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Filtering by Category: Thankful Friday

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Last night I taught my last Thursday night yoga class at the Y. I have been teaching a Wednesday and Thursday evening class there for almost six months and for the most part things have been going well. My Wednesday class has a decent sized group of regulars. Thursday's class never really took off. Some nights, I would have six and some nights I would have one. I never knew what to expect with class size or students. I was always modifying and improvising the class. There were other issues with that class besides attendance that had to do with timing and scheduling. Also, by the time I reached Thursday, this body was tired. This brain was tired. So I made a choice to drop this class. 

I was talking about this class with a new friend not too long ago. She used to own her own studio and understands the work/life imbalance that starts to happen with yoga teachers. I talked with her about the idea of letting that Thursday night class go for all the reason I listed above. I also mentioned that I have something scheduled for every night of the week except for Mondays and that it would be nice to have an evening with no obligations. She urged me to honor those thoughts and her words really gave me pause. At first I agonized over the decision. Should drop I it? Should I just stick it out? Guilt would settle in about letting people down, about giving up. I would start berating myself about just being lazy. Even when I finally sent out the email detailing the end of that class, I felt like I had done something wrong, that people were going to be mad at me. But honestly, I didn't feel like I was making any kind of impact with this class.

When I finished teaching last night's class to three students, two of which had showed up ten minutes late, I felt relieved. A weight I didn't even realize I was carrying floated up and away. In that moment I knew that I had made the right decision. I am not so good at honoring my own thoughts and feelings. It is one of the reasons I end up doing things that I don't really want to do.  I am thankful for her words and I am thankful I took pause to honer my feelings towards this class.

Saying "no" to the things in my life that no longer serve me well is a continuing practice.

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Okay. Gratitude. It is the basis for any happiness project self help book you have ever read. Taking a moment of time out in each day to be grateful for something and to acknowledge that gratitude, makes for a happier human. Sometimes it is the 'taking a moment of time out' in the practice of gratitude that is the most difficult. The time portion of things has been my struggle this week. I feel like I have been playing catch up all week. I've been catching up on sleep, emails, and work all while trying to maintain my normal daily routine. Of course things slip through the busy cracks. One of those things can easily be gratitude. 

Sunday, after wiping down all the surfaces in the house, I looked at our kitchen with disgust. It has been a while since I have had time to deep clean that space. The stove was in dire need of more than just a wipe down. The drip pans were beyond cleanable and just needed to be replaced. I looked around the kitchen with slumped shoulders, already tired and unsure of when I would be able to get around to doing a proper cleaning. So, I asked for help. I asked Michael if he could do two things this week: first, order new drip pans for the stove and second, deep clean the kitchen. He did both of those things with out (much) complaint and I am so grateful that he did. I am not good at asking for things like this. When I see that something needs to be done, I just do it. I have to be really overwhelmed before I ask for help. I am thankful that he was able to do this task for me. 

Our summer routine is coming to an end because school is starting next week. I am grateful that Michael took over the daily household chores for the summer. I like to think that this experience helps us do a better job of appreciating each other. It is a reminder to take time out to be grateful for the person standing next to you.  

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

We are strangers. Mostly. Many of us have never met face to face. Yet, we feel like we know each other. Sort of. We support and encourage each other in our endeavors. We are generous and philanthropic. We are an online community of women, a community I have managed to wedge my big toe into. Really...I'm a nobody in the blog world. A small fish swimming in an ocean of big fish, but any time I've bumped into one of those big fish, they have been the kindest of fishes and truly genuine moments. This community has been an unexpected perk to blogging. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would meet these women, laugh with these women, cry with these women. 

It would not be until Chris got sick when I would realize just how important this community is to me. That's usually the way, right? Emergencies tend to put things into perspective and change the way we look at life in general. I know that I have never felt more scared then I did during those weeks when we were still trying to figure out what was going to happen to Chris. The roller coaster of emotions from that time was truly nauseating. There was so much that we didn't know, so much that we learned, and so much that didn't want to know. To say that the whole situation was overwhelming is an understatement. Nothing, not even J's death, prepared me for those days leading up to Chris's death. 

During those weeks, I would often receive emails, cards, notes, even gifts from this community of women. These virtual strangers. They sent their love and support during a time in my life when I knew if I stopped moving for a second, I'd curl into a ball unable to face the next decision. To this day, I am humbled and floored by the support they sent me. This, this is what the internet is for, for empowering and supporting each other, particularly in times of need. And I am so so grateful for all of it. A few weeks ago, Rebecca Woolf, a blogger and writer I follow and admire, announced that her husband had just been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Because I know all too well what they're going through, it was a no brainer for me to donate some money to their GoFundMe page. It is my way of showing my gratitude. I did it because I am grateful for the love and support that I have received from this community. I did it because the internet has taught me the true meaning of community. 

We love and support each other. We care for one another. It doesn't even matter that we are strangers. 

