snagged this frame for $1. If you can't find a local garage sale, look at Goodwill or another resale place.

     There isn't a step three unless you count putting the postcard into the frame. Voila! You have a $3 piece of art ready to frame, and you didn't have to spend $100 on handmade art and $37.50 on shipping a frame to your house.

     What's your latest art "steal"? As Pablo Picasso said, "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist," something I do all the time as an English major.

~Madeline