A blog by Maddie Brady

Tag: Personal

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 […]

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 lot.

I’m a firm believer in self care. I think it’s important to know yourself well enough to know what you need and do what you can to get it. So, when things started to feel like too much I knew I needed to focus on myself and get a self care game plan together.

I wanted to share a few things I did this summer to help me work through all these changes and to talk about my strategies for being kind and honest with myself. But remember, it’s different for everyone – you know yourself best!

I started writing every morning.

After numerous recommendations, I started The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a week-by-week program of self-reflection and building your confidence as an artist. One of it’s main tenants is what Cameron calls Morning Pages: the first thing you do every morning is write 3 handwritten pages about absolutely anything. I actually love it.

I’ve tried other morning routines over the past year (timed writing, working out, meditation) and none of them have stuck. I’m going on month 3 of morning pages, though, and I actually look forward to them every day! I’ll do a whole review of the book once I’m done, but this part at least I’ve really enjoyed.

I set a workout schedule.

For me, working out and taking care of my body is a big part of self care. I think sometimes people misinterpret self care as letting yourself do whatever you want, but I think it’s almost the opposite – you have to be your own advocate and part of that is doing what’s best, not necessarily what’s fun.

I used to only workout when I felt like it – when I was upset or couldn’t sleep or wanted to get outside. But I’ve started getting into a regular schedule and it’s made me so much happier: hot yoga on Tuesday and Saturday, HIIT class on Wednesday, and a long run on Sunday. I’ve stopped feeling bad for not working out because I find myself going so much more consistently. Of course I’m not always psyched to go, but it’s easier to get motivated when it’s a habit.

I also set a goal for the end of the summer: I’m running a half marathon in September! I haven’t run one in a couple of years so I’m excited to get back out there. I’m up to my 8-mile run (in case you missed my Eminem related insta story) and it’s actually going really well! It’s nice to have a reason to get outside even when the weather is starting to get cold. I’ll keep you guys updated!

I stopped traveling.

This spring I was all over the place – literally. I was in Florida in March, Dublin in April, Japan in May, and bouncing back and forth from Madison to Chicago every other weekend. I went 2 months without spending a single weekend in Madison. I love traveling, but it was too much. So, once things slowed down I told myself I was going to stay put for the summer and I’m so glad I did.

Madison rocks in the summer. The weather is gorgeous, there are always events going on, everyone is out and about – it’s just total Midwest summer bliss. I got to settle into my apartment and get into a routine, which made the introvert part of me really happy. I hung out with friends, hosted family, and took on personal projects – it’s amazing the time you have when you’re note spending up to 10 hours in a car every weekend. It was totally the right decision for my sanity.

I made fun plans during the week.

In case I haven’t talked to you in a while, full disclosure: I’m not crazy about my job. It’s pretty technical (especially as arts major) and with entrepreneurs for parents I’m not a great fit for corporate culture. All this to say – getting through the week can be tough. I’ve never understood the phrase Thank God It’s Friday quite like I do now.

So, to make the work week a little more pleasant I started doing fun stuff on week nights. Nothing crazy – I’m at least a responsible corporate drone – but I started injecting small doses of joy into my otherwise dull nights. I became a regular at a local bar that showed The Bachelorette every Monday night and recruited some friends to join me. We ended up getting super into it, especially because the fan favorite was from Madison (#TeamPeter), and it was such a fun, goofy way to start the week.

I’ve gone to outdoor concerts alone, dragged friends to local feminist group meetups, and treated myself to after work drinks at restaurants I’ve been meaning to try. It’s felt good to reclaim my weeknight time and remember that fun doesn’t only exist on the weekend.

I got help.

This is the piece of the puzzle that I think made the most difference for me: I got a therapist. I’m a big advocate for therapy – I saw a therapist for years in college and I credit that experience for so many important breakthroughs in my outlook and behavior. For me, talking through things with someone who is focused on helping me create actionable, positive change in my life is so helpful.

I know for many therapy is a luxury – it can be expensive and inaccessible – but if you are struggling, see what your options are. I’m really lucky and my health insurance actually covers mental health services (so unusual, unfortunately) and I started seeing a therapist earlier this year. She’s the best and has helped me to work through this huge adjustment period in my life.

I always try to be really transparent with people about my experience with therapy because I think it can help so many people. Whether it’s work stress or relationship problems or something more serious, there’s no bad or silly reason to talk to somebody. I know when I’m in a bad place and therapy has always been that first step to feeling better. And it’s at least worth a shot, right? 🙂

The Result

It’s felt really good to check in with myself again after all the craziness of the last year. I know I won’t always have the luxury of totally focusing on myself and my own needs so I’m glad I can appreciate it while it’s right in front of me. This time has helped my think about what’s next for me in my life and I’m starting to get a game plan together, which is really exciting and empowering.

It’s honestly kind of fun to get to know myself as an adult and I have to say, I’m pretty proud of who I am! I’ve made some difficult decisions in the last year and have come out strong on the other side. I actively make joy in my own life, even when it’s hard. I have agency and push myself to keep doing what’s best for me – and that’s what self care is all about.

