(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Mention you go to yoga and many people will say, “I can’t do yoga. I don’t bend well.” Me neither—that’s exactly why I started doing yoga. I’m coming up on ten years of practicing yoga and I’m still not that “bendy” person people believe every yogi is. But that’s OK because becoming “bendy” is really not what doing yoga is about.

Well, then what is it about?

My yoga guru/instructor, Dr. Dennie Dorall, is always reminding us that the purpose of doing yoga is to experience joy.

In yoga class we work on joy, pose by pose, breath by breath. So often that whole notion seems counter-intuitive, especially when not all yoga poses feel joyful and certainly some breaths seem to keep us focused on pain for far too long. In many ways the joy received from yoga is something you can only develop with conditioning: the conditioning of your body, mind, and spirit over time to better receive that joy.

But joy is not a cheap emotion—so often it must be earned by going through sorrow or pain. That’s the sort of resilience that practicing yoga helps build. Breathing into and holding onto a difficult pose when your mind is saying you can’t teaches you that you are possibly capable of so much more than you imagined. At the same time, your emphasis on your body in that challenging moment teaches your mind to tune out the extraneous noise or that which has nothing to do with the present and join to struggle and rest with that body.

By learning to fully be in moments you would not choose for yourself, you gain strength to get through so much of what life throws at you. You celebrate when you discover you can do what you formerly could not—and you keep believing that someday you will be able to do that which today you cannot do. Nonetheless, whether or not you ultimately can or cannot do something, you learn to be fully present in the attempt.

As much as yoga has taught me to how to be more present in the present, it has also taught me not to hold on to the past so much that I miss the new “present” offered to me. For me, being more open to receiving joy has taught me to put aside a focus on regrets on certain losses outside my control.

In this past Wednesday’s yoga class, Dr. Dennie asked us for a word for that day and then challenged us—each in his or her way—to share that word with others. My assignment? To tell you all about joy.

That day I could have felt frustrated or even a little angry about the time lost to my recent illness, but instead I woke up happy that I got to do all the ordinary activities I had to miss last week—and that I wasn’t too tired to enjoy them either.

On an unseasonably warm December day, complete with blue skies and snow-capped mountain views, I could hardly wait to get out for a post-yoga run. I knew it really didn’t matter that I was going to have to take it easy after my hiatus—but I got to go—I just had to tell my number-cruncher side to take a hike and let me enjoy a leisurely jog on a gorgeous day—which it (the number-cruncher side) did and I did, too.

That’s the kind of joy I used to miss out on before I began practicing yoga.

You may associate joy with something seasonal, but I like to think joy is something I can carry out into the world with me throughout the year. However, this time of the year the concept of joy seems to have been misapplied to concepts such as getting or noisiness or busyness—or at the very minimum to some sort of grand emotion we are “supposed” to feel.

True joy is more the sort of thing that allows a young unwed mother to give birth in a barn amongst animals and yet to call herself blessed and to treasure and ponder in her heart all the commotion surrounding this humble birth.

As for me, bending my mind and spirit in yoga has helped me to be more willing to receive that in which I already believed, allowing me to be more open to giving—as well as to receiving.

Practice feeling authentic joy in each moment during this season of waiting for hope to come into this world. Your practice of joy has the power to light up a world desperate to receive both hope and joy.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

For the last few months before I gave birth to my children—twins who would arrive in the beginning of June—our weather was unseasonably warm here in Colorado. But in California the world was on fire, but not due to wildfires or droughts. Los Angeles had erupted over the news that four white cops had been acquitted of beating Rodney King—a beating that had been videotaped and released to the media—in the previous year. In many ways, the King video was the introduction to a whole new populist way of promoting social justice even as it also promoted social unrest. People no longer needed to rely on journalists witnessing events for news to be shared all over the world.

Still, people only see what they want to see. Some people saw a person who broke the law and thus really didn’t have the right to complain while others saw a man who had broken the law but who in no way had done anything to bring on the type of violence he received. And in the aftermath, some people could only see the black men who beat the white truck driver—for no particular reason—at the same time they could not see the white men in positions of authority who had severely beaten a black man—for no particular reason.