Fuck Cancer.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Today, I am grateful for:

  • Picnics in the park with my circle of boys and how they always go out of their way to be festive. 
  • Water balloon fights
  • Watching fireworks and still being wowed by the display of colored explosions. 
  • Early in the morning the day after the fourth, before the heat of the day settles in, the city is covered with a sulphery haze from the firecracker wars of the night before. It makes everything look like a photo from the 70s.
  • Every memory that Facebook wanted me to share this week that I did not share. 
  • Hannah Gadsby's Nanette on Netflix. This is one of the smartest and most honest pieces of storytelling you could watch in this moment. Watch it. Listen to it. Don't wait. Do it now.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

It has been almost a month since I've spoken to Dr. Mary. We have both been on vacations and this week was our first session together in weeks. We briefly talked about our trips and shared a couple of pictures before she asked me how I was doing. I told her about the workshop I had attended over the weekend and some other things that were on my mind. Dr. Mary asked me if I dream. I told her "not really." Which is kind of true. When I dream, they are usually discombobulated scenes that I rarely remember the next morning. I just wake up with a feeling that I did dream about something. I just don't know what that something is half of the time. 

I did tell her about a dream I had had recently that involved a couple Chris and I had been friends with in college. We had a horrible falling out with these two. The whole thing was blown out of proportion and ended sadly. The result was that we never had anything to do with those people again. It was her choice, not ours or even her other half's choice, but we respected her choice. Any way, it all happened years and years ago, so I found it odd that I would be dreaming about them now. Except now that I think about, maybe not so odd. I am constantly re-hashing old arguments in my head and pondering past grievances and what I should have done versus what I did do. I think about how I could have handled things in a more articulate and less volatile manner. I twist it around and around in my head. I do this for no good reason because in most of those incidences, I handled it the best that I could at the time. Also, it's done. We have all moved along with our lives. 

I think maybe for some of those past arguments and grievances, the reason it is so hard to let them go completely is because there wasn't any closure or attempts to mend fences. There was not a moment of "let's agree to disagree but let's also try be friends around that disagreement." No one apologized for bad behavior or hurtful words. They end up just being these little festering blights in your timeline. When asked if I have any regrets, I will tell you that I regret not doing more or being better in those situations. Today I am thankful for the reminder to be better, to listen more empathetically and to make more of an effort to find ways around differences. I am thankful for the reminder to let go of past arguments and grievances. 

This is something really hard to do, particularly in today's environment, but I think that if I try to be better, that's going to rub off on someone else and start a chain reaction of being better. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday, I went with my friend and coworker, Jeff to teach a group of fourth graders about microscopes. We took a basic light microscope and some samples. Jeff has done this before and has his presentation down pat. He's made a device that attaches a webcam to the eye piece on the microscope that he can then project the image on a screen. I was just there as a sort of assistant, helping out with samples and chiming in with bits of information here and there. I have more experience with bacteria and amoeba than Jeff does, so I was able to talk about those things with the kids. 

We had some really interesting samples to show them and discuss, but the best, most exciting sample was a dish of pond water. Jeff had collected a water bottle full of water from a pond near his house. We had a large petri dish that we poured the water into and placed on the microscope stage. Then we sat back and just watched as various larvae, microscopic water fleas and water mites, and other creatures swam into our field of view. It was at times thrilling and a little scary Occasionally something really large would swim by so quickly, it was unidentifiable. The whole room would erupt in shrieks and gasps. The kids and the adults in the room totally loved every minute of it. The previous year they had a guy from the local science museum come and talk. Apparently he was not that great and when we wrapped things up, someone said "they were WAY better than the guy from last year." 

I really shy away from doing things like this, mostly because I feel queasy when I'm on any kind of stage. I have to say though that I had a lot of fun yesterday. I have forgotten how fun it is to really look at something like pond water, to see all the life swimming around. It is the whole reason I am where I am today. The first time I looked at bacteria through the eyepiece of a basic light microscope, I was hooked. It's all I ever wanted to do. So, I am super grateful that I went and helped out with career day yesterday. It was a good reminder of how it is I ended up where I am today. It was a good reminder of how fascinating the world is around us. There are more bacteria living on this planet then there are people, something like five million trillion trillion. Some of them live in the most extreme environments like Antarctica and inside Old Faithful at Yellowstone. Some of them live in and our bodies, helping us out by providing protection against infections or with digestion. To me, this is mind boggling amazing. 

I am thankful to be working in a field that constantly amazes me. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

We came home to lightening bugs boiling up out of the ground. Green fluorescent bubbles blinking up from the ground all the way up high into the trees. They mesmerize me every summer. As I stood looking out into the backyard last evening, I was floored by the sheer number of them blinking away in our yard. It dawned on me that we did not see any lightening bugs while we were on our camping trip. We saw all kinds of them last year when we travelled through the forests of Kentucky and into the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. Turns out, there's not a species of firefly in the United States that lives west of Kansas.

Things I take for granted:

  • the vastness and diversity of this country
  • clean water
  • my own bed
  • fireflies
  • my childhood

I have been struggling with writing this post for days now. Not because I don't have anything to be grateful for this week, but because I have SO much to be grateful for. There were moments when the beauty of our surroundings would hit Michael so hard and he would say "I can't believe how beautiful this is." Every time, I would agree and say this was how I spent every other summer as a child. My childhood was good. At times, my gratitude is overwhelming. I feel almost shameful when I think of my simple blessings of just good food and clean water. Safety. I live in a safe environment. I recognize that I am fortunate. I see families giving up everything in an attempt to make a better, safer life for themselves only to be ripped apart. I couldn't even imagine fleeing my country with nothing but my child and a jug of water only to reach a place I thought was safe and have that child taken from me. The way we treat other humans is inhuman. If I truly believed in a Christian God, I would believe that he has abandoned us for our heartlessness. 

