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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

I took that picture the other day for my 365 Day Selfie project. The idea of it came to me while I was setting up a slide to scan on one of our microscopes. A good song had started playing on my playlist and it made me dance. I noticed the way the sweater I was wearing moved while I danced and thought it would be a good picture. I took a number of shots while spinning to get that one picture. Each time I stopped to take a breath and check takes, I was dizzy and by the time I called it quits, I was queasy. I didn't realize at the time that I would actually be capturing what was and is currently happening in my brain. I am spinning. There's a lot happening in the next few months. There's some AIDS Walk charity events that I will be involved with. I'm starting a sabbatical next month that will last for about six weeks where I get to learn a bunch of fun new science stuff. I need to finish planning the garden so we can plant the first wave of veggies. 

Then, really the thing that makes me the queasiest, I got some news about something I had written. I wrote it a while back and half heartedly submitted it and now I've been asked to maybe read it in a public setting. Maybe. When I first heard the news, I had the immediate feeling of validation and pride. This lasted for only a second before the implications actually set in. Since then I've felt like doing nothing more than curling up into a ball while breathing into a paper bag. I went back to read that story because it had been months since I had written it or read it. I had set it out of my head and even kind of forgotten some of the story. I let a friend read it and was told that it is a powerful and raw story. And after rereading it, I could not disagree. It is a very personal and vulnerable story. I think that's what has gotten me so tied up in nots. It's like I've just agreed to take off all my clothes on stage in front of the world. Which I have done for real before. I have taken a number of naked photos for 365 day projects. 

So why is this any different? 

I remember the first time I took a nude selfie. I am artfully nude in the picture with the main attention drawn to my legs. At the time I took it, I was very uncomfortable in my skin. I've always seen myself as the chubby one. This will never change. But I took a risk that day and opted for bravery and just went for it. I remember being so nervous about posting that picture. It was hard enough to to take it, let alone post it. There were so many aspects of this picture that made me so vulnerable. I had exposed my body and I had made an attempt to be creative. I received lovely reviews from fellow 365 Day group members. Every one was kind. The day after posting, one of my then online friends posted a nude photo of herself hiding behind her guitar. She was skinny and beautiful and taking this kind of photo was easy for her. It felt like I was being copied or like she was trying one up me. Her anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better mentality would eventual lead to the end of our friendship, but that first act would be the one that would make it really hard to push myself and allow myself to be vulnerable. There have been times after this where it has even been easy for me to be a little vulnerable. 

This thing, though, feels different. Worse some how. Taking my clothes off for a picture would be the easier thing to do right now. I read the piece to Michael last night and stumbled over words. He had to tell me to slow down. There was a moment when I felt the words catch in my throat. This was happening and the only one hearing the story was Michael. My stomach clinches at the idea of others hearing this story. My stomach has been clinched for days actually. I think about when I wrote that piece and how I wrote it just to clear the clutter from my head. I wrote it without the intention of sharing it. Maybe that's why it turned out to be so pure and honest. At the time of writing it, I didn't worry about what others would think of it. I didn't censor myself. Reading out loud made it feel like I was cutting myself open and turning my body inside out. The most vulnerable soul baring stories are always the hardest to share. 

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable forces you to be brave. Je suis forte.