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THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

When I sit down to write these gratitude entries, my intention is to really reflect on my week and focus on the good things or the moments of clarity and insight that I have achieved. I also do it because I don't want to end up as one of those people who are so mired by the things that have gone wrong with their lives that they can't see the good in it. I know that seeing the good things takes practice and that as soon as you stop reminding yourself to find something good, you lose the ability to do so. Those moments when I open up a page to start a Thankful Friday post and end up staring blankly at the white empty space for longer than I would like, makes me panic a little. Then I start grasping at straws. "This mug! I am thankful for this mug!" "My right foot! Dear Gods, I am so thankful for my right foot!"

Don't get me wrong. I can be mighty thankful for a well made mug. Mom made a new mug on her pottery wheel recently that is the perfect roundness and weight. It cupped perfectly in my two hands. She's going to submit it as an entry in the fair (yes, people still submit things to the local, county, state fairs) or It would be cupped perfectly in my two hands right this minute. I am also thankful for my right foot because it doesn't hurt. My left foot on the other hand is on my list for just hurting for no particular reason other than to be a jerk. My left foot is a jerk. But grasping at straws like this always makes me laugh. I come up with the most ridiculous and simple things to be grateful for and then I start to giggle. This is how having a gratitude practice can bring joy to your life. 

This week I am thankful that my brother is going to be just fine. There was a health scare earlier this week, but everything is okay. I am thankful for my own agile body. That's hard to say when I still see a fat belly when I look down at myself. I am thankful for Josephine's new haircut. It makes her seem springier and slightly more hilarious. I am thankful for the sunshine that hit me in the face as I walked my outside loop to get coffee this morning. I am thankful that we are finally getting a chance to go camping this weekend, even if it is one of the most crowded camping weekends of the year. Let's kick it off together! We're headed to the birth place of Mark Twain. He's a national treasure, you know. So there's sure to be lots of stamp collecting. We'll be at a park right across from the mighty Mississippi and chances are I will be sporadically belting out "Old Man River" the whole weekend. 

Thank you to the people who serve this country in the military. This includes the families of those people because I know first hand the sacrifices the whole family makes when one member chooses this path. It's super hard, scary work. 

Be safe and have a wonderful Thankful Friday!

VALUABLE LESSONS

Cindy Maddera

This week I have learned valuable lessons from trying to speak rationally to a person who doesn't want to be spoken to rationally. They've come for a fight and expect nothing else. They want to sling arrows. So I have let them sling their arrows. I've let them call me a cunt and a condescending bitch. I've let them tell me that I am 'loathed'. I am sure they feel justified in their anger and their feelings are valid feelings. Whether you are mad, sad or happy, feelings are valid. It is how you react to those feelings that truly matters. I choose to react differently than some. That's my choice. I don't have room in my life for hatefulness. My reaction is to step away and remove it from my life. 

I recognize also, that I have made mistakes. Butting in to get others to stop butting in is like two wrongs that do not make a right. If I hadn't done that, I wouldn't have unleashed this person's true feelings about me. I don't know if that's better or worse, but I do recognize my part in all of it. That's a hard lesson. Like sticking your hand in the beehive for a honey comb and expecting to not get stung. It is hard to admit that I should have never reached out in the first place. I didn't pause to consider the consequences or that it would inspire and incite so much vileness. I just don't think of those things. I just don't expect people to behave so hatefully. That is another fault, expecting others to behave the way you would behave. That's not fair to the other person particularly when they are reacting in a way they chose for themselves. My choice is not better than their's. Just different. I apologize for inciting.

All of this sounds vague and cryptic, I know. It's just that writing all of it down is therapeutic and helps me. I know only to share the bare minimum out of respect. Writing it all down takes it out of the space in my head where can clog things up. It helps me remove the things that do not serve me out the way so that I can replace it with things that do. 

CROUCHING TIGER

Cindy Maddera

I left work a little early yesterday so I could go rescue Josephine from the groomer's. It started raining right as I pulled out of the parking garage. By the time I made it to Brookside Barkery, it was pouring buckets. I managed to do a crap job of parallel parking on the curb right outside from the Barkery and I sat there a minute trying to decide my best exit strategy. Do I have an umbrella? Nope! Do I have my rain jacket? That's another Nope! I am never prepared for weather of any kind. I went to Oklahoma this weekend without a sweater or jacket because it is late May and Oklahoma in late May is summer. Except it wasn't. I ended up wearing Mom's sweaters, one of which I stole and may never give back.

I've got nothing to keep me from getting soaked. I look over at the passenger seat and then out the passenger window. It's probably two giant leaps from my car to the safety of the storefront awning. I pull myself up and climb over the center console and step into the passenger seat. Now I am crouched in the front passenger seat with my wallet clutched in my teeth and my hand on the door handle. I am ready to pounce. At this moment I am hesitating because i have a couple of thoughts running through my head. First of all, would you look at this 41 year old body and it's ability to climb up into this position in the first place?! Yoga! Secondly, I am thinking about all of the things that can go wrong. In my head, I see myself springing from the car like a cat, but the reality could very well be that I end up rolling out of my car like a hedgehog.

The rain is not letting up. In fact, it is getting worse. I have to take action. So...I fling open the car door and I actually do spring out of my car and in two hops I am under that awning. There's a crowd inside my head totally cheering and imaginary hands pat me on the back. It truly was an amazing display of athleticism and grace. I know you're probably waiting for the part where I tell you I tripped and fell in a puddle or slammed into the glass door of the Barkery or something slapstick. None of those things happened. AND NO ONE WAS THERE TO WITNESS IT! No one saw or video taped my amazing feat of grace or my ninja skills. 

So...you'll just have to take my word for it. 