Because I am grateful for the freedom I had to be a child, to have a life a privilege really, I am donating to the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights. There are many ways to help. There's Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Program. Both of these groups provide services and aid to immigrant families. Maybe your gratitude for the blessings you have in your life will spill over with the need to help someone less fortunate.

ATTACHMENT AND THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

It seems lazy of me to turn a yoga post into a Thankful Friday post, but sometimes those two things are so easily linked together. Monday morning, I was rushed to get out the door and I was halfway to work before I realized that I left my yoga mat behind. There used to be a time that if I didn't have my mat handy, I'd just shrug my shoulders and say "Guess I'm not doing yoga today." Now the idea of not doing my practice just because I don't have my mat seems really silly. There are plenty of mats in the gym for me to grab up, unroll and hop onto. Which is exactly what I did. 

This was a gentle reminder of how attachments can cause suffering, but also how attachments can be used as an excuse to not do the things that serve us best. Attachment comes in so many different ways. I tend to be not as attached to things as I am attached to specific actions or inactions. In this case, I am more attached to my yoga practice than I am to the props required for my practice. The other day I was taking a yoga class. We were using straps and the woman next to me did not have one, so I just handed over mine. I did it without thinking even though I kind of needed the strap for the pose we were working on. I grabbed my towel and improvised, but the action of giving my strap away was an easy thing to do. When do we decide to release a specific attachment? At what point is the attachment itself the thing that is causing the suffering, instead of just the loss of the object of our attachment? These questions have become important questions that I ask myself daily. Are my attachments serving any kind of purpose? 

I have an attachment to always trying to do the right thing, say the right thing. Sometimes this attachment is so strong that it cripples me. I end up doing nothing. I have an attachment to guilt. I can make my stomach turn upside with guilt that usually centers around not being enough or doing enough. My attachment to my pride is something I need to let go of.  This week I found myself telling the story of me and Chris to two different people, at completely different times. I did not start either of these conversations and both times I ended up crying as I finished the story. Both times I felt shameful and embarrassed for crying. Both times I ended up berating myself for those feelings because I truly believe that living my life the way I live it, openly and honestly, is one of the best things I can do to honor those I have lost. 

I am thankful for the reminder to let go of attachments that do not serve me. 

 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday, I was chatting with Amy and I asked her how everything was going. She told me about the things going on in her life and with her family and the struggles they are experiencing. She said that recent events have made her all too aware of our mortality. Her words hit me hard, like being hit with a rock. You would think that you would only need the lesson of our fragile lives one time in order to be fully aware of our mortality. You would think that your first loss would help prepare for the next one and the next one and the next one. In some ways it does at the very least make us aware of the inevitability of loss. 

I told my therapist once that I was really good at throwing away things. I told her how I'd thrown away a whole rats nest of cords only to discover later that one of those cords was the power supply to my external hard drive. The weekend everyone left my house after Chris died, I pulled all of his clothes from the drawers and closet, stuffed them into bags and took them to Goodwill. I did it partly because it gave me something to do, but also I knew that if I didn't do it right then, I may never do it. When I come into savasana and practice the act of saying goodbye, I have no problem saying farewell to all things. Farewell sun. Goodbye to this moment. Bye bye life as I once knew it. I should be really good at loss by now. Yet, I, like so many others, fall victim to complacency. I get caught up in the day to day chore side of living, cleaning up dog vomit and fixing microscopy problems. I let myself believe that loss is easy because of how well I can throw things away. I let myself forget that those abilities to say goodbye are on my terms. I'm the one in control and loss, true loss, is something out of our control. 

Of course, I have always known this. It is why every day is important. I am grateful for these lessons that make me stronger. I am thankful for these lessons that remind me how important it is to reach out to others in loving kindness. I am thankful for the reminder to make the most out each day. I am grateful that Amy and her family are safe and sound. Tell those you love that you love them. Put the phone down and turn off the TV and sort through a pile of old photos together. Practice saying goodbye to something you find impossible saying farewell to and allow for a loss of control. 

Be grateful.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

We used to always go to the Black-Eyed-Pea for Mother's Day. My sister and I would cheer from the backseat of the car when Dad would suggest skipping church service to get to the restaurant early. We'd all meet back at the car after Sunday school. [I can see Michael reading this and trying to understand the difference between church service and Sunday school and marveling at how we spent almost four hours in church on Sundays.] Randy, Katrina and J would meet us at the restaurant and I'd get a Shirley Temple. I always finished my meal quickly at this place because there was a bookstore right next door. My parents would let me go hang out there while they finished up. I read one whole book from the Chronicles of Narnia series once while waiting on them to come get me. 

Mother's Day was much simpler then. 