Look, I personally am going to claim my own white privilege here because throughout my life I have discovered more and more situations I never had to experience, simply based upon the color of my skin. And growing up where I did, first in rural Nebraska and later in a larger town still fairly removed from the race relations found in urban centers, everything about race was pretty theoretical to me. However, as my awareness grew, I tried to root out more of my own inherent racism, especially as I was shocked to discover it in more blatant forms in others whom I generally respected.

Then I went off to my seemingly ivory tower college in Ohio where one of my first actions was to fall in love with an incredible man who happened to be black and not of any privileged background at all—lest you count his close-knit family and his faith tradition, which he did. So many of the things he told me of race relations were new to me, yet he was a peacemaker who got along with all types of people, even most of his roughest (white) football teammates. Still, at that ivory tower, we didn’t really experience any pushback from our being together.

If my life had followed the course I had wanted at that time I would be the mother of biracial children and the spouse of someone outside my race, so I can never really view race relations as theoretical anymore. And though he has long been dead, I tend to think of how certain racial situations would affect him—not as the minor lawbreaker some of these young men have been, but as a law-abiding citizen under suspicion for no other reason than because of his race.

A few years after the riots in California, another law-abiding citizen we know experienced what I see all sorts of people (white) on Facebook denouncing as either a myth or inconsequential: racial profiling by law enforcement. The young man who was my husband’s assistant came from Chicago but I think even he was lulled into thinking these sorts of things didn’t really happen that often in Denver. One day he received his paycheck and—clothed in dress pants and a good shirt with no tie—went straight to the grocery store to cash his whole paycheck. Then, with all that money in his pocket, he stopped off at the liquor store before heading home. As he drove away on a major street, flashing lights appeared behind him. He pulled over and was dragged out of his vehicle and thrown roughly to the ground in the broad daylight of an early summer’s evening. The fact he matched some vague description of someone they were seeking and the fact he had a large sum of money on his body meant he was treated with great suspicion—and when I say suspicion, I think most of the questioning was meted out with brute force and intimidation. Somehow he finally convinced them to listen but not before he was reminded that he was indeed a black man and that his education and intent and actions really didn’t matter first in his dealings with law enforcement.

Little by little the veneer of believing that my experience is no different than that of someone of another race has been stripped from me—and my knowledge of what’s on the Internet has undone my initial beliefs even faster. I have to acknowledge that racism is much greater than I knew if even white, suburban, privileged high school boys can feel comfortable saying what they said the night President Obama was first elected.

See, part of the point is my white privilege really has allowed me not to know or experience certain things. But once we see and hear those things with our own eyes and ears, how can we still not believe?

Since when do we in the United States say it’s OK to kill people for shoplifting or selling illegal cigarettes or being disrespectful to authority? We have a justice system where people should be charged for the crimes of which they are accused, and only after the proper following of procedures and once those people are determined guilty of those charges can they be convicted. These truths should be true whether or not you are rich or poor or connected or not or black or white or a general scumbag or not. In this country none of us is supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner—not even law enforcement officials. Let justice roll down like water—not fire.

I don’t condone looting and burning, but can you understand just a little bit of the rage of never, ever being seen for who you are and what you do, no matter what? No, in some ways I can’t at all understand it because that shoe is usually not on my foot.

But I’m trying—and will continue to do so the rest of my days. I had expected to bring my own children into a better world than the one that turned out to be burning in the weeks before their births. Nonetheless, I am so proud they have grown to be people who really do judge others by the color of their characters, not by the color of their faces. Those of us who do “see” must join together in that ever-flowing stream of mighty righteousness, workers for justice striving to quench these fires. Let justice roll down—indeed.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

I never thought about the size of my jaw or my ear before, but let me tell you, when those items are swollen out of proportion you really start to realize just how lovely a fairly symmetrical head is and how often you’ve taken for granted that your head will remain that way. I also discovered that I’m much more vain than I believed: not only did I change my hair’s part in order to cover the most obvious results of my infection, but also I used the word “hideous” almost every time I described the swelling. Thankfully, by now I’m not certain a stranger can see any difference in me and even I can only see the slightest discrepancies.

I don’t read much science fiction and/or fantasy but last Tuesday I suddenly felt I’d been thrust into some plot involving some sort of weird science. The initial medical conjecture is that it was cellulitis attacking me and various parts of my head. My Internet research—through respected websites, mind you—told me way more than I wanted to know. I decided not to ponder the possibilities too much and stick to the doctor’s suggestions for treatment, including going to see a dentist to rule out any underlying dental troubles.

