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Kansas City MO 64131

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Filtering by Tag: happy

GOOD RELATIONSHIPS

Cindy Maddera

Nine hundred and ninety eight miles. That’s the number of miles to get from Kansas City, MO to Oklahoma City, OK and then to Weatherford, OK and then to Duncan, OK and then to Norman, OK and then back to Kansas City, MO. And it was miles worth traveled. So much of my drive took me down two-lane highways with little signs of civilization for miles and miles. There was very little traffic and often, it seemed like it was just me, the prairie and the cows. If I felt like pulling off the road to take a picture, I just did it. I didn’t let myself worry about the delay it might cause and since I was all alone, I didn’t think about inconveniencing the driver with my request to stop. When I wasn’t stopping to take pictures of the vast landscape of nothing, I was building stories in my head. At one point I even thought up my own stand-up comedy act.

I met Stephanie for breakfast one morning and got all caught up on her life. I got to squeeze Robin’s new grand baby. I soaked in a hot tub. I ate hipster street tacos with Traci, Chris and Quinn (who is more obnoxious now than ever) and we laughed and laughed. I attended a college graduation at a small rural Oklahoma College where I listened to a speech that both surprised me and gave me hope. The young man spoke about his white male privilege and how he intends to use that privilege for social justice. He told his fellow graduates that it was not enough to have conversations on race, but to be active in the fight against racism. No one booed him off the stage, but applauded and cheered and I thought “maybe we’re going to be okay.” Maybe. I sat on the couch in Amy’s library office while she spilled her guts on the last few months of her crazy busy stressful life. I drank too much wine while sitting on Misti’s porch talking about ways to help college graduates prepare for all the possibilities available to them after undergrad. I told Mark something that I have not told anyone. He’s the only person right now who can hold me accountable.

As I made the long drive home on Sunday, I caught the tale end of the TED Radio Hour on NPR. Dr. Robert Waldinger was talking about what makes a meaningful life. Dr. Waldinger is the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. His team and his predecessors have been tracking the health and lives of 724 men for 75 years. Actually the study has now moved on to the children of these men. It is the longest running study of its kind. One thing that has been made very clear from this study is the answer to the question of what makes a meaningful life and the answer is simple: “good relationships keep us happy and healthy.” Those relationships are not confined to marital relationships. Just having people in your life who you could count on in times of need, laugh with, cry with, is enough. These relationships keep us happy and healthy. It’s been proven by science that we need each other.

Yet, relationships for me can be difficult. I have always spent so much time alone, as a child, as a teen, in my adult life. I have to push myself to be in the presence of people, but I have never once regretted that push. Mostly because I feel like I’ve nurtured the best relationships with the best people. I am happier and healthier today for the weekend spent listening and laughing and commiserating and just being present in the company of all of them. Maybe Michael’s right about me and his prediction that I’m going to live to well past 100. Those good relationships will hopefully out weigh the bad genes and I’ll be the 90something old lady, doing yoga and zipping around town on a Vespa.

THE FARM LIFE

Cindy Maddera

Michael's been reading a book about food and how he should eat this instead of that. A lot of the information he's getting is about the dangers of processed foods and industry farming. He tells me things and I just kind of nod my head. He's learning about all the things Chris and I learned about food years ago when we watched all of the documentaries and read all of the books. We fell down a rabbit hole of organic, responsibly sustainable food and how to get them on our tight, almost nothing food budget. Those were the days when Saturdays were devoted to grocery shopping and it took us all day to do it because we had to travel to at least three, sometimes four, different places spread out across the OKC metro to get all of our groceries for the week. The breaking point came when Chris and I went on a road trip and stopped at a convenient store for a snack. I walked out in tears because I couldn't find anything to eat. That's when Chris realized I might have gotten a little out of control and that we needed to find a better balance. 

And we did. I did. 

So, I'm listening to Michael tell me why we should only eat grass fed beef and how sugar is the enemy as if it's all new information and I am clueless about all of it because we all need to discover things on our time, in our own way. I know the rabbit hole he's about to fall down. I told him about how I'd been using "Do what you can with what you have, where you are." as a meditation mantra and how it is not a bad mantra to apply towards food. He agreed. We still ended up visiting a farm Saturday morning to look into buying some pork chops. Bonnie View Farm is seriously eight miles from our house, which sounds surprising because we are in such an urban city area. Just a few minutes south and suddenly you're in rolling hills and pasture. Bonnie View looks like any other midwest farm house, painted a buttercream yellow with a wrap around porch. The farm itself is tucked down the hill behind the house. You wouldn't even suspect that there was a working farm there if they didn't have a sign posted out front. 

