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Kansas City MO 64131






Cindy Maddera


The other night I dreamed that I was on an island. The island was being evacuated because the island volcano was about to erupt. There was already a large billow of smoke and ash in the air. Instead of heading to the evacuation point, I was still off exploring the island. I kind of got myself lost in the narrow winding streets of one village and I thought to myself "Crap! I really need to get out of here". My nose was all stuffed up because of the ash. In fact, I would wake up with one side of my nose clogged up. Instead of rushing to find my way out of the village though, I looked up and saw the cutest house built into the side of a hill. It looked just like a fairy house and had multiple stories with rounded off windows. The landscaping was positively fairy tale. So instead of hightailing it out of there, I stopped to take pictures with my fancy pants camera. The alarming part of this story is that I'd wake up the next day to this headline on Google News about Mount Kelud erupting. The part that doesn't surprise me is the part where I'm using my fancy pants camera instead of my phone. I've been thinking about that camera a lot lately. It's just been sitting in my bag that I carry around with me all the time. A few days ago I pulled it out of the bag with some intention of using it and found that the battery was dead. The lens cap had never made it's way back onto the lens and the lens (the whole body really) was covered in lint and dust. I was slightly embarrassed. I know for a fact that there are images from our stop at Big Brutus on the memory card that I have yet to transfer over for editing. That was the last time I had that camera out. November 2013.

I did so well in Ireland, relying on the Olympus for most of my pictures. It just gets so easy to get lazy. It's easy to come up with excuses like I need a better lens. I don't have time to stop right now and set up that shot. I've put my sd card reader away and I don't want to get up and dig it out. See how easy it is to be lazy? The truth is, that camera should be part of a daily meditation practice. I think one road block is that I always think I have to be outside to take pictures and let's face it, the past few months have not been let's-go-outside-and-try-to-use-our-fingers kind of weather. It's true that natural lighting is best, but I sit at a desk across from a wall of windows. Last I checked, windows let in natural light. In fact I remember capturing a moment on my camera phone inside the Neslon that is a perfect example of how windows let in natural light and how that light bounces off structures, creating interesting shadows.

I went to a liberal arts college that emphasized thinking outside of the box and looking at problems from multiple angles. This education has served me well in my career, made me a better scientist. One of the biggest problems I have is taking the literal meaning for everything. I also speak in literal terms. When I hear the phrase "think outside the box" my first instinct is that I need to step outside into the open air. Get out into nature. When in reality, staying inside could actually be stepping outside the box. I never shoot with a flash. I've never took the time to figure out the hows and whys behind using my flash. I am usually generally disappointed with the results when I've used the flash before, but I know there are multiple settings for the flash that I don't mess around enough with. I could actually learn how to use my flash. Now that's thinking outside the box, the kind of thinking that makes me smack my palm on my forehead for not figuring it out sooner.

Self improvement is hard.