I wasn’t too certain all that was necessary, but scheduled the appointment anyway. My friend validated that decision Friday night when I went to her party—hair parted over the offending side and ear covered by a stocking cap as part of my costume—and she asked how I was. After my giving her a short explanation, she said, “You do know why I had surgery in June, don’t you?”

Not the particulars, but I had known it was something extremely odd as so much of her health difficulties have been.

Then she proceeded to explain about a year of misdiagnoses and the near-miss averted when her dentist discovered evidence of bone-eating (!) bacteria after his looking at her facial X-ray. She had to have diseased portions removed and replaced, as well replacement for areas that had already disappeared—and have four front teeth removed and replaced as well. She could have developed brain damage or even died without proper diagnosis.

Now that story should be science fiction—only it isn’t. While her experience is very, very rare, I agreed with her that maybe my going to the dentist wasn’t so silly after all.

Today my dentist saw nothing out of the ordinary. He described to me various parts of my panoramic X-ray—a procedure scheduled anyway as part of my general dental health and wellness maintenance—and showed where he would expect to see trouble if my infection were related to some dental root. He pointed out signs that my previously overblown lymph node was back to its unremarkable and fully functioning state. Then he used the opportunity to—once again—work on scaring me into being more proactive about protecting my mouth from infection through adding Waterpik treatments and more regular flossing to my routines.

Perhaps I’m scared enough on my own to take better precautions.

Despite my family thinking that I’m some sort of hypochondriac because I always research medical possibilities, I didn’t really expect this sort of thing to happen to me. Now, I admit I first thought about ruling out some weird sort of Hantavirus response—which is an infection for which there is no cure except for the possibility that medical supervision along with hydration can provide the best environment to give you a chance to recover. And, while the few mice we trapped in our home were not deer mice, the CDC does advise people to use the recommended precautions for cleaning since other mice may carry the disease—and we did not always follow those cleaning precautions, plus a local man really did lose his fight to that disease a couple weeks ago.

However, infection is a much broader threat than something specific with specific risks such as Hantavirus—which actually makes it easier not to think about. Even with my father-in-law’s more than yearlong battle with staph as well as the healthy respect I gained from his experience as to the power of infections to run rampant, I really haven’t thought about getting such an infection myself. In my own mind I realize I associate that with people who have been way more antibiotic-happy than I have been—and, yet, who is on a serious antibiotic right now?

Just over a day’s worth of meds to take, plus I plan to follow-up with probiotics, but boy am I counting those not-so-little bright blue pills.

So hard to tell whether it’s the naturally occurring science or the science that we have created that is the bigger danger in many situations. Do you dance with the devil you know or the one you don’t know? Isn’t an out-of-whack balance between the sides of science a requirement for any good science fiction story? All I know is I’m tired of being the protagonist in this science fiction story.

Maybe, with the right balance of science and just a little luck, all this will pass—and then I’ll just be left with a really good “can you believe it?” story to tell.

“You should have seen my ear—it looked as if it were going to give birth to an alien—or maybe to Rosemary’s baby. One night I went to sleep and the next morning it was just there. Whatever it was, it didn’t care if this host survived its birth or not. It was alive, I tell you—alive!”

But, hey—thank goodness for a truly boring and pretty much happy ending.


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17, NIV

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

The week before I got sick, I was just too busy to write. My brother Scott was coming with his family: his wife Lori, his son and his wife, and another son’s children (four boys eight and under!) whom Scott and Lori are raising. To say that we had a lot of preparation to do before Thanksgiving was an understatement— we have enough trouble keeping the house orderly enough to be guest-friendly for adults, let alone for children.

Nonetheless, when all the busyness was said and done, we were really thankful to see our relatives for Thanksgiving. Scott and Lori have taken on the everyday care of these boys and do a great job with them despite the challenges of raising such young children when they themselves are in their fifth decades.

During the week of their visit to our house, we also wanted to bring the family to see our daughter who had to cut out early from her college break to go back to work Black Friday—oh, let’s just call it Black Thanksgiving since she had to start working at 5:00 p.m. that day. Plus, the boys were quite excited to visit her at her workplace, which is still a magical place for them. So it was that we all found ourselves dodging shopping carts at ToysRUs on the real Black Friday—and four little boys found themselves enjoying the outing even if the adults in the party were a little less excited.