I find that age and time have added a complicated layer to Mother's Day. For me, the day feels slightly forced. I know that is my own resistance to the idea of being thrown into the so called role of motherhood. It still sits awkwardly because I don't feel very motherly when it comes to the Cabbage. As I was leaving Dr. Mary's Tuesday night, she called me back to her office. She said "I started to tell you to have a good Mother's Day, but I stopped myself because you're not a mother. But then I thought 'No! You are a mother'. So Happy Mother's Day." That same evening, the Cabbage gave me an art project she made just for me, covered with elephant stickers and Happy Mother's Day written across it. I knew she was up to something because she picked out all of her supplies when we went to the craft store over the weekend. I guess I was surprised that it was all her idea. No one prompted her. I am still trying to wrap my head around how it is that she sees me as some kind of mother figure.  

I am also keenly aware of just how difficult Mother's Day is for others. At times, this made up holiday seems a little cruel. You cannot avoid all of the marketing that goes out regarding the celebration of mothers. That has got to be hard for people who no longer have their mothers with them, but it also has to be difficult to be a mother and no longer have your children with you. Maybe part of the reason I resist being on the receiving end of Mother's Day is that I know that the statement that motherhood is hard is simplifying the actuality. I don't feel worthy of the title because I have not experienced the emotions that mothers experience. I have not experienced the joys and the struggles that come with being a mother. It is more like I occasionally dabble in motherhood and that's mostly by just making sure the Cabbage has clothes that fit her. And carrots to eat. But I guess this enitittles me to a moment of kindness and lots of elephant stickers.

Of course I am thankful for my own mother. She held my house together while my life was falling apart. And I am thankful for the tribe of women my mother relied on to help raise me. I am thankful for the lessons they taught me and I am thankful my mother had that support. I read a lot blogs written by women who are mothers, not because they are moms, but because they are amazing writers. I am thankful for those women for sharing their words and craft. I am thankful for the example they lead and how they encourage each other. I am thankful for all of the women bloggers I read, mothers or not because of the way they encourage each other. I follow a good crowd of women. It makes me want to be a better person.

It gives me hope. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

This is one of those weeks where I am actually really grateful that it is Friday. I don't like to admit this. I used to work with a guy who did not like his job. Every morning, he would come into the office and say "Is it Friday yet?" or he'd count down the week until Friday. "Just two more days until Friday!" I always tried to nod my head along in agreement to show solidarity, but mostly I just felt bad that he was so obviously unhappy and he was just suffering through to make it to the weekend. I know what it is like to not like your job. I understand completely the toll it takes on the mind and spirit. Eventually he left to start his own business. The business is going well and he's super happy. I am really happy for him, but I can't help but think of him when I have a week where at the end of it, I think "TGIF!"

This has not been a bad week. Actually, it's been a fairly productive week. I got all of the camper blankets washed and dried. Images from the DSLR got uploaded to my computer for future editing. I made some changes to the blog and my 'About Me' page. I've had some really satisfying moments on my yoga mat. This week has been good and that is partly why I am grateful that today is Friday. Friday is the cherry on top of this week's sundae. This is the day I get to sit back and take a breath and a moment to appreciate the things I have accomplished. I can sigh with relief that nothing blew up or died or got taken away by tornadoes. Sometimes it is just good practice to be thankful you not only had a successful week, but a successful week, free of disasters. So yeah...TGIF! 

Now I get to reap the rewards of the weekend with sleeping in and meeting my massage therapist. I'm also going to dig in the dirt and plant some thing to make the house look pretty. I'm going to put Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae on repeat and swing in a hammock. I might even have a margarita in celebration of Cinco De Mayo. Except I don't care for tequila. A Ginarita? Is that a thing? 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I don't know why January first is the day we all resolve to do something. I am hardly ever ready to make my resolutions at that time, let alone get started on them. I always end up coming up with a list of the usual suspect resolutions: lose weight, get in shape, eat better, meditate, get organized. Except all of those things are my forever resolutions. Year in and year out, I am always resolving to be skinnier and fitter. I am always resolving to declutter and get organized. It is not like I don't ever work towards those resolutions. I do. I work hard. So I don't know why I continue to put them down as resolutions other than I have nothing better to write down. I think this is because January is just the wrong time of the year to feel motivated to create change.

Inspiration for change always comes to me in the Spring. It starts as a bubble that sits in my chest like indigestion. This is probably why I get so cranky towards the end of winter, when it should already be Spring, but for some stupid weather reason, it is still snowing. My inspiration comes with the budding of new growth. Almost a month ago, Facebook asked me if I wanted to repost a picture I had taken from that time a year ago. The image was of all the redbuds blooming with light purple and white blooms. Those trees just now look like that today. They are a month behind from when they bloomed last year. Up until very recently, they have sat with the tinniest hints of buds waiting for more warmth and more sun. That bubble of inspired indigestion has been sitting in wait, right along with them. 

