madisen kuhn

blog

the strand.

If you weren't able to make it to the event last week, you can watch the entire conversation in the video above, thanks to Strand Book Store's YouTube channel. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have had the very first signing of my career held somewhere as iconic as The Strand. This event showed me what I was capable of.

SOME HISTORY.

In 2013, at the age of 17, I read my poetry aloud for the first time at a local coffee shop's "writers and poets night." I truly didn't want to do it. I wanted to keep my poems in the safety of my journal and the internet, where I didn't have to listen to my own voice quiver as I poured my heart out to a crowd of people who both did and did not know me. After that night, I felt pride in having done it but still thought that I didn't want to make a habit of it. 

In following years, my anxiety only grew more debilitating. In 2014, I left college after one week because I couldn't cope with my agoraphobia. It hasn't been until this year—5 years later—that I feel like a functional human being (which is, like, the bare minimum of existence. But feeling functional, to me, feels like flying.) Even just 4 months ago, I wouldn't have felt confident enough to say yes to a reading or a signing, much less seek it out without external pressure (I knew it would make sense to try to do an event while I was already in NYC on vacation, so I emailed my publicist to see if anyone would have me. I made it happen, although I knew it was out of my comfort zone. 2013-me would be so proud.)

I had pretty much decided at some point that I wasn't the type of person to be able to confidently do readings. I made excuses like, "I'm just too introverted" or "my writing isn't really meant to be read aloud." The Strand changed that for me. I felt poised and secure in the words I was speaking. I felt like it was something I wanted to do again and again.

789600D5-53F5-4D25-8CEC-2140DC7B6596.JPG

I keep coming back to the concept and beauty of transformation. of change. of miracles. What my friend, JohnMark, said that night at a 'house' (apartment) party in the Lower East Side really stuck with me. A paraphrase:

“Miracles look like whatever you need them to. It’s a miracle that I’m here facing new challenges/struggles that I wasn’t facing a year ago.”

My life is full of miracles. It’s a miracle that I’ve written two books at 22. That I’m in spaces I never knew were possible this early on. That I got up in front of a group of people, without any help from Ativan, etc., and spoke from my soul without my hands shaking.

Because the world can make you feel so small, and it’s hard to really believe you are capable of all the things you so desperately want. 

I am in awe of the realness of change. I have experienced it firsthand. Your dreams are within reach, no matter how big or small. My small: taking the subway without having a panic attack; going to an apartment at 11pm full of people I don’t know, by choice. My big: having a talk/signing at The Strand, in the presence of people who cared what I had to say.

Thank you to everyone who braved the ugly weather to share this moment with me. I love you. Thank you thank you thank you. If you're reading this and have photos of us at the event, I would love to add them to this sweet little album below. I am so thankful for these pictorial memories.


PS, Leah. I am so glad we got to experience this together. Thank you for being my partner in crime.
PPS, Christopher. I love you. Thank you. For everything.

madisen kuhnComment
a picnic + a reflection
FullSizeRender-13.jpg

the poetry picnic in rittenhouse square this past saturday was everything i'd hoped it would be. i scheduled it to start exactly one hour after my train arrived in philadelphia, so i was really setting myself up for a high-stress/pressure scrambling to make sure i was prepared and there on time. thankfully there were no amtrak delays (for once!) 

christopher and i stopped by trader joe's and target on our trek from 30th st station to rittenhouse square and picked up a very cute picnic blanket from hearth & hand with magnolia (because, of course, i forgot to pack one) and fruit and limeade and all of the picnic necessities. i was anxious about being prepared and on time, but that was it. i've only done maybe 2 "meet-up" type of gatherings, so i was fully expecting to feel anxious about this picnic, expecting my brain to be filled with thoughts like, what if i don't know what to say? what if there's an awkward silence? what if they don't like me? what if i embarrass myself? what if no one comes? i had a few of these, but let them float away fairly quickly and easily. mostly, i was just filled with excitement. 

it feels like magic when you are able to look back and see such a strong contrast from who you were the last time you visited a specific place. when you're in the deepest trenches of anxiety and agoraphobia, a life without: hyperventilating, bloody cuticles, panic on/in trains, city sidewalks, dimly lit restaurants... feels impossibly out of reach.