Afterwards we all went out for a meal—no small task with eight adults and four boys. Since the weather was unseasonably warm, next we were able to take a post-dinner stroll through the nearby pedestrian mall, decorated with its twinkling holiday lights.

That’s when we saw him, standing on his soapbox outside a bar. His sign read: You deserve to go to Hell.

I wanted to call out to him, “Exactly—we all do. That’s why Jesus came—to take away all our sins.”

However, as Lori said later, it’s often pointless to get into a debate with people who think that way. Still, there he was talking deep into his belief that he had to scare people to Jesus—that the people inside drinking on a Friday night were obviously sinners who were just plain lost. Of course the smokers who came outside from the bar were having a good time needling him, unaware that they really did need Jesus’ love—for all their sins. But they weren’t hearing anything about love. In college towns, evangelists like this man tend to focus on sins surrounding sex and drunkenness, but not on sins about treating others unkindly.

In the Bible, who is most often at the receiving end of Jesus’ angry outbursts? The uptight “rules people” who do not show kindness in their dealings with people. Yes, Jesus hung out with the sinners—maybe also outside the watering holes of the day—but based on everything else I’ve read about Him, I have to believe He showed them why they should want to change through giving his love.

As our large family group walked by on our way elsewhere, the man shouted out and pointed at one of the children saying, “You see that young child there—he’s as innocent as the day he was born.”

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but though my sister-in-law loves and serves God, she muttered, “You don’t know him.” This is not because this child or any other of the children “deserves to go to Hell” on his own merits—it is because we are all born wanting to do our own thing versus wanting to do God’s—or other authority figures’—things.

It’s not just guys drinking at a bar or men and women looking for a quick hook-up. It’s also the three-year-old who throws the fit because he isn’t in the mood for bed yet or the four-year-old who keeps touching everything he has been told not to touch or the five-year-old “innocent” child who would just rather not do what his family (that old “honor your mother or father” thing—or honor those who are raising you) asks him to do or the eight-year-old who pulls out the game he was told to put away. But it’s also you and I when we speed up to cut off other drivers or when we speak rudely to customer service people.

There are so many sins—big and little—we all do throughout our lives. I’m sinning by not even wanting to debate this man who loves God because I don’t seem to think God is big enough to make it a worthwhile conversation. Even when we’re mostly doing the right things in God’s eyes, there are still sins we commit. To ignore God’s will—even if His will is simply for us to respect people, both those we love and those whose actions have not earned our respect—is to deserve to go to Hell.

For mere humans it is impossible ever to deserve to go to Heaven—and that’s why God gave us Jesus. I personally can’t say if those guys from the bar or the street preacher or those precious (though still imperfect) children nor you nor I will ever make it to Heaven, but it’s also not up to me to say. All know is sometimes we don’t get what we deserve and sometimes we get way more than we deserve—and when it comes to Heaven and Hell, that’s called mercy—the mercy that comes through Christ.

Not a one of us walking by the sign-hoisting man deserved perfect love, not even the three-year-old, and, yet, I believe Jesus gives it to us anyway. Because of that kind of love, people do really tough things—such as raising someone else’s children or walking away when someone’s behavior deserves a wrathful response or even by making a decision to treat their bodies more like the temples God created. You can wave your signs in the air and condemn everyone who walks by but I choose to see the Christ within.

This Thanksgiving I was very much grateful for good times with family and friends—but even more grateful for the kind of mercy Jesus bought for me for which I am not prepared and that which I most definitely do not deserve.

Thank God—really.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

Just call me Big Head Trina. Yup, I have an ear infection and swollen gland that are distorting half my face, stretching out my jaw-line and my ear. It’s sort of like a boxer’s ear without the bruises. I am not a pretty site.

At least today I can think from time to time. Yesterday all that infection and swelling seemed to have outstretched my brain’s ability to think. I couldn’t even get myself to read at all unless the ibuprofen was kicking in and, even then, I could hardly follow what was on the page or screen.

