I remember my first nightmare. I was just a child and I was sitting in an empty park, on a bench, waiting for my mom to come find me. It was beginning to get dark and I was becoming very afraid. I heard something behind me and I looked under the bench to find a terrifying rabid skunk. Since then, the nightmares have progressed to much darker things, but it’s the uplifting, guiding and spiritual dreaming that makes up for my nights of sweating in fear. My whole life I have experienced vivid dreaming, dreams that feel as if they are coming from somewhere deeper, trying to get my attention to tell me something. I think most people can attest that there is a sort of divine intervention among us, for me I know it by the name of God. I personally believe that God, or whatever name you know the divine presence by speaks to people in a way that will best reach them. For me, it is often through my dreams.
There was a few year time period where I was utterly lost. I was going through typical late teen shenanigans but also my parents divorced, and my religious beliefs were all over the map. I was raised with one religion but received heartbreaking criticism from people dear to me that had me questioning literally everything about myself and my future. I was scared and just wanted so so badly to have the truth and feel confident that I was doing the right things. So, I set out to find truth. I church hunted for a year or so, talking with different leaders and members of denominations, joining classes, asking friends, asking family and I found myself deeper into the well of confusion. I cared so much for every person and service I attended. I found truth everywhere I looked but I also found much contradiction. I felt pressure by people that I needed to join this church or that church to be “saved” or if I go to that church you will be damned. It was eating me up. I was so worried and trying desperately to please everyone that I realized I was defeating the whole purpose of my journey to discover my beliefs. I reminded myself that church, religion, all those things are supposed to be a positive thing in my life. And even bigger, I realized I was looking everywhere for my answers but up. I had prayed many many times before for answers but after “amen” I didn’t stop to listen. I kept running circles with my own thoughts instead of listening for His. There was one night in particular, right after graduating college that my future was weighing extra heavy on my mind. I was fed up with being lost and wanted to know exactly what I needed to do to begin my next chapter. So I prayed through tears one last time, with open ears, asking for truth and guidance. I fell asleep quickly and had the dream that changed everything. Here is the entry from my journal:
June 14, 2012
I was in a foreign country, nothing was familiar, I didn't know the language and I had no idea where I was going. I was scared. I spotted a small house on the top of a hill and ran to it. All the doors were open, there was light pouring in. I made my way through the hallway until I found the room furthest in the back. There was a bed and I ran to it, climbing on. I put the covers over my head. I prayed asking "Lord, what is my purpose here?" He spoke to me in the warmest, biggest voice. He said he wants me "to serve him and to serve others".
And that was it. That was everything. I woke up a new person. It just all clicked. I had spent months and months trying to figure out every tiny detail of what was right when really it was all so simple. All I needed to do was to serve God and serve His children to be happy, to be okay, to be in the truth. I can’t even express the release I felt. It was like all the pain and burdens I had been carrying on my back had been lifted. I could love without worry. I just knew everything would be okay. And it was, and still is, and it will be as long as I live my life by those few but powerful worlds in my dream.
This is my personal testimony. It may seem strange or crazy but for me it is real. I may not figure everything out in this lifetime, I may be doing things wrong, but if I strive my hardest to live life as Christ has taught us, has taught me, I will find happiness and hopefully bring happiness to others, the forever kind.
This past November I was in-between jobs, a little lost, trying to find some extra ways to earn money. I wasn’t really sure what my next step was career-wise but I had faith and confidence that something good was around the corner if I looked and worked hard enough for it. I felt inclined to reach out to local Salt Lake companies I liked to simply ask if they needed extra content creators. I didn’t have expectations of anything happening but… Fast forward 3 months and I’m jumping off waterfalls in Guatemala with 9 of the best people I’ve ever met, working full time for a company I full heartedly love and believe in. It’s crazy how quickly things can change and for this particular change in my life… I AM SO SO SO GRATEFUL. My first week of working for Albion Fit, I sat down for a meeting with the 2 wonderful co-owners and Brad & Hailey Devine, dream team/videography extraordinaires. Liz, the Mother of Albion opened up the idea of bringing the Devine’s to Guatemala, the home of Albion’s factory and her childhood, to film a travel guide and lookbook for their 2016 swim collection. Little did I know when I was sitting in that room that the idea would quickly turn to reality and I would come along for the ride.