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 […]

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 back into the US and a big part of me still feels like its in Ireland, but having some down time to write, run, and catch up with my favorite people has been really centering. Here’s a little recap of what I’ve been doing, reading, and loving this week…

What I Did This Week

1. Got dragged to a visiting artist lecture at the School of the Art Institute by my mother, a former student, and actually completely loved the whole talk. The artist, Tal R, is this sweet, silly painter from Copenhagen who preaches being “irresponsible” with art, something I totally resonated with after years of being told to be diligent and thorough while making theater.

2. Sat in on a rehearsal of my friend Kevin’s contemporary choir at Northwestern and heard a preview of their super interesting piece “Consent” by Ted Hearne. The text of the piece is a combination of love letters, marriage rituals, and text messages from the Steubenville rape case and explores the ways we use language of ownership and sexual violence to express romantic relationships. Haunting and fascinating. Looking forward to seeing more of his upcoming concerts!

3. Headed up to Concord Music Hall to catch Kaytranada with my brother and our friends. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, it ended up being a fun night of DJs and dancing. I loved one of the openers, I think a local female DJ, but didn’t catch her name – if anyone knows, would love to hear more of her!

Culturally Consumed

1. Finally got around to reading Animal Farm after all these years. Such a quick read, but I see why its required reading in high schools around the country: political commentary, easy to grasp and specific metaphors, and it’s actually engaging – I read the whole thing in like 2 hours. Feels good to start reading for pleasure again!

2. This ultra-brief gem from one of my very favorites, David Sedaris, on this election. Just when I think things can’t get worse too…

3. Love this new series that Cup of Jo is doing. I’ve always been fascinated by personal style and its so fun to hear people talk about why they wear what they wear. Especially obsessed with her use of the phrase “bitchy accessory” to describe a structured, see-through bag. Like I resonate with that term soooo much – definitely need more bitchy accessories (and clothes and shoes) in my life.

4. Also, I know that Stranger Things has already had its moment in the sun, but I would like to take a moment of silence for Barb. She was the real MVP.

Coming Up Next

1. Heading out West on Sunday for a little bit so stayed tuned for some picturesque views and me pretending to be outdoorsy.

2. A HUGE guide to all things Dublin that has actually taken me a century to put together, but I’m super excited to share.

3. A to-do list for all things fall! Fall has always been a huge time of change for me (and this fall is no exception) so I often feel this time of year the way I imagine people feel about new years. Time to get into new habits, shed harmful and distracting practices, and open myself up to saying yes more. I know it all sounds so cheesy, but we all need some inspirational cheeseballs when we’re going through shit, am I right? Stay tuned!

St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin

Even though I absolutely love sunshine, I’ve really been vibing with the lush and overcast weather we’ve been having here in Dublin recently. It seems our summer was rather short (aka it lasted two weeks and it’s not even June) and I’m starting to get used […]

Weekend Toast V.7

This week has been totally crazy cause I’m in training for my new job (which I talked a little bit about earlier) – I’m learning many marketable skills such as hanging up sparkly dresses and strategic ways to stand above objects while I photograph them. […]

Weekend Toast V.6

I gotta say this last week has bit a of a wash in terms of productivity – between my birthday and St. Patrick’s Day not a whole lot got accomplished. But we certainly had a great time! Ian took me to our favorite spot, The Winding Stair, for dinner on my birthday where I ate way too much steak and flipped through an Irish novel someone used as a journal from 1933 (complete with Rugby scores).

For Paddy’s Day we grabbed a few pints of Guinness to prime ourselves for the madness that was the Dublin City Center. I thought after Lollapalooza I could never see more drunk 15 year olds in one place, but I guess I was wrong… Other highlights of the day were watching tourists vomit on historical monuments, getting hustled for money by a South African man with a strangely Irish sounding accent, and discovering the existence of nursing homes for nuns. I would count the parade as a highlight, but we couldn’t really see much of it – shout out to those dedicated patrons who climbed virtually every vertical object in town to catch a glimpse, though.


The city is slowly draining itself of tourists and I’m hunkering down for a few weeks of reading, essay writing, and dissertation work. If anyone has some good YA fiction recommendations about female sexuality and technology, let me know… In the meantime, here are few links from the interwebs for your lovely Sunday!

・Finally found sweet potatoes in Ireland, so I’ve got potato skins on the brain.

・Read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home for class last week and totally loved it – thinking Are You My Mother? is next on my list.

・Went to see Hail, Caesar! on Friday- have you seen it? The Coen Brothers have really grown on me.

・Looking for classic white sneakers for spring: should I go adidas, converse, or leather?

・The things that women still endure in the work place is unreal…

Hope you all have a wonderful week and look out for some changes on the blog – playing around with a new look. Let me know what you like!


Weekend Toast V.5

It is finally starting to feel like Spring here in Dublin and I couldn’t be more excited! Birds are singing! Flowers are blooming! You can stand outside without hating your life! We spent the weekend resting up for a big upcoming week (my birthday and […]