MY RIGHT EYE JUST FELL OFF ON MY KNEE

Cindy Maddera

It has happened more than twice in a period of one week. I find myself scrolling through my pictures, looking for something in particular, and instead end up lost. You know when I say that I should be more organized? What I am really saying is that I should have my photographs better organized. I don't tag anything or name anything or put anything into albums. The best I can do is try to remember what year I uploaded the picture. Good luck with that. So, there I am, rolling through page after page of pictures. My life moves backwards in a blur. Memories flashing by like a flip book. Sometimes I linger over one, but often I zip on by.

There's a small box on the bookshelf that contains some keepsakes. Old pictures. Christmas cards. For some reason I can't seem to toss the Christmas card that have family pictures on them. I was still looking for a certain picture when I opened that box. The picture I was looking for was not there, but instead I found pictures from our college days. There was one of Jen when we'd dolled her up for homecoming because she'd been in the running for homecoming queen. There was Amy and Chris and maybe Jen sitting at a table in the snack bar with their arms stretched out overhead as they all did their best impression of a snail. It was during one of those late night study sessions. I noticed a few snapshots from the UFO trip. Then there was a stack of wedding photos. God...we were so young and ridiculous. 

The next thing I know, I find myself scrolling through Chris's flickr feed. I don't even know why. I wouldn't find the picture I was looking for there. There is no reason for me to be looking at this space. I scroll through anyway. There are so many pictures of Chris because of all the 365 day projects. I watch him lose weight, gain weight, lose more weight. Occasionally there is a picture of him and Traci and it makes me wince. I still feel responsible, guilty, like I ruined it all for the two of them. I am sorry Traci. For what, I am not even sure I have words for. I am sorry even though deep down I know know know that I have nothing to be sorry for. Eventually I make it all the way back in his flickr feed when he is still wearing glasses. I remember how long it took me to get used to him without them after his eye surgery. Now it seems so odd to see him wear them. 

I am picking at scabs. That is what this is. It is a canker sore on the inside of my lip that I constantly poke with the tip of my tongue. It is because I have started writing a little bit here and there on an old story. A story no one will really want to read, but one I am afraid to forget. Also I am filling up with words. Their sharp edges are starting to poke me from the inside. I burp letters. Finding the time to do this seems impossible. I imagined the other day getting on the train and riding it to St. Louis or Chicago. I'd just get on the train with my laptop and sit and write while the country passes by. No distractions. No cleaning up after others. No demands or grabs for my attention. Nothing except for the occasional glance out the window. I'd get to the end of the line and just turn around and come back. I mentioned this idea to a friend at work. I said I'd get on the train with just my laptop and she said "and write!" before I could finish my own sentence. 

Maybe she could see the jagged edges of all the words poking out of me. Maybe it just seems obvious that I have stories weighing me down. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Michael has asked me on two different mornings this week if it was a scooter day. Both times I have answered "yes!" without even checking the weather. That's not true. I checked the weather by looking out the window. Skies were clear. That says 'scooter day' to me. The reality was that each day included a chance of severe weather or at least some rain. In fact, on Wednesday, we got a notice at work saying that we were under a tornado warning until 7 pm that evening. Michael can't ride his scooter on Wednesdays because those are evenings with the Cabbage. She's not quite tall enough to ride the scooter. Yet.

I got to work on Wednesday just before the rain hit. At one point during the day, the wind was ferocious and rain came down sideways. But by the time I left yoga class to head home, the sky had cleared. Michael opened the garage door for me when I got home that evening and said "I guess you managed to avoid the rain." I told him that I've become the Zen master of riding between raindrops. The Matrix on scooters. I am grateful that I did not get caught in the rain, but more than anything, I am grateful for the scooter rides. I am grateful to have thrown caution aside and just hopped on the scooter and gone. This has been the kind of week that has added hours to days in a way that was unproductive. I mean that those extra hours where not filled with good things that I wanted to be doing. There were several moments when I felt like just laying on the floor. Like that moment I realized that a very heartfelt, personal bit of writing I had been working on, didn't save. Those scooter rides, along with some yoga time, where moments of freedom from this week's little frustrations. 

Today I am driving to Oklahoma to see Thomas graduate from high school. Thomas is J's youngest boy and the most stoic of the two. I can think of a very small number of times when I have seen him laugh, truly laugh. He's a very serious young man, but my memories are immediately drawn to that time that he and his brother, JR, were riding in the backseat of our car. Chris was driving and all along the way, the three of them swapped Darth Vader fart jokes. They were ridiculous and dumb, but hilarious. The backseat was filled with raucous laughter. This is all I will be able to see in my head as I watch one of those young men walk across a stage and accept his diploma tomorrow. I am grateful to be gifted his moments of laughter. 

I am grateful for many things and I am always grateful for you. Here's to wonderful weekend and a blessed Thankful Friday.

I'M ALMOST READY FOR MY CLOSEUP MR. DEVILLE

Cindy Maddera

I have a knew obsession. As if I need one more thing to obsess over, but I do. I really really do! This knew obsession is my pores. I might be lying about this being a 'new' obsession. Let's just say it is a new to you guys obsession. When I look at my nose in the mirror, I am often reminded of my dad's nose, even though I don't have his nose. I have the distinctive McCool nose, but I still think of my dad's nose because right smack in the middle of it, he had this huge gaping pore. Sometimes I would be so surprised by the size of it, that I would take a step back when he'd come too close. I often wondered in a very grotesque way what would happen if that pore was squeezed. It's a scientific curiosity. 

I'm sorry Dad. I love you, but you had giant pores on your nose. 

Now that I think about, Dad's giant pore could have been skin cancer. I never saw my dad ever put sunscreen on his body and he had some seriously suspicious looking moles on his arms. Any way, I'll look at my nose in the mirror and wonder if or when I'm going to wake up some morning soon with a giant hole in my nose. Sort of how I sometimes wake up and wonder if this will be the day my brain starts to break. Genetics is an asshole. I will say that I have seen a huge improvement in my skin since I've been diligent in washing it every evening with ground flax seeds and tea tree oil. God, I swear I am not as hippy as that last sentence makes me out to be.