I had little knowledge of Guatemala before I went. I had seen some colorful pictures of the town Antigua but besides that I had no idea what I was getting into. It’s safe to say I was B L O W N A W A Y. Not only was Guatemala one of THE most beautiful places I’ve EVER been but it was bursting with adventure, passion and yummy food. The video Brad & Hailey created captures the amazingness but here were my top 2 things we did and should FOR SURE earn a place on your bucket list.
- TIKAL MAYAN RUINS @ SUNRISE
I remember sitting at a table eating a late dinner at our jungle hotel when Liz came up to us saying “I’ve got good news and bad news”. She informed us that she found a guide to take us on a tour of the Tikal Mayan ruins the next day BUT… the tour started at 3:00AM and involved hiking through a jaguar, snake, tarantula infested jungle to climb a mayan temple in time for sunrise. We all exchanged looks around the table and decided… well, we’re here! Let’s do it! 3 hours of sleep later we’re latched on to each other, hiking through a PITCH black jungle, using phone lights to guide our steps. We we’re deliriously laughing and cowering in fear from the SCARIEST sounds I’ve ever ever ever heard the weren’t coming from a horror movie. Straight up roaring was all around us. I think i said “well, this is the end guys” at least 4 times. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We made it to the top of the most impeccable Mayan made temple and found our seats on the steps just in time to watch the sun come up, waking animals of the jungle and bringing the many temples throughout the jungle into view. THERE AREN’T WORDS.
- FINCA HOT SPRING WATERFALLS
Our last morning of the trip, we woke up in bungalows on the Rio Dulce river, chowed down plantains and hopped in a little river boat. We cruised through the river passing children fishing and all sorts of tropical wildlife until our guide steered us ashore a little private beach. We docked and were greeted by locals who had us pile in the back of a truck. We forged the bumpy road through farm land until we came to the end of the road. I didn’t know what to expect but being greeted by a mother/daughter duo cutting open fresh coconuts for us to drink was a perfect indicator of the wonder to come. We walked a short ways sipping from our “cocos” when we were hit with the faint scent of sulfur. Through the trees I could see it. Lagoon blue water pouring over rocks, steam coming off. If you know me… you know how much I love being warm and how much I love jumping off of things. So believe me when I say this hot spring waterfall was heaven on earth. I never wanted to leave. All my mermaid dreams came true. I will make it a point to return one day.
Sitting here now, reminiscing on the trip and thinking of all the crazy “coincidences” that led to this opened door is pure bliss. Every time something negative has happened in my life, patience and perseverance have proven to deliver something extraordinary in it’s place. Moral of the story, you never know where an email can land you and you should definitely, definitely go to Guatemala.
SHOP THE SWIMWEAR FROM MY TRIP HERE!!!!!!
PHOTOGRAPHER: Jessica Janae
VIDEOGRAPHERS: Brad & Hailey Devine
I had way too much fun making this. My boyfriend Conley was laying on the floor below me making me smile and giving me confidence the whole time. What a gem! And I know I know I know it’s not really that great of a cover but… hey, here we are. Maybe it will make you laugh at least? I remember when I first posted a cover a few years ago I was legitimately SHAKING I was so scared to put it out there. But it felt important to me and it wasn’t really about how good or terrible I sounded but rather about sharing and just experiencing new things. And now here I am a few years later putting up a video of me jamming like a weirdo. Lots of mistakes but even more fun. And that’s what it’s about right? Shoutout to The Lumineers for writing such a fun and great song for me to goof around to.
When we created this blog we vowed to make it a place of honesty. Which is why I’ve decided to share with you a part of myself I’ve been hiding from well, most everyone in my life. My words are coming from a place of hope for myself and anyone reading who may need it.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been battling Persistent Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. Although, I didn’t know them by those names until a year ago when I finally reached out for help. This may come as a surprise to many of my friends and people who have met me because it’s something I have fought very hard to hide. I become embarrassed and ashamed during episodes as I feel it contradicts the person I want to be or feel I truly am inside. So when it happens I do things like hide myself in a room, disappear from a social gathering, ignore texts, move to a new place or whatever I feel is necessary to keep people from seeing through to the “bad parts” of me. I’ve become overwhelmed with this idea that I HAVE to be the happy person people can rely on, not the depressed girl who needs to be cheered up all the time. So I have desperately tried to filter myself to only show the version I want people to know. But dammit, i’m exhausted and this is my white flag. I am going to try my best to share all parts of me from now on. I know it won’t be easy but here I am. It’s honesty hour folks.
