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Filtering by Tag: joy

CULTIVATION

Cindy Maddera

Years ago I wrote up a life list and one of the things on that list was to grow a vegetable garden. The first year I did this, I grew Christmas beans, tomatoes, spinach, basil, squash and cantaloupe. The spinach failed in the hot Oklahoma sun. The squash succumbed to squash beetles. We harvested enough Christmas beans for us to each have half a cup of cooked beans. Basil did well. Tomatoes did okay. The cantaloupe seeds that we planted came from the inside of a store bought cantaloupe Chris’s mom was eating. She spit out a seed and said “Can we plant these?” I shrugged and replied “I don’t see why not.” Those seeds produced two softball sized cantaloupe that were the sweetest cantaloupes I have ever tasted. It was like they were made of straight up sugar. That summer we cultivated more than a vegetable garden. We grew joy and surprises and sweetness. We grew wonder and amazement. Every thing that sprouted from the dirt was met with astonishment. “Oh my God! Look what we have grown!?!?!” We couldn’t believe it. We could not believe what we had done.

I gave up on the vegetable garden last year. Michael pulled up all of the boxes and a friend from work took them. He set them up in his backyard for his little girls to plant seeds in and I could not be more pleased with this. Our gardening days had run it’s course and no longer cultivated the wonderment and joy as it had in previous years. It is not actually environmentally friendly to grow a garden if you are not all that good at growing things. The money you spend on a not so fruitful vegetable garden in your backyard could be better spent supporting local farmers and so we turned our focus to other projects, other adventures. Occasionally I think about scattering lettuce and kale seeds all around the outside of the house so I don’t have to use the weed eater, but I am considering creating a couple of small potted gardens and building an outdoor space to gather with friends. I once read some great advice for creating an outdoor space on a budget. The designer said to just put down an outside area rug and arrange outdoor furniture on it. That’s simple enough.

Those are ideas for another time, when the weather is a bit more cooperative.

Right now, I am thinking of cultivating a new garden. This garden will not grow kale or squash or beans. Neither will it be an ornamental garden filled with hydrangeas and peonies. This new garden will not be delegated to six boxes out in the backyard either. It will be bigger than that. I want to cultivate a space that grows creativity and peace and contentment. I want to cultivate the joy, surprises and sweetness that first garden brought us but I want to do it without actually planting a seed into dirt. I think this is possible. I believe it is possible to recapture all of those things above but in a different way. There will be a section for photography, a section for words. There will be a corner devoted to my yoga practice and a corner within a corner devoted to meditation. I think I will add in a cooking section and a spot for just laying still with a puppy on my lap.

Wait. I think already have this garden. It just needs some weeding and a little bit of care.

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

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The weather has turned crisp with temperatures low enough that we had to turn on the furnace. My morning loops outside have left me with apple cheeks and a runny nose. It is the kind of weather I first experienced on a trip that I took to Seattle with Chris ages ago. I am reminded of that trip ever time Fall rolls around here. I remember that first morning in Seattle when Chris and I walked to the REI mother(ship) store. We hadn't packed coats, only light jackets and sweaters. My hands were so cold. By the the time we reached REI, the tips of my fingers were numb. It was too early for the store to be open, so we ducked inside a coffee shop just across the street. It was our first time in a coffee shop where each cup of coffee was made individually.  We'd never seen anything like it. Now these coffee shops are our norm, dotting every neighborhood and branching into the even fancier drip coffee. I bought thin cotton gloves at REI.

We experienced similar weather on our trip to Portland, more so on the day we drove to Newport Beach. This is when Chris noticed something. He discovered it only later, while he was reviewing pictures he'd taken during both trips. It was something about my face whenever I was near the ocean. The images he captured of me both in Seattle and in Newport all capture a face full of genuine pure joy. There's no hamming it up for the camera or silly faces, just me being truly happy. The day we were on the beach in Newport, it was windy and cold. My nose was runny and by all accounts I should have been miserable because I hate the cold. But in the picture Chris took, my head is thrown back in laughter, my hands are overflowing with shells and bits of wood. I could have spent forever there and there was a time when I dreamed that I would do just that. Even though I am quite happily content with my current place of residence in the middle of the country, I am thankful for that dream. I am thankful for those moments where I was the happiest I could be and how those moments of joy were independent of who I was with at the time. 

