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THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

We are expecting around five and half inches of snow over the weekend. It is snowing as I type this. And all I can think about is how this is going to mess up my routine. Do I go fight the traffic and people after work to do our grocery shopping? Or do I wait until the morning and have to unbury my car and dig my way out of the driveway? Do I just force us all to eat rice and beans all weekend? What about that yoga workshop I’ve already paid money to attend? Will they cancel it? School closings started to scroll across the TV last night way before the storm even hit. I am this close to hanging up a “Closed for February” sign and curling into a ball in my bed. Writing about gratitude is a struggle today, but here goes.

I made twenty four hour miso eggs for our ramen bowls last night and I’ve decided on two things. First, there should be eggs marinating in miso in our refrigerator at all times. Second, I’m going to have to start making my own miso. I made broth for our ramen with smoked bonito and the miso I scraped off the eggs and it is official. I make the best ramen in the city. Speaking of eggs, I went to feed the chickens on Wednesday and found four eggs in the chicken coop. I leaped for joy at the sight of them because for me, those eggs bring more hope than any shadow viewing groundhog. Actually, I kind of thought we’d seen the last of the eggs in October and that our chickens’ laying days were over. So when I saw all four different colored eggs sitting the coop, I was thrilled.

I am up to holding forearm plank for two and half minutes. I still don’t like it, but I’m feeling the benefits. Yesterday in my yoga practice, I pretzeled my legs into a full seated lotus, pressed my palms down into my mat and lifted my butt off the mat. I could swing my body freely back and forth. The lift comes from core strength. I have not done full lotus in years because it’s really not a safe pose for your knees. So I was pretty surprised that I could still do that pose, but even more surprised by how easily I lifted my body from the floor. I am always surprised that I am actually stronger than I think I am. Which is why I know that groceries will get purchased this weekend. I will survive this snow storm just like I survived all the other ones. I will not scrotum out and close myself off for the whole month of February.

I don’t have to like it but I can tolerate it.

ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE

Cindy Maddera

It’s happened twice now. Michael and I will be in bed, either starting or in the middle of sex and a song will start playing that reminds me of Chris. It was that Mumford and Son’s song that hit first, the one that Chris used to sing like a muppet. I closed my eyes and willed the memory of his ridiculous muppet impression to go away. Not forever. Just for that moment. The next one was the Flaming Lips’ Do You Realize, which is one of the songs we played at Chris’s service. It was a little more difficult to will those memories away. In both instances, I feel like I deserve a God Damn Oscar for my performance. Also, crying while having sex is never a reassuring thing for your partner. I don’t tell any of this to Michael or talk about it or mention it. The man already refers to himself as second Darin, even though he’s nothing like the first Darin. Besides, Michael has his own demons to fight with. I try to be respectful of this and not add to his discomfort. I am not so much bothered by Chris’s presence in the bedroom as Michael would be. Michael is just more conservative when it comes to sex. I figure Chris is enjoying the peep show.

Sometimes it feels like I am in two relationships. One with Michael and one with a dead guy.

I made it through the first ten days of February without having a complete meltdown. I told Dr. Mary on Tuesday that I feel like I am working really hard at tuning out the memories of the bad part of Chris’s final days. I’m choosing to send that focus to the good memories. I told her about teaching my yoga class to one student last week, on what would have been Chris’s 48th birthday. It would have been so easy for me to cancel my class that evening and spend my night sulking on the couch. Instead, I pulled myself together and went to teach one of the best classes and I continued to keep myself busy and moving. I subbed a yoga class on Saturday. I went grocery shopping and managed to get those groceries into the house. Our front yard has been a literal ice rink since Thursday. On a slope. Every morning, getting to our vehicles looks like every YouTube video you have seen of people slipping and sliding on ice. I parked my car last night at the top of the drive, put it in park and set the emergency brake. My car slid backwards down the drive six inches. Michael was in the process of parking his truck behind me. I did not hit him. This time.

These nudges or hauntings from Chris sometimes make me wonder if he thinks I’m forgetting him. As if he’s still a conscious being or trapped in a closet somewhere. It would kind of be great, but also super complicated, if he ended up just being trapped in a closet somewhere. Chris and I were married for fourteen years. He has now been gone for seven years. Half the amount of time we were married. I am not forgetting him. I still talk to the jerk every single day and he still says nothing in return. I am just finding better, healthier ways of coping with the fact that he’s never going to say anything in return. Last night, I got in my car to head home. I started the engine and the first sound to greet me was the opening theme to Star Wars blaring from the radio. Starting right from the beginning note. The Bridge let the song play for a good two minutes before the DJ broke in to announce their Oscars Episode. I almost muttered “leave me alone” but then I shook my head.

At least I was in my car and not naked in bed with another man.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Freezing mist and drizzle set in around here on Wednesday. Schools closed early and stayed closed through Thursday. The Y has a no close policy. They stay open for people who need to be someplace warm. This meant that the yoga class I teach on Wednesday evenings would not be cancelled unless I called it in. I cancelled my class the week before because of work and weather. I did not feel like I could get away with this two Wednesdays in a row. So, I bundled up and with warnings from Michael to drive very very safely, I went to teach my Wednesday night yoga class.

I arrived early and when I went to lay out my mat and set up my things, one of the Y trainers was set up in that space with one of his clients. I chatted with the trainer about yoga. I did a few rounds of surya namaskar. I reviewed my notes for the class I had prepared for the evening and I eyed the clock. I was starting to think that no one was going to show up for class. A minute before my class was supposed to start, a woman came rushing in and said “Oh My GOD! I’m so glad you’re here.” She turned out to be my only student for the evening and it was probably the best class I’ve taught in a while. I was able to take the class I had planned and tweak it specifically for her needs. We flowed through a series of poses and then did a few exercises to prepare for headstand. She mentioned having problems with tightness in her shoulders and I showed her a few exercises she could do at home relieve some of that tension. When the class ended, the woman expressed her gratitude to me several times. She thanked me for staying and teaching the class even though she was my only student. She thanked me for class and the work we had done together in this practice. She thanked me for how good her body felt after the practice. She was so grateful.

This gratitude, of course, made me feel good but what I did not express to her was how grateful I was for her being present in our class that evening. For one thing, I was grateful to be able to share my practice and knowledge to this woman in a way that will help her beyond the yoga mat. At the same time, being able to give the gift of easing one’s physical pain is a soothing balm for my soul. Wednesday would have been Chris’s 48th birthday and I spent the day with this knowledge ping ponging it’s way around my brain. I remember that he was in good spirits for that last one. We’d had friends visiting and there had been laughter. Always laughter. Then Chris immediately started to decline. He went from being able to communicate effectively to making absolutely no sense in one day. The worst of it though, was the pain. Chris was in so much pain and there was nothing I could do to ease it. I could give him pills that would barely manage his pain, but managing pain is not the same as being pain free.