I barely was capable of getting out in the morning to the doctor’s office and navigating all the busyness around the medical center where that office is located. So what I know is that the nurse practitioner agreed to give me blood tests, but I also believe she told me to leave without waiting for those tests. I checked out at the front desk where I scheduled a follow-up appointment. Not until I was almost back to my car did I realize those tests hadn’t happened. However, in my fever-induced haze I couldn’t get myself to care enough to turn around. I just headed straight home to take some ibuprofen and sleep.

Though the office had ordered an antibiotic for me, I definitely hadn’t felt capable of going to the pharmacy. After my nap, though, I thought I was well enough to handle the light traffic of early afternoon as well as the pharmacy drive-though. Of course, once I got there I had to wait in line for several minutes behind someone whose cigarette smoke was heading my way out his open car window. Then when I reached the window, the pharmacy tech told me it would still be another 10 minutes for my prescription to be ready. That was 10 minutes I couldn’t really give, so I went home.

That’s when it hit me—all these years I have been the one who has been negotiating all the health care snafus for my kids, sometimes for my husband, and even for my mother in her last years. If a prescription wasn’t ready on time, if there was a mix-up at the doctor’s office, if someone had to be on hold—all that involved me working to fix matters.

And here it was me again but I didn’t have the energy and good health in order to push through the ordeal. I was on hold for over nine minutes with my doctor’s office before I could ever begin explaining how the blood tests had not happened. The remaining conversation took about six minutes—the whole 15 minutes exhausted me. I was certain I could not safely drive myself back to the doctor’s office for those blood tests.

I hadn’t felt so alone since I had when I was first working here as a fairly new college graduate and needed to get myself to my first doctor’s appointment out in the real world. I needed to trudge on foot to the doctor on snowy roads while temperatures hovered around ten degrees even though I was dealing with a flu that was skating close to walking pneumonia—which it likely became since I developed spots on my lungs from the illness.

Thinking of that, I finally decided to call my son to come home early to take me back for the blood tests and the medicine.

Here I am a day later, feeling somewhat more functional, thanks to the effects of a whole lot of doing nothing mixed with sleeping while taking my antibiotics and ibuprofen on schedule.

Never mind that I got a call from the doctor’s office saying my dehydrated, feverish body had produced blood too thick to test—I had to go back. Ugh. So before I went I tried to hydrate myself enough so that the next blood tests work. The good news is I didn’t have to trudge out on a frigid day—the sun was shining and these December temperatures have been moderate and I felt capable of driving short distances.

And, maybe soon I’ll no longer have this misshapen, lopsided head. Until then you can find me napping and otherwise conserving energy with my dogs on this comfy couch of mine.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

This I believe: do good business and your business will do well, should the conditions for what you offer be at all favorable.

What is good business? To me it’s about operating in a manner that supports all stakeholders—not just the ones that write you the biggest checks, such as the advertisers, or the shareholders, who so often are focused on the near future’s bottom line, not the long-term sustainability. Employees are more than expense—they create the value of your organization. And in today’s complex world when so often the users of your products are not the customers who write the checks, it’s still good practice to keep the users happy so that they continue to use your services.

I get that these days it’s really common that the real customer (or at least the biggest customer) is often not the user. For example, in health care the insurance companies bring in most of the money. But without patients coming through the doors, insurance won’t be paying out for services. Same with online “free” services, such as social media and news outlets. We have always had to put up with advertising, whether it’s print advertising in our publications, which keeps subscription prices lower, or whether it’s to watch network television. Now, in order to use electronic services—paid and free—we have to consent to let all of our online activities be followed and sometimes, even when we don’t want to watch an ad, those ads keep playing anyway, using up valuable computing and server resources. Maybe we can’t opt out of necessary services, such as certain health care procedures or visits, but we can reduce using them for optional care. And with other more discretionary activities, we can stop using the service at all. With fewer users of services, the real—or the one paying the most—customer makes less money. Chasing away users of your services is bad for the bottom line.

It comes down to respect. Businesses need to respect all sides of the profit-making equation, even if not all equally contribute to the bottom line in an easily quantifiable manner. Reasonable employees and reasonable customers are why a business can provide what it provides in order to make a profit. Treat these stakeholders well, and your business should grow. Really, it’s not trickle-down, it’s trickle-up.

The hubris of scorning the “little people” is just not good business. Betting that the user will put up with almost anything is not a good long-term plan, especially in the face of an improving economy. Odds are most people remember how a business has made them feel—I know I do and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Treat me well and you might have me for life—without paying for any constantly playing videos or pop-up ads or whatever the next intrusive form of advertising is. (Visiting me in my dreams?)

