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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

It has happened three times in the last two weeks. I have gotten to work only to realize that I have forgotten to put any of my jewelry onto my body. My hand goes first to my throat to feel for my necklaces. A microsecond of panic sets in when I feel that they are missing. Then I check my ears for my tiny little elephant earrings and my wrist for bracelets. The panic subsides when I discover that all of the rest of the stuff is missing as well. That most likely means that I have not lost the necklaces. The whole point of wearing my necklaces, at least one of them any way, is to not lose some precious items. Chris’s wedding ring. My wedding ring set. My scooter charm from Tiffany’s. The heaviness of those rings disappeared a while ago. It was only after I added the scooter charm that I felt the weight of what that silver chain was carrying again. I was laughing with a yoga student not too long ago. She had taken off her big clunky necklace before class and was struggling to get it back on. She said she took it off because she feared an injury. I told her about my wedding rings and how one time as I was coming into down dog, Chris’s ring hit me in the mouth. I laughed and said something about how I could have chipped a tooth. I take them off now when I’m doing yoga. Usually. But the whole thing has become light as feathers around my neck and half the time I don’t notice them… until it hits me in the face in a forward fold.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I walk into the gym and grab a pair of hand weights. Then I get on one of the stationary bikes. While I’m watching something on Netflix or Amazon, I do various arm exercises and peddle on the bike. I started out with the tiny three pound weights. Now I have worked up to a whopping eight pounds. My goal is to just tone up my arms a bit, not build giant Hulk muscles. I am good with the eight pound weights. I can do enough repetitions of curls and tricep extensions to still feel the burn of my muscles working. I might move up to ten pounds weight soon, but I am content with the eight. I do not know how long it took me to recognize the moment when the three pound weight was just too easy or how long I stayed with the five pound weight before moving on to the eight. I did not keep track of time. I have noticed that about myself, lately. I struggle with keeping track of time. Or, at least, it is not something I pay attention to. Michael said something recently about it being June and how we needed to go to Bella Napoli’s. It took me a few minutes to understand what he was talking about. Anniversary thing. It is not that I forgot. It is that I just wasn’t paying attention.

Paying attention.

It is a choice, albeit a subconscious one, to pay attention to some things and not others. When I am doing my morning walk, I am paying attention to my surroundings. I hear the birds chirping and the roar of the water feature and the rush of the cars zipping by. I pay attention to how the sunlight filters down through the trees and hits the water droplets on the grass so that they look like they’re tipped with diamonds. I pay attention to chips in sidewalks because some times they are interesting. I do not pay attention to the passing of time and I no longer pay attention to the weight I carry around with me. Both of those things are just stuff that I have gotten used to. They happen whether I am paying attention or not. I suppose the other stuff does too, but again…choices. The thing is, I do not feel any lighter when that necklace does not end up resting on my collar bone. I feel nothing. That is the thing I notice. The nothingness. Not the heaviness of the chain or how light I feel without it. It is the bare nothingness that I feel. A moment of exposure.

Thursday night, I attended Kelly’s Yoga Mala class where she guided us through 108 rounds of sun salutations. I went into that class doubting my abilities to do 108 rounds of anything. I have refined my practice over the years and every movement I make is deliberate. I step back to plank without making a sound. I move from plank to chatturanga slowely and with control. It has taken me years to be able to do this, but it is one thing to do this ten or twenty times during my usual practice and quite another to do this 108 times. I did not believe I had it in me to maintain that kind of control. Kelly broke the class up into four groups with breaks in between. For each group we faced a different direction with a different intention starting with the East and new beginnings. By the time we were facing West, we were half way through. The intention for that direction was letting go and saying goodbye. I am so practiced at saying goodbye. It is the letting go part that is difficult. Mostly it is the letting go of this idea I have about myself that I am not strong enough for this. I can’t. I do not even know where this idea came from or how that seed ever got planted in my brain, but it is there, sprouting, growing. Telling me that I am weak, worthless. When did this start? From the beginning? I can not remember a time when I did not feel this way about myself. Or I did not pay attention to that time when I did not feel this way about myself.

I faced West, lifted my hands, my face, my heart to the sky before folding forward. I ripped that sprouted seed out of my brain. I let it go. I smashed and crumpled it up. I know my strength. I know the weight I carry. The weight is immeasurable, yet I carry it without even noticing the heaviness of it. That’s how fucking strong I am. I could hear something screaming in my head as we turned to face North for the final 27 rounds. It took me a minute to recognize the roar coming from a voice inside me that has been quiet for far too long, but there it was yelling and cheering. I was sweaty, but I was not exhausted. I moved with my breath, on my time frame and I took the time to carefully set up each pose. I completed all 108 rounds of sun salutation without once sacrificing my form. I did them all with the same deliberate control as I do in my own personal practice.

That is how fucking strong I am.