It was horrifying to have to watch him suffer and debilitating to not have any control over the amount of his suffering.

I did not do anything monumental for this woman. I simply helped her to ease tension in her shoulders so she would sleep better that night. There are things within my control and abilities and there are things that are not. Controlling Chris’s pain was not in my control or abilities. At one point while working on headstand, the women said “this is hard! and it shows me that I lack strength.” I said to her “You have the strength to do the things you need to do. No where in our daily lives do we need to do headstands. Sure, it’s fun and feels empowering to be able to do these kinds of poses, but don’t forget that you are strong in other ways.” I did not realize at the time that I was saying those words to myself.

I have the strength to do the things I need to do. I am strong in other ways.

I AM NOT A VEGETARIAN

Cindy Maddera

My chiropractor recommended that I start taking collagen every day for joint support. She said “it’s great! You can’t even taste it when you mix it with water or almond milk.” After she said this, I started seeing collagen supplements every where and I got curious. Translation: I fell for the hype of collagen supplements. I could not find any vegetarian collagen at the health food store. The marine based collage (from fish) was super expensive. So, I ended up with straight up collagen made from cows. Every morning, Monday through Friday, I dump a scoop and half of bovine collagen in to my almond milk.

And I hate it.

It makes my almond milk taste weird and if it’s not stirred well enough you end up swallowing goopy clumps of collagen. I have been drinking it for a month and I do not feel a difference in my old lady achy joints. I feel guilty for drinking crushed up cow cartilage. I feel guilty for buying crushed up cow cartilage. You are probably wondering why I don’t just stop drinking the collagen and throw it out. Well, bovine collagen is only slight less expensive than marine collagen. Since both of my parents taught me to value a dollar, I cannot just throw out a $40 tub of bovine collagen powder. So I will continue to drink my collagen laced almond milk every morning while grimacing and crying on the inside as I think about the process of grinding up cows. Then I will never buy another container of it again, so help me God.

Sometimes I fall for the next big health craze. I’ve done lemon water first thing in the morning and have mixed apple cider vinegar with honey in water. I didn’t really see or feel any different after a few weeks of either of those routines. I did the Cleansing Diet once. That’s the one where you give up sugar, gluten, animal products, alcohol and caffeine. I did this for a week and it ultimately lead to me becoming mostly vegetarian. It turned me into a label reader and it’s why most of the food on our grocery list is fresh produce. There might be one or two canned items on the list, but mostly everything goes in the fridge. Chris and I did a juice diet once. I lost five pounds which I quickly gained back and had a roller coaster mood. I could hug you and then turn right around and punch you in the throat. The only thing gained from that health craze was the thrill I got from pulverizing stuff in the juicer. I’ve been drinking kombucha with my lunch for months now. I have seen a slight reduction in my belly, but that could also be from the forearm plank challenge I’ve corralled half the guys in my office into doing everyday. Sometimes I end up doing the challenge twice, once on my own and again with the group. That means this week, I’ve done two minute forearm planks twice a day.

I can become so neurotic about my food.

I’m trying to be less neurotic and more obsessive about really good ingredients. I am going to the Asian Market this weekend to buy miso that has been aged no less than three years and smoked bonito. I am trying to find a way to purchase fresh (not frozen or canned) snails. I am in the early stages of trying to convince Michael to buy me an Italian Red Cow so that I can start making my own parmesan cheese. We were talking about turnip greens at work the other day and my boss said “I can get you turnips. My Dad plants them as a cover crop.” I told him to bring me all of the turnips and greens he could shove into a bag. I’ve had visions of steaming bowls of seasoned turnip greens ever since. I put smoked oysters on my half of the pizza I made on Sunday and marveled at the smokey rich flavor the oysters added to the pizza. I want to make hearty rich sauces that requires quality butter and wine.

I am not in search of exotic flavors, but true authentic flavors. This country is a melting pot of cultures, yet I find that so often the flavors of those cultures are diluted in order to not overwhelm someone not used to those flavors. I’ve been to Chinese restaurants that have an ‘American’ menu and a ‘Chinese’ menu. The items between those two menus differ greatly. My favorite Vietnamese restaurant is the one that is crowded and a little dirty. We always end up sharing our table with another couple. The egg rolls remind me of the ones Chris’s mom makes. The best Mexican place is the taquiera that has there menu written out daily on a chalkboard. The taco fillings are determined by what ever the butcher or fishmonger had available that day.

I want to fall for the fad of undiluted.

AWARENESS

Cindy Maddera

If I received money every time someone asked me why we don’t have a cure for cancer yet, I’d have enough money to run away to Italy. Or, at the very least, pay off some credit card debt. I usually just shake my head and answer with “I don’t know” because it is the easiest/laziest answer I can give to someone. I don’t think many people realize that the term ‘cancer’ is a very simplified word to describe a whole giant group of diseases. The thing that groups these diseases together is a common root cause: abnormal cell growth. That abnormal cell growth can be caused by genetics, viruses, chemicals, obesity, autoimmune disorders, hormones, and physical agents like asbestos or BPA. Any one of those things can set off a chain reaction in one cell that leads to a mutation in an oncogene that can have various results. A daughter cell inherits the messed up gene and then goes hay wire The mutated gene causes the cell signal other cells. The gene mutation can make that cell start dividing. A mutation any where in the oncogene can lead to multiple situations. Basically, it’s a molecular level choose your own adventure in cancer. Cancer is fucking complicated.

That’s why we don’t have a cure for cancer.

Yesterday, Josephine and I were finishing up watching CBS Sunday morning and we’d reached the part where they show this week’s calendar. That’s how I know that today is Cancer Awareness Day. When it was announced on TV I thought “great! I’ll just add that to the list of things I’m totally aware of this week.” Like for instance, how Chris would be forty eight on Wednesday. The day after Chris’s very last birthday, I spent the whole day crying. The. Entire. Day. I just cried and cried and cried and cried. By the time Chris actually did die, two days later, I was a complete shell of a human being. The nurse told me Chris had passed and I looked at the hospice care worker and said “what do I do now?” She thought I was asking about who comes and takes the body and all of that other stuff you have to take care of when someone dies. I kind of meant that, but I was really curious about what exactly I was going to do now, in general, for the rest of my life. These are the thoughts the I am very much aware of every year during this particular week in February.