Along with the face washing thing, I've been using a Biore pore strip on my nose once a week. I had run out of those recently and it had been a few weeks since I had last used one. I was thinking about that when we walked past Ulta yesterday on our way to Trader Joe's. I dragged Michael into the store with me and we looked at the many many options they had available for sucking gross things out of your pores. Michael picked up a three step packet from TonyMoly . I said "I don't know....it's a one time thing." He replied "So what? We're getting it. I'll get one for myself too. Let's just go." Can you tell that shopping at Ulta is his favorite thing ever? I said "fine" but also grabbed a box of regular pore strips to have on hand. If I were the kind of blogger that did sponsored posts or reviews of stuff, I'd totally write a good review for the TonyMoly packet. It worked well without making my face break out in an allergic reaction. That's a win with any face care product in my book. Also, TonyMoly is just fun to say. TONYMOLY!

The best part of peeling any of those strip thingies off your nose is looking at the strip to see what it pulled out of your face. I study them in the same way a witch studies tea leaves in the bottom of a cup to predict a future. You see that row of gunk there that came out of the crease of my nose? That means I'm going to live a long, clean life. Gasp! That boulder looking like thing there? That means you're destined to have giant pores. I haven't pulled out any boulders lately, so maybe I'm starting to change my destiny. Actually I feel like I'm lucky that I haven't turned complete crazy and started washing my face with a brillo pad.

I bet those things exfoliate the fuck out of your skin. 

 

ANTI-MOTHERS' DAY

Cindy Maddera

It's kind of like wearing a shoe that doesn't fit, but you wear it any way because a) you spent a lot of money on them and b) they're a really cute pair of shoes. This is how I refer to my situation of sudo sort stepmom. Really, I am childless, without child, consciously barren. I am one of those women who just decided that motherhood would not be my bag of tea. Sure there have been moments when my ovaries have twisted up at the sight of a cute baby and a tiny voice has ever so quietly whispered "hey...we should have one of those." But I also think at times that it would be nice to just have a baby something...alpaca, goat, pig, monkey. Babies are cute for a biological reason. It is so we won't eat them. I have a million excuses for not having one of my own like timing and money, lacking the abilities required to raise a good human being, but if I take an honest look, those excuses can be boiled down to just one. I am a selfish human being. 

I mean I'm not selfish selfish. I give to charities. I occasionally give my time as a volunteer (I should actually do more of this). I tend to put others' needs before my own. Really, I am a giver almost to the point of being a doormat. I let people walk all over me and take advantage of my generosity. Case in point: I once gave a monk ten dollars for a cheap beaded bracelet. He had asked me for a donation while popping the bracelet onto my wrist and when I pulled a five out of my wallet, he saw the ten. He said I needed to give ten. So I did. Like a sucker. Because they needed to finish building their temple. I bend over and into a pretzel to make those around me happy and comfortable. So when I say my reasons for not having a child is a selfish reason, I say it because I feel this could be one area of my life were I could be completely selfish without making anyone (too) unhappy. Let's face it. Children are not easy to please and they let you know in no uncertain terms that they do not like something or are not happy about whatever. I didn't feel like being a constant disappointment to yet another person. 

Gratitude and appreciation is not an ingrained behavior. It is not just enough to know what those things are but to practice the art of being grateful every day. I know plenty of adults who struggle with this idea daily. The Cabbage has gotten better at this. Her tone is filled with less disdain when she doesn't like something. She's gotten better at being quick about saying when she does like something and saying 'thank you'. I think a big part of it has been that I've stopped trying so hard to please. I don't twist myself into that pretzel where she is concerned. If anything, the Cabbage has taught me to not be such a doormat. So there's that. The Cabbage is very quick to tell people that I am not her mother, which is great because it keeps me from having to explain. She tells people that I am her stepmom and I correct her and say "wicked stepmom". Though I don't really consider myself to be a stepmom either. I understand that there's a need to label things and people. 

People mean well when they wish me a 'Happy Mothers' Day" and every other weekend you can find me doing mom like things. I make sure a six year old has access to the short list of foods that she will consume, that she has clean clothes to wear and goes to bed at a reasonable hour. I have cleaned up vomit, wiped a snotty nose, and cleaned her butt. But I am not her mother. I know that there are those who resist my anti-mother stance when it comes to the Cabbage. It comes down to that need to put a label on me. Also, I have yet to hear about a National Stepmom Day (thank the gods). So my whatever role gets lumped in with Mothers' Day because I am female and a part time care giver to a child. In fact the feminist in me screams against being lumped into the Mothers Day group. The things I do for the Cabbage are the things any general care giver would do. It does not make me a mother. My womb does not ache when she's not with me. In fact there have been times I have sighed with relief after dropping her off at her mother's.

I do recognize that I have influence and I'm helping to mold her brain. I have become one of the women in her tribe of women who are helping to raise her. It takes a village right? I am happy enough to be part of her village. No label required. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I heard my mother telling the story of my birth to some poor soul at our party on Saturday. It is a story I have heard a number of times and I have heard multiple variations on the story. In this particular telling, Mom said that I would only sleep for five minutes at a time and I broke out into a rash every time the sun hit my delicate preemie baby skin. I think my parents liked telling people the story of my birth because of the three of us, mine was the most dramatic. There's alway lots of oohs and ahhhs when they disclose how much I weighed at birth. I can still see Dad holding out his hand, palm facing up, as he would tell about how my tiny body fit right there and point to his hand. Mom always mentions the beautiful bouquet of flowers that she received from a close friend who also happened to be our milkman. This time though, my mom said something I had never heard her say before. She said "They told us she probably wouldn't live."

