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Filtering by Category: Thankful Friday

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I took up a 365 day photo project this year where I take a picture of myself everyday for 365 days. Many of you know I’ve done this before. I’ve completed two years. Almost completed another year. Skipped a year. Tried again for another year and failed. When I decided to do the project this year, I was thinking about how I felt after finishing the first year, how taking all of those pictures of myself made me actually like my face and body. By the end of it, I didn’t mind being in front of the camera. I thought about how I have lost that confidence. When I looked in the mirror now, my face looked bloated and saggy and sad. Forget looking at my whole reflection in a floor length mirror. So I’ve been slugging my way through this year’s 365 day project hoping to see something of me that made me feel less bloaty and saggy.

It took me two hundred and twelve days to get to a place where I thought “okay….okay. you’re not so bloaty and saggy.”

A few months ago, I travelled to Oklahoma to visit with friends. I stopped at the Oklahoma Welcome Center just outside of Kansas to take a bathroom break. When I stepped out of the stall, I came face to face with a woman wearing the exact same clothes as I was. Except she was thinner and pulling off the outfit way better than I. It took a second glance for me to realize that the woman I was looking at was actually me. There was a full length mirror right outside my bathroom stall. It was obviously a carnival mirror and two women walked in on me while I was taking a picture. Later that weekend when I was at the Jens’, I was getting ready in their bathroom and noticed that my reflection in their mirror was also very flattering. Again, I chalked this up to some weird quirk of Oklahoma. Like maybe all the mirrors in Oklahoma are carnival mirrors. Even when my doctor told me at my recent check-up that I had lost ten pounds since the last time I was in, I was not all that impressed. Maybe a little surprised. I’d stopped stepping onto the scale ages ago. It just never seemed to change and I stopped caring. I stopped trying to like myself.

Maybe it has something to do with getting rid of so much stuff, but I finally feel the loss of those ten pounds. I don’t only feel it, but I can see it. I see it in the mirror. I can see it when I look down at my body, when I’m moving through my vinyasa. I can see it in the pictures I take.

Finding lost confidence. That’s something to be grateful for.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Monday evening, while washing dishes, I noticed the water was not getting hot. Michael went to the basement to investigate and discovered that we had water in our basement. The drain had gotten clogged enough that water pooled causing the pilot light to go out on the hot water tank. It also fried the washer and dryer. That night I dreamed that I was trapped in a cabin with an enraged bear. The bear spoke english, but he was so blinded by rage that I couldn’t reason with him as I scrambled from hiding place to hiding place. He was angrily smashing furniture and ripping cloth with his large razor sharp claws, saliva dripping from his canines. I kept trying to calm the bear down and explain to him that I was one of the good guys and I just wanted to help him get out. He smashed the wood table I was hiding under and I woke up.

I don’t know if the bear represented Michael or the basement or a combination of both.

I am trying to negotiate with the insurance company on getting someone to help with the clean up process and with replacing the washer and dryer. Fans are blowing and the dehumidifier is humming in order to dry things out. The plumber showed up between two and six on Thursday to snake the drain. There is nothing for us to do right now but wait and make tentative plans on how we are going to tackle all of this mess. To add to our anxiety, the cat has been missing since Monday. The mood around here is at a serious low. I keep telling myself that it could be worse. We could have sewage backing up into the basement. Then I remind myself that even if we did, that wouldn’t be as bad as the first time I had sewage backing up into the basement, back when I was desperately trying to keep someone alive while trying to clean up raw sewage. You know that time when I was juggling Faberge eggs and I dropped all of them and they shattered into a million pieces? I suppose I am grateful that this time is not like that one time.

When I am not fighting off bears or wondering where the cat might be, I am thinking about the concept of not doing enough. Dr. Mary told me a story about one of her friends that she visits. The woman is 94 years old and she plays bridge every Monday with the same group of woman that she’s been playing bridge with for 60 years. Recently, this woman’s bridge partner passed away. Her name was Anne. Anne played bridge on Monday, caught a cold on Wednesday and then passed on from this world on Sunday. She was 92. Dr. Mary’s friend was devastated and said “I feel that I could have done something more for Anne.” I received many comments on Monday’s blog entry that expressed similar feelings in regards to a lost loved one. Wanting to do more for the ones we love is universal and often spills over to people we don’t even know. I’m thinking of that scene in Schindler’s list when Oskar Schindler breaks down and says “I could have saved more. I could have saved more.”

