Applications, Anxieties, and Birthday Bonfires – An End Means Another Beginning

Well, I’ve done it.  My Common Application is done, my transcripts have been submitted, and my supplemental essays are written.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m feeling incredibly relieved, but I imagined the feelings, my ‘light shoulders’, and my nearly empty planner to stay as such for a little bit longer.

I guess it just goes to show that the applications themselves are just the beginning, while application anxiety, doesn’t set in until you hit the final confirmation button.  Nevertheless, I’m determined to maintain an open mind; if I attempt to stay relatively neutral in my preferences, I’ll be happy wherever I end up!  Though easier said than done, I’m doing my best.  Now, all I can do is sit back and wait a while, trying to stay patient as admission letters aren’t near as speedy as I would like.

Otherwise, I’ve just turned 18! And what an inauguration it was!  I was surrounded by well-wishes and love from family and friends, and a great sleepover!

Last Saturday, my friends and I spent the night in a big (but very cold) tent, after a bohemian bonfire and great dinner!  I’m so thankful to everyone who helped set up, clean up, and who came to have fun!  It was a great night and I’ll remember it forever!

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-Finally a ‘real adult’

Game Changers Forum, attended by ISI Social Justice Club

“It was an incredible opportunity to enrich our global awareness in regards to human rights and domestic violence through the different perspectives given to us by global figures such as Josina Z Machel.  It was an inspiration and reminder to continue to not take our rights for granted, as well as to keep advocating for the progress of our society.” -Coco Bentaieb

On Monday, October 3rd, the ISI Social Justice Club, lead by Mady Neal, Sonia DiOrio, and Juliette Barrere had the privilege to attend the Game Changers Forum, hosted by the Desmond Tutu Center and SOHO (Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach).  Upon arrival, the 7 students had the opportunity to hear poignant discussions by Josina Z Machel, stepdaughter to Nelson Mandela as she related her personal struggles combating domestic abuse and getting justice for her own story, as well as Gail Masondo, a spiritual leader and psychologist who deals with cases of sexual assault and domestic abuse against women and girls daily.  


Club leaders, (left to right) Juliette Barrere, Mady Neal, and Sonia DiOrio.  Photo included in Indy Star article.

This once in a lifetime event had a pivotal impact on all representatives of the social justice club.  As Felice Brokaw, a senior stated: “The meeting was heartbreaking and eye opening.  One of the most effective ways to spread a message is by being upfront and honest to the point of discomfort… I feel like that is why this forum was so effective, and why those involved will be able  to make a true difference in the world.” Not only did these students have thoughtful conversations between themselves, but they had access to other community involvement and spoke with representatives of various organizations around Indianapolis and the world.  In her interview with the Indianapolis Star, Sonia DiOrio (also a senior) said “these speakers have shown me I can do something. We have a voice.”  And a voice no doubt that will transcend class activities and make a broader difference in the ISI community.  


As I myself have learned, there is hope to a seemingly endless cycle of sexism and belittlement and abuse against women, girls, and men (though afforded even less


Selfie with Josina Machel, guest speaker at Game Changers Forum.  With (from left to right) Mady Neal, Coco Bentaieb, Sonia DiOrio, and Juliette Barrere.

publicity than that of women and girls).  Through events such as these, in which like-minded individuals join together and learn not only of the efforts already being done, but how to get involved on our own; a reassuring feat for those of us entering the collegiate realm that poses many more dangers to women even than high school.  

The Social Justice Club, prompted by the inspirational efforts of Masonda, Machel, and countless other community leaders in the eradication of sexual assault and domestic abuse, is committed to making a change in our high school, and prompting club members and classmates to make the positive difference we aspire to as global citizens.   

I was so thankful to be part of this event, and learned so much about the various organizations that support women and men in difficult situations.


“Student Mady Neal gets a hug from Josina Machel, speaker at the Game Changers Forum.” Photo taken by Suraj Choudhary and included in Indy Star article.


One of the most fascinating topics the panelists discussed was related to the #HeforShe initiative (most famously known for its outspoken figurehead, Emma Watson), and suggested that though women compose half of the world’s population, abuse and domestic assault impacts human beings of all genders and sexes, and we cannot hope to entirely eradicate sexual abuse and domestic assault without the help of men and boys.

Overall, it was quite the experience and I would like to say a huge thank you to my fellow club leaders, Sonia DiOrio and Juliette Barrere, to our club supervisor, Mrs. Detrick, and to the club members that took the entire day to take part in this once in a lifetime event.


Picture of Social Justice Club with Gail Masondo and Josina Machel.  From left to right, Sam Wittman, Felice Brokaw, Juliette Barrere, Gail Masondo, Josina Machel, Sonia DiOrio, Coco Bentaieb, and Edmond Kaela.

For more information, click here, to see the Indy Star article!

*Note, some pictures were taken from the Indy Star article, as stated in those pictures’ captions.

