A blog by Maddie Brady

Tag: Personal

Some Big Life Changes + How I Feel About Turning 25

Some Big Life Changes + How I Feel About Turning 25

  Today is my birthday and, to be honest, I’m starting out 25 in a bit of weird place: I recently left my job after a year and a half and am moving back to Chicago. I’m still in Madison until I find someone to […]

Some New (And Old) Goals for March: Resolutions 2018

Some New (And Old) Goals for March: Resolutions 2018

Resolutions from February Here’s a recap of what I focused on in February, if you’re interested: Don’t look at my phone first thing in the morning. Success! I thought this one would be harder, but I actually found it pretty peaceful to leave my phone on […]

Why I’m Doing Resolutions A Little Bit Differently This Year

Why I’m Doing Resolutions A Little Bit Differently This Year

This year, I’ve decided to forgo big, yearlong resolutions because they simply don’t work for me! Making a huge proclamation at the beginning of the year is simply setting myself up for failure. I know myself well enough at this point to know that I get easily derailed by goals like that. If I miss a day or something unexpected comes along, I get completely upended and feel like I can’t get back on the horse.

I definitely still have yearlong goals: to feel more fulfilled in my career and to make decisions that are right for me instead of fixating on what other people think I should do. But they’re really big goals and where do I even begin? Taking a huge, nebulous project and breaking it down into small, achievable steps is what I do at work all the time, so I’m curious if this will translate to my personal goals.

So, I’ve decided to do something different this year: to break down my resolutions into smaller, more realistic goals. Each month I will set a few intentions for myself that I want to work on and that I feel will bring me closer to my big, year-long resolutions. This gives me the flexibility to try new strategies and to react to what lives brings along, while still giving me some structure and momentum. I hope a new approach will help me be more realistic, less discouraged, and focused on creating good habits instead of reaching arbitrary goals that don’t suit me anymore.

With all that said, this is an experiment. Part of doing what’s right for me is letting myself try new things and then not judging myself if they don’t work out. I’m going to give it the old (women’s) college try and see how I feel about it. And you guys know me, I can’t resist a good personal project!

Here are my goals for January of 2018:

  • Start journaling regularly again. I went through a period over the summer where I journaled first thing every morning (as part of The Artist’s Way program) and I really took to it. Having that space to reflect and sort through my feelings first thing in the morning was a relief and I think it will make me happy to bring that back for a while.
  • Drink more tea. This may seem random, but it stems from a couple of issues I’ve been having. I want to drink less caffeine because it aggravates my anxiety (science here) and less alcohol because I think it’s the culprit behind some stomach issues I’ve been having. I like having something to sip on at night, though, that feels luxurious and relaxing so I think herbal tea will be a good substitute. Any other suggestions of what to reach for instead?
  • Be more consistent with my blog posts. I feel like I’m starting to get into a rhythm with my posts and I want to keep that up (and do even more!). I’m really starting to focus on what I want this space to be – what I want to talk about, what my voice is, etc. And I know the best way to figure those things out is to write more! Keep your eyes peeled for more good stuff here.
  • Read more instead of watching TV. I’m trying to avoid numerical goals like “read 2 books” or “spend 1 night a week reading” because these ultimately aren’t what help me reach goals. I want to read more in general and I know I will if I make a habit of reaching for a book instead of turning on Netflix.

That’s it for January – I figure that will be enough to focus on for the next several weeks. At the end of the month, I’ll do a check in about how these went and set some new intentions for February (or continue with some of these). I like documenting this kind of personal growth stuff, so I think this will be a fun little project that I can continue to revisit regularly.

Are you setting resolutions this year? Do you think the whole thing is a scam to get people to buy gym memberships? I always like hearing. 🙂 And check out my favorite moments from 2017 along with a few things I’m really proud of in this post.

My Favorite Moments of 2017 & A Few Things I’m Really Proud Of

My Favorite Moments of 2017 & A Few Things I’m Really Proud Of

I actually can’t believe this year is over! It’s gone by so fast, but, not gonna lie, I feel like it lasted forever. Hands down, I have grown more this year than any other. The person I was in January is completely different than the […]

21 Things I Learned My First Year in Madison

21 Things I Learned My First Year in Madison

I can’t believe it! It’s been a whole year since I moved to Madison! I feel so incredibly different than I did a year ago. I’ve started my career, I’ve made a life for myself in a city where I didn’t know anyone, I’ve experienced […]

My Game Plan for Surviving the Autumn Blues

My Game Plan for Surviving the Autumn Blues

It happened all at once, didn’t it? Suddenly it’s that time of year when the days are shorter and the nights are dark and quiet. Even living in the heart of Madison the mood is starting to shift – kids wrapped up in sweatshirts instead of cruising in tank tops, coming in early and staying in often. I love the bittersweet feel of fall and it’s relief from the exhausting summer heat, but I also get the fear around this time of year, too. I’m dreading those long winter nights and my skin is already craving Vitamin D.