In all the tellings of that story, it never once dawned on me that I was in any kind of danger other than just being born tiny. I did not suffer with lung issues or heart problems. I do have allergies, but not more so than any normal birth person would have. I am healthy and despite some broken bones and a tonsillectomy, I have always been healthy. So I never really thought much about my birth as more than a regular birth but just a little early. Like a month and half early. A study of 148 premature infants from 1966-75 that weighed 1000g or less found that 48 of those babies survived. That's less than a 50% survival rate. More like 32%. Not bad, but I can't imagine that hearing your doctor tell you that your baby has a 32% chance of living is all that reassuring. I've heard people say that your birth story plays a big role in defining the person you become. Je suis forte. I guess I just never really saw myself as that strong. Survivor strong. 

Did the Fates see my future and say to themselves "This girl better be strong or die now."? Probably not, but it makes a nice cartoon in my head. I can see Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos each holding my life thread, tugging it between them to see how far they can stretch it before it feels like it might snap. Maybe Clotho and Lachesis kept Atropos from snipping it with her scissors or they found the thread to be too strong to be snipped. It makes a nice visual and I am thankful that I ended up as one of the 32%. I am thankful to have a mother who is strong enough to survive a child like me. I am also thankful for the other women in my life who were part of the tribe who raised me. All of them played a hand in shaping the woman I am today.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and a truly Thankful Friday.

THE HANDMAID'S ANXIETY

Cindy Maddera

I've been watching the Handmaid's Tale on Hulu and during each episode, I tell myself that I'm not going to watch any more of it. Each time I watch an episode, a ball of anxiety starts growing in the pit of my belly. It is all too plausible. Sure there are many out there who would say that the plausibility of the show is an overly dramatic statement. I will admit that Margaret Atwood's dystopian (near) future is dramatic and easy to look at and say "There's no way our society would come to that." But it is not the depiction of things to come that causes the anxiety. It is the depiction of how this dystopian future came to be that jolts me the most. 

It starts out small and quiet, women's rights slowely and quietly stolen in the night. You start to see an attitude shift in how some view independent women. There is a vileness and anger in their attitude. A woman walking down a sidewalk on her own elicits slurs. Whores. Sluts. It is an anger I recognize and have witnessed very recently, in the year leading up to the election. My memory flashes to that man in the German deli that Michael and I had run in with. I can still see his face, his cheeks flushed pink with his anger. He is part of a group of men who support this current administration because they believe their religion and white skin entitles them to something more than to those different from them. 

The women show up to work one morning only to be told to go home. A law banning women from working, owning property or money was passed in the night. You'd like to think that things would never come this far here, but right now there are twelve senators deciding the fate for our health care and not a one of them is a woman. The latest health care reform includes rape and pregnancy on the pre-existing condition list that Insurance companies do not have to cover or can charge you more to cover. It takes away free birth control, which does more than prevent pregnancy. For many women who use it, birth control lessens the sometimes debilitating symptoms of menstruation. There is a large portion of Americans who voted for Trump for one specific reason. They believe he will make abortions illegal. They care about nothing else like environment, education, health care. The most important issue to them is to take away a woman's right to choose what she does with her body. 

It is not just the misogyny that bothers me. This fictitious society hangs people for being homosexual. They hang people of religions other than their own. Catholic priests. Jews. Muslims. You see them hanging from ropes. Hang any one different. This administration threatens to appeal gay marriage laws and some states have started passing legislature that would make it impossible for a gay couple to adopt and care for a child. Trump campaigned on a promise to ban Muslims and to refuse refugees. He campaigned on promises of hate and discrimination toward people who are different and a large portion of this country agreed with this and said "yes! He is the best choice for our country!" So it's not so hard for me to see how it easy would be for our society to turn into something similar as to the one represented in the Handmaid's Tale. 

The Handmaid's Tale is a cautionary story of how dangerous it is not vote, to not pay attention. It is a reminder that we can be better and it is a reminder to have hope for better. It is a reminder to call your senators, to flood their office with letters and phone calls, urging them not accept a health care reform bill that makes insurance impossible for those with pre-existing conditions. It is cautionary tale that reminds us to NEVER stop fighting against misogyny, racism, homophobia and discrimination. 

THROW EVERYTHING IN THE BOX

Cindy Maddera

This was probably the fullest weekend that we have had in a really long time. The house filled up with friends and family starting on Friday and stayed that way for the whole weekend. There were plenty of hands to help me prepare for Michael's party and we got things done so efficiently that there was extra time for relaxing in the backyard. We had two evenings of sitting around the fire pit. All of the boys got added to our doorway where we mark the growth progress of the Cabbage and where we tend to also mark the height of guests. It is my favorite doorway of all the doorways. I got to spend some much missed hours with Amy's little one where she told me knock-knock joke after knock-knock joke and Boo Boo Butt was always at the door. I ate cake and relaxed in the hammock. 

I looked at my phone today and realized that I only took a handful of pictures over the weekend. Most of those pictures are of Amy's little monster who is the most hilarious child that never stops moving or talking. So you can guess that most of the images are blurry. I have a weekend photo folder of a handful of blurry images. And it is perfect. Those blurry images are a true representation of the weekend. Colors and sounds swirled together with the smell of a campfire. That's what this past weekend was and usually how weekends filled with friends and family tends to go. There are always the moments that you want to stretch and pull out like pink taffy. These are the kind of moments that can't be captured in a picture.

There's a handful of us who will bust out laughing any time someone in the group yells out "WHERE'S MY COOKIE?!". Terry learned more about the feral hogs of Oklahoma then he ever thought he'd probably ever learn. Our backyard looked the best it has ever looked, but not because of all of the yard work Michael and I did. Our backyard looked good filled with our people with the dog and a couple of little kids running around chasing bubbles. The backyard was down right perfect when the sun dropped down below the horizon with the fire in the fire pit roaring. We'd watch the bats circle above us while someone took a turn telling a story or joke. 