The thing that I am usually least aware of during this week is what killed Chris. Abnormal cell growth formed a tumor on Chris’s liver right around the junction of where the left and right hepatic duct meet up. This meant that he was no longer able to excrete liver wastes and bile, which aids in digestion. Still to this day, I have a hard time admitting that cancer was the cause of Chris’s death. It just happened way too fast and without any warnings for me to be able to admit that. Also, at the end of the day, no one was really able to tell us what had caused his cancer. They found a small amount of cancer cells in esophagus and one specialist tried to link the tumor to those. They also talked about hepatitis B. If you read this article on Viruses and Human Cancer in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, then the whole hep B theory makes the most sense. Don’t worry. I was vaccinated for hep B and C ages ago. Chris’s vaccination history was a bit sketchy. No one could say for sure what vaccines he’d had over the years.

Viruses are the cause of around fifteen percent of cancers. Epstein Barr, hepatitis B and C, human papilloma virus (HPV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The hepatitis viruses and HPV are about the only ones with vaccines. They can all be prevented by using safe sex and safe needle practices. So maybe instead of focusing so much awareness on finding a cure for cancer, maybe we should be doing more to prevent the cancers we know how to prevent.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I didn’t get a chance to watch the Live TV performance of Rent on Sunday. From what I’ve heard from various reviews, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t see it. I settled for listening to the soundtrack recording from the original Broadway cast the next day while I did my early morning routine. I cleaned microscopes and turned them on for the day. Then I grabbed my mug and headed out for my morning coffee walk. I was in the stairwell, somewhere between floors three and four when Will I started playing and I thought about something Terry had written to me in a text recently. It had to do with being old enough to lose someone you love to AIDS.

Will I lose my dignity? Will someone care?

The weight of that song hit me hard enough in my chest so that I had to sit down on a step and breathe. I thought about the New York Times article I had read months ago that told the story of how hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who died during the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and early 90s were buried in mass graves on Hart Island, an island off the coast of the Bronx in New York. I grew up as a witness to the cruelty and indifference directed towards someone suffering from AIDS. I remember seeing the news and watching as parents screamed and yelled at each other in school meetings over whether or not to allow a child with HIV to go to the same school as their own child. The absolute terror of the unknown of this virus drove people to unimaginable hate and anger. Imagine dealing with all of that prejudice and hate while caring for a loved one suffering with the very disease all of that prejudice and hate was being directed.

Trust me when I say that caring for someone you love who is dying and sitting there watching them suffer is hard enough.

Things are so different today. HIV is no longer a death sentence and it is no longer feared the way it was in the beginning of the epidemic. We know so much more about the virus. A twenty year-old infected today could live up to seventy years. Living with HIV. Those born after, say, 1996 do not know anything about the fear and prejudice that HIV/AIDS generated. They know (hopefully) that it is a sexually transmitted disease and that you just need to be careful. If you’re not careful, well then, there’s some really great antivirals out there and you can still live a long, healthy and happy life. I am almost jealous of those people born after 1996 because they were not raised during that time of terror. Except I still think it’s the dumbest thing in the world to contract HIV. Maybe that is one of the benefits of being raised during those early days of the epidemic and being witness to all of that. I know how awful this disease really is. The new drugs that we have now that allow people to live those happy, healthy lives only work for so long. Eventually it all turns to shit. When HIV moves into AIDS, it ravishes the body. It is a lingering death filled with sickness and pain.

I’ve gone back and forth about doing the AIDS Walk this year. So much of the money raised by the foundation goes to research and patient care and not enough to education. I want the money that I raise to go towards education. I still feel that education and prevention is one of the most important ways to fight HIV and I still feel some sort of calling to be a part of that fight. That might mean I end up doing the walk until I figure out a way to get my money pushed into the direction I want it to go. Who knows.

For right now, I’m just going to be grateful for the things I know.

LEMON MERINGUE

Cindy Maddera

I grew up in the age of Strawberry Shortcake and I can probably say that I owned every single Strawberry Shortcake doll. My sheets and bedding, including a canopy, was all Strawberry Shortcake. I had Strawberry Shortcake clothes, pajamas, a quilt, a sleeping bag and a metal lunch box. I had the Strawberry Shortcake baby doll that blew scented kisses when you squeezed her. My mother made me a tablecloth with napkins out of Strawberry Shortcake material for my little table. If there was something Strawberry Shortcake related, I owned it. My mother also made me an exact replica of Strawberry Shortcake’s dress for Halloween one year. Thinking about it all now, makes me feel like I had/have some obsessive compulsion issues. I eventually moved on to other popular toys of the 80s, but I think that the only other thing I collected with such obsession were elephants.

My favorite Strawberry Shortcake character was not Strawberry Shortcake. She’s nice. I still own one of these and occasionally hold her head up to my nose, but my favorite Strawberry Shortcake character was Lemon Meringue. She just smelled the best of all of them. Lemony and sweet. Her hair was also wild and curly and bright yellow, which was something I loved so much about her. I have a sweet tooth for lemon desserts and I attribute all of it to my Lemon Meringue doll. There is a restaurant that Michael and I have been too a few times. The food is okay. It’s a little pricey and the service is kind of terrible. The only reason we go there is for their lemon meringue pie. The meringue on this pie is like marshmallow cream and for a while figuring out how to make it became yet another one of my obsessions.

Then I came across an online article where the pastry chef of this restaurant posted the entire recipe for their lemon meringue pie. Boy, that was dumb.

I have made this pie twice now in the last month or so. Lemons are cheap. Eggs? Well, that’s probably the biggest expense because the recipe calls for six whole eggs and ten yolks. Left over egg whites go into making the meringue. Most of the work time is spent standing over a double boiler while stirring. And stirring. And there’s more stirring. The lemon filling has to reach a pudding like consistency without cooking the eggs into scrambled eggs. It is not the kind of pie you just throw together and is very much a lesson in patience. You stand at your double boiler setup stirring and stirring while nothing seems to be happening. This goes on for several minutes. Then just when you think you’ve done something wrong like your butter was too cold or you didn’t do a good enough job separating your eggs because the mixture is not getting any thicker, it starts to coat your whisk. The shift from liquid to pudding is quick. It all comes down to heating the eggs to the exact right temperatures to unfurl tightly packed proteins in the yolk and then coat those molecules with sugar so that the proteins remain unfurled.

The reward for your patience is a bright, tart, lemony filling. Once the pie is completed, it smells exactly like my Lemon Meringue doll from 1980. It is a bright slice of sunshine during a season of very little sunshine.

NOW WHAT

Cindy Maddera

I don’t really know what to write right now. My goto topic for writing material is grief and usually I have a lot of material for this time of year. I’m not saying that all is well and that I don’t have plenty of grief material; it’s just not new material. Grief is the day to day grudge of missing a person that is just my way of life. Some one posted a clip of the news footage of the Challenger exploding because it was the anniversary of the event that would haunt us generation Xers for the rest of our lives. I still can’t watch a shuttle launch without holding my breath. My grief for the last seven years has been like watching the shuttle explode every single day. After a while you just get used to seeing it all disintegrate into a cloud of dust. A moment here and there spent crying in the stairwell is perfectly normal.