but then you learn to breathe deeply, add some experience and tools to your belt, and suddenly you find yourself feeling peace as you stare out of an amtrak window, floating down crowded streets, being (maybe a little too) talkative with new friends while eating tacos and laughing. it's not sudden, really. it just feels that way. it takes time, some hard work, some extra support. but it's there, at the end of the road, waiting for you.

it's important to me that i highlight these things. i feel obligated to convey my journey in a non-superficial way. it sometimes feels more appealing to portray myself as strictly a highlight reel. post a photo with a few words of gratitude and humblebragging; let myself be impersonal to maintain a 'perfect' persona. i scroll through my instagram feed and see all these lovely people, traveling and experiencing life in what seems like an effortless fashion. i don't believe it always is. or i don't believe it always has been.

the picnic was beautiful. the rain held off until the very end. it was intimate and personal and pure. everyone came in pairs, which i found sweet. friends, hallmates, sister-in-laws, girls who have been through a lot together. it meant a lot to me to spend this time together, as friends, without the formal division of "reader/fan/follower" and "author/idol." it's important to have these moments, where strangers can connect with each other through a common interest. i love that art, and poetry specifically, has the power to bring people together in this way.

FullSizeRender-11.jpg

thank you: madelynne, kalia, meg (& her sweet friend i can't find the name of anywhere on the internet), cat, kayla, brennah, annemarie, bri, mia, and christopher. for spending time with me. for sharing your stories. for reading your poetry. for laughing with me. for not letting fear/anxiety keep you from experiencing moments like these. i will cherish the memory forever.

FullSizeRender-12.jpg

take care,

 
signature+copy.png
 
everyday makeup
IMG_6619.GIF

I've never been very good at makeup, but since discovering Glossier back in 2016, I've been able to secure a look that is easy enough to execute that I feel confident putting it on any day of the week. Feeling confident in my makeup routine is really important because it means I think less about how I look throughout the day and I'm not afraid to actually wear makeup (which has been the case in the past when I felt like I was 'too bad' at makeup... I just didn't try at all.) 

Here's a step-by-step look at my current everyday makeup look, for the girl (or boi) who sucks at makeup.

Step 1. Moisturize!

 Glossier's Priming Moisturizer Rich has been my dry skin's savor. I apply it twice a day in the winter and it leaves my skin feeling hydrated, smooth, and glowy. & Balm Dotcom is the  only  lip balm I've tried that  actually  keeps my lips moisturized. I swear by it.

Glossier's Priming Moisturizer Rich has been my dry skin's savor. I apply it twice a day in the winter and it leaves my skin feeling hydrated, smooth, and glowy. & Balm Dotcom is the only lip balm I've tried that actually keeps my lips moisturized. I swear by it.

Step 2. Stretch Concealer in Light.

 A little under my eyes, the acne scars on my chin, and any problem spots.

A little under my eyes, the acne scars on my chin, and any problem spots.

Step 3. Dream Pure BB Cream in 100 Light.

 Very similar to Glossier's Skin tint, just with a little more coverage and less shine.

Very similar to Glossier's Skin tint, just with a little more coverage and less shine.

Step 4. Set with Glossier Wowder and Mario Badescu rosewater spray.

Step 5. Brows.

Step 6. NEW! Lidstar by Glossier.

IMG_6587.JPG

LIDSTAR by Glossier

I never used to wear eye shadow because I suck at blending it. BUT! Glossier saved me by releasing the easiest eye makeup ever. The shade 'moon' is perfect for an everyday, ethereal look.

Step 7. The finishing touches.

The finished look.

This simple look makes me feel natural yet 'put together' and the shimmer of lidstar and haloscope give me a little delicate/girly vibe. Let me know if you try this look, I'd love to see it!

I'm a Glossier rep, so shop with me to get 20% off your first order and free shipping when you spend $30 or more!

take care,

 
signature+copy.png
 
madisen kuhnComment
#yourmove
 

Today's blog post is sponsored by Swatch! I'm so excited to be partnering with them. I've been a fan of their watches for years and I'm thrilled to finally have one of my own.