So...I don't have a whole lot of pictures from the weekend. I've taken those moments, the stories and words, and I've tucked them away in it's own special memory box.  

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

This morning, as I passed the window that holds the view to the Kaufman Center and nature center, I noticed little ringlets of waves on the water on the pond. When I took more than a passing glance, I realized that the ringlets were made by the swallows dipping down to pluck a bug from the surface. The barn swallows have returned. The barn swallows are my favorite birds to watch. I could lay on a blanket in the grass all day, watching them swoop around through the air in search of bugs. They're like tiny kites or fighter planes, performing twist and turns. The barn swallows also signify summer or at least that summer is on it's way.

We've had weeks of yo-yo weather around here. Last week brought rain that stayed with us for days and days along with cooler temperatures. Yesterday the sun came out and it was actually pleasant. Not warm, but pleasant and it looks like it is going to stay for a while. I am thankful for this for a number of reasons. I'm ready to walk around barefoot without my toes freezing solid. I am ready for scooter and bicycle days. Michael and I are both ready for camping days. But right now, I am thankful for the nice weather because we will have friends and family gathering in our backyard for a small celebration. We've wrangled the wild honeysuckle along the fence line and cleaned out the fire pit. Michael mowed the yard last night and I have to say, our wild backyard looks like a lovely place to host our friends and family. Today, I am thankful for barn swallows and sunshine. I am thankful for a weekend full of being surrounded by those we love. 

What else? Jenese has been found! Jen missed her calling as a private investigator (Or did she? Jen Tucker, Private Eye has a nice ring) and tracked Jensese down. We have communicated through email and have marveled over how our stories of how we got to where we are now have overlapped in ways. I am thankful that we found Jensese, but I am even more thankful that we found her happy and blessed and loved. 

Here's to a weekend filled with laughter and love and a super Thankful Friday. 

YIN

Cindy Maddera

I received a supplemental Yoga Journal last month that was all about building a daily yoga practice. It included a chart for a six week program with different poses and plans and then told you what pages of the journal you could find those routines. One of the classes they recommended was a series of nine poses done in a Yin style of yoga. Yin yoga is a passive style of yoga that uses seated or supine posses to stretch the muscles and connective tissue in the hips and legs in order for you to sit longer and more comfortably in meditation. The idea is to hold each pose for 3-5 minutes. It is also the kind of practice that aids in lowering cortisol levels, a stress hormone that messes with your immune system and encourages the body to hang onto fat. 

My yoga practice has never been Yin. That doesn't mean I have a hard core Ashtanga practice either. I'd like to think my practice is a nice balance of difficult and relaxing. I start off with several rounds of surya namaskar, followed up with a focus on a few key poses. I try to throw in poses I generally do not like to do because one day they will become poses that I love to do. I finish off with some twists and a nice fifteen minute savasana. You see, a long time ago, way back when I learned about doshas, I read the part about how Kaphas tend to be overweight and sluggish and just went right ahead and declared that I was predominantly kapha. It is not true and I know that now, but it's still there in the back of my head whenever I get on my mat or the treadmill or find myself in a step aerobics class. That little kapha voice in my head says "Cindy, you are fat and slow so you better push yourself or you're going to stay fat and slow." Isn't that little kapha voice mean?

The other day, I rolled out my yoga mat and told that little kapha voice to be quite. I sat down on my mat and then proceeded through the nine poses in the magazine, holding each for five minutes. It was torture. You know how Professor X can hear thoughts from every person in the world and it's just a constant noise of chatter in his head? It was like that in my brain except all of the thoughts were my own. When the inside of my brain wasn't screaming in a million voices, I was the little kid in the back seat of a car saying "are we there yet?" over and over. And it was not like I was forcing myself to stay in the most difficult of yoga poses. They were the kind of poses that I typically do to cool down and prepare for savasana. They were the kind of poses that are yummy for the brief amount of time I had been usually holding them. Five minutes is a really long time. It's a life time. I wouldn't have been surprised to discover that years had passed while I had been on my mat in that practice. 

Yet I persisted, holding each pose until the timer dinged to move to the next pose. I took note of what the mind chatter was saying. Most of the chatter is me writing up entries in my head. How to write the story? Maybe that chatter wouldn't be so loud if I actually sat down and wrote the damn story. Eventually, I reached a moment when I was able to reel in all the mind chatter and settle into savasana. I got up from my mat knowing full well that I am more pitta/vata than kapha and feeling a little lighter. 

I got up from my mat knowing that I need to write the damn story. 

 

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO...

Cindy Maddera

It was when the woman made eye contact with me that I realized I had been staring. She was sitting in a group of four at table by the window, just diagonally from where I also sat with a group of four. I lifted my menu up and looked away, but I continued to glance over at her while trying to stay focused on the conversation happening around me. It's just that she looked just like my college roommate, Jenese. I was too timid to go over and say anything because the woman looked just like Jenese from 1998 and I guess it's possible that she hasn't aged, but I would have expected some aging. I sent Amy a text telling her that I just saw a woman that looked exactly like Jenese from 1998. She replied that maybe it was her and I should have asked. Stranger things have happened.

Then I got to wondering about what ever happened to Jenese. A quick Google search brought up nothing. No Facebook. No Instagram. No twitter. I felt bad about not staying in touch. Jenese and I were paired up into a room of four girls our freshman year at USAO. By the end of the first semester, one of those girls had dropped out. By the end of the second semester, Jenese and I were the only two left in that room. Eventually I would get my own room when I became a resident assistant and Jenese would move into a single dorm room, but we remained friends. I guess I stopped noticing her presence when Amy, Chris and I moved out of the dorms our senior year, but I could have sworn that she was at many of our breakfast night feasts. The more I looked for her online, the more it bothered me that I had let myself fall out of touch with her. What was she doing now? Is she teaching? Did she get married? I bet she's a mom. Jenese was mom material. Did she still live in Oklahoma? 