Life Update- 07/26/2016


Hello everyone!

I’m so sorry that I’ve been void of any new posts as of late (it seems as if this blog is almost entirely composed of apologies for my lack of ‘correspondence’)!  So, to make up for the time that has passed since my last post, I’ve decided to write a short life update!

What I’ve Been Reading 

Since summer began, I’ve been doing the best I can to read more- I find that at least for me, I’m my healthiest and happiest when I’m thinking about a good book!  My ‘book boast’ is that I’ve finally accomplished one of my longest goals; to read Moby-Dick!  Due to its intimidating size and worldwide rapport, I’ve avoided reading it until now.  I’m glad that I did read it though, it was definitely a fascinating read!  Up next is Anna Karenina, another monster that has been on my shelf (and beckoning to me) for quite a while.  I’m about 150 pages in and so far, I’m enjoying it!  To see what else I’ve been reading, click here!

What I’ve Been Doing

Three words: Senior. Year. Prep.  This involves a plethora of things that I think can be broken down to the following:

-College visits and ‘investigations’

-Summer reading, paper-editing, and overall studying

-And…trying not to panic.

Aside the above everyday tasks, I got to go to a Panic! At the Disco concert, which was a FANTASTIC experience!  Brendon Urie and the rest of the band really know how to put on a show; from back-flipping off of the stage to drum battles between the lead singer and the drummer, I didn’t stop laughing, singing, and cheering.  I’m so glad I got to go with my friend Addy and be a part of something so fun!

Where I’ve Been Going 

All of next week I will be in Big Sky, Montana, enjoying the sights, smells, and hopefully getting to meet a bear or two!  After a lot of early mornings at work as well as keeping up on my school work, I can definitely say that I’m looking forward to getting to hike some mountains, snap some pictures of the stunning state parks we plan on visiting, and relaxing!  Make sure you check back here for more updates on my travel adventures!


What Movie I’ve Been Watching 

I’m sure I’m really late to the party, but I just discovered the movie When Harry Met Sally.  Since I first saw it, I’ve already insisted on re-watching it 3 more times (sorry Mom, I know you’re getting tired of it)!  Its an hilarious mix of wit, laughs, and karaoke machines (Surrey with the Fringe on Top, no less)!  I laughed, I cried, I laughed and cried at the same time- a really odd mix that I’m still not sure how I feel about.

What I’m Excited For 

I suppose it would be a lie to say that I’m not at all excited for senior year, although I am really nervous for all that this next year has in store for me (*cough, cough* I’m talking to you, IB exams).

What I AM simply excited for is my 18th birthday, the Gilmore Girls REVIVAL, and my college decision, just to name a few.

Thanks for reading, kind-readers-who-aren’t-exasperated-with-me-for-not-posting-enough!  Check back here later for blog posts (I promise!) about my trip and more life updates!

2015 Recap – My Favorite Things!

To ring in the new year (I can’t believe its already January 2016!) I’m making a short list of links that I loved throughout the year!

  1. Gilmore Girls – This TV show explores the always evolving relationship of a mother and her daughter in various stages of life.  Filled with wit, wisdom, and everything in between, this was by far my favorite TV show of the year!

2. – I’m a reader.  So tracking my reading process is a must and this is the perfect website to help me do it!  I read a total of 43 books this year!

3. My Ukulele – In 2015 I learned how to play the ukulele and for Christmas was given a fantastic version of the instrument!

4. Jane Austen Temporary Tattoos – A student of classics, nothing made me laugh harder than this clever temporary tattoo set that I got in my stocking for Christmas!

5. Coffee!!! – Not only can I rely on my daily caffeine fix, but I get to collect cool coffee mugs!

6. 25 by Adele – I’m really loving Adele’s come back album, that has been in the making for 4 years!

Here’s to a happy 2016, with many more lists and favorites abound!

Visiting the Buddhist Center of Indianapolis- Anthropology Project

My Road to Enlightenment; Meditating in the style of Tibetan Buddhists

Anthropology Internal Assessment

Mady Neal

October, 2015

I journeyed to the Buddhist Center of Indianapolis, in an attempt to study and observe the practices of meditation in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist style.  Meditation is, in their culture, essential to learning about your own mind and, in the long run, becoming enlightened, as Buddha himself preached thousands of years ago.  

Upon arrival at the Buddhist Center, I was initially concerned as the surroundings resembled little more than a red house, with chipped paint and overgrown vegetation surrounding it.  There was a sign out front, and a flag post with various colored flags (green, red, blue, white, yellow), which was the only indication that I was at the right location.  There was a small sign on the door, written in Tibetan and English that labeled the entrance to the facility.  