I'm not saying that dream of living on a coast is gone for good. Who knows what the future holds or where retirement will take me or us. Dreams change and shift. What I do know is that joy can be found easily in something as simple as a walk on a beach. 

THROW EVERYTHING IN THE BOX

Cindy Maddera

This was probably the fullest weekend that we have had in a really long time. The house filled up with friends and family starting on Friday and stayed that way for the whole weekend. There were plenty of hands to help me prepare for Michael's party and we got things done so efficiently that there was extra time for relaxing in the backyard. We had two evenings of sitting around the fire pit. All of the boys got added to our doorway where we mark the growth progress of the Cabbage and where we tend to also mark the height of guests. It is my favorite doorway of all the doorways. I got to spend some much missed hours with Amy's little one where she told me knock-knock joke after knock-knock joke and Boo Boo Butt was always at the door. I ate cake and relaxed in the hammock. 

I looked at my phone today and realized that I only took a handful of pictures over the weekend. Most of those pictures are of Amy's little monster who is the most hilarious child that never stops moving or talking. So you can guess that most of the images are blurry. I have a weekend photo folder of a handful of blurry images. And it is perfect. Those blurry images are a true representation of the weekend. Colors and sounds swirled together with the smell of a campfire. That's what this past weekend was and usually how weekends filled with friends and family tends to go. There are always the moments that you want to stretch and pull out like pink taffy. These are the kind of moments that can't be captured in a picture.

There's a handful of us who will bust out laughing any time someone in the group yells out "WHERE'S MY COOKIE?!". Terry learned more about the feral hogs of Oklahoma then he ever thought he'd probably ever learn. Our backyard looked the best it has ever looked, but not because of all of the yard work Michael and I did. Our backyard looked good filled with our people with the dog and a couple of little kids running around chasing bubbles. The backyard was down right perfect when the sun dropped down below the horizon with the fire in the fire pit roaring. We'd watch the bats circle above us while someone took a turn telling a story or joke. 

So...I don't have a whole lot of pictures from the weekend. I've taken those moments, the stories and words, and I've tucked them away in it's own special memory box.  

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

The other morning, I stepped outside to do my usual loop around the fountains before getting coffee. The air was crisp and cool and the wind stung my cheeks leaving them apple pink. Several memories flooded behind my eyes. I thought about that trip Chris and I took to Seattle and how on our first morning, we were so cold that we bought gloves at REI. It was the first time in a long time where we both had experienced an actual Fall. It was the first time in a long time where we were witnesses to the beautiful colors of the season. The crisp Fall air made us giddy and breathless and or eyes sparkled with joy. Just as quickly as that memory hit me, I was hit with memories of Ireland. The breeze felt like the wind that hit our faces as we rode in the jaunty cart, touring Killarney. Our guide had given us a wool blanket to place over our legs and Mom and I laughed and laughed as the horse picked up speed and the cart bounced along the trail. This memory is followed by one of Michael and I as we toured the winery in Herman. The cellars had been turned into a mushroom farm and then back into a winery. We wondered about turning our basement into a mushroom farm. 

As I am flooded with these memories and others I am acutely aware of the absolute perfection of those moments. In fact, this awareness hits me so hard in the chest that for a moment I cannot breathe. I have always felt that perfection was an unattainable thing and that our constant failures to be perfect are the reason why so many of us feel that we are not enough. I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for better or want things to be as close to perfect as we can get them. I'm just saying that it's okay to let the idea of perfection be whatever your best effort is. Those truly perfect moments in my memories all happened at times when I wasn't trying to control everything around me in order to create some perfect world. Those moments happened when I was just being present. I am so thankful for those times when I wasn't striving for perfection, stressing about whatever not being good enough,  because it gave me time to notice and be aware of those moments that are just naturally and organically perfect. Yes...I know I sound gushy and lululala. Overly joyful. Optimistic. All of those things. It's just sometimes it's nice to remind yourself how perfect this life has been and how there's many more moments of perfection ahead. It's nice to be thankful for this. 