I don't know. Maybe it has been the scooter rides this week or a good session with Dr. Mary. Maybe it has something to do with all those little walk breaks outside. Maybe all I needed to cure the indigestion was a little vitamin D, but I finally feel like I can make a New Year's Resolution that is not as open ended as those I have made before. That resolution has to do with this blog. I've already written out an outline of changes that I want to make to this space. I'd like to add a shop where I sell prints and maybe yoga classes. I've taken some pictures recently that made me finally believe that I could possibly sell something or I have produced something worthy enough to put a price tag on them. There are changes coming to Flickr that might make it easier for me to do this. I would also like to find a way to film myself teaching some yoga classes, like a yoga for beginners series, and post them for a downloadable price. Besides the addition of the shop, I would like to have some consistent postings other than a Thankful Friday post. I'd like to post some creative writing, maybe putting the Fortune Cookie diaries here and I'd like to add some writing on yoga. Mostly I just wanted to make some changes here.

This week I am thankful for New Year's resolutions that come in the spring. I am thankful for the inspiration to make some changes. Obviously, I am also thankful that Albus is home and not out there somewhere 'sleeping' in a brown paper bag. I am thankful for scooter days and warm weather. We impulsively booked a campsite for this weekend in hopes of de-winterizing the camper and it looks like the weather is going to be perfect. So, that's something to easily be grateful for.

And as usual, but particularly this week, I am thankful for you. 

P.S. You can still report Scott Pruitt for environmental violations. Just go to https://www.epa.gov/home/forms/contact-epa and click on the button that says 'report a violation'. Type in Scott Pruitt for the violator and enter the address for the EPA. That address is 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20460.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

It's Thursday and I'm sitting here racking my brain for some poetic and thoughtful phrasing on gratitude. This is how it is for most Thankful Friday posts. I get to the end of the week and I can't think of anything more than the possibility of taking a nap sometime over the weekend or going to bed at 8:30 PM on a Friday night. I also can't help thinking about all of the things that I need to accomplish before Sunday afternoon and how that's going to interfere with nap times. Ridiculous problems. Of course, there's always found gratitude and by the time Friday morning rolls around, I have most of my entry written. 

Today I am distracted by images my friends have posted of the Murrah Federal Building. Twenty three years ago, I was sitting on a couch in the lobby of my college dorm along with half of the other girls. We were all glued to the TV as we watched the news reporting on the bombing of the federal building. My roommate spent hours on the phone trying to get through to her dad. He was supposed to be at the federal building that day for a meeting or something, but he'd either been late or it got canceled. The how and why didn't matter as much as just knowing that he was safe. I remember how we all looked shell shocked and how the air crackled with uncertainty and confusion. Bombing? Oklahoma? Terrorists? What? This was an event that any person ever raised in the state of Oklahoma could never have fathomed as possible. Our disasters are nature born. We lose houses to tornadoes. Power goes out because of ice storms. Acres and acres are scorched from wild fires. We do not lose people and buildings to moving trucks filled with explosives. Yet, there we were, watching the whole horrific event unfold, watching as rescuers pulled people from the rubble. By the time it was all said and done, six hundred and eighty people would be injured and one hundred and sixty eight people dead. Nineteen of the dead, were children. This was the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States until the attacks of 9/11. 

I know that this doesn't seem or feel like a topic for thankfulness and gratitude, but it is one of the reasons why I will always be an Oklahoman. No matter how many times I am frustrated and embarrassed by the politics of that state or have to roll my eyes at some of the ignorance that rolls out people's mouths, I will always be an Oklahoma girl. The red dirt of that land is caked into my skin. It was part of the clay that molded my first thirty five years of life. Even though, I claim a new state for a home, my first home and loyalty is with Oklahoma. I can't help it really. Thirty five years allows you to collect more than things and I have a collection of framily and family that keep me tied to the place, but I was also a witness to what happened in the days following that horrific bombing. I watched as Oklahomans came together, took care of each other and comforted each other with a resilience and determination not normally witnessed. We take care of each other even if we don't agree with each other. The Murrah bombing linked us all together in a way I fail to have words to explain.

So, today, I am thankful for life I had in Oklahoma. I am thankful for the family I have in Oklahoma. I am thankful for the framily I have in Oklahoma. I am thankful for you.

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I noticed a white powder drifting down to my yoga mat as I moved through my sun salutations. My skin was so dry that it was flaking off of my body with each movement. I was disgusting. The next day, I took a long steamy shower and scrubbed my body with oily bath salts and then coated myself in lotion. This is something I have to do every day or I am just a walking flake. This is called self maintenance. This is something I have gotten better at over the years. I schedule regular doctor visits for all of the doctors. I take time to visit my favorite massage therapist every so often. I keep my toenails trimmed so I can't use my toes as weapons. These teeth get flossed every day. Look at me, being a grown up and self maintaining. 

Once week, I sit in my therapist's office talking about my week which inevitably circles around to how I am not enough. I could write you the longest list of ways that I am not enough. I am not fill-in-the-blank enough. The biggest not enough of them all is the hardest one for me to say out loud, but sometimes I do so I can hear just how ridiculous it sounds. Because I know that biggest one is ridiculous, but still...that's the one that sits with me day in and day out. Dr. Mary doesn't really ever say much when I talk about not being enough. Whatever she says it tends to prompt me into talking about the things I do that are enough. I talk about the money I can spare every month for charity and how teaching yoga at the Y is giving back to my community. This is self care. This is something that I have not gotten better at over the years. 