The knowledge that there are so many of us out there willing to do more for not only our loved ones, but for complete strangers, gives me hope. The trick is finding a balance between wanting to do more, doing what we can and accepting that we have done what we could. That acceptance part is probably the most challenging. It’s the tight rope of my Faberge egg juggling act.

UPDATE: The cat is home! He’s alive! With no visible injuries! Cleaners came and cleaned the basement. Everything that was in the basement is now in the living room/dining room and garage. Am I freaking out? You betcha ya!

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Last Friday, I took my wheezy self on a walk up to the Nelson. Along the way, I found a five dollar bill on the sidewalk! Then, when I reached the front of the Nelson, there was an antique car parked there. There were two people in the process of cleaning the car because they had photography plans of their own. I managed to capture a shot of the car in front of the Nelson with the owner’s out of sight. After I made my way around the Nelson and back into Theis Park, I witnessed a man carefully taking a vase filled with plastic roses out of a suitcase. Then he blew up a balloon. He placed one end of the bubble wand between his teeth and then set the balloon onto the bubble maker part of the wand. Then he placed the vase of plastic roses on top of the balloon. I snuck a picture of the man balancing all of these items. I heard the balloon pop as I walked away.

I woke up the next morning to the first day of Fall, which appeared to happen by just turning the dial directly to Fall. The temperature outside was crisp and cool. The heat and humidity of Summer completely erased. We ran our errands and then I handed a paper grocery bag to Michael only to watch it split open and dump it’s contents at the end of the drive. I stood there and watched as two bottles of kombucha spilled out onto the drive. The Cabbage asked “what is that?” “Expensive.” Michael replied in a tone that suggested he had given up on life. The beet flavored one is my favorite. Watching that one stain the driveway purply red made me want to cry. Later that evening, I swallowed a fish bone or at least I believed I swallowed a fish bone. I spent the rest of the night covertly asking google what to do if you swallow a fish bone and trying not to panic my way into the emergency room.

The kombucha was replaced and I no longer feel like there is a fish bone stuck in my throat. My doctor gave me a clean bill of health yesterday. I am ten pounds lighter then I was this time last year and a friend sent me a text offering up her spare ticket to see Andrew Bird with the Kansas City Symphony. Life is an all terrain bicycle ride. Some days you get to coast down the hill all day long and along the way you get to take in all the interesting stuff happening around you. Some days you’re just doing your best to peddle up the damn hill. I know that it is completely Pollyanna of me to say this, but I am grateful for the times I have to peddle up those hills. Even if I am cursing. Even if my thighs have burned up in flames. Even if I am moving so slowely up that hill, turtles pass me. Actually, you know what? The steeper the incline, the better. That just makes the downhill parts all the more sweet.

Now granted, busted kombucha bottles and swallowed fishbones are not very challenging moments in the grand scheme of things. It’s those really challenging moments that make me stronger so that these little things are nothing. In fact, I welcome those little challenges over the big ones any day. Any challenge gives me strength and opens me up to seeing things like a random guy balancing crap on a bubble wand held between his teeth.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Last week, Michael came home with latest cold virus. His foot has been hurting since school started and then he put his back out in his overzealous power washing day. He get’s up gimpy and cranky and snorty every morning, though he’s mostly over the cold. He gave it to me! I zombied out on the couch for two days with it before I finally started to feel like a somewhat, albeit over mucous producing, human being. So here we are at the end of the week. Michael’s gone to the doctor about his foot where he found out that he has a broken toe and plantar fasciitis. At least I’ve stopped having those coughing fits that make your eyes tear up and my ears have stopped crackling every time I swallow.

It has been a week of ill health with weeks of recovery needed ahead for some us.