To tell you the truth, the year 2019 has already started to leave a stale old taste in my mouth. The month of January has been the longest and the coldest month I can ever remember experiencing. I saw a meme last Thursday that said “why does it feel like it’s January 74th?!” I had strong feelings for this meme because, holy hell yes. January is the never ending month and I don’t ever remember it being like that before this year. Not that there’s anything wrong with January other than the obvious memories of watching Chris die and the fact that the weather is the most awful weather that causes me to yell out profanities when I have to step out into said weather. I’m just saying, let’s move along. It’s not that I have somewhere to be, but I am kind of curious to know if those tulip bulbs I planted in the front yard last Fall are going to pop up out of the ground.

I heard a nasty rumor that the temperature on Wednesday is going to be four degrees. FOUR. Fucking. Degrees.

In other news, Albus has started doing this new thing he thinks is really fun. He brings a live mouse into the house and then let's the thing go. Weeee! Josephine spent one day fixated on the drawers under Michael’s bed and then the next morning I got up to find Michael sleeping on the couch. When I inquired about his sleeping arrangements, he said “there was a monster in my room.” The monster was a mouse. The same mouse that Albus had brought into the house the day before, casually batted around with his paw and then promptly allowed to run off to safety. Michael said that Albus did eventually recapture the mouse and decided to eat the whole thing while sitting next to Michael who then struggled to go back to sleep over the sound of crunching bones. The cat eats the whole mouse. Albus repeated the catch and release game with a new mouse the very next day. Michael and I managed to capture this one as it climbed up the curtains. We trapped it in a mason jar and had a long discussion about what to do with the mouse. I don’t keep bottles of chloroform around because I’m not serial killer and slow suffocation just seemed awful. The Cabbage thought the mouse was cute and I had to agree that it was a very cute disease carrier. In the end Michael let the mouse go. He released it in a wood pile across the street.

It has been nine days since this last incident. I feel like I need one of those Days Since Last Accident signs.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I am not sure what I want to say here today. I have many thoughts and opinions, mostly thoughts about the lack of respect we seem to have for each other. At this point, sharing those thoughts just feels like adding to the division I see happening in this country. Instead, I’m going to focus on setting the best example I can be by being respectful to those around me you have different opinions than I have. There are ways of communicating our beliefs and ideas without being hateful or disrespectful. I am entitled to my opinion but I am not entitled to force that opinion on someone else. And of course, facts trump opinions every time. EVERY. TIME. Also, I can be sure to get the whole story before I allow myself to react blindly to a situation I only know pieces about.

The Borens sent me this book called What Really Makes America Great, produced by the Creative Action Network. The Creative Action Network is a collective of artists creating art with a purpose. This community includes artists responsible for the various protest posters we have seen in the last three years. It is art with a message, a reminder that we can be better, that we are better. This book is a compilation of art about the things about this country that make us truly lovely. It covers everything from agriculture, to small businesses, to taco trucks and to believing that anything is possible. This is the kind of book that belongs in every household. It is the kind of book that you should read a passage from as you all gather around the table for your evening meal. When you feel like there is no hope of ever getting rid of the hate and racism that is dividing this country, you should open this book to remind yourself of the things in this country that are great, like art and public libraries and Hip Hop.

I grateful for the thoughtfulness of this gift. I am grateful for the people who sent it. I am grateful for the reminder of the beauty that exists in this country.

MAKING SPACE

Cindy Maddera

I know that many of you have been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I’ve seen the Facebook posts and the tweets. Marie Kondo, with her infectious smile, is getting us all to tidy up our spaces. Monday, when I had nothing better to do (or I probably did), I decided to watch the first episode just to see what I could gain from Marie Kondo’s ninja cleaning skills. As it turns out, I am not us untidy as I think I am. I know I’ve talked about all the stuff in the basement and the cleaning out of junk and how it feels like I’ll never get any of that accomplished. But the rest of the house is a different story. Also…I had help collecting the trash and junk in the basement. Cleaning out a dead man’s collection is hard work. Of course all of that is gone now, thanks to flooding.

I have a vague memory from childhood of my mother standing in the doorway of my playroom with an angry face and a trash bag. She just started grabbing up whatever and shoving it into the bag. There were no moments of pausing to ask if the item sparked joy. It just went into the trash bag. I don’t know if the moment traumatized me or trained me for the future. Probably a little of both. Every season, I go through my closet and get rid of clothes. Twice a year, I go through the kitchen and remove utensils and kitchen tools that rarely, if ever, get used. I frequently sort books for donation and I frequently throw things in the trash. I accidentally threw our spare set of car keys for the Malibu into a clothing donation bin. I threw away the power cord for my external hard drive. The first day I was left completely alone in the house after Chris died, I pulled out all of his clothes and bagged them up for donation. That was really more of a rip-the-bandaid-off situation and I didn’t know what else to do with myself. But I do not have a problem with throwing things away.

Emotions, on the other hand, are things that I hold on to. I store them deep down and tucked into the spaces between my internal organs. Eventually those spaces fill up and those feelings come bubbling to the surface. A confrontation from fifteen years ago with some random person will float up just as I’ve settled down in my bed. Then I’ll lay there for twenty minutes re-hashing the conversation and how I could have said things better. Finally I’ll say “ENOUGH!” and shove it back down into some already crowded space. The spaces between my guts are like any number of ridiculous TV closet scenes where when you open the door all of the things comically fall out in an avalanche, burying the person who dared to open the door. I can’t just say “ENOUGH!” to that fifteen year-old confrontation and let it go. I’ve got to put it away to chew on some other day. I gained two bits of useful knowledge from Marie Kondo’s show: her clothes folding technique and ‘does this spark joy?’ I neatly fold and put away my clothes every week, but her folding method gave the ability to organize by color and gave me more space with only getting rid of three t-shirts.

The question of does this spark joy is one that I’ve started applying to all of that emotional junk. For example, the other day a Mumford and Sons song triggered a memory of Chris singing like a muppet. The memory came at an inconvenient time, but I took a moment to recognize the equal parts joy and sadness that this memory invoked. I tucked that one away for a later day. It is a good memory. I want to hang on to that one. That memory that boils up of that one time Chris and I argued over his purchase of yet another metal desk? Not a good memory. It doesn’t spark any joy. Also it’s stupid to re-hash that one because at the end of it all, he knew I was right and told me so. So, I’m going to hold that particular memory in my hands and say ‘thank you’. I’m going to thank thank that memory for the lessons it taught both of us and then I’m going to let it go.