Then I wondered if she knew about Chris. She had been there when Chris and I started dating. She had witnessed it all really, just like all the others in our group. Did she know that Chris is no longer with us? I think about these things on occasion. I wonder if people we've lost touch with know about Chris, people like Jensese. Even Melody, the woman who owns the coffee shop we loved in OKC. We sent her a Christmas card every year and she'd put it up on cork board above the sugar and cream counter. Did she know about Chris? I can imagine scenarios where I run into these people and they ask "Where's Chris?!" and I have to say "Oh, he's dead." Then I have to watch the look of shock and confusion on their faces as they try to make sense of what I just said. Sometimes the person I'm having the imaginary conversation with even cocks their head to one side like a confused puppy. "Did you just say, 'he's dead'?!?" Yeah...yeah, I did. 

Any way, Jenese if you're out there some where reading this, email me! We should catch up! 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Monday morning, I opened my email and noticed some suspicious activity. There were over a hundred emails responding to one that had been sent from my account. All of the emails were from people I didn't know and all of them were complaints about having no clue as to why they had received an email. I immediately went to my settings and changed my password. Then I went on my merry way thinking all was fine and dandy. Thursday morning I tried to log onto my gmail account and was told that my account had been disabled. Google had decided that I had in someway violated something and had disabled my email. I filed the form to recover my account and waited. And waited. And waited. I am still waiting. 

While I waited to hear some news about recovering my email account, I became painfully aware of how dependent I have become to this account. It is my main source of communication other than text. My gmail window sits open on my desktop all day. It is how Talaura and I send each other stupid stuff we find on the internet like that designer bag that costs over $2000 and looks just like an IKEA bag. I lost access to all of contacts including home addresses for those contacts. I also rely heavily on Google Drive and have many half written stories there that I have every intention of coming back to and finishing one day. I lost all access to my Google Drive documents. I guess this is the equivalent to a fire in one room of your house. I've lost everything from that room. 

I have created a new account and I'm slowly rebuilding and linking day to day business accounts to the new one. I've sent out a request for people to email me at the new address so I can rebuild my contact list. I've thought long and hard about some of those documents in my Drive account. So many of them were stories that I had started and gotten a good hold on, but then just stopped working on. Always with the idea that I would come back to it eventually. There's one story in particular that I have written so many words for, but I haven't touched in ages. That story had recently popped into my brain and lately I've been spending time dissecting and rewriting it in my head while marching on the treadmill. Though Michael has assured me that I will eventually get my email account back, I've let myself mourn the lost words as if they're gone for good. 

Today I am thankful for a clean slate. This is an opportunity to start fresh, write new words and to stop editing and rewriting old stories in my head. It is also a perfect opportunity to clean up my email account which had become so littered with promotions and junk from my contest entering days. My contact list was messy with duplicates. Now's my chance to really set up a clean and organized contact list. One day, if and when I get my old account back, I can easily link it to the new account or I can just leave it as a junk drawer for unwanted emails. The funniest thing about all of this has been the response of those of you who didn't know my legal name. My mother gave me that name (some great grandmother's name) and she doesn't even call me by it. 

Tomorrow is the AIDS Walk of Kansas City and thanks to Katrina, I reached my fundraising goal yesterday. I am so so so grateful for each and everyone of you who donates to my fundraising page every year. This year's tag line for the walk is "We will walk until there is a cure." Decreased funding to the NIH for valuable life saving research, ensures that we will be walking for cures for AIDS and so many other diseases that wreck havoc on the human body for a very very long time. So, thank you. Thank you for supporting me in this fight against AIDS.

We're set to have a soggy weekend (it always rains on AIDS Walk day) and it has started with a soggy Friday morning. Here's to a weekend of rain boots and umbrellas and a truly Thankful Friday. 

THEY COME TO LIFE

Cindy Maddera

She glanced over her shoulder as she stepped around the corner, making sure that she was not being watched or followed by her chaperone. She found herself in an obscure section of the museum that held Egyptian antiquities. Rumors of curses and illnesses kept this section generally free of visitors, making it the perfect location for a clandestine meeting. At the moment, though, she appeared to be alone. So she wandered the display cases of Egyptian pottery and jewelry ordained with bright, colorful scarab beetles. She settled in front of a case filled with cat statues and checked her watch. He was late. Maybe he wouldn't even show at all, she thought. Her chaperone had probably already started looking for her by now. She felt her cheeks flush with heat at the thought of being discovered, at the thought of being discovered with him, at the thought of him not showing up at all. Then she felt his presence; knew that he was standing just behind her. A coy smile came to her lips. He leaned in and whispered into her ear. She sighed and leaned back, into him. He kissed the side of her neck, just under her ear. Her eyelashes fluttered and she shivered slightly at the sensation of his lips on her neck. 

SHE BAKES A PIE

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday was my annual women's wellness visit and mammogram. I took the day off because I never know how long the waiting for the exam and the actual exam will end up taking. Plus I had some errands I had been putting off that I figured I'd actually do, like taking in the giant box of records and books that has been taking up the trunk of my car for the last three or four months to Half Price Books. Let's face it. That box has probably been in my car for five months. I'm living like a bag lady. Any way, I knew that I would have to step onto the scale at the doctor's office. Mondays have become my weigh in day at home, so after getting out of the shower and before getting dressed, I stepped on the scale at home. 176.4 pounds. I frowned at the number, but think "Okay. That's fine." It's fine because when I started the whole diet thing, that scale read 180. The frown was because just last week, that scale read 174.5. Weight fluctuates. I get it.