So...what else? I didn't watch the debate Wednesday night. I decided to have sex instead, which I felt was a better use of my time. I also knew that I wouldn't gain anything from watching the debate. I am voting for Hillary. The debate doesn't change my views. I still feel that Trump is a misogynistic bully and it makes me really sad that so many people in the country think that this man "speaks their language". That just means that there are too many people in this country who are also misogynistic bullies. I'm thankful that I didn't subject myself to listening to any more of his hate filled hatefulness. Robin and her friend are visiting us this weekend and I can't wait to see her face and squeeze it! I'm thankful that they can come up and spend some time with us. I am thankful for roasted veggies and evening dog walks. I am thankful for a productive week at work and at home. 

I am thankful for you.

Hope you have a perfectly Thankful Friday! 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday, someone asked my what day it was and I energetically replied "Tuesday!" Apparently this week worked out so well for me that I was willing to extend it. That or maybe I did figure out how to make extra time, but I can't tell you the details because then I'd have to kill you. It's not like I hit the end of this week without thinking "oh Saturday, let's make out." It's just that I did a pretty good job of filling up this week with good things. There were two days of scooter rides, two evenings spent in the good company of my boys (one of them turned 40! this week), and there were five yoga mat encounters. I fed the chickens yesterday and found one egg. It was warm when I picked it up. The chickens have been on an egg laying vacation. I think this one egg is a sign of more eggs to come. 

This has been a good week even if I didn't get the house vacuumed before Mom shows up this evening. Sorry Mom. I got dirty floors and for the first time in probably forever, I really kind of don't care. This week has just been too full of dog walks, quite moments, love and laughter to worry about vacuuming. I am thankful for all of this. Last night Terry asked me to tell us all about one good thing that had happened to me that day. I sat there slightly stumped, not because I couldn't think of anything, but because I could think of many things. New projects. That granola bar I packed in my lunch that saved my bacon when my stomach started growling at ten. It stopped raining long enough to walk the dog. An evening spent in the best company. And quite simply, I am thankful for all of this. 

I realize that all of this sounds very Pollyanna. I can promise you that more often than not there are days and moments when I struggle to be thankful for even the simple things. I can also tell you that before I started making a point to notice the joyful moments, I didn't see joy even when it was smack dab in front of my face. I am truly thankful that I've learned to make a point to notice. I am thankful Mom can come up for a visit this week. I am thankful the sun has come out. I haven't heard from Tiffany or Tom today (they are getting hit with a hurricane), but I want to be really thankful that those guys are okay. I am thankful for favorite songs popping up in my playlist. I am thankful for you.

Happy weekend everyone and happy Thankful Friday!

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

A few weeks back, I ran across some words of wisdom from Tao Porchon-Lynch, the world's oldest living yoga teacher. Seriously. Go check out her pictures. I'll wait. Gah! Isn't she the cutest thing you've ever seen?!?! I just want to scoop her up and carry her around in my pocket. Please, can I be just like her when I'm 98? Any way...there was a small little article about her in Well and Good where she gave three tips for happiness. Now, I will admit that her advice is not something I haven't already heard before. Don't dwell on the bad things that might happen. Don't judge people. Begin each day with joy. These are all things we've learned before, most of them in kindergarten, but sometimes we need a little reminder. 

In my case, I needed the reminder to start my day with joy or at the very least, set the intention to make the day a joyful day. That's an easy habit to get out of because sometimes just reaching over to turn off the alarm is exhausting. Josephine's taken to curling up next to my head on the same side of the bed I crawl out of in the mornings. It is really remarkable how much that little dog can suddenly weigh or seal herself to the comforter. She knows instinctively that we both don't really want to go any where. This does not really set the intention for having a joyful day, more like setting the intention to take a nap later. This week, I've been making more of an effort. I roll over and turn off the alarm. Then I take a minute or two to snuggle the puppy before scooping her up and telling her that it is time to start our day. Her response is to jump off the bed and put her front paws up the wall by the door and stretching out long while tapping her paws on the wall. This is how we both start our day with a little bit of joy.

