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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

The moment I saw her, I started to judge. I don't know why. There was something about her that reminded me of the kind of girl who makes fun of someone for not wearing a certain brand of shoes. She was petite, with slim lanky legs sticking out of short gym shorts. Her blond hair was tied back into a pony tail under her pink sorority hat. She carried a camera, a 35 mm maybe, and wielded it around like she was really trying to get some artistic shots. She was obviously a student taking pictures for art class. A tag dangled off the side of the camera indicating it to be a loner and property of the art department. The thing that bothered me the most about her was the way she scowled at everything, sizing it up. She had this way of making me feel like I was in her way even though we were on my turf walking around the work fountains. She was the trespasser.

So I judged her. I'm not proud of it, but she became that girl who jabbed with cruel words in high school. You know the kind. She's the one who looked like she had everything, best clothes, perfect hair and skin, popular. Other's flocked around her trying to be just like her and she took sport out of being cruel to those not like her.  The mean girl who preyed on nerd girls like me. I pretended that her sharp tongued comments didn't sting. I put on my false armor of confidence and looked back at her with eyes that said "you are pathetic". Later on I would see this type as less of a mean girl and more of a vapid shallow girl/woman. I say girl/woman because this type never seems to mature past pink velour track suits and Chihuahuas with matching nail polish. Desperate housewife. More concerned with appearances than reality. That was this girl. She was currently in the state between mean girl and desperate housewife. She had that look about her that said "I'm in college to meet a good husband." I knew girls like that. Hell, I inadvertently ended up being a girl like that. 

Now I'm the mean girl with my mean judgmental thoughts. I don't know where they even come from. I'm disgruntled these days, weighed down with complaints from others. I hear someone complaining about a cold sausage and cheese McMuffin and I just want to jab a pointed finger in to the flesh of their upper arm. Don't you realize that there are people living on a Navajo Reservation that do not have running water? There are people in the US without access to running water and your sausage cheese McMuffin is cold? Your life is the worst. These are my thoughts. It's no wonder I'm disgruntled and prickly with these kinds of thoughts flooding my body. Right view. Right intention. Right mindfulness. Right  speech. I am lacking in all of these paths. I remember a moment in yoga class last week as I was settling into pigeon pose, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. Our teacher told us to soften those areas of tension and to even soften our thoughts.

Soften our thoughts.

I soften my thoughts for this girl. She's just a girl in an art class trying to find inspiration. She's working on an assignment and really, I am probably in her way, blocking a shot. This girl is not that mean girl or that vapid shallow girl I am imagining. She's just a girl. Then I start to soften my thoughts towards other things. Things get lighter. The days get less wrinkled. I realize that I am not judging this girl as much as I am judging myself. I should be the one with the camera. I should be that thin and fit. I should. I should.

I soften my thoughts towards myself.