Whenever the weather is remotely nice outside, all the people in Kansas City get outside. This means that the Y is practically empty. Wednesday night, I set up to teach my yoga class and then ended up sitting around for about half an hour. I was just about to pack it in and call it a night when a woman stumbled into the class. She looked around, slightly confused and then said "Am I the only one? I thought I was only just late." Then we had a short discussion about whether or not to have class at all. I told her that I didn't mind teaching a short thirty minute class with her, so she grabbed a mat and a block and I taught class. And it was a good class. It was the kind of class where I could see the student making those mental connections to the cues I was giving her and see the lightbulb of understanding light up above her head. It was the kind of class that could make me believe that I was making a difference and doing something good

This is self care. 

This week, I am thankful for that one student. I am thankful for the opportunity to share my practice and knowledge. I am thankful for that moment where I was enough. I am thankful for self care. 

I am thankful for you.

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

The other night, I dreamed that Chris and I were at Six Flags. We were the first ones into the park and headed right back to the biggest, newest roller coaster. There wasn't a line, but we had to twist our way through a maze of ropes and up and down a narrow staircase. The staircase was the scariest part because it was dark and the steps were steep. When we finally made it to the loading station, the roller coaster car pulled up and the seats were just open benches without any kind of harness or lap belt. You just held onto the seat and hoped you had the strength to hold yourself down on the loops. Chris looked at me and said without saying (because Chris never talks in my dreams) "are you sure you want to ride this roller coaster?" but then a hoard of zombies entered the park before I could answer him. Michael and I had just watched the most recent episode of the Walking Dead. By the way, season eight is just plain awful and I don't think I care enough about any of the characters any more to watch.

I realize now that I never answered Chris's question about wanting to ride a roller coaster that was so very obviously dangerous. Dr. Mary gave me a handout from a lecture she did a while ago about seven things for functioning or something like that. She had me read the list out loud and when I got to the second thing on the list, I busted out laughing. Number two on the list had to do with recognizing dangerous situations and avoiding them appropriately. Then I told Dr. Mary about the time I drove an hour to have dinner at a stranger's apartment and how I didn't see anything wrong with this until I got there. Then it was a little bit creepy that the guy only had one light on, no heat and camp chairs for furniture, but I still figured that if I had to fight this guy that I totally could have taken him. I most of the time do not recognize a dangerous situation as being dangerous. This is why Talaura has a video of bison running down the road with Michael's voice clearly saying "get in the car, Cindy." 

A few days after this dream, I spent two minutes in supported fish pose. This pose feels nice between the shoulders but also leaves your neck exposed. I had been warned that I might get a wave of panic having my neck exposed while hanging out for two minutes in fish. You know, like having the feeling that a wild dog is going to come rip your throat out for no reason what so ever. Except I never did get that feeling. Actually, I've never had that feeling in this pose. I've never felt panic or fear in any yoga pose. Instead of fighting fear induced anxiety, I ended up fighting tears. My eyes welled up and spilled down the sides of my face. My throat is the first thing affected when tears attack. It closes up and I can't talk. I can barely even breath. Losing the ability to squeak out a word makes me furious, which in turn, makes me cry harder. It's usually pretty ugly. I wrinkled my brow and wondered why I was suddenly crying in fish pose and still able to breath.

It is not that I purposefully or willfully refuse to recognize a dangerous situation as maybe being dangerous. And don't think for a minute that I am not scared in these situations. It's just that stubbornness is the rock, while fear becomes the scissors in this game. Stubbornness wins every time. I love supported fish pose. I practice that pose ALL of the time. I never once thought about how my throat was exposed or the dangers involved in exposing your throat. Now, all I can think about is that scene from Roadhouse where Patrick Swazye rips that guy's throat out with his bare hand. This should creep me out or make me shy away from poses that expose my throat. Instead, I find it slightly hilarious. That scene is ridiculous, though if you ask the guys I work with, they'll say that it is awesome, in the same way that Bill and Ted are awesome. I am comfortable in dangerous situations, at ease, in my element and even can relax enough to cry. 

So yeah, I'd probably still ride that roller coaster, because that's the whole point and there's something worthy of gratitude in this somewhere. You don't know how anything is going to end, so you might as well enjoy the ride. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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It was my sixteenth birthday party and I had a bunch of friends over. We were all sprawled out in the living room watching movies in the dark. I think we were watching House, that 80s horror movie about a writer living in his late aunt's house. My beagle, Lucy, had recently given birth to a litter of pups and they were being kept in the garage. My brother and sister-in-law had to pass through the living room to get to the garage to see them. As my brother passed behind the TV, he poked his head around to see what we were watching. There was a Vietnam flashback scene playing and Randy looked out at us and then back at the TV. Then he held up his hands like a machine gun and went "Rata tat tat tat tat tat." The room froze in silence, every teenager staring wide eyed at this guy they didn't know. 

I busted out laughing. 

To all of my friends, my brother was this mystery dude that showed up at band concerts and birthday parties. To me, my brother has always been that cool dude that shows up for everything. We've always had the same quirky sense of humor and analytical brain. Sometimes this surprises me because of our sixteen year age difference, how we can be so similar, but genetics can be weird. He celebrated a birthday yesterday and after a year of near misses and general accidents, I feel pretty grateful that he survived another year. I also feel pretty dang grateful to have him as my brother. 