Grief is unavoidable. I started to finish that sentence with ‘this time of year’ but it is all times of the year. This year, I’m making space for that grief. I’m holding memories in my hands and sorting between those that spark joy and those that make me feel ashamed or angry, those memories that do not serve me. I’d rather have those closet spaces between my guts filled to capacity with good stuff. What a trip that would be to open that door and have all that joy avalanche out and bury me in it.

43

Cindy Maddera

Michael walked into the kitchen Sunday morning as I was washing dishes and asked “So…do you feel thirty three, forty three, or fifty three?” I paused and thought about this for a minute before replying “Well…I don’t know what fifty three is supposed to feel like and since forty three is still pretty new, I don’t really know what that’s supposed to feel like either. So, I guess I feel thirty three.” The numbers are arbitrary really. Having never before experiencing this age, I can’t tell you if I feel older or younger. Maybe I feel younger, but wiser. Michael also mentioned how he liked the salt and pepper thing that is happening with my hair. I will say, that in the last two or three months, I’ve noticed that there’s a bit more salt in my hair. I don’t mind this either. When Michael asked the Cabbage if forty three was old, she of course said ‘yes’ because she’s eight and when you’re eight, forty three is a BIG number.

We spent my birthday weekend working on a puzzle and cursing the outside temperatures. Michael made me a strawberry cake that very much resembled Devil’s Tower but with sprinkles. We went to see the Cabbage’s band from School of Rock perform. Michael had my olive branch ring fixed so that I can wear it on my right ring finger. He also gave me a gift card to Anthropologie which I used to buy a dress that reminds me of my youth. In fact, if I still owned a pair of combat boots, I would own an outfit almost identical to one I wore in 1992. Michael and I ate a fancy dinner at the Pressed Penny Tavern amongst a crowd of people wearing Chiefs colors and yelling at one of the six TVs positioned on the wall. Reservations had been made for this dinner way before we knew the Chiefs would be heading to the NFC Champion playoffs game. We spent the rest of the evening at home, watching the rest of that game, with all of the animals piled on me and a fancy tea cup of gin and tonic in my hand. The weather kept me from witnessing and photographing the lunar eclipse and the Chiefs lost the playoffs. Win some, lose some.

Mostly win some.

I think many people would now put me in the category of ‘middle aged’. I have been receiving newsletter style emails lately for things related to women over fifty, things like skin care routines and exercises. I’ve been slightly obsessed with stories of women ninety and older who do things like teach yoga and run marathons. I have a very clear image of myself in my old age. I expect at age ninety that I will be living some where warm and riding my scooter around to run my daily errands. Those errands will include morning yoga classes on the beach, followed up with catching some sweet waves on my sweet surf board. After rinsing the salt and sand from leathery old lady skin, I will strap my yoga mat and surfboard to the scooter and head to the market where I will purchase fresh veggies and fish for my lunch. I’ll spend the rest of my day puttering around my cottage, maybe working a garden. Maybe I’ll learn how to use a loom or maybe I’ll just read trashy romance novels while swinging in a hammock.

I’ll be ninety. I’ll do what I want.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Tuesday morning, I realized that I couldn’t handle another night without heat. So I sent a text to Terry asking if he would take Josephine so that I could deal with laundry and Michael and I could go stay at work. He agreed to meet me around lunch time at my house to get Josephine. Terry walked into our house and said “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to take Josephine. I’m going to take your laundry. Then you and Michael are going to come to my house. I will have dinner ready for you. I’ve put clean sheets on my bed and you and Michael can take my bed for the night.” And that’s why Terry’s a GD hero.

After work and my appointment with Dr. Mary, I stopped by the house to gather necessary toiletries. I pulled onto our street and all the street lights were on. Our power had been restored! I drove over to Terry’s who greeted me with clean clothes and large class of wine. He made spaghetti and brownies and we sat at his table talking about all of the things. It was just the two of us and the dogs. Xander was plugged into his video game on the couch. Clint was plugged into his video game upstairs. It was warm and homey and simply lovely. Then I went home with clean clothes and a played out Josephine and a to-go box of spaghetti. The lights were on in the house. The furnace was going. Michael had started picking up our refuge camp of a living room. There was a letter in the mail from Talaura containing the cutest enamel elephant pin. It was like the sprinkles on the end of that day.

I have such a hard time asking for help. It nearly killed me to send that text to Terry and all I wanted was for Josephine to go some place where she would be warm and not stuck in a crate. And I got so much more than that. Kelly said something in yoga class about how we need to dig in to make connections. I don’t dig in enough. At least I don’t think that I dig in enough to get such love and support. If anything this week has taught me how important those connections are and how important it is to maintain them, to dig in and to give as much as you get. I am thankful for the good people I have in my life. I am thankful for the connections I have made.

I am also thankful for electricity and warm houses.

JANUARY IS DUMB

Cindy Maddera

My birthstone is the garnet. Don’t get me wrong. The color red is nice and I know it’s some people’s favorite color. It is not my favorite color. If you look through my closet, you are mostly going to see gray, blue and purple colors. More blue than anything. Actually, my favorite color is that Tiffany’s blue or robin egg blue. The garnet is a deep red, almost maroon color that turns me off. If I haven’t been so impatient to enter this world, I would have an aquamarine birthstone. I would also share my birthday month with both siblings and my dad. Instead I decided to come out early during the coldest most miserable time of the year which has only gotten worse as I’ve aged and moved north.

Now that I think about it’s really been worse since the move north. It never dawned on me that the climate could be so different just three hundred and fifty miles north of Oklahoma City. It never dawned on me that so much would end being so different three hundred and fifty miles north of Oklahoma City.

The last birthday I celebrated in Oklahoma was my thirty fifth birthday. I had requested a strawberry cake and my mother had made a lovely fancy white cake with strawberries on it. What I had really wanted was a simple strawberry cake mix. Pink strawberry flavored cake. Misti asked Audra to bake me one, but Audra said that she couldn’t do it because strawberries were not in season. Audra said she made some other cake and I really didn’t care because I knew that whatever cake she made me, it would be wonderful. Misti, Amy, Chris and I gathered at Chris and Traci’s house with Audra’s cake. It had the cutest elephant made of icing sitting on top. I cut into the cake and when I pulled the knife out it was pink. Audra had made my strawberry cake. It was the kind of surprise that made me giggle with joy. That was also the same night I told all the people gathered in Chris and Traci’s house that I had received a invitation to interview for my job in Kansas City. Chris and I would move a month later. That was the last time we were whole.