Albeit reluctantly, I walked inside and removed my shoes.  It smelled of incense and a long curtain covered the entryway to each room.  There were no doors.  The building itself seemed to be divided in half, and we were informed that a monk lived in one half, while the other served as the congregation center.  In the center of the building was a shrine room, with an alter covering an entire wall.  There were various statues of Buddha, varying in size and material (some were gold and some were copper) along with 5 large pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Along the alter there were about 14 bowls that were filled with water, which the informant (who also lead the meditation session) explained that filling the water bowls was part of the monk, named Geshe-la’s, daily ritual.  He told us that by filling up the water bowls, it was a symbolic act of compassion; he was giving his resources (the water) to the abstract needy (the bowls).  

Geshe-la, the monk who inhabited the center, joined the meditation once we had begun.  He wore the traditional red and orange robes.  His name ‘Geshe’ was actually a definition of his religious standing.  That specific name was reserved for those that had a high standing in their community, the equivalent of a PhD, in our society.  ‘La’ was a nickname that the regular attendees of the center had made for him.  

The wall was decorated with various tapestries, each depicting a different Buddha, who is specifically devoted to a different sense of compassion or awareness.  The Buddha that was painted entirely dark blue, was devoted to medicine and healing of the sick.  These Buddhas were different and seemingly less common than the Buddha we recognize, who was originally named Siddhartha Guatama, a human who, only after reaching enlightenment, became known as Buddha.  

Along the floor there was a circle of prayer cushions, including one where the leader sat.  When the meditation began, Doug, the informant, explained that there were two types of meditations; a concentration meditation where you focused entirely on your breathing, and the effects of those deep breaths on your body, or a guided meditation.  In this case, as I was a complete novice, Doug and the 5 other participants agreed that a guided meditation would be more appropriate.  In this case, the aim of this 30-minute meditation was a type of kindness and compassionate prayer.  Doug read the meditation or prayer out loud, in order to guide our thoughts and keep us focused.  Throughout the entire meditation, the critical prayer we were to mentally repeat was as follows:

“May I be well.  May I be happy.  May I be free of suffering.”

The prayer varied depending on the target, as we transitioned from focusing on ourselves, to a friend:

“May you be well.  May you be happy.  May you be free from suffering.”

Then we migrated to thinking of someone in our lives whom we thought of entirely neutrally, without positive or negative feelings, and lastly, someone who proved to be a challenge or source of conflict in our lives.  We finished the meditation with the following prayer:

“May we be well.  May we be happy.  May we be free from suffering.”     
It was suggested that the chant extend out to all living beings, in order to appreciate our own compassion that we put forth throughout the meditation.  Doug, Geshe-la, and the regular meditators fully believed in the power of meditation to increase their own contentment in life, and have been doing so for many, many years.

After Party!

Four days ago, I celebrated my 16th birthday!  Super exciting, I know!  Before going further, I would like to thank my family for making this special birthday exactly that!  To celebrate with my fantastic (and loyal) followers, I’ve decided to include pictures of the great day I had, and a list my favorite 16 books  (because what would this blog be without books?)

Mady’s 16 Favorite Books as of 10/24/2014

  1. Dracula
  2. Kite Runner
  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  4. I am the Messenger
  5. The Fault in Our Stars 
  6. Book Thief
  7. The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy
  8. Flowers for Algernon
  9. The Raven Boys
  10. Hamlet
  11. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  12. The Great Gatsby
  13. The Secret Life of Bees
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  15. The Hobbit
  16. Paper Towns

Comment below and tell me which of these books were you’re favorites!  


Welcome funky followers!  Thanks for stopping by and following this blog (forgive me, I had to include some marketing in here)!  As a wise man by the name of T.S. Elliot once said:

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

And taking his advice, I made a new and improved version of “The Writings of Madelyn”.  I am pleased to introduce you to “Bibliophilia” my new creative writing outlet!  Here you will find reviews of all sorts, spotlights on my own writing pieces, and my semi-crazy commentaries about life!  To start out on a strong note, I’m including 5 facts/experiences that have happened to me in the past 10 months or so!

  1. This August I got to go to Switzerland!  I know, super cool!  I can honestly say that Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life #retirementhome
  2. I started my 10th grade year in high school!  Yikes; one year closer to the IB.  That being said I do get to start looking at some possible colleges this year which is pretty awesome!
  3. I’ve continued to mentor our Burmese refugee family that moved here last December.  I have really developed great relationships with all 6 kids and couldn’t imagine not knowing them!
  4. I’m driving now!  A very scary thought for many of my friends and family, though I’m really not that bad at it (although parking has proved difficult- how hard is it to park in between two white lines?  Harder than you would think).
  5. And last but certainly not least!  I have a position as a monthly columnist (of the review page) of Inspired Kids Magazine; a nonprofit organization that encourages kids to write and get involved in their communities!  This magazine is written for and by kids all around the world (and is taking submissions right now!).

So there you have it ladies and gents, my life is pretty exciting at the moment.  Not to be cliché, but it sure doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day to accomplish everything! Nevertheless, I am going to work hard in keeping this blog updated and fun!