I'm trying to not be obsessive about the numbers. I am consistently about 200 calories short of my daily calorie allotment (except for that one crazy Friday when a veggie burger and fries put me over by 875!). I'm eating lots of green things and very few grains. I'm sweating on the treadmill now. I keep telling myself that I am healthy, which feels like a total bullshit lie, but what ever. I finally make it into the doctor's exam area and the nurse tells me to step on the scale. I cringe, but I know what the scale should say. I prepared myself for this. It should say something around 178 because now I'm wearing clothes. The number 180 pops up on the digital readout and my heart sinks. I frown my way into the exam room and pout while the nurse takes my blood pressure and checks my heart rate. I am not cheered by the fact that the numbers for both of those things are perfect. All I can think about is how I've got to be doing something wrong. 

My doctor comes in and we discuss life and changes. I tell her things are pretty normal except my weight. She looks at the numbers and starts to tell me that it's not a big deal, but then she sees the past numbers and then makes a face and says "well..." I tell her how I'm exercising and tracking my foods and I just don't know what to do any more. She looks at the food I've logged and says "here's the problem. You're not eating enough protein." She goes on to tell me that she knows how hard it is to get enough protein in a vegetarian diet. My doctor is respectful of my choice to be a vegetarian and she doesn't push me to start eating chicken or anything like that. Instead she tells me to eat more yogurt and cottage cheese. She finishes up the exam, declares that everything looks great and sends me down for my mammogram with something new to obsess over. 

I rummage the internet for women and protein and vegetarian protein options while I wait for my boobs to be smashed. Side note/rant: It is the year 2017 and we don't have a better way for screening for breast cancer other than to smash a boob as flat as a pancake and x-ray it?!?! I was offered the new 3D imaging option. I don't know how those images are taken, but my insurance doesn't cover that (more effective) option for breast cancer detection. And I have super good health insurance. But screening for breast cancer and insurance and women's health deserves an entry of it's own. Instead, I'll tell you about sitting in a half shirt that snaps down the front in a waiting room panicking about the idea of having to eat chicken and looking back at all the food I've logged in the past few weeks. It distracted me while I clung to the mammogram machine with my boob sandwiched between two plastic plates. 

Afterwards, I wandered around Half Price Books, waiting for them to go through all the records and books I had brought in. I ended up in the health section, scanning book titles for inspiration or insight or something. There's nothing wrong with eating chicken. It's just that the whole idea of eating it, is unappealing. I eat fish. I looked up the amount of protein in a can of tuna and considered eating a can of tuna a day, like a cat. I could eat a can of tuna a day. Maybe. Not really. I continued to look at things I've been eating and the amount of protein in each thing. I'm going to weigh 200 pounds by this time next year. I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper and all the ugly voices win out. I'm fat. I'm always going to be the fat one. I'm doing everything wrong. I'm so lazy. I should be running half marathons every day. If I was more athletic, more fit, I wouldn't have this problem. If I were better, smarter, enough. I suck at life. 

Finally, I hear them call my name to come to the front desk and collect my money. I check out and head over to Target where I buy cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and some organic peanut butter. I think about buying tuna or protein powders, but I don't even pick any of those items up off of the shelf. Small changes. Get just enough to curb the full on freak out for this moment right now. That's what I did.

And then I went home and made a lemon meringue pie from scratch because fuck you diet. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday morning, as I was cleaning up my breakfast dishes, the weight of all the things that need to be done settled down onto my shoulders. I looked down at the soapy sponge in my hand with a frown and wondered how on earth I was going to get everything done by the time it needs to be done. I had slept fitfully, dreaming about searching for a campsite, reading the map wrong, finding a place to pitch a tent and then pitching that tent in a pool of water. Standing at the kitchen sink, I had a sense that maybe I have taken on more than I can handle and that I'm about to make some serous mistakes that will leave us sleeping in a tent filled with water. This is what I get for filling my calendar with things I care about like marching for science and fighting the AIDS epidemic on top of just daily life stuff. 

I will get the things done that need to be done in the time they need doing. 

It's a good mantra. So good, that I will even share it with you so that you may use it in those moments when you are overwhelmed with the tasks ahead. With this mantra fully planted in my brain, I looked back out the window and noticed that the rain had stopped and the skies were clearing. I rolled my scooter out of the garage and Michael came out to head to work. He said "You know it's raining?!" and I replied "I know that is was raining, but it isn't now." I zipped to work, dodging rain puddles and reminding myself to at least try to be careful on the wet roads. I arrived to work dry and unscathed and filled with joy. 

My friend, Eagle, posted a thing on facebook this week about "what if" and how often the 'what if' keeps us from moving forward. He said that instead of asking "what if?", how about asking "why not?" It is a wise flip of the switch and one that I have always struggled with. I'd like to think that I am really good at playing the 'what if' game, but the truth is that I am constantly losing at that game. Why not just do my best and try to get a little bit done each day? This question lifts the weight of 'what if' clean off my shoulders. I am thankful for the reminder to flip the switch and I am thankful for my mantra. 

I am thankful for scooter days and time spent on my mat. I am thankful for green beans and Brussel sprouts. I am thankful for successful moments at work. I am thankful for this cup of coffee that is setting to my left. I am always always always thankful for you. Here's to a weekend of celebrating the importance of doing our part to protect this planet. Here's to a weekend of celebrating the importance of science (which plays a big part in protecting this planet). And here's to a perfectly peaceful Thankful Friday.

EYE SEE YOU

Cindy Maddera

Last week, I finally went to the eye doctor to see about getting a pair of glasses that I would actually wear on my face. I only put on the pair I own now when I am going to seminar and I need to see the screen. I forget to take them with me when we travel and the results are that I am the last person to see a license plate or a street sign. This is bad because we always try to collect all fifty states when traveling and I am also the navigator. Looking down at something up close through my current lenses makes me want to throw up. I'd probably wear them more maybe if I wore them on a fancy chain around my neck, yet more proof that I am eighty, but I don't.  So I went to the eye doctor and told her that I wanted bifocals and the biggest frames they had. 