 

#YOURMOVE

 

Swatch SKIN

One of my favorite daily rituals is accessorizing. I love how it makes me feel feminine and put-together. It's fun to pick out different pieces based on my mood and outfit. What I love about my Swatch SKIN is that it's so versatile. It goes with everything. I can make it girly, modern, sporty, dressy, casual; seriously, everything. Its lightweight design and simple yet sophisticated look fit in perfectly with my minimalist wardrobe. This is the ideal everyday accessory.

I move, therefore I am.
— Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

I am striving to be present in my everyday life instead of just going through the motions. I'm learning to observe, embrace, and immerse myself fully. Finding thoughtfulness in each movement. Making time to slow down and focus on the good. Sometimes the most important move of your day is seeking stillness. #YOURMOVE #SwatchSKIN @swatch #ad

 

 


take care,

 
signature.png
 
madisen kuhnComment
i am not my pain

As many of you know, I struggle with anxiety… and that’s because I talk about it publicly. A lot. And I think it’s important to talk about because it makes others feel less alone in their shit. I remember when I first really started feeling crippled by anxiety (specifically, agoraphobia) I thought I was completely alone. I was convinced I was the only one going through this. I would share my pain on my blog and when others responded with comforting words—because they had also left of college and were unable to exit the house without having a panic attack—I felt understood. And somehow that—knowing that I wasn’t alone—made it easier to go on.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about how, since the age of 18, I have put my identity in having anxiety. It consumed every part of me, so naturally, it’s what I thought defined me. I’m 21 now, and it’s been an ongoing war full of battles won and lost. There's been a positive trend; not a perfectly straight line going up, but it’s going up. But no matter how high the line has risen, it is still wrapped in bright yellow caution tape that screams MADISEN HAS ANXIETY. It is the earth, and I am the moon.

Last week during yoga, Adriene (of Yoga With Adriene on YouTube) said something about allowing yourself not to let your pain or troubles define you. And something inside me just clicked. I have let my whole life revolve around this pain, but it’s not who I am. I am not anxiety; I am not just someone with anxiety, I am me. I am Madisen. I love dogs and wearing jewelry, and my eyes are always bigger than my stomach when it comes to both food and aspirations. I prefer tea to coffee. I care about people. I’m funny. I’m really competitive in board games. I love milkshakes and the ocean. I am so many things; and I get to decide who I am.

I’ve been meditating on this idea of not defining myself by my pain the past few days, and there has been a noticeable difference in my energy. It’s as if I forgot that I was allowed to do anything without considering my anxiety. Without checking in with it and asking permission to do this or that. And now suddenly, I’m allowed just to be me and live my life and not be so worried about being worried.

On Monday, as I laid in bed at the end of a full day of laughter, it hit me—I realized I didn’t think about my anxiety once that day, much less feel anxious. I was so focused on things that I was excited about—going to the beach (didn’t even consider the fact that I didn’t know where the closest bathroom was. #IBSprobs), eating good food (if you’re ever in Venice, grab a meal at The Butcher’s Daughter and then pick up some doughnuts across the street at Blue Star for dessert), and spending time with people I love (my boyfriend and my cousin who was visiting for a few days before flying home to Florida.) I was kind of shocked because, as I said, I’ve made anxiety a part of me. It’s not just something I struggle with; it is intertwined with every part of me. I think about it so often, you’d think I had a crush on it.

But, holy shit, I am closing this chapter of my life. I am not just a girl with anxiety. I am allowed to be happy, and careless, and free. And I am fully capable of that. I am going to walk around art museums by myself because I fucking love art. I’m going to travel the extra distance to the cuter coffee shop in my neighborhood because I’m millennial trash and I appreciate the exposed brick and tattooed baristas. There are places I want to go and things I want to do that I’ve tricked myself into believing either a) didn’t really matter to me, or b) I was incapable of doing (because of fear.) But they do matter, and I am capable. I can live without fear and discomfort being the deciding factor on everything. I can let the habitual beginning of panic pop into my consciousness, and then watch it float away. I can acknowledge it and say, “thanks, but no thanks. I’ll be just fine.”

Wow, I’m getting emotional typing this in a coffee shop right now (the cuter, further away one, by the way.) I feel freer just writing this. I feel like I've permitted myself to let go. To breathe deeply. To be happy. To consider other things to find my identity in—like being an artist, a lover, an untethered soul. I can be and do anything.

with love,

 
 
IMG_6260.JPG
madisen kuhnComment