I still can’t help but feel that I ruined everything.

Tuesday night, I sat in Dr. Mary’s office telling her about the power being out at our house since Saturday. I told her about how Michael and I have just been stubborn in our notions that the power was going to come back on any minute. “We’re fine.” This has been our answer to everything. I told her that really though, I’d reached my limit. I woke up Tuesday morning at 4 AM and the left side of my body ached because I hadn’t moved all night. I was weighted down with to many layers of clothes and blankets to move around. We were not fine. We were depressed. Then I mentioned the next winter storm that is headed our way. Sunday is supposed to be the coldest day in the history of KCMO. I told her that on January twentieth, 2012, the last of our doctors who had had any kind of hope for a treatment for Chris told us that there was no hope. I told her that every year since then, I’ve been dealing some sort of shit leading into my birthday. Death, sewage backups, snow storms, inauguration day for the worst president in history, power outages. I just want one year with out the shit.

I want strawberry cake.

OFF KILTER

Cindy Maddera

I had made it through the toll booth and almost to that McDonalds that straddles the interstate when I realized it. My hand went subconsciously to my collar bone and I could feel the missing pieces. I had left all of my jewelry at my mother’s house. My tiny elephant earrings that I had bought myself for my fortieth birthday, my metal J bracelet and my silver chain holding mine and Chris’s wedding rings. Of course it’s the wedding rings that I miss the most. This is what sent me into a panic as I sent a text to Mom. Then she called me and I frantically told her where to find them as I sat in the McDonalds parking lot next to the interstate, semi trucks blazing through so loudly that I couldn’t hear Mom on the other end of the line. I hung up the phone and then she sent me a text telling me that she had found them and they were packaged up for shipping. I should get them Wednesday.

I spent the rest of my long drive home, fretting over the rings and worrying about the state of things in Kansas City. Eleven inches of snow fell on the city while I was away. I was coming home to snow and possibly a house still without power. The power went out on Michael sometime Saturday afternoon. He’d heard the crack of several tree limbs falling as well as a loud boom as a transformer blew. He’d been alternating between staying wrapped up in blankets on the couch to sitting in his truck with the engine running, charging his phone and listening to the radio. I started seeing a light dusting of snow when I was about a hundred miles from Kansas City. That dusting just progressively got deeper and deeper the closer I got to the city. Occasionally there would be a car abandoned in the median, snow piled high on the roof. The roads were clear. That’s one thing this city knows how to do. Main roads are cleared pretty quickly around here. It’s the small neighborhood streets you have to worry about. We live on a snow route, so it’s never been a problem except when the snow plows push all the street snow in front of the driveway.

I pulled my car into the end of the driveway that Michael had managed to clear. Then I hauled my suitcase out of the car and started making my way up to the house, stepping into the footprints that Michael had already made. He was sitting in is truck and because his windshield was still covered in snow, he hadn’t seen me arrive. He looked up in surprise and then made his way out of the truck and around to greet me. I walked into a cold, dark house with a desperate Josephine jumping up and down. I set my bags down and then picked her up so she could lick my face and I could bury my face into her warm fur. Then I set her down and got to work. Michael needed help shoveling the rest of the drive so he could get his truck out in the morning. We had things we needed to do while we still had some daylight like make lunches (mostly salads) and I unpacked my bags and put things away. Somewhere during all of this I lost all feeling in my toes and we decided to find a restaurant where we could sit and linger over a hot meal with hot drinks. We lingered over dinner and talked with the couple in the booth next to us who were also without power before heading back to our cold dark house.

I slept warm enough, wearing two layers of everything and a dog tucked into one side and cat on the other. We are still playing the waiting game as are many people. There were three of us women in the gym locker room this morning all in the same boat. My supervisor was in Hawaii at a conference all last week and came home to thirty degrees and no power. We have all shared our power outage stories of past and present. There’s a certain down trodden look about all of us and I keep refreshing the outage map for the power company in hopes of any new developments. We say things like “maybe when we get home” or “at least by Tuesday”. We’ll see. Everything is slightly off. Laundry is in an in between state of things with some things still damp in the dryer and some things stopped in the middle of a wash. Meal plans have been tossed out the window for the week and we’re hoping the contents of our refrigerator stay cool enough. The chickens need food. The dog is not into going outside to use the bathroom. She does it, but she runs right back inside.

The thing is, this snow is probably the most beautiful snow fall I’ve ever seen. There have been so many times I wanted to pull over and take pictures on my drive home, but there were not safe places to pull off the highway. It is also brutally cold. But it looks like something made up by Hollywood outside. It is achingly beautiful.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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For many people, this was the first full week back to work since before Christmas. On Wednesday, when my department went down to the cafeteria for tea, one colleague said “Man, working more than two days a week is a killer.” We all laughed and nodded our heads in agreement. I dived into the week as if I had not had any time off. Everything was back to routine with Tuesday night therapy, teaching Wednesday night, back to the elliptical and the stationary bike and back on a more consistent yoga practice. I will admit it’s been very much like jumping into a cold swimming pool.

When I was a kid, I’d be the first one into the pool and the last one out. As soon as there was just the tiniest glimpse of Spring, I would set in on my dad to get the swimming pool open. The swimming pool had a solar blanket that basically looked like a giant sheet of bubble wrap and was supposed to use the sun to heat the pool. It was not an efficient water heater, but my argument was that Dad could at least pull the winter cover off the pool and replace it with the solar blanket. The same could be said for the end of the season too. I would make Dad hold off winterizing the pool for as long as possible. I’m surprised he didn’t winterize the pool while I was still swimming around in it. My lips and fingertips would be blue, my teeth chattering, but I would insist that I was not cold. The shock of first entering the water always wore off and my body got used to the temperature. Also, my love of swimming and being in the water outweighed everything else.

I don’t do much swimming these days. Mostly because nine out ten times after visiting a public swimming pool, I come down with a sinus infection, stomach bug, a UTI or a skin rash from too much chlorine. I still love being in the water though and could spend hours splashing around in a lagoon. I am far from as tolerant of cold temperatures now that I am a grown up, but I feel like those childhood days was good training for my future. There have been several times when I’ve been shoved into the cold waters of life. I had a choice. I could drown or I could get out of the water. Even though sometimes the water was colder and almost more unbearable than other times, I stayed. I let myself get used to the water. I let myself get used to whatever the new normal ends up being.

I never eased into the pool. I always cannonballed my way into the water. I jumped in every time knowing full well that the temperature of the water was going to take my breath away.

We brave bee stings and all. We don’t dive, we cannonball. And we splash our eyes full of chemicals just so there’s none left for little girls.

We never know what lessons from our childhoods are going to prepare us for life.