This week I am thankful for the reminder to not just find a little bit of joy during the day, but to start my day with it. I am thankful for the reminder to set the intention for happiness. It doesn't mean that things during the day don't irritate me or that the day even goes as I had planned. It matters that I started out with making the good intention. I am thankful for those short minutes of cuddle time with Josephine especially now that the weather has gotten colder. She's like a little furnace I can curl up around. I am thankful for moments of joy that arise from simply being mindful. The scooter rides this week have been brisk in the mornings, leaving my cheeks rosy, but I am grinning from ear to ear whenever I reach my destination. I am thankful for spritely 98 year old women who inspire me and give me hope that older doesn't mean decrepit. 

I am thankful for evening walks before the sun goes down. I am thankful for soup made with tomatoes I roasted from the garden. I am thankful for surprise artists that show up in my Pandora playlist like Joni Mitchell. I am thankful for you. Here's to a bright sparkly Fall weekend and super Thankful Friday!

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

We took the Cabbage to Worlds of Fun on Tuesday. I took the day off so we could go on a weekday in hopes of missing a big crowd. It rained until about eleven that morning which helped to thin out the crowds and keep the temperatures at a reasonable level. Since the Cabbage turned out to not be tall enough to ride some of the big roller coasters, I ended up having to ride those by myself. I guess the last really major roller coaster I rode was probably the Titan at Six Flags in Ft. Worth. At the time, the Titan was the tallest roller coaster in the US with a two hundred and fifty five foot drop. The ride up that first hill was slow and torturous and somewhere in the middle of that pull to the top, you seriously consider just getting out of the car. Just when you think you can't take another second, you're at the top and then plummeting down towards the earth and you're screaming your head off. Because it's so dang thrilling.

I had forgotten how much I loved every minute of the whole roller coaster experience. As soon as we walked into the park, I looked and Michael and asked if it would be OK if I ran over and jumped in line for the Patriot while the Cabbage rode the carousel. I knew that if I went first thing, the line would be minimal and I could catch up with them in Planet Snoopy where all the kid rides are. The Patriot is one of those coasters where the track runs over head so your feet just dangle over the ground. I sat in a row with a mother and her two daughters and the mom and I had a brief conversation before the ride started. I asked if she'd ridden this coaster before. She replied that she had and that it was her favorite coaster and then we were off zooming down hills and flipping through loops. The wind made my eyes water and tears leaked out the corners as I laughed and screamed. As the ride slowed down to end, someone near the back let out a loud "WOOP!" and then we all cheered. 

Riding some of those coasters with strangers made me realize something. Each time I shared a car or row of seats with these people I didn't know, we made a connection. We laughed and joked about who was going to throw up or that bolt up there looked secure. We screamed together through every dig and flip. We cheered together at the end of the ride because it had been such an enjoyable thrill. The roller coaster of life is a phrase we have all heard. Over the course of our life time we will experience great highs and great lows. We will encounter twists and turns and loops, but this doesn't happen to one person alone. Yes, you have your friends and family. That's a given, but that person sitting across from you on the buss or standing next to you at the cross walk is also on that great ride. I am thankful for this reminder and I am thankful for the kindness and generosity that can come from a complete stranger who also understands that we are all on the same roller coaster. 

I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant holiday weekend, full of fireworks. Here's to a super Thankful Friday.

LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

Two years ago yesterday, I sat outside Bella Napoli's waiting for Michael to show up for our first date. I was early. I am always early. Any way, I sat on a bench texting with Chad to kill the time when suddenly the very last thing I wanted to do in the whole world was meet this man for dinner. I sat there and thought "I could just leave. I could leave and he'd never know the difference." I sent a text to Chad that read "I think I've made a terrible mistake.", but Michael showed up before Chad could reply. Suddenly, there he was introducing himself and I had no other choice but to reach out and shake his hand in greeting. Yes. I shook his hand in that "hello pleased to meet you" kind of way. Then we had a nice dinner followed by a walk around the neighborhood. He kissed me with my scooter helmet half on my head before we parted ways. 

That was just two years ago. If I think about it too hard I fall into a time warp of how has it only been two years and it's only been two years. Then my brain explodes over how it's even possible that so much and so little has happened in my almost forty years of life. Just a few days ago a bubble of grief welled up inside me so fast, all I could do was just sit down and cry. Which I did. I'm getting baggies of ashes together for traveling. That's become the summer thing. Pack Chris up and leave him somewhere. Dingle Peninsula. Statue of Liberty. Mount Rushmore. This summer it will be the beach, some where in Chattanooga, and Portland. It's the Portland trip that conjures the most ghosts. And this explains the bubble. This was followed up with a grin over something Michael texted that day (he hates the word "texted"). My life has become a great big mish mesh  of deep grief and blinding joy. I am not complaining. Even though there are times when it all is a bit too sharp and bright. 