Even if sometimes he's totally weird. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY AND THE WEEK THAT TRIED TO EAT ME ALIVE

Cindy Maddera

I laid on the couch in my therapist's office Tuesday evening (yes...sometimes I lay down on the couch; mostly I sit, but this was a reclining kind of day) and then told her all of the things I've dealt with in the last two days at work and how I am already exhausted and it's only Tuesday. Wednesday morning, I drove my scooter to a mechanic to get it inspected and nearly froze my face off. But it had to be done because the car and the scooter tags are due next month. Michael is out for Spring Break, which means he can go to the DMV any time this week. There was a frantic evening of printing and hunting up the necessary documents for tag renewals. In the middle of all of this, I got a new phone and managed to completely screw up the setup process. It took me two days to figure out how to get my contacts from the old phone to the new phone. Yes, my contacts were backed up on the cloud, but only half of the contacts got transferred. I don't know why.

I don't understand how the cloud works. Obviously.

This has not been an easy week. Every task has been complicated and convoluted and hard. All without reason. Difficult for the sake of just being difficult. I went to teach my Wednesday evening yoga class, with a poor attitude and a little wish that I wouldn't have any students. Except I did have students and I when I looked over the plan I had made for the class, I worried that I hadn't planned enough. Instead of adding onto my class plan or trying to throw in last minute yoga sequences, I had us all do the class in slow motion. We moved from pose to pose with long deep breaths, sometimes holding a pose long enough for a brain to start asking "how much longer?" Then I'd make them continue to hold that pose for two more breaths. It was a good class. Forcing my students to slow down, forced me to slow down. This sort of just reset all the things inside me that felt crooked. I woke up Thursday morning and thought maybe, just maybe, I might survive this week. 

There is something about a week that tries to eat you whole that really makes you find gratitude in the small things. I am thankful for Michael, who went to the DMV to get my tags renewed. I am thankful to get a nanobody experiment to work this week for super resolution microscopy. I am thankful for the Sprint guy who helped me activate my new phone. Really, though, the thing I am most grateful for this week is the reminder to slow down and move with focus and awareness. Sloths have to be the most mindful creatures, carefully placing each foot/paw down on a branch before curling their long claw fingers around to hold on. Have you ever watched a sloth do that? Even the act of clinching the paw to wrap it around the branch looks like an act of mindfulness. I mean, sure, they move slow because of their low metabolism, but that's also the reason they have to be very mindful of each movement they make. Each movement expends energy. The more energy expended, the more food they need. Then it just because a cycle of expending energy to find food to expend energy. I need to be more sloth-like.  

Oh...and I am always, always, thankful for you.

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I've had to shift my own yoga practice around since I've started teaching yoga again. Instead of attending the evening yoga class on Wednesdays, I am now going to the noon yoga class. Not a big deal, it's just that the teachers are different between the two classes. Again, not a big deal because I'm super fortunate to have access to some awesome teachers. The lunch time yoga teacher is wonderful and funny. She seems to share my philosophy on yoga and how it should be a joyful practice. The down side is that I don't get to see Shannon, the evening yoga teacher as much as I used to. Shannon is the first yoga teacher I met when we moved here and I have been attending her Wednesday evening classes on and off for over five years. In that time, she encouraged me to volunteer at a private high school for underprivileged teens, seen me struggle with grief, and she nudged me back into teaching. We have both learned knew techniques in teaching from each other and I never in a million years would have done a yoga workshop without her insistence and support. You should read the letter of recommendation she wrote for me when I applied to teach at the Y. It says the most amazing and kind things about me and she wrote them with such sincerity that the Y believed her.

Scheduling has made it so our paths don't cross too often anymore and it had been some time since I had seen her face. So, I sent her a text asking her to meet me for lunch because I missed her face. We met for lunch yesterday at Eden Alley, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant that I love but hardly ever get to go to. Then afterwards, we went for a nice long walk outside. We talked about everything from relationships to yoga schedules to how to make the world a better place through yoga. It was so good and so easy. It would be a no brainer to say that I am grateful to have a friend like Shannon, but what I am really grateful for is the time we took for each other yesterday. It is really easy for me to let things (people) slide away. I'm not usually the one to instigate meetings and events. I guess, in a very passive aggressive way, I tend to assume that everyone has more important things to do than meet me for lunch.

I am thankful I took the initiative to cultivate this friendship. It also reminds me how difficult it is to make friends after you've reached a certain age. It is easy with busy work schedules and maintaining old relationships to not notice the need for new friendships until you move to a new state and a new town where you don't know anyone. Yesterday's lunch reminds me that I need to reach out and cultivate new friendships. Cultivating friendships is not my strong suit. I feel like I do a poor job of cultivating current relationships. It is a weakness I recognize and I want to work on this. Since I'm about to turn my garden into a patio, I need to grow something. It might as well be friends.  

