10 min read

My 2023 Recap

I have a straight-talk recap, and an artsy, unhinged recap. Pick your adventure.


"Who is this Madi? I barely recognize you!"

"You've grown so much recently."

"That was so big for you, I'm so impressed."

They're right. I feel grounded and healthy in a way that I can see lasting for the long-term. :)

My change started in September of 2022, when I got out of an awful relationship. I felt like I'd betrayed myself by putting myself in that situation, and I struggled to trust myself again.

So to fix it, I bought Getting Past Your Breakup and for two straight months, I did all of the exercises in the book. I mapped out every relationship, my friendships, and my past with my family. By December 2022 I had a comprehensive map of my toxic patterns and the red flags I typically ignore.

In early 2023, I started dating again with the understanding that I attract people who are at my level of mental health, which means that I won't meet the right guy until I increase my mental health. And to do that, I need to reclaim my trust through dating and setting boundaries.

I decided to have fun and see my dates as guides instead of as my next relationship. I still struggled, but I was starting to see the red-flag patterns earlier and earlier. In March, a guy did something hurtful and manipulative that in the past, I would not have even noticed. But this time, I did! I called him out on it and cancelled our upcoming date. That moment was so big for me- I could see things I was once blind to! I started to trust myself more.

I also had the best dates of my whole life this year, hands down! I think it's because I was respecting myself more, and it encouraged others to respect me more, too.

I walked away before I gave away my heart. There was one man that I was kinda head over heels for and I realized he was a poor fit and I walked away, which probably seems so simple, but for me was such a big deal. By saying no, by calling people out on their bullshit, and by ending things early, I started to discover my boundaries and gain self-esteem.

I started imagining new ways I could show up for myself. Spending money on physical health was a big step. I hired a physical trainer, but I was still uncomfy with spending too much, and I got a trainer who was affordable but not the right fit. I got injured, and couldn't exercise for a month. I unrelatedly ended up injuring myself again on my own after that, but instead of wallowing, I created a season of a podcast.

Once I was better, I hiked around Utah, Oregon, and Washington, and spent time in nature eating fresh fruit, local meat and drinking raw goat milk, getting lost in forests, and wading in ocean water.

Mt Rainier, August, 2023

I thought about doing season 2 of my podcast, but realized that I was podcasting in part to avoid doing what I really wanted to do, which is a personal project I started outlining during the summer.

When I returned to Austin in October, I decided to hire a personal trainer again. But I was only going to trust the very best. I put my dream coach on my vision board and said, it's Claire Bays or no one!

I got lucky and I've been working with Claire for over two months, no missed sessions. I also started waking up early and I've actually stuck with it this time, for three months straight now! That's a first.

Showing up for myself in this way has made me feel worthy of good things. I fixed up my house exterior over the fall, and a neighbor from the next street over actually thought my house was new. I fixed up my back deck and cleaned up my yard, and I often sit in the sunshine and read and it's so lovely.

While I was making all of these positive changes, I started to feel increasingly unhappy with poor communication from family and a couple of friends. There were things I've always put up with that I couldn't shove under the rug anymore, and I had some heavy discussions with family that had needed to happen for decades. It was imperfect and messy, and these conversations are ongoing, but it's brought my family and I closer together. I realized that I always go to others, both physically and mentally, so now, I've started asking people to come to me, and some have and it's made us stronger, and some haven't, and it's closed the door. There was also a friendship where I felt like I wasn't a good friend, and I told her and asked how I could do better, and we're stronger now. These things will continue to happen as I continue to grow.

Recently, I ran into two guys I dated from earlier this year (including the one I was super into) and I felt no attraction, which was such a big win for me. Currently, I'm in this space where 'bad boys' no longer attract me but good guys are kinda invisible. As such, there's no one in my head and it's actually really lovely. I have faith that when I'm ready, a good guy will absolutely steal my heart.

I started doing the meat of the work on my personal project at the beginning of this month (thanks to Will Roman for the push). It's going slow, but steady, and I don't know if it's any good but I'm just excited to do my best, and finish the thing, and that's enough for me.

2023 was a really good year. In 2024, I'll continue focusing on physical health, this time eating well and getting regular cardio on top of my current resistance training. I also hope to curate a small group of girlfriends that I see regularly. I've felt a constant call to spend more time in the mountains, and later in the year, I might look deeper into how to make that happen, but maybe not because Austin is also great.

I hope you're doing well too. And if we know each other, please DM and let me know how your year has been. I'd love to hear from you.

With love,
Madi Taskett


pant pant pant pant, huff huff, pant pant pant, huff

It's sometime past midnight in January, 2023. I'm running down the street outside my house, worn black sneakers hitting the pavement, breath clouding in front of my mouth, shivering in the cold.

A pale hand reaches out, and a dark stranger pulls me into a spin and dips me, and when I look down, instead of seeing pavement, I only see a hole through the core of the Earth into the blackest black void, and I see myself down there gazing back up at me, a sweet woman with a knife hidden behind her back.

The tips of my hair disappear into the inky nothingness and for a moment I'm sure he'll drop me into it, oh God, don't drop me, I can't face it, take me back take me back take me

A familiar hand pulls me away into a ballroom, and it's February now, and I'm in a sparkly dress eating dinner with my close friend Taylor.

"If you can't forgive yourself, then don't." Taylor says. "Use that energy to do better. And remember, you're a ten and you change for no one." I look back at him but all I see is myself, knives out, in a fighting position, sneering and staring me down.