Monday night, Michael stood in the kitchen doorway as I washed dishes from dinner. He said he was going to the gas station and then asked if I needed ice cream. I thought about this for a minute and what ice cream choices I'd have from the gas station. "Maybe an ice cream sandwich or a Klondike Bar, because they're the same thing." There was a pause as Michael looked at me and then he said "Klondike Bars and Ice cream sandwiches are not the same thing." So then we debated the differences for five minutes where I was sure that a Klondike Bar was an ice cream sandwich and Michael was like "no way it is totally not an ice cream sandwich." Finally Michael said "I'm bringing you back a Klondike Bar." And you guys? It turns out I have never in my life eaten a Klondike Bar before now. My whole life I've been eating ice cream sandwiches thinking they were just like Klondike Bars. I thought Mom just got the box of generic ice cream sandwiches because it was cheaper than getting the name brand fancy Klondike Bars. No. It's because Dad liked ice cream sandwiches, not vanilla ice cream coated in delicious hard shell chocolate. 

Michael's the one who insists I get that T-shirt with R2D2 on the front and that sundress that reminds us both of the 4th of July. He is always amazed that I am so smart, yet I still buy chairs that are too big for the space intended and I cannot open a package of any sorts. He stops when I hesitate and waits until I'm ready whether it be for taking a picture or writing something down. I feel like he's been part of my life for more than two years and I don't mean that in a negative way. He's made it easy to lose track of the quantity of time and only notice the quality of time. 

And he knows the difference between an ice cream sandwich and a Klondike Bar.  Happy Love Thursday!

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

I feel like I'm rushing ahead this week. Like next week should be Thanksgiving. I even bought a bag of apples last Sunday in preparations for an apple pie on Thanksgiving. Now I realize that those apples may not survive another week. While I'm baking pumpkins for pie filling this weekend, I'll be peeling and slicing apples to store in the freezer until I'm ready to make Thanksgiving day pies. Wednesday felt like Thursday. Thursday felt like Friday. It seems that I want that snowball to roll down the mountain faster then it really wants to go. I'm not really sure where that comes from. I'm usually a "whoa Nelly!" type of person. 

I just sense great joy headed in this direction. I know that our house is soon to be filled with friends and family. I know that soon the kitchen will be filled with warmth and the smell of roasting goodness. Knowing that all of that is just around the corner, fills my heart with joy and the kind of excitement I used to have for Christmas mornings when I was little creeping down the stairs in my Christmas night gown. I am pleasantly surprised by this and thankful.

There is often a sense of dread that comes with the Holiday season. I'm not good around hustle and bustle. Large crowds make me twitchy and stabby. There is the added sadness of missing loved ones lost. The holidays are emotionally tough. I also feel an intense internal pressure to make every single human being happy, but particularly those I love. This internal pressure intensifies during the holidays and I always have this sense of panic that I'm not going to have enough time to spend with each person. And it's not you guys (I'm talking to friends and family). It's me. It's the pressure and stress I put on myself because I love you all so dang much. I am thankful for all of my friends and family. I am thankful that I have them to love so dang much. But more than anything, I am thankful that I don't have that sense of dread this holiday season. It's just not there. I am thankful that I am looking forward to this holiday.

This first snow of the season is happening on Saturday. I will always be a summer girl, but I'm working really hard at having a good attitude about the weather. I live in a part of the country that has actual seasons. It's November. Cold should be expected. I heard someone say that they had seen snow here on Halloween before. 'Tis the season. Let it snow. Thursday I made large crock-pot of jackfruit chili. I've purchased a deck of Old Maid and Go Fish and I'm considering buying a deck of Uno (because I can't find mine). There's plenty to do around the house if we don't feel like venturing out in the weather. Did I mention I have pie pumpkins that need baking? The house will be cozy this weekend for sure. I am thankful for it all. So here's to a weekend of warmth and card games. And a truly Thankful Friday.