We got out of the car and stepped into the cold, just as Justine, one of the owners, stepped out of the small barn that acts as their store and houses their giant freezer. She greeted us warmly and beckoned us all to come inside where it was a little bit warmer. Two of her older children where in the process of moving chickens from the coops to the pasture. She said that the chicks should have been moved out there weeks ago, but with weather being so cold they had had to leave them in the coops to keep them warm. Then she got down to business and talked pork and bacon with Michael. She said that she does have some greens that she grows in her hoop house and she'd have them on her list whenever they are available. We talked about vegetable gardens. She agreed with me about the work. Her two oldest daughters where the gardeners of the family and when they got married and moved out, Justine let the garden go. We chatted about seeds and piglets and then I asked if I could take pictures. Justine said "let me go get one of the girls to take you down to the barn." Her daughter Emma came out and took us down to the barn to see the baby goats and a calf.

They were all so nice. 

And relaxed. 

Even when we noticed that one of the chickens had escaped. Justine and Emma slowely circled around the chicken, which led to a chase into some fencing before Justine calmly scooped up the bird. They all shrugged their shoulders as if to say "this is life on a farm." For just a tiny half minute, I thought I could get used to life on a farm. Then it snowed on Sunday and I started looking at retirement villages in Mexico. The thought quickly shifted to 'I could get used to visiting this farm'. Hopefully, the next time we do visit, we will be able to go on our scooters.

IF WORDS WERE ARROWS

Cindy Maddera

I started it. I pushed and needled. I can never tell if he's just in a mood or he's in a mood because of something I did or said. My tendency to be bluntly honest doesn't work in this relationship and I do a lot of back peddling of "I don't mean to...." and "it wasn't my intention to.." It just means that I don't say a whole lot any more. Better to say nothing at all. As a result annoyances and frustrations go unsaid and they sit and fester. He is the opposite. He says so much that he can't even remember what he's said. He is not careful with his words, at least...not the way I am. Then he said it. "I am never going to make you as happy as Chris made you." He didn't say it in spite or malice. He just told the truth and the truth of those words hit me like a million arrows, piercing every inch of my skin. 

It was like losing Chris all over again and I crumpled. It's not that I had been lying to myself all this time, but... 'never' is such a finite word. I will admit to missing a relationship that I had, wishing at times that this one could be more like that one. I missed the confidence I had in myself. I was more relaxed then, less afraid of stepping on toes. Less worried about keeping Chris entertained, interested, and happy. There was an equality to our support of each other's endeavors. There was an ease to that relationship that I don't think Chris and I truly understood. Other couples would look at us and ask if marriage ever got any easier. Chis and I would look at them like they were crazy. It had never been hard for us. We didn't have to work on our relationship the way other couples tend to. I just expected that was how all relationships were supposed to be and at times I get frustrated and annoyed that I have to work at this one. So yeah, I miss the relationship I had. But that wasn't the worst part about the truth of his statement. The worst was the shame I felt for dragging him into this and how unfair it is for him. Why would he even want to be here if he knows he's never going to make me as happy? What a totally crappy position to be in, knowing that, believing that. I hope it's two sided, that we were both happier with other people and we are now forced to make do. Though, there's something sad about making do with being just happy enough and something selfish about asking for more. 

I remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, this relationship is still new. We're still learning how to navigate. In this case, the path isn't as clear and smooth as normal. There are more rocks, boulders even. We still have the usual growing pains of a new relationship. We are still learning how to share the same space even though we've been working on it for four years. I don't think we're slow learners as much as we are both stubborn and set in a particular way. I've started not trying so hard to make this relationship resemble the one I had. I'm working on being less careful with my words and falling back into my old skin. For someone who doesn't really care what the general public thinks of her, I see the irony in caring too much about what he thinks of me and it's time to put a stop to it. It's time for me to relax into this relationship and stop tiptoeing around. Easier said then done, I know, but just because I miss something I had once doesn't mean I can't be happy in what I have now. 

I've got a list of things forming in my head for the new year. I feel the crunch and rush of the shift from this year to the next more keenly this year then in previous years. Maybe it's because I feel like I haven't been my best self this year, particularly the last few months. If I had to sum up this year in one word that word would be 'struggle'. It's been a struggle for me to look around with a mindful eye, which is something I had always thought just came easily to me. I don't know why this year has been one of such internal fights for me. I would like an extra month between November and December just to get myself organized for the next year. Myself. Not the house or our schedules or the finances. We've actually been working on the finances together once a week, which has made a world of difference. I want that extra month to get ME organized, scrubbing my skin with salt and clearing away the negative goop that has started building up in my joints. 