I figured that if I had giant frames, I wouldn't notice that I'm wearing glasses all the time. Then I discovered that I could get trifocals which would allow for an intermediate focus between up close and far away and I fist pumped the air. Golden Girls, here I come! I also found out that I have a scar inside my left eyeball (probably from changing and aligning a mercury bulb on a microscope). The scar is not a problem because it's outside of my field of view. Some times, science is dangerous. Did you know that Marie Curie's notebooks and diaries are still radioactive and that you have to wear a protective suit and gloves to read her stuff? Dangerous. 

The woman helping me pick out frames was very patient as I tried on practically every single frame in the office. She showed me one brand that allows you to pop off the sides and swap them out. I said "Oh! They're like the Swatch of glasses!" and then she looked at me funny. I asked "Did I just make a reference to something not many people get?" She said "No, I get it. It's just that you're not old enough to get it." Then we had an argument about how old I was and I was like "LOOK WOMAN! I am here for TRIFOCALS!" She looked at my chart and then at me and said "I never would have guessed that!" I told her she was very sweet, but the birth date on my chart is, indeed, correct. Then we had a nice chat on growing older because she's several years older than I am.

I decided to go with the very first frames that I had tried on. They're big and kind of clear with a slight cat eye shape. Hopefully by this time next week, I'll be sporting a new pair of glasses that makes me look like my Mom circa 1978. Too bad I won't be as skinny as she was then. 

RANDOMNESS

Cindy Maddera

Saturday morning, I got out of bed and went to a yoga class. We had plans to meet Michael's moms for lunch at 1:00, so I felt like I had plenty of time to go grocery shopping and lolly gagging around Target. I was on my way to the check out line in Trader Joe's when I noticed a text from Michael wondering where I was and that we needed to leave the house in thirty minutes. This sort of shook me out of lolly gagging mode and I replied back with  "whoops! On my way home!" Even though I had just stepped into the checkout line. Sometimes yoga makes me loopy or just so relaxed that I don't give a shit about anything, particularly time. Michael's text reminded me that we had things to do, people to see. I wiped the fog from my brain and hurried home.

Except that I never really seemed to completely wipe the fog clear. I feel like I just sort of floated through the weekend. About the only things I accomplished were laundry, washing the stinky dog, and hiding Easter eggs. We spent Easter with my KC family doing our traditional Adult Easter egg hunt and burning of the Easter effigy. This year's effigy was Trump as the Easter bunny. His polyester sports jacket went up in a flash and burned up completely before anyone had time to cue up an appropriate song to play. I drank too much gin along with random shots from airport sized bottles of Fireball and whiskey and tequila. I ate too much food because I'd skipped lunch. I laughed hard and danced a whole lot. A woman at the party told me that I would get breast cancer from wearing my phone tucked into my bra strap. I swallowed the urge to say "lady, you're crazy pants and this is the least of the things that I've exposed myself to over the years of working in a lab that's going to give me cancer." Instead, I respectfully pulled my phone from my bra strap and set it on the table. The woman is older and potentially wiser.

The next morning I woke up an hour late for work. My mouth was dry and I could still smell burning polyester and paper mache. The dog who had spent the evening begging food and chasing Miles around the backyard, was still tucked into my right side under the comforter. We all had hangovers. I spent the day lounging around, getting up on occasion to vacuum and wash the couch blankets. I haven't entered my food in my Loose It app since Sunday morning and I'm feeling the guilt of that settling in. I'm feeling the guilt of all my imperfections settling in and how I should do better, be better, eat better. I should spend less and toss out more. I should be more organized and on top of things. The house should be cleaner. I should be better at verbal communication. I should be teaching yoga. I should be reading more because it makes you a better writer and I should be writing more because I am not a good writer these days.

All of these thoughts makes me mad at myself. I tell myself to snap out of it, don't let yourself fall into the pit of not enough, but it's too late. I've done it and now I have to drag myself out of it. I know it's the hangover talking. At least I think it's the hangover talking. I hope it's the hangover talking because I don't have time to battle with a bought of malaise right now. Maybe I really do have radiation poisoning.

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I went to upload some pictures to foap earlier this week. It had been awhile since I had added anything new. I've sort of lost interest and even forget about foap because I haven't sold any pictures. The market is saturated with images. This app is turning into more of a social media app with options to enter contests. I have plenty of 'likes' and 'four stars' on this app, but how many social media 'likes' and 'four stars' do I really need. I also don't have time to keep up with it all. The same is true for other apps I've been using to sell some clothes I never wear. I am this close to pulling the plug on both of them and just sending all my clothes to thredUp and just taking whatever they give me for them. Anything to just get them out of the house. I lack the patience required for online boutique ownership. Turns out that online selling for me is about the same as putting together a garage sale. A lot of work for not a lot in return. 

Back to the pictures. I was scrolling through my phone pictures for things to upload and I realized that most of the pictures in my phone right now are pictures of flowers. There are enough flowers inside my phone to fill several vases. Spring has brought the usual pops of color with all varieties of tulips and redbud trees. The side walks are dusted with flower petals as if someone's been skipping around tossing confetti. Spring time is beautiful and apparently I tend to photograph a whole lot of it. I don't think it's so much because of the flowers as much as it is because of the colors. I do the same thing in the Fall. The flower pictures will be replaced with tons of pictures of leaves in various form. Right now, I am enamored with the white tulips that are blooming at work. In the mornings, the are closed up tight, but by the afternoon they have all opened up to look like little hats. If I look at them under just the right angle of sunlight, the white petals become almost transparent. The kind of skin you can see through

I am thankful for the bright colors of Spring. I am thankful for the ability to see those colors. I say that because I'm just about out the door, headed to the eye doctor. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach a fun and very successful yoga workshop last weekend. It gave me a renewed sense of teaching confidence that I needed. I am thankful for cauliflower. I am thankful scooter days. I am thankful for moments on my yoga mat. I am thankful for you.

Here's to a weekend of adult Easter egg hunts and colored eggs and blessed Thankful Friday.