"I don't forgive you!" I yell at myself, and other me smiles and it turns into the dark stranger's smile and I'm back on the street in his arms.

But I change for no one.

"Bye, asshole!" I yell, while laughing, as I run away.

I continue sprinting down the street in the dark, laughing as I go, when all around me a thousand gas lamps spark into glow.

I stop, astonished, for in front of me is the man who will light all the corners of my mind into a blaze that still roars brightly.

Our conversations are like walking on air. Like magic is real and maybe anything is possible. Our chats make me question the very fabric of reality.

That night, I look at myself in the mirror and I whisper to her, "What if we could work together? What if you drop the knife?" She looks back, a softer expression on her face, her posture relaxing, mine relaxing in return.

Then she cackles, sharpening her blade and whispering in my ear, "You want to collaborate? Then let's bend the world to our will, like he does."

I step out of his glass box in the sky and skip home with a light heart, full of gratitude, taking with me a candle lit by his match, and it lights my way as I continue to run.

"What are your goals," a person trainer asks while running beside me.

"I want to be God," I answer.

"How far are you willing to go?" he asks.

"I'd break myself," I answer. He pulls both of my tailbone ligaments and I crumble onto the rough ground and it's not until May that the dawn arrives and I can walk around the block again.

Dawn arrives, red sky at morning, and I think, "Now I can be God," and in that same instant I step on a blade, and it's raining blood, it's raining blood, it's pouring rivers of blood, and the red overwhelms my vision until I'm drowning in it, gasping to keep my head above it and the woman in the mirror is laughing and laughing and then coughing up blood, and she looks at me with fear in her eyes and I'm laying on the podiatrist's table, and he's stitching my foot shut and I can see mirror Madi's mouth being stitched shut at the same time and half of me wants to taunt her and half of me wants to help her so I do neither as the needle threads through my skin with a piercing pain that makes me see static.

It'll be two more months until I can walk normally again.

Grey walls, everything grey, everything alone, always alone. My friend Marco bringing over cake. Then the cake shop closing. Going to a party and pretending I'm not bleeding through my bandages every time I stand up. Recording episode 1 of my podcast and all the colors returning. In between episodes, grey fog. While recording, everything neon, everything bright, oh God, oh to be alive!

It's August and I'm finally on my feet, surrounded by forest and mountains and sea, in a town far from Austin where no one wants to be God. I let my curly hair run wild, and wear mismatched clothing, and paint with all the colors of the wind. Fruit grows from every tree and I walk around town picking the most delicious figs, apples, pears, elderberries.

this is where i'd go on daily walks

I'm at the author of Fight Club's newest book launch, floating somewhere above clouds made of pink stuffed kangaroos that Chuck Palahniuk throws into the audience.

"Yes, you, what's your question?" he asks a stranger.

"I'm trying to get new members for my BDSM furry-themed fight club. How can I convince them to come?" (yes, this was an actual question)

"You can't convince them," Chuck says. "You can only show them."

"You can only show your reader through your art. And your job as an artist is to seduce your audience to the darkest place they don't want to go."

The darkest place I don't want to go.

I drive to my airbnb that night when my car's headlights catch a cat torturing a mouse. I floor the gas hoping to scare the cat and give the mouse a chance to run. Instead I see myself on all-fours in the road, looking me dead in the eyes and then snatching the mouse in other-me's mouth and leaping into the endless dark.

Goosebumps prickle up my neck. The headlight lights flicker. The woman in the mirror has tasted blood, and now she wants mine.

I look over and gasp, as she sits in the passenger seat next to me.

"I thought you couldn't open your mouth." I whisper.

She smiles as blood stains her razor sharp teeth.

I close my eyes and I snap my fingers. When I open them, I'm back home in Austin. Instead of unruly curls and yellow tevas, I'm wearing shiny black Luccheses, hair styled to perfection, with a leash in my hand. I look in the mirror and snap twice.


"You'll never be fit enough, successful enough, connected enough," other Madi jeers as I take her for a walk.

I want so badly to yank on her leash and smirk as she chokes. Instead, I stop walking.

"So what if you're right? What if I'll never be any of the things you want me to be? I'm all you've got. Why can't we be on the same team?"

She sighs. "You're too weak to be God," she responds. "But you're so close. If I don't keep pushing you towards greatness, we'll end up being nothing. Don't you see? Everything I do is for you."

I look to my other side, and next to me is a new coach, my dream coach.

"What are your goals?"

"To be G-. ahem To be healthy when I'm old."

"Great goal. We can do that, together."


It's November and everyone lights candles and sings. My friend Omar brings me cake from a new bakery and all of us eat and laugh and share our cake with the waitress. None of us are God. None of us are on leashes. None of us are dancing in that dark place under the pavement. So many hugs and I feel so, so loved.

I excuse myself to the restroom and look in the mirror.

In it, I see the dark stranger, then my friend Taylor, the mountains and forests and sea, the man with the candle, the cake from Marco and the cake from Omar, my dream coach, the friends who cheered on my podcast, Chuck Palahniuk and his stuffed kangaroos, everyone.

"Don't you see that what we have, is so much better than playing God?" I ask mirror-me. "Don't you like it when they hug us? Don't you like feeling so loved? Look at the beautiful life we've built, together.

I forgive you for how you hurt me in 2022. I know you won't do it again. I know I'm not that mouse in the road anymore. And I know you're not the cat.

And I love you."

Tears fill her eyes and she finally drops the knife.

I unhook her leash.

And we hug.