I am surprised that I only feel the tiniest bit of guilt for taking two days off to recover. Mostly that’s because I know my boss would have sent me home anyway. The not feeling guilty part is a big deal for me since I used to feel guilty for even thinking about staying home when I didn’t feel well. Yet, I’m still impatient to get back to my normal routine. I am containing myself to doing only the things that are necessary while my brain is chattering on about the number of times I missed the gym this week when I have a blood draw on Monday for my annual checkup on Wednesday. I will eat lots of salads this weekend and drink a gallon of water on Sunday. Just like I find myself doing at the end of every week, I vow that next week will be different. Next week I will make it the gym every day and I will be present on my mat for an hour every day. Next week, I will take fifteen minutes to sit in meditation. Next week I will write more words. I will take more pictures. I will organize those pictures. Next week I will go above and beyond the bare minimum of accomplishment.

This is all nonsense. I will get back to my normal routine, but I doubt I will do much more. And I am okay with that. The only person holding myself accountable is me. One week away from the gym is not going to end in bad results in my blood work. One week of rest (I started to say ‘laziness’) on the couch will not result in a downward spiral of bad things. It is a choice to go above and beyond the bare minimum and there is nothing wrong with choosing to do less. I am thankful that each morning I can make the choice to be the best version of myself that I can be in this moment. That “in this moment” part is the most important part.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I left work on my scooter Tuesday and headed to Dr. Mary's for our usual Tuesday evening session and ended up driving right into a storm. To the east, the sky was blue and bright, but to the west it was all menacing rumbling clouds. And I headed right into it. I watched lightening flash and I could hear the thunder but it was still far enough west that I made it to Dr. Mary's before the rain hit. I had to take my helmet in with me because there wasn't room for it the seat and I knew it was going to pour any minute. In the time it took me to get through the office building and into Dr. Mary's office, the sky had turned black. Dr. Mary smiled when she saw me and then frowned when she saw my helmet. "Oh, Cindy." I just nodded and replied "yup." Then I waved it all off. I told her that this would totally blow over and be gone by the end of our session.

The storm blew in hard. We looked out the window at the rain coming down sideways and lightening striking here and there. Then we settled in for our session. We talked...or at least I talked for forty five minutes and as our time was coming to an end, Dr Mary looked up and out the window. "Look! It has blown over!" It was still gray and the streets were soaked, but the storm had passed. It was no longer raining. She still made me promise to call her when I got home so she knew I was safe. I made it home mostly dry, without incident. When I got home, Michael just shook his head. He doesn't know how I manage to ride between rain drops or narrowly manage to avoid disaster. That storm took down trees and power all over the city. Debris still littered the streets the next day as I rode to work. 

I scrolled deep into Chris's Facebook page this week. While I should have been reading papers on ZIKA and embryonic development, I was waisting time skimming through all of his stuff. I wanted to go way back to before our move, before he got sick. I wanted Chris. I wanted to poke my skin with needles and feel the satisfaction of watching the little drops of blood rise up. I scrolled down and down, skimming the page and laughing out loud at more then half of the stuff I ended up reading. Good God, he was funny. And smart. His wit was so sharp at times. I made it all the way back to December 2010 and that's when I saw it. 

 "Ugh. Need a CAT scan next week to check for stones. I hope they use that Keyboard Cat because he's awesome!"

That slip of paper I had found in Chris's office after he died, the one requesting a CAT scan, now has an answer. It was a CAT scan for possible kidney stones and they ended up cancelling it because he passed the stone. He didn't know about the tumor on his liver. My whole body buckled with relief before my brain had time to kick in with the what ifs of him having had that CAT scan then.

I ride into storms. The whole time I'm thinking that it won't hit before I reach my destination or I'll out run it. What's a little lightening and thunder? A bit of electricity and the sound of expanding, rapidly heated air? It's nothing. I am reminded of a song by Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down, Swimming pools.

"We, we brave beestings and all. We don't dive, we cannonball. We splash our eyes full of chemicals. Just so there's none left for little girls."

When given the opportunity, I tend to always cannonball. I know to calm myself and move gently around a bee, but I still ride right into thunder storms. I don't do it because I'm brave or fearless or reckless. Okay...maybe I am little bit reckless. Mostly, though, I ride into storms because I know they're going to blow over. 