You can say I’m a dreamer, but there are really no good reasons for it to be a dream for people to be treated well by corporations and other organizations.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

Sometimes living in this old house gets, well, old. I kind of want to chuck it all and move into an apartment—until I see the price of rent for a one-bedroom apartment is almost $300 more a month than the mortgage payment on our 2200-square-foot home. Still, we are only the second homeowners in this place the first homeowners built themselves with its listed build date of 1947. Some parts of our home are put together in, shall we say, rather creative but not standard ways.

Yesterday I was entertaining a plumber here in our fair castle. The truth is more like I was staying away so I didn’t chat him up and raise the billable hours. The pipes draining from the sink were just worn out—and put together in some archaic manner. What started out as a minor leak had become more of a waterfall from time to time—good thing the only items directly below in the basement are a utility sink and a bunch of utilitarian storage—not that anything needs water damage. Oh, our pipes were draining all right—all over.

And don’t even get me started on the little critters that arrived with fall weather. In my 26 (and my husband’s 29) years in this home, we have never had mice inside the house, most likely thanks to the fact the garage is detached. We think we have taken care of the few that snuck in, because we have seen no evidence in all the places where they were partying down. However, I still have clean-up to do in hidden spaces. My family calls me “Safety Mom” because, of course, I would never not think of the possibility of such a thing as Hantavirus—which means I feel I have to go through a bunch of safety procedures before and during cleaning.

Oh, and we found out a few weeks ago that the leak that had sprung from our refrigerator’s icemaker looked suspiciously as if little rodent teeth had nibbled on the line. At least it wasn’t a problem with our not quite four-year-old appliance.

Speaking of appliances, though, not all maintenance problems in homes happen because of the age of the home. Just this past weekend my husband Sherman installed an over-the-counter microwave to replace (the expensive) one that had died earlier this year—or died for all practical purposes because the repair bill to fix it would have been as much as we spent for a new microwave. No, today’s appliances are no longer built to last as long as the appliances they replaced (although I have high expectations the life expectancy of this new microwave should at least beat its predecessor!) Gone are the days when I could rely on my trusty 20-plus-years washer and dryer—despite that I am still ignoring my Google calendar’s reminder to call for a dryer repair for the sensor that quit a mere year and a half into the current dryer’s life.

Some household tasks, though, are simply maintenance—too bad they are often costly. Am still waiting to hear from a furnace repair company. The only unique part about that is that we are unfortunate in that we have two furnaces to maintain. Despite the 1947 build date, the neighborhood story is that our humble abode began as an even more humble basement house during World War II because the owners could not get materials. That means the main floor is almost built as a separate house upon the original house. When we replaced the systems, we really wanted to pare down to one whole-house furnace but the house was too solid between the floors to make that happen in any sort of an easy fashion. Heck, in the basement we were happy to get three ducts chiseled into the more-solid-than-necessary walls in order to convert from a radiant heat wall-mounted furnace.

Enough, though. I’ll stop with the whining for now.

Because here’s the part where I remind myself how lucky I am that I get to maintain a home. Not only do I have a roof over my head (solid—thanks to the 50-year shingles we added about a decade ago), but right now it’s warm—as well as dry again—and all the systems are working well enough. Because it’s our own home, we can have dogs running in—as well as ruining—our yard, if we choose. No one lives right next to our walls and we can paint those walls whatever color we want—which we did just over four years ago.

Yes, I get to live inside this one-of-a-kind, now-pink house. All the maintenance—though sometimes overwhelming—is just the price we pay for getting to stay and grow old in this old house that became home—mostly sweet home—when we ourselves were also a whole lot easier to maintain.

How future trails traveled might look--and that's OK.

How future trails traveled might look–and that’s OK.

Still waiting for the thermometer to climb above zero, although the sun has been up for almost four hours by now. With these seventy degree drops in temperatures (from Sunday), most of us around here are a bit grumbly, despite having received great enjoyment from our previous exceptional fall weather. And yet, we’re not unused to cold weather—just not so soon after such unusual warmth.