I want to be more settled and care less in the next year. I want to be selfish and take more rather than just make do. 

THE LIES I TELL MYSELF

Cindy Maddera

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that last year with Chris. At times the memories of it comes to me in a rush, a big swirl of moving stress and clap happy happiness. There were times I was so happy it physically hurt. We were so happy. This is what I tell myself. I say that we were stupid happy, the happiest we'd been in ages. And for a while now, I believed this. I believed that Chris was just as happy as I was. I believed we were happy. Lately though, as I look back on fading memories, I think that maybe that wasn't true. I don't think Chris was stupid happy with that last year. 

How awful and hard typing that sentence is, but there you have it. Oh, I'm sure he was happy enough, at least up until maybe October. He was happy that I was happy. He was the type of person that received more joy from participating in acts that provided happiness and joy and seeing the resulting smiles than the other way around. Making Chris laugh, really really laugh more than a chuckle, was not easy but when you did, it was the best magic. Chris felt joy in seeing my elation with the new changes in our life, but mostly I feel like he was just humoring me. He was just going along with my choices. We stayed in Oklahoma as long as we did because of my job. We left Oklahoma because of my job. Our decisions seem more like my decisions. I see it more clearly now.

I can imagine his days here beginning to wear on him, the loneliness in his days at home with out a job while I left the house every day to go to a job I enjoyed. It was probably worse late at night when he'd normally be meeting Tracy for coffee and now was left with his own devices. I took him away from his framily. For a while, I was enough but I could see as the year progressed that he needed more. That on top of the beginning of the symptoms that would kill him was a sadness of isolation. If I think really hard about that time, I see it. I see the consequences of my selfishness or my self centeredness and I hate myself for it. I used to be all "no regrets!" but now I see I have one really big regret and it is way too late to say "I'm sorry. No excuses. I am sorry." 

I so desperately wanted to ignore the small details. Except now, I have had enough time to dwell on the big things that all that is left are the small details. It is like I've spent the last five years taking a shirt apart seam by seam. I've made it to the pockets, buttons and cuffs. At some point I am either going to have to send the pieces of this shirt to recycling or put it back together. I am bound to put it back together with crooked seams and with the right sleeve on the left. When I am done getting it all back together, I'll look at it, with crooked seams and all, and declare it to be beautiful. 

Even if it is a lie.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

Last year year, Michael drove me through a neighborhood that he swore put up a huge Christmas light display. He said that every house on the street would be covered with lights. There were no lights. He drove up and down the streets through the Brookside area thinking maybe they were just a street over. They were not. Finally he had to admit defeat. That neighborhood he remembered didn't exist anymore. Something similar happened that same Fall when he tried to take me to park that was supposed to have had the most amazing over look. We walked all over that park. There was no overlook. 

Friday night, we went to Michael's Christmas party. I find parties where I have to be social and make conversation to be exhausting particularly at the end of a long work day. But I went. I plastered a smile on my face and I made conversation and I made sure the Cabbage didn't stick her fingers into all the slices of cake on the dessert tray. I was relieved when were all finally in the car, heading home even if a headache had started to pulse on the right side of my temple. We passed the Plaza Lights and both the Cabbage and I oohed at all the lights. A few blocks later, Michael turned right when he should have turned left. I gave him a sly look and asked "Are you trying to be romantic right now and drive us through Christmas lights?" He replied "I will always drive you through Christmas light displays even if they are in a different neighborhood than I originally thought as well as parks with Fall leaves that don't exist any more." 

Michael never really paid much attention to the Fall leaves or the Christmas lights before. Now he goes out of his way to find these things for me. He knows that the colorful leaves make me point and shout. He knows that the Christmas lights make me clasp my hands together and grin from ear to ear. He has no interest in holiday activities, but he will drag all the Christmas boxes up from the basement for me and he will take them all back down. He will do this all again when it's time to take Christmas down. Michael even made a note that we need to make room on the ribbon board for all the Christmas cards that he expects we'll get this year. His willingness to please me and make me happy still confounds me.  I mean basically he's saying he'll drive to the ends of the earth for me. It's not that I don't think I'm deserving. It's just that I'm surprised that every time I start a sentence with "Do you think we could....?", he always answers with "Of course we can." 

It just still surprises me. That's all. Happy Love Thursday!