I am thankful for the moments of peace and calm between those storms. 

 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

This month Tao Porchon Lynch turns 100 years old. Or maybe I should say 100 years young. At age 100 she is still active, teaching yoga daily, practicing ballroom dancing and driving herself around in a little smart car. She is a spry little old lady. I look at pictures of her and she's always smiling a big bright genuine smile. As I was tooling around the internet doing research for this piece, I came across an interview with photographer Paul Mobley about his book If I Live to Be 100. That photo project was formed by accident. Mobley was traveling the country photographing homesteads for his American Farmers book. So many of those farmers turned out to be 100 or even older. By the end of it all, he had taken over 30,000 pictures and he was surprised by how many of those pictures where portraits of centenarians. This inspired him to take pictures of centenarians across all fifty states. Mobley would engage each photographic subject in conversation at the beginning to each session. Every single person had stories to tell. They all had advice for living a long life, but the advice that really stuck with Mobley was "Just live your life. Be happy."

That advice sounds like it could have easily fallen out of Tao's mouth. 

I hear this perfectly reasonable advice and ask myself "is it really that simple?" or am I getting caught up in the planning and preparation of things to just live my life? Am I happy? That might be the toughest question to ask myself and expect to get an honest answer, but that's why I have a therapist. Then I think about the centenarian who may have said those words. These are people who were full on adults with grown children when the internet became a household thing. This doesn't mean that their lives were simpler by any means but there definitely was a living of life without the comparisons to the perfect moments we see captured in Instagram feeds and pinned to Pinterest. The thing that I am reminded of by this simple piece of advice is that just living your life encompasses all of it. Just living your life is more than jumping out of airplanes and chasing rainbows. It is the day to day tasks of getting up and going to work. It's the dirty dishes in the sink, the clothes in the laundry hamper, the gutters clogged with tree debris. Just living your life includes far more not so perfect moments.  

Those not so perfect moments are what makes the moments when we can chase those rainbows so spectacularly perfect. 

I am thankful for the wisdom that comes with age. I am thankful for those imperfect moments. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

There were a couple of minutes left before my class started Wednesday evening. My students were sitting on their mats in various states of chatting with neighbors and stretching. I was looking around the room, accessing my students, the class plan I had made for us that evening and making sure everyone had the props they would need for that class. Then I turned and glanced out the window to see the most perfect rainbow arching all the way across the sky. Each color in the spectral range between 700nm and 400nm was bright and distinct. Notice how I just reverted to science nerd speak, but that was where my mind went when I saw this rainbow. I immediately broke the colors down into their respective wavelengths. I instinctively reached for my camera, that was not with me. 

I don't take my phone or my camera into my yoga classes. I leave those things in my scooter trunk or the glovebox in my car for obvious reasons.

I was reminded of a scene from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Walter Mitty travels the planet in search of Sean O'Connell, a photographer he works with in order to retrieve a roll of special film or something. He's looking for the answer to a question and Sean O'Connell is thought to have that answer. So Walter heads out on a search that has him traveling the globe. When he finally catches up to the famous photographer, they are in the snowy mountain ranges in Tibet. Sean O'Connell has been camped out in front of his camera there for days trying to capture images of the illusive snow lion. Walter sits with Sean, shivering in the cold, when suddenly a snow lion appears. Sean moves to take the picture, but he pauses. Walter asks him when is he going to take the picture and Sean responds "Sometimes I don't. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it." 

"I don't like to have the distraction of the camera."

This scene remains one of my favorite and (to me) most beautiful lessons on being present. The distraction of the camera is the very reason why I leave them behind when I go in to teach my yoga class. My main focus and concern is for my students. When that rainbow showed up just before I started class, we all experienced the joy of seeing the beauty of that moment together. We marveled at the brightness of the colors and the clear separation of those colors and then I started class. That rainbow was with us all throughout our practice and when I walked out to my car there was still a section of faded colors streaking across the sky. And that is the rainbow I captured on my phone.

I am thankful for reminders to just be in a moment. 

I am thankful for rainbows. 

 

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.