My husband Sherman was home yesterday which meant we had plans to get out into the great outdoors—plans that we definitely adjusted in order to move in the warmest way possible. No casual hiking or walking—only running would do. Even if our running looks more like hiking or walking these days, what we call running does warm us up more than anything where one foot at a time stays on the ground.

Keep in mind that yesterday we were only dealing with a sixty degree temperature swing—almost balmy compared to today, right? So out we went in the middle of the day—with all our extra layers—to a quiet dirt path where our footing would remain sure, even with the light dusting of snow covering that path.

Well, at first I wasn’t certain my hands could survive—thanks to having two doggy-related potty stops right at the beginning where I had to remove gloves—but as is usually the case, the more we moved, the more our bodies and my hands begin to warm up. Pretty soon I was so glad we had not stayed in. There is something so peaceful about running in conditions that cause others to stay away. Just us and one other woman running (her=fast and us=slow) and another man and his Husky walking and nothing else moving except for hundreds of geese disturbed from their rest on a nearby lake.

I don’t understand it, but my body’s asthma is happier on a frigid day than on a hot one. On a cold day I feel younger and more able to move. The heat is less of a friend than the deep freeze we are experiencing. Now, keep in mind, I know better than to push myself—circulation and breathing as well as sore muscles, tendons, and ligaments—on such a day. Yet, I also don’t feel as if I am pushing myself in any other way than trying to get my hands warmed up enough to stay outside.

No, the biggest battle about going out for a run on a cold day—especially a surprisingly suddenly cold day—is getting out there. Well, that and getting yourself back inside before you start to sweat once you finish.

I have to say I almost loved it as much as I loved that day last week when I got to run at my sweet-spot temperature of fifty-degrees. In many ways yesterday was better because I got to do the run with my husband and dogs—and then after we finished, we got to go back inside to a warm space, so much the more appreciated for our having gone out into a cold that hadn’t been nearly as bad as we had thought.

Season’s plummet—the re-run—turned out pretty well after all.

. . . as we should call it in these parts.

'Tis the last rose of autumn 2014--and I'm not letting her die outside!

‘Tis the last rose of autumn 2014–and I’m not letting her die outside!

Wind chimes peal, switching back and forth from more constant rhythmic songs to bursts of noise, made from frantic beats. Leaves swirl and twirl, cascading to the earth, looking almost as if they are some form of moisture. Big change is coming to this sweet weather I might have said came from some other season if only the fall colors had not been so prominent.

Around these parts (front range of Colorado) we so often do not get transitions. Come late spring, it’s cold and then—boom—it’s hot. With fall, the opposite is true. What’s a body to do?

Well, not deal with the changes very well. In late May, I sweat too much and feel too lethargic for the burgeoning joy of spring that feels more like the summer that will soon seem normal or even a little cool. Usually late October is when the pattern reverses itself—I shiver and hunker down until my body realizes that the cold isn’t that cold. So I should be happy we’re one third of the way into November before I get to make this often harsh transition.

But by now I am so, so spoiled. Some nights have barely dropped into the 40s. The extra blanket has remained at the foot of our bed. The only gloves I’ve worn are lightweight.

And for me, this introduction to wintry blasts often comes with our first snow removal job. Other than my hands that seem to want to mimic some of my son’s Reynaud’s Syndrome symptoms, the rest of me often likes being out in the elements while I am pushing the snow blower. The air feels crisp in a good way and, after the initial shock of leaving my warm bed, I give in to the joy of being outside in what’s often a quiet (well, quiet if I drown out my own snow blower’s sounds) and peaceful time without much of the usual bustle of so many of the city’s citizens. However, part of my ability to feel contentment outside comes from realizing how much calmer the winds are here than in my native Nebraska—wind is a real game-changer but here our winds often only mark the initial changes.

Unfortunately, if I am called to spend extended time out in the snow in the next few days, it will be with this body that only yesterday was sweating even while I was driving around with my sunroof open and the windows rolled down.

Mother Nature, one year could you just give us a little time to get used to the idea of a new season before you drop us into one? No? I didn’t think so—why start now? Now, where did I put the hat and those socks, boots, and gloves—oh, and, shudder—the shovel?

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

Memory is usually one of my strong points—or at least it was until I was really deep in the sandwich of raising my kids and watching over my mother. And even if my memory is nothing like it was in my youth, it’s still pretty good if I am listening and/or participating in something. So why can’t I remember much about one