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Forgive me if it is a little quiet around here the next two weeks, because I will be traveling for work. The first trip is to Columbus, Ohio and the second to Anaheim, California. I am gone nine out of fourteen days, and feel really apprehensive about being gone so long.

People tell me how great it is that I get to travel for work and I am like - yeah... It's not as though I have any time off except for the late evenings after staff dinners and by then I am so tired that all I want is sleep. Wearing heels all day, submitting marketing proposals, and discussing products is so tiring. No matter how hard the work is though, I feel grateful for the experiences. I love what I do, and I love the people I work with. Everyday is a challenge and everyday I get to write (!). I don't mind living out of a suitcase and eating out for all three meals, but I do miss being with Kev. I picture him being home and eating cereal for every meal and falling asleep without me and it makes me sad. I guess I really love that kid.

I hope to be here in and out, but if not - keep up with me on Twitter and Instagram. (@mvoisin).

Also, thanks to those of you who emailed me about the book club. I think it will make it easier to communicate on an email thread.

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Book Club 2

I have been so overwhelmed by your responses to the book club. Really I expected maybe 5 or 6 responses, but I got several phone calls and emails in addition to comments. It makes me so happy that so many of you are as excited as I am about this club.

So to answer a few of the questions I had - I think we will hold it at the end of every month (definitely for March since I have business trips the next two weeks.) I will choose the first book, but then every month after that we will decide on a book together? The only reason I say that I will choose the first one is because I want to choose one I have already read just to be sure it is worth reading and is non-offensive.

After a lot of thought and consulting with some friends, the first book I suggest we read is Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior (read the reviews if you want more information before diving in.) I read this in Hawaii and it truly changed my life. So much about women's issues, immigrating to America, and finding a home despite the communication barrier. The first section "No Name Woman" is haunting and depressing and beautiful all at once. I'll admit, it is not a simple read but it is achievable and a brilliant work about the strength of women. It also covers the Chinese version of "Mulan," which is kind of fun, and the reason it is called Woman Warrior. 

If you want to attend the club in person in Utah, would you email me? My email is mandy(.)madson(@)gmail(.)com. It will be easier to communicate through email instead of posting my address on the www.

Thanks for your interest everyone. Really - I think this could be something really wonderful. And if all of you hate my book selection, let me know and we can definitely choose another! I am excited to hear your requests at the meeting, and if my online participants have suggestions please send them my way as well.

(Just as a teaser - here are the first few sentences of the book: )

"You must not tell anyone," my mother said, "what I am about to tell you. In China your father had a sister who killed herself. She jumped into the family well. We say that your father has all brothers because it is as if she had never been born."

(Edit - I will update the sidebar of my blog with the book of the month to make it easy to find. Click on it to take you to the Amazon link.)


Book Club

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I have been struggling the past few months, and it is not depression so much as it is stagnant, and passive. I am happy, and I have so much joy, but my life is also full of unnecessary things. I am tired of the screens in my life. I know them too well, and they know me better. They grip me in when there are any spare moments in my day, they tell me what to think and they cause me unnecessary stress. My computer at work, my laptop, my phone, my iPad, my television - I want less screens and I want more inspiration. Not to say I do not find inspiration there because I do, but probably like most of you, I often experience numbness. I want to peruse less and do more. 

I am taking a series of steps to un-clutter my life. Most are personal, but one I hope - will be the opposite of personal. I hope it becomes a place where I and those around me are vulnerable and open to inspiration and change and discovering more of the human parts of this existence we all share. That is a fancy way of saying, that I am starting a book club.

This book club is not exclusive. I realized a few days ago that I am the most inspired though when I am discussing literature with other people who love literature. Therefore, I am starting a book club for those who love literature too, a lot. I will host it once a month in my tiny apartment, and I hope it will become a place for people like me who feel void after leaving school (or are still in school but just really love books.) 

For those who do not live near Orem, Utah, first of all, congratulations for living in a place that is more exciting than this, and second, I will share the recap of the club and host it online too. I don't care how many people want to participate, really I don't. There could be 150 of you or 2 of you and it would all be worth it to me because it would allow this particular screen of mine to do something productive and beautiful. 

If you are interested, please let me know - comment, email me, call me, text me, show up on my front door, write me a letter - anything. I hope to start in March and choose the book soon.

"We can only be human together." 
  - Desmond Tutu

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last hurrah

Before my sister left she asked if we could do one last thing.
We stopped by my apartment and put on down coats with hoods,
arguing over who could wear the one to the knees and she won.
I picked up the bag of candles in my dresser - the ones we keep
just in case, and a half-used box of matches that I can never find when I need them,
and are always there when I don't.
She drove too fast.
I sit on the passenger seat and navigate, one eye on the wheel,
my foot pressing down out of habit on sharp turns.
 She was always faster than me.
I step out at the lake and move the trespassing sign, my breath leaving circles behind me.
We park and look for wood, the lake reflecting the stars that break my heart,
and a giant white Heron, who watched us with his head cocked to one side.
We ran down the dock towards the water,
balancing the candles on the wood and she struck the matches.
Hand in hand we watched our candles float towards the center of the lake
a lump forming in my throat, tears too frozen to fall.
It felt like the end of something, but the flickering candles tell me otherwise.
Their light penetrated the frozen dark
and she drove home slower,
and we hugged goodbye instead of waving this time. 

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Sharing and Inspired

I have come across so many amazing articles/music/videos lately, and I think it would be unfair to keep them to myself. Sometimes I get so lost in my own thoughts that I fail to recognize the genius thoughts of others. There are so many  people in this world that I have so much to learn from. Lately I have been hungry for learning anything. From history to pregnancy to the latest trends, to cooking. I just want to know everything you can know in this life.