I began taking medication 1 year ago which has helped some but what has truly aided my journey is coming to understand vulnerability – getting over my fears of losing people and opportunities because of “the way I really am”. I am slowly but surely opening myself up to people, new ideas, and new habits.
I owe this realization entirely to a young adult book called “Every Last Word“. After reading it, I knew I needed to find a therapist (if you read it you’ll understand). I had hunted for one before but every person I sat down with just didn’t feel right. They didn’t understand my feelings or goals. It kind of felt like a discouraging round of speed dating. That was until I found Hillary.
As much as I was hoping she’d hand over a magic potion that would strip away all the darkness, I knew it wasn’t reality. I have learned that i cannot be “fixed” per say. Depression isn’t a matter of refusing to look at the glass half full. It’s not something a person can simply outthink. It shows itself in many forms and can come for different reasons, like genetics, chemical imbalances, tragic events, ect. For me it’s felt like 15 years of a creepy villain dude appearing at his will, covering me with a 200 lb blanket, and taping my mouth shut. Meaning it’s nearly impossible some days to get out of bed, get words out of my mouth, or concentrate on the task at hand. Paired with anxiety, I’ve battled nightmares, panic attacks and extreme muscle tension. I literally wake up from sleep with swollen fingers from squeezing my hands into fists all night. Like what the heck is that about? Haha. Not cool hands! But in all seriousness, what Hillary has helped me understand is that the most damaging part of my condition turns out to be the part I CAN control. The self judgment. The self hatred. THE SHOULD-ING.
I’ve made it a habit to turn to these things when the creepy villain dude shows up. I begin should-ing all over myself. Attacking myself with thoughts like:
“I SHOULD be more productive”
“I SHOULD be more successful by now”
“I SHOULD look more like her”
“I SHOULD be happier”
“I SHOULD be a better friend”
“I SHOULD, I SHOULD, I SHOULD, I SHOULD”
I get so hung up on everything I’m NOT that I lock myself into the bad feelings, letting them consume me, taking me down to my darkest place surrounded by SHOULDS. And when I’m there, I do things I’m not proud of. I say things I don’t mean. I’m just really not nice to myself or considerate of the people around me. :(
So how the heck do I stop should-ing and what will happen if I do? Well… honestly I haven’t quite mastered it yet BUT I’m giving it my all and feeling optimistic.
I believe that if I can quiet down the “shoulds” I will have a clearer mind, allowing myself to use tools shared with me by my therapist to shorten the length of my episodes. Meaning I’ll spend more of my time loving myself, loving people and doing things I love. Just so much love guys! And that’s all I want! I want to help make the world a better place but before I can fully do that, I need to help myself. And that’s okay.
It will take practice, it will take time but I know I can get there. And I know I don’t have to do it alone.
So here I am humans of planet earth.
Just a girl with big big dreams, a lot of love to give and Persistent Depressive Disorder/GAD. I’m okay with it. And I’m going to learn to not let these things cripple me. I can be successful with them, because I am much more than my diagnosis. I am Madeline. The ups and downs, all of it. Take it or leave it.
Love you all. Thanks for listening.
P.S. for anyone reading this who faces similar struggles, you are so very loved. And as hard as it may be to hear, you are only as alone in it as you let yourself be. There are people with open arms just waiting to love you and help you. Let them help you. You deserve it.
You pull me in with your never ceasing brightness
Reach me with each breathless sound
You offer me freedom but you drown me in choices
You are a mystery but I understand you
Because through every bit of chaos you are predictable
Your billboard smile distracts from your sleepless eyes
Making tomorrow seem brighter and more hopeful than the last
but enough days in the city can wring anyone dry
I loved you New York but
But it was always goodbye
NEW YORK CITY, AN EX LOVE STORY 9.17.15
BLAZER: KATIE WALTMAN