I am thankful for my one day of scooter riding this week. I am thankful for beets and beats. I am thankful for my twenty minutes of meditation in the mornings. I am thankful for simple pleasures. I am thankful for you. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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My sister and I are not close. I mean, we love each other and all, but we don't have that big sis little sis relationship where we do things together and rely on each other. You know, like the kinds of sister relationships you see on TV and in the movies. Our age difference was just wide enough to put us into different orbits and I was just little enough to be too little to tag along. We never really seemed to fix the gap even when age was no longer an issue. Our personalities are just too different. She has always been more of a free spirit while I was the more serious and practical one. We often tried to kill each other when we were younger. Then Janell became a teenager and started doing all of the teenage kid stuff. We stopped trying to kill each other because we'd moved passed our murderous stage in life. 

I was left with just hoping to be included in whatever cool thing she was doing at the time. I was thrilled anytime she said "Hey! Let's go for a bike ride!" and we would end up riding for miles and miles. I remember feeling like the most important person in the world when she and her friends came to the elementary school for lunch once and sat with me in the cafeteria. Some times she would just show up as school was letting out either in her car or some boyfriend's car and take me to Sonic. There was one summer when she was a carhop at Sonic and she had to work the late shift on the Fourth of July. She told me to wait up for her and we'd set off fireworks when she got home. She said "I promise." I fell asleep on the couch waiting for her. Finally around one AM, I felt her tap my shoulder. I remember cracking open my eyes just enough to see her face right in front me. I heard her whisper "Get up! Let's go shoot off fireworks." 

We stepped out into the July night with every star shining in the sky. The wind had picked up but we ignored this. My sister set up the first of our big fireworks in the street and lit the fuse. She ran back to stand with me in the drive and we watched as sparks shot up into the air. Then the wind shifted so that the hot ash that fell down from the firework, started to rain down on our bare arms and legs. We screamed and laughed as we ran for cover. Then we saw the light go on in our parent's bedroom and we called it a night. I woke up the next morning with the taste of sulphur on my tongue and scrapes on my knees where I had banged them on the drive in our scramble from the hot ash. My sister was always the instigator for recklessness. I think about that now that we only seem to communicate through Facebook emojis. I think about how I tended to do the most dangerous stunts through my sisters goading. Once, she convinced me to walk out into the center of an abandoned rail bridge so we could jump into the lake together. We got in so much trouble, mostly because we left J alone on the swimming dock. But it was terrifying and thrilling and... everything. 

My sister's birthday was yesterday. She shares her birthday with our Dad. This has got to be a bitter sweet feeling for her. I remember how they fought when she lived in the house, our reckless years. The house was always filled with yelling either between Mom and Dad, my sister and Dad, my sister and Mom, or all three of them at once. My sister moved out right after her high school graduation leaving me alone with only Mom and Dad yelling at each other. That was a rough summer. I spent most of it at my brother and sister-in-law's house. J and I would walk down to the community pool every day and then come home to watch hours of MTV and eat 'grilled' cheese sandwiches. My parents stopped yelling at each other for a while and I went back home to start my freshman year of high school. I talked to my sister on the phone the night before school and I told her that  I was scared. I had heard all kinds of terrible stories of things done to freshmen on the first day of school. At the end of that first school day, I looked up to see my sister walking towards me in the hallway. She had come to check in on me, to make sure my day had gone okay. 

I've probably just told you every moment we had where we played our TV roles as Big Sister and Little Sister. Things are so different between us now. Distance and differences have placed a chasm between us, but I am thankful for those reckless years. They are the years I learned to be brave and take risks. My brother drilled the importance of going to college into my brain. He fed my scientific brain, but my sister taught me to be a little bit reckless every once in a while. So...I'm thankful for that. 

And I am thankful for you.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

As I walked passed the fountain in front of my building on my way back from yoga class, I noticed a shiny penny resting in the bottom. Kansas City is the City of Fountains. Most of them are turned off during the winter. They only leave the small fountain in front of this building running year round. I think the city turns all of the fountains back on in April when there's no longer a freeze risk. The fountain in front of my building is not a city fountain, nor does it see a lot of foot traffic. It is most definitely not on the tour guide list. Yet someone had paused to flip a coin and make a wish. I could not help but wonder what they had wished for and if it has come true. Then I could not remember the last time I had innocently flipped a coin of my own into a fountain to pay for a wish. 

Or made any kind of wish at all.

Sometimes I am too pragmatic for my own good. I have noticed that pragmatism tends to be my solid state and default setting. My pinky finger is double jointed. When I played cello, sometimes that finger would get kind of stuck or locked while playing a note. I'd have to stop and physically wiggle it back into place. My pragmatic default setting is very much like my stuck pinky finger. I get stuck there. I forget to dream or imagine shapes in clouds. I forget to make wishes on stars. I do not pause to be silly. All of this reflects itself in my work with a lack of creativity. My photos are unimagined and dull. My writing is sad and boring. I feel like taking a paintbrush full of black paint to the canvas of my life and just scribbling it around in a frantic mess. Seeing that single shiny penny resting in the bottom of that fountain reminded me just how important it is take a moment and make a wish. Today, I am thankful for shiny pennies that become wishes. 

I am thankful for new babies and signs of the new life that comes with Spring. I am thankful for my yoga students. I am thankful for my yoga practice. I am thankful for hot water with ginger and lemon. I am thankful that Josephine is back to normal and the cat is keeping the house clear of mice. I am thankful for sunshine and blue skies.

I am thankful for you.