Here are just a few of the things that have inspired me lately:

This article moved me so much. No matter which faith you choose to believe, we all learn about God in the same way.

This article was amazing. It taught me that two happy people can make a relationship work, but they have to be happy on their own - and not focus their identities on their marriage.

I downloaded this video at Ashley's recommendation on my iPhone and listened to it three times on my commute. Life-changing, really.

And last of all, I fell in love all over again with Bon Iver's Stacks:

 "This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be safe with me"


V Day and 18 months Haiku

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we did not know we
were alone until we met.
my heart beats for you.



best day

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We drove at sunrise through the desert,
watching the oranges and pinks blur with our speed
and the heat rise from the sun's arms in this place.
You said you were hungry so I found a place called
The Black Bear Diner
and we came in right before the local rush.
My hair wasn't brushed and we both hadn't showered
and our waitress was Asian and bored.
I ordered the French toast and you had an omelet.
We watched a mother wrestle two young blonde children 
while the father spoke outside on his phone.
You stole a bite of my toast and determined that it was better than yours,
and we both looked up and smiled between bites.
You tipped the bored waitress well and I protested on our walk out
but then you shook your head
and we kissed before putting on our seat belts and resuming our long desert drive.
When she asked me what my favorite day was besides my wedding day
all I could think about was that drive and that stop,
and that prayer of gratitude for our existence
at the way your eyebrows raised when you smiled at me between bites.

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Attention all Boys:


She really wants these for Valentines Day. Don't waste your money on flowers or perfume.

You're welcome.


my thoughts this evening

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There are too many places and things, and you can do anything but not everything they say which is not enough, because what does one do when everything is everything and anything is not. I look at graduate schools in my free time - all over the country, even though I know that is not where we will live. I want to be in Paris and New York and even Kentucky because there are things to be in every place, and I can't believe the unfair fact that I only get this one life. I look for jobs in my free time when I am not working, not because I don't love my job because I do - but because something is not everything. I get angry when my free time is used to try to contain my free time, but that is what I do because what does one do with free time, really? There is no rest for the chronically restless. Every thought, every fact, every place, every experience. Some say they have a thirst for life - but I think I have a desperation for this existence.

I want everything not anything.



Defying Hitler


"It may seem a paradox, but it is nonetheless the simple truth, to say that on the contrary, the decisive historical events take place among us, the anonymous masses. The most powerful dictators, ministers, and generals are powerless against the simultaneous mass decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large. It is characteristic of these decisions that they do not manifest themselves as mass movements or demonstrations. Mass assemblies are quite incapable of independent action. Decisions that influence the course of history arise out of the individual experiences of thousands or millions of individuals."

I finished Defying Hitler over the weekend - a book I have been looking forward to reading for months. It was much different than I expected it to be, but still one of the more worthwhile memoirs I have read because of the powerful content.

If you are expecting a thrilling memoir involving violence, or open defiance against Hitler among Germans, this is not the book for you. If however, you have ever wondered, "How did Hitler rise to power?" and, "Why didn't anyone stop him?" this book will answer all of those questions with a concise and methodical delivery. 

I thought the book was terrifying from start to finish - it demonstrated how the young generation of Nazi's were often bored, since they grew up with WWI and were used to turmoil. It also discusses the helplessness most Germans felt during Hitler's rise - terror for their country and what it was becoming, but with such extreme patriotism embodied in them, they felt they could not abandon it. They could not give up on their idea of what Germany stood for.  I have never read such a clear account of German history. You hear stories of Nazi's and Jews and Concentration Camps, but what is so often overlooked in literature/history were the everyday German citizens who were not Nazi's, and did not sympathize with the Nazi's.

Also discussed were the tools that the Nazi's used to coerce German citizens into joining. Comradeship, Haffner claims, was the downfall, a very interesting and actually believable claim that he demonstrates through personal experience.

I found the book interesting and enlightening - but not an easy read. My mom asked if she should take it with her on her vacation to Hawaii this week and I said no. It's not a pool side read, and it takes concentration because of the philosophical, political thought. However, I have never considered Hitler's rise with this angle, and learned more about Nazi Germany than any history class, other novel, movie, etc. combined. For those interested in history, WWII, and political thought, I highly recommend it. For those who prefer fiction, it might be a little boring.

Have you read Defying Hitler? What did you think?


clothing fast

(What I wish my closet looked like via)

One of my goals for the New Year, was to not buy clothes at all for four months. That includes jewelry, shoes and accessories. Crazy?

My friend Sheryl told me that she did not buy new clothes for a full year last year. Nothing! I was amazed by that and inspired, but decided a whole year was a little too long for me, and tried to make my goal more attainable. 

The thing is - my clothes will not all fit in my closet. Embarrassing, since it is a pretty big - but not walk-in closet. I donated everything I no longer wear, but even still - the clothes are so jammed on their hangers that they are difficult to pull out, and get lost, even though I color-code everything. To keep myself motivated to not add more to my overflowing closet, every month I am putting $100 that I would have spent on clothes into a separate fund for a trip, or a larger furniture purchase.

To be honest, it hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. It has forced me to be creative with the clothes I already have, and even though it has only been a month I feel such a sense of accomplishment. As an avid shopaholic, it feels good to scale back and focus on what I already have, which is still much more than I need.

That being said, here are the items I am hoping to purchase when May gets here. Maybe they will be on sale by then!

This dress
These pants
This shirt
This necklace
These earrings
This swimming suit 
This trench
This sweater

(p.s. Have any of you done a clothing fast, or spending fast in general? It has been such a good experience so far.)