AT LOOSE ENDS

Cindy Maddera

Michael asked me the other day how I felt about not doing a 365 day project any more. I told him that it feels a little bit strange. Every single day for the last year, I took a moment out of my day to photograph myself. During the week, those moments usually happened in the mornings while I was out on my morning coffee walk. My backdrop was either a stairwell or some place outside. On most days I did not have an elaborate plan or idea; I just took a picture. Sometimes these were pictures of my hands. Sometimes these were pictures of my feet. My favorite one of the set is the one I took of just my leg and boot against the gray background of the stairwell. One could assume that I was doing a karate kick or a dance step. It has a simple minimalist aesthetic quality that appeals to me for some reason.

Some time around late October, I got really tired of the daily self portrait. I had not gained any insight into myself or built creativity. My eyes still went to the places on my body that I felt needs improvement instead of just seeing myself as beautiful. I mean, it wasn’t a complete bust. There were photos where I’d look at myself and think “wow, I’ve gotten skinny!” or “I really like how the gray streaks through my hair like highlights.” But I soon grew tired of myself and the day to day of it wore on me so much so that I did not want to continue with a 365 day project for this year. I didn’t even think about the project the day after taking the final picture until I was almost done with my morning coffee walk. I paused for a moment thinking I’d missed a turn or something before I remembered that this was my usual time of day for taking a photo.

I kind of don’t know what to do with myself.

I entered 2019 with out any sort of plan or intention. This might sound freeing to some people. The year is just one big open blank book to be filled with what ever fantastical idea I decide to fill it up with. A big blank open page. I am not the kind of person who thinks any of this sounds freeing. I don’t make up a detailed weekly meal plan every week because I’m being budget minded and trying to prevent food waste. I do it because if I don’t plan out the meals, dinner time will be chaos. Like tuna straight out of the can on saltines chaos. Though being budget minded and reducing food waste is also a good reason for the meal plan. If I don’t have some idea of a plan, my life tumbles into chaos and disorder. Which again, some people may thrive from chaos and disorder. I can tell you that this is the worst time of year for me to not have a creative project to distract myself from all the yuck that bubbles up inside me during the winter months. The winter is also when I feel the least motivated to do anything but curl up in a blanket while wearing my heated unicorn slippers.

I’m doing my best not to rush something. Recently, I sat down and wrote an outline for a book idea. I have the same story half written in a half a different ways floating around in various formats on my computer. I thought maybe writing an outline would give me focus and help to start pulling things together. It is giving me some direction and I have even spent a couple of hours writing on this project this week. I don’t want to set myself up for failure by saying this will be the year I write a book, but maybe this will be the year I get closer to writing that book. Maybe this year I focus more on writing and just a little bit on photography. I have started a new photography project, but it’s a photo a week. I’m calling it Project Zen. Michael gave me a desk top Zen garden and once a week I spend some time smoothing out the sand. Then I drag the rake through to make a design and carefully drop in the tiny rocks. Once I’ve finished, I take a photo. It’s a much more relaxed photo project, more like photo meditation.

I recognize that having some free time might not be so bad either; that facing the yuck instead of distracting myself from it would be a more mentally healthy approach to life. Maybe this year I can do a little of both.

UNDER

Cindy Maddera

January first most people jump into a workout/diet routine in an attempt to start the New Year off right. I buy new underwear. Usually. This year I’ve been dragging my feet a little on this because I used to buy my underwear from Victoria Secret. I don’t really feel comfortable supporting that company any more, but here’s the thing. I know what sizes to buy at Victoria Secret. You would think those sizes are universal. Nope, they are not because that would make sense. So this left me staring at the wall of underwear in Target with no clue of what to get or what size was the right size. Then the Cabbage said “why don’t you take one of them out of the box and try them on over your pants.” And for some reason I thought “hey, that’s not a bad idea.” So I did and I was all “okay, these size sevens fit.” and I tossed a package of four into our cart. Then I walked over to the bra section where I squished and felt every bra looking for something soft with some padding, but not too much padding. Michael pulled out one and said “what about this one?” It had wide side panels that reminded me of an ace bandage, which I commented on. Then Michael said “It’s supposed to hold in your side flab.” Then I punched him in the face.

Not really.

I’m doing my best to believe that he doesn’t really think I need something to ‘hold in my side flab’ except it isn’t the first time he’s mentioned my side flab in that last two weeks.

The most discouraging and depressing part of this experience was the overwhelming selection of underwear advertised to hold in your rolls. Any and all of them. Back rolls, hip rolls, belly rolls. Women are not supposed to have any illusion of rolls. We have to smash ourselves into shape wear that promises to give us a universal slim shape so that we all have the body of the mannequin in the store front window. Women have been raised on the idea that their rolls are ugly and shameful. I felt like maybe instead of underwear shopping, I too should be jumping into a workout/diet routine. Then I got mad because the double standard is ridiculous. Where is the shape wear for men? Why isn’t there a wall of under garments in Target devoted to smashing the dad gut? Where’s the section for man bras? Why doesn’t society dictate that men have a ‘smooth silhouette’?

I wear a padded bra, not because I want to give off the illusion of having larger boobs, but solely so my nipples are not visibly poking through my shirt. I used to wear plain old t-shirt like bras that were soft and comfortable, but on one too many occasions ended up with my arms crossed over my chest after some guy pointedly stared at my chest while saying “Cindy must be cold.” When Michael wears padded underwear it’s for comfort while riding his bicycle, not because some woman might point at his crotch and say something about the weather. A friend of mine recently posted about how tired she was of wearing a bra everyday and she only wears one now because men would stare at her. Dear Men, in case you were under the impression that women wore bras for the sole purpose of support, you are wrong. We wear them so you won’t blatantly stare at our boobs. Except, bra or no bra you still do it because bras are no longer designed for just support. They’re designed to lift and enhance and give cleavage. They are designed to encourage men to stare at our boobs. It’s a Catch 22.

I’ve waisted years of my life wiggling into shape defining pantyhose. I wore oversized t-shirts and refused to tuck a shirt into anything in order to keep my belly covered. I also spent a many a meal, carefully pushing food to the side of my plate to make it look like I ate it. As if that one bite of mashed potatoes was going to keep me from acquiring that so called perfect silhouette. It has taken me so many years to learn to love my Buddha belly, to be proud of my hips, to not be ashamed of this body. For the longest time, I felt like I couldn’t even walk around my own house without a bra on because what if I had to answer the door? Fuck that. That’s all bullshit and this is my year to get rid of the bullshit. I have rolls. I have had rolls since the day I was finally big enough to come home from the hospital as a baby. I eat healthy. I do thirty to forty minutes of cardio five days a week. I get on my yoga mat for an hour or more five to six days a week. You want to talk about my side flab? Let’s talk about my side plank instead and how strong and beautiful it is when I hold that pose. Shape that.