 

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

That crumbling photo album I pulled from the attic was actually my Mom's high school scrapbook. The book itself was unsalvageable, but we were able to pull all of the photos free. the photos were mostly pictures of Mom, Dad, Uncle Russel and their cousin Helen. It showed them goofing around the giant monuments of the Civil War cemetery in Vicksburg. All the boys were wearing those white t-shirts with jeans, so James Dean cool. The girls wearing their pleated skirts and flats. Mom said they would all load up in a car and drive off to all kinds of places and spend the day. These pictures where the proof of those carefree days.

I snagged that picture of my mom and tucked it into the few bits of odds and ends I took home with me. It has become my favorite picture of Mom. I look at it and almost don't even recognize her, though I've seen pictures of her during this time period before. For some reason, the woman in this particular photo is foreign to me. She's wearing a smile I've never seen. She's flirty and has a sense of humor. It is a picture taken before marriage, Michigan, kids and loss. It is a picture that was taken before all of life's disappointments and bitterness has had a chance to settle on her. 

I look at this picture and I think "Mom was happy" and I wonder when exactly did it all change because I don't really remember a time she was just happy, unconditionally happy. There has always been a "but" or "except for" tagged to the end of joyful moments. Looking at this picture makes me wonder, even want to believe that wasn't always the case. And I want to know that girl. I want to believe she still exists. She doesn't tell many stories about the good times. This picture is a relief to me. It proves that there were good times. I love that there was a time when she could smile with ease and be flirty and funny.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY TUESDAYS

Cindy Maddera

    Corncakes (cornbread mix cooked like a pancake) Homemade Indian food This TED by Ze Frank. Seriously, if the OK song doesn't make you cry, you're heartless. Weeks the fly by with ease Seeing new smiling faces in my yoga classes That little kid in his traditional Indian garb and his glasses Finally going to the Greek Festival Fresh cotton candy hot off the spinner My new socks Talking with Quinn before the start of the parade Ghoul's Gone Wild Parade! Wayne Coyne Whores and Smores The laughing done around a campfire with good people Those GIANT marshmallows Ingrid's potatoes Planning our staycation next week

    Figured that there was no explanation necessary. Be sure to watch that TED talk; you won't regret it.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY TUESDAYS

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday, I walked into the lab and was instantly encased in dark funky cloud of negativity. I was having a really hard time and I wasn't very forgiving towards anyone who would dare cross me yesterday. It wasn't pretty. As I was waiting for my students in my Monday night yoga class to finish their savasana, I started working on the Happy List for the last week. Something really odd happened while I sat there trying to remember things to put on the list. My mood began to lift. The day started to not seem so bad and suddenly, I wasn't as tired.

    Not having to worry about making dinner Seeing how yoga brings out Chris's inner slapstick comedian The little kids that came to my yoga class Buying a gift for a two-year-old online, having it wrapped and shipped directly to the kid. My students' in savasana My iPad (yeah...you heard me) Liam's dinosaur roar All the veggies we purchase for the week from the Farmer's Market (good haul) The pumpkin I'm going to carve That one tree at the Capitol that has turned completely turned orange No Monday lab meeting (got postponed to Tuesday) The promise of rain

    I hope this helps your mood lift as well. Happy Tuesday!

THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY TUESDAY

Cindy Maddera

I'm busy at work. Like really busy. But obviously not too busy to post the list.

    Satish's little prank on John Getting my work done early on a Friday Riding the scooter Hearing Metric on the radio This weather Fall Harvest at the Farmer's Market Getting time with my sister Crackies for lab meeting Making a pumpkin pie from scratch (pumpkin and everything) Black-eyed peas, okra and tomatoes with cornbread Finding beans on my bean plants Early morning fog The ideas Chris and I come up with for food to sell out of a food cart.

THANKFUL FRIDAYS

Cindy Maddera

Last week I parked my scooter and even considered covering it up for the winter. It has just been too cold in the mornings for me to ride. But today, they are expecting above normal temperatures and I am riding my scooter to work. Perfect end to a not so perfect week. Riding in to work hasn't been too bad though. It's given Chris the gumption to get up and back to the gym and join my Thursday night yoga class. This is something that not only am I thankful for, but makes me happy. I have lots of plans for the weekend that I probably should share with Chris, but haven't. I want to go to the Farmer's Market, work in the garden, and make cheese, this on top of all the usual chores of laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning house. My biggest plan though is to take a nap at least once a day over the weekend.

Of course I am always thankful for the usual. I am thankful for you. Have a wonderful weekend!