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m the kind of person who likes to have a plan, especially when it comes to self care. So, I’ve decided to strategize my fight against the autumn blues and share some ways I’ll be embracing the season and focusing on the positive this fall.

Lean Into the Season

There are actually so many fun fall things to do, but I think I get so hung up on the fact that it isn’t summer anymore that I automatically rule them out. This year I want to get my head out of my ass and go out and do things! Here’s an abridged list of fall activities previously neglected over the years, but will hopefully be making a comeback:

  • Apple picking – Classic!
  • Pumpkin carving – We actually hosted a pumpkin carving competition at my house in high school once and it was hilarious – but alas haven’t touched a pumpkin since.
  • Making mulled wine – I got into this last year in Ireland because it was always so dreary and it’s so delicious and easy. Perfect for Thanksgiving or any other weekend when you’re laying around drinking all day.
  • Haunted house/hayride/literally anything Halloween related – Confession: I hate Halloween. I don’t know what it is about the holiday, but I’ve avoided it for years. I think I’ve dressed up like twice since I was 18? I’m not committing to dressing up for the actual day, but I will go out of my comfort zone and do something spooky.
  • Tailgating – Anyone who knows me well is probably laughing at this one because I don’t sports. I like hockey and that’s about it. Football has always mystified me. But what’s not to like about day drinking with your friends, right? It’s not like I can avoid it living in Madison, anyhow. You know what they say: if you can beat them, drink with them.
  • Baking – What’s cozier than a hot oven and a tray full of fresh chocolate chip cookies or a crispy pumpkin pie? Probably only the womb.


Get Outside (Even When It’s Cold)

Working a 9-5 job during the winter means you don’t get a lot of exposure to the sun, especially when you’re in a windowless office like I am. So, this year I’ve set a goal of getting myself outside and into some sunshine at least once a day, even if it’s for 5 minutes. I’d really like to get in the habit of taking a walk at lunch time every day – it’s just so nice to get my eyes off a computer screen for a few minutes – and I think getting outdoors will help keep me sane.

On the weekends, too, I’d like to do a better job at not only hibernating in my apartment with Netflix and red wine. Although this is totally necessary sometimes, I’d like to go for walks along the lake, keep up my running a bit, and maybe even go for a hike in one of the nearby state parks if I’m feeling ambitious. If I can get myself outdoors more often in the fall, hopefully I can fend off cabin fever longer in the winter. Stay tuned.

Take Up Old Hobbies

Nothing feels better than doing something you’re good at. As part of my journey back into my creative life, I signed up for an Improvisational Dance class through the Continued Studies program here at UW – Madison. This may seem random, but I actually did a lot of movement and dance improvisation and composition in college. My theater major was very physical theater focused and I had the equivalent of a dance minor by the time I graduated so this is very much my element.

I haven’t been in a studio in years, though, so I decided to jump back in and take this class. Although I’m still warming up to the new surroundings and dance partners, it feels great to be back in my body again. I forget how freeing it feels and how easy it is for me to get in the improvisational zone. I think reawakening old skills will be a refreshing addition to my fall workout schedule and remind me that new beginnings can happen at any time of year.

Hygge the Shit Out of My Apartment

You’ve probably seen the hygge sensation sweep the hipster internet over the last couple of years – the Danish obsession with getting cozy. The whole premise is that winter doesn’t seem so bad when you find a way to revel in the comforts of the indoors. And that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m talking candles, tea, fuzzy socks, furry blankets, and old jazz music- it’s gonna be hyyge nation, bitches! To be fair, Denmark is probably hygge nation but I’ll take a close second.

I loved adding little touches to apartment for summer – light summer linens, fresh farmer’s market flowers, a continuous supply of vodka lemonade – so I think doing the same for winter will be sweet. It’s amazing what a Target run for candles and a fresh pair of flannel sheets can do for a girl. I’d also like to grab a few extra cozy sweaters and a new pair of shearling slippers for those frosty mornings. Feeling warm and fuzzy inside already.

The biggest part of hyggeing (?) for me, though, is definitely food. I love baking during the winter. There’s nothing better than a big glass of red wine, an old movie on TV, and a batch of cookies in the oven. It’s so heartwarming and lovely. I’ve also gotten into soup and stew making over the last two years. I made this stew, which is still one of my favorites, on a whim in Dublin and it quickly became my favorite meal to make. It felt great to have a hot, thick stew at the end of cold, wet day. I don’t have a crockpot yet, but this may be the year I take the plunge. Recipe suggestion welcome.

Make Plans And Keep Them

We’ve all been there: it’s 7pm on a winter night. You’ve made plans to meet up with a friend, but you just warmed up in your apartment after a long day so you cancel. Whenever I see a meme about the revelry of cancelled plans it’s like looking in a mirror. Although I know this will be inevitable sometimes, I want to push myself to go out more, even when it’s obnoxiously cold. Or better yet, invite friends to come to me – I’ve been threatening to start a book club for the better part of a year now so maybe the time is now.