I will say, though, that I am now the proud owner of four pairs of underwear that fit well above my belly button and are saggy in the butt because one probably should not take sizing advice from an eight year old.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Every week, at the end of the yoga class that I teach at the Y, I tell my students to take a moment to have gratitude for themselves and their devotion to their mats. I mean, one doesn’t just magically appear in a yoga class. There’s getting dressing in proper bending clothes. Right now, temperatures here are freezing. So there’s multiple layers of coats, gloves and scarves that have to be pulled on. There’s driving to the studio or gym. Then all of those layers have to be pulled off. The truth is, the easy thing to do is to stay home, wrapped up in a blanket with a mug of cream of tomato soup. Except the students in my class did not do the easy thing. There is something to be said about being grateful for making the effort. There is something to be said for taking a moment to pat yourself on the back and say “good job! look at you doing something good for your body!”

I am quick to forget to take a moment to have gratitude for myself.

Recently, I overheard a guy say that his goal for the year was to show up. He said this while in an exercise class and was referring to just showing up to class, but I thought his goal is a really great one in general. What if we all made a goal to just show up? Over the last two weeks, my time in the gym or even on my mat has been sketchy and inconsistent. I have taught my Wednesday night yoga classes and I have attended a class or two. I have gotten on the elliptical once and the bike once, but that has been it. I am used to doing at least thirty minutes of cardio five days a week. Wednesday I jumped right back in where I’d left off and Thursday morning, my body struggled to get out of bed. The alarm went off and I toyed with the idea of staying put. My throat was itchy and I was slightly congested. I could have easily made the argument that I didn’t feel well even though I knew a hot shower and my Neti pot would get rid of the congestion. Then Josephine jumped off the bed and scratched at the door to be let out, so I got up. I got up. I participated. I got back into my routine. I showed up. Then I patted myself on the back and said “good job! look at you doing something good for your body!” But I don’t just want to show up to the gym. I want to show up to life.

I’m going take that guy’s goal to just show up. Then I’m going to take a moment to be grateful to myself for just showing up.

NEW YEAR

Cindy Maddera

Monday morning, I set in on the far side of the kitchen and started cleaning. I pulled out drawers. I threw away packets of soy sauce from 2013. I removed items that we no longer use (anyone want a programable rice cooker?). I wiped down every surface with disinfecting cleaner. When the kitchen was done, I moved on to the rest of the house, moving from room to room armed with a dust rag and a trash can. When I finished with the house, I moved on to myself. I coated my face with a charcoal mask, took a steamy shower and shaved my legs. Then I rubbed coconut oil all over my body because my skin is so dry that I am turning to dust. I’m like the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Michael and I rang in the New Year watching Bird Box while working on a puzzle. I was in bed by 12:10.

Tuesday morning, I got Michael up and dragged him to a yoga class that my friend Kelly was teaching for New Year’s Day. Kelly gave us some intentions for the new year and I wish I’d written them down. Dr. Mary was there and she hugged me tight and told me I looked rested. Then Michael and I walked across the street so I could take my final picture of my Flickr 365 Day project. It was 18 degrees with snow flurries and I did not smile. Even though our New Year’s traditional Indian food place was just a few blocks down the street, we drove to the restaurant. It was closed. So Michael took the most convoluted way to the Indian place in Westport where we struggled to find a parking place. There was a woman sitting in her car and we pulled up next to her. I asked if she was leaving. She rolled her eyes at me and said “One minute.” But we got her parking space. We ate too much Indian food and then walked it off at the local health food store before driving over to pick up the Cabbage. Then Michael and I finished our puzzle and I went to bed.

I am entering 2019 seriously unmotivated.

The psychologist and author of the Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal said in a New York Times article about crushing your habits that you should focus on changes that would make you the happiest and pick a theme for the year. Most often we tend to make resolutions about our health based on things that we’ve heard would be good for us. Running. Meditation. Eating a daily kale salad. It does me no good to make a resolution to run a marathon in 2019 if I hate running, but eating a daily kale salad is reasonable because I do love kale. I understand the brain science of creating reasonable resolutions. It is the focus on changes that would make me happy part that I am having a hard time with. I have yet to spend any time reflecting about what I want for myself this year let alone reflecting on changes that would make me happy. I don’t know what changes would make me happy. Skipping January, February and even parts of March would make me happy, but that doesn’t ever seem to be an option. Maybe skipping those months wouldn’t necessarily make me happy as much as it would make it easier for me to reflect on things that would make me happy.

I can say that yesterday afternoon, when Michael and I were finishing up our puzzle, that I was pretty content and at peace. We moved the puzzle to the kitchen table to have more space to work. Then we sat in the dining room, with Andrew Bird playing on Alexa, piecing together the Periodic Table. It was nice to be sitting at the table doing an activity other than watching TV. I feel like a change that would make me happier would be to step away from the TV. I read in the evenings, but I’m usually sitting on my end of the couch with Michael on the other end and the TV playing some stupid crime show. I’m going to get up and leave the TV area. Maybe to read; maybe to do some writing; maybe to work on another puzzle. I don’t know, but the TV is not bringing me joy or good health. Another thing that I know for sure is that I am happiest when I am on my mat. I have myself booked up with yoga workshops through March and I’m eyeing a women’s yoga retreat in April. I might even buy a membership to a studio for the summer.

One of the intentions for the New Year that Kelly gave us in class yesterday was to get rid of all the bullshit. I recently was made aware that I put in a lot more thought than some into my actions towards things and people around me. I put a lot of effort into making someone else’s life easier, while making my life harder and it’s really kind of exhausting. Especially when it’s one sided. It’s bullshit. So, I think I’ll dump it and do more to make my life easier. Take more initiatives for myself instead of waiting for someone else to take the initiative. Do a better job of tuning out the grumbles and whines. I don’t understand why it is so hard for some women to put themselves first, but I am one of those women who has a hard time doing just that.

That’s some bullshit I can do without.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

This is my last Thankful Friday post for this year and a good time to reflect and be grateful for the life lived in 2018. Really, it was pretty good. There was lots of travel and sight seeing. There were opportunities to squeeze some people that I don’t get to see very often. We ate some really good food and we finally cleaned out our basement. I haven’t spent any time really seriously considering what I might want next year to look like. There’s an adult beginners fiddle class starting up at the end of January that I am considering. I need a violin. I want to eat fresh snails. Not frozen or canned. Fresh ones. I want to do more yoga related things and I want to use my camera more often. I want to write something.

But for right now, I just want to sit back and enjoy the memories of this year.