It’s easy to feel isolated in the winter time. Madison is amazing in the summer because you can leave the house and there’s a million things going on, but in the winter it’s a ghost town. Everyone goes into hibernation and it’s tough to feel social. This will most likely be the hardest part of my plan, but I’d like to do better at initiating plans and following through with them, even if I’m not in the mood at first. More often than not I end up having a great time and I’m glad that I got out of the house, which in the winter is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Are you looking forward to winter? Or are we in the same boat dreading fall? If you have any favorite fall activities, especially in the Madison area, definitely let me know! Give me fewer and fewer excuses to stay in and be a total bum this fall, please.

Also, if you’re feeling hopeless or lonely with fall starting always feel free to reach out to those around you – send me a message, make plans with friend or family member, or call an organization that can help you through a tough time. It’s so important to take care of yourself in the winter months.

Sending love, friends!

Five Ways I Made This a Self Care Summer

Five Ways I Made This a Self Care Summer

This summer I made a promise to myself to focus on me. The last year has been really tough: moving to a new city, starting a really technical job, living alone, meeting new friends, fully supporting myself financially for the first time. It’s been a […]

Winter on Lake Monona

Winter on Lake Monona

With all this beautiful weather we’ve been having, I had to get outside so I took a long glorious walk down by Lake Monona last weekend. I feel so lucky to live right on the isthmus (the best geographic term, right?) and to be so close […]

Weekend Toast V.13

Weekend Toast V.13

Back in Chicago this week, I’m starting to get ready for the big move up to Madison, but also trying to enjoy the time I have left around here. Of course I’ll be back in like three weeks for Thanksgiving and I’m only like 2 and a half hours away anyway… But it still feels like a big move! This week has been filled with the highs and lows of apartment hunting, frequenting my favorite guilty pleasure food spots, and a whole lot of hometown team pride. I’m not a Cubs fan, but it’s pretty fun to see the city light up as they head to the world series next week – historic stuff 🙂

What I Did This Week

1. Went to my first Blackhawks game of the season! The rest of the city may be cheering on the Cubs, but I’m staying true to my favorite guys in Chicago. They played the Flyers, which I always find funny because my first Hawks game was in Philly and I have never been booed more in my entire life… It turned out to be such an exciting game and, of course, a Hawks win! Hopefully I’ll manage to get out to (and afford 😰) another game sometime soon!

2. My mom and I headed up to Madison to start the apartment hunt and it’s looking pretty good! We managed to find a place right downtown that is available before my start date and isn’t a creepy murder basement, so fingers crossed all the paperwork goes through. I’m soooo excited to start decorating and organizing my own place, finally! Updates on all that to come.

3. Before heading out of town on Saturday my mom and I stopped by the Madison farmer’s market to grab a little breakfast and oh my god was it so overwhelming. When I think farmer’s market I think quaint little booths and chatting with the stallkeepers over coffee, but Madison’s felt more like a trading floor – people bustling around, yelling and crowding stalls, I almost got elbowed in the face a few times… Good to know Wisconsinites get rowdy for their fresh produce.

Culturally Consumed

1. Loved reading the comments of this Cup of Jo post “What Do You Like About Yourself?” I’ve noticed several bloggers starting to engage more directly with their communities and, frankly, I think it’s awesome. Like this is what the internet is for: cultivating great little groups online and then being able to talk about real shit. I’ve always admired that about Joanna’s blog, too; she always manages to be open and honest because she’s created the right context for the kinds of conversations she wants to have. Have always loved her blog and really like the direction its moving in.

2. Have been paging through Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women over coffee the last few mornings and have discovered it’s a lovely way to start the day. Practical wisdom and reminders that life is hard and wonderful and your dreams are worth fighting for. I’ve always admired women who know exactly who they are and aren’t willing to compromise that and this book of chalk full of them. Would make a great graduation gift.

3. Finally caved and bought these beautiful boots! I’m always nervous about buying clothes online because half the time they don’t fit or I don’t like them, but Lord and Taylor was having their family and friends sale so I finally just went for it. Fingers crossed that they look as beautiful on me as they do in the photos. They would be perfect day-to-night boots for chilly Madison winters.

Coming Up Next

1. A few photos from Boulder that I didn’t manage to get to last week – I know I’ve been behind on everything lately, but hoping that I’ll get back into a routine when I’m a little more settled.

2. Some of my favorite quotes from In the Company of Women. It’s also totally inspired me to start an interview series with influential women in my life here on the blog. I sort of don’t even care if anyone else reads it, I think I would get a lot out of putting something like that together. Grace Bonney must be so wise after interview all these awesome people!

3. Some home decor inspiration that I’m feeling and a few ideas I have for the new apartment! I’ve never had my own place before and I’m out of my mind excited to have complete control over everything. As a child of divorce and an avid traveller, I haven’t had all of my shit in the same place for over a decade so the idea of having all of my clothes in one closet is like completely mind blowing. Stay tuned!

Weekend Toast V.11

Weekend Toast V.11

It feels really good to be home. The last several weeks have been crazy to say the least, but no matter where I go in the world there’s nothing like coming back to familiar places and loving people. I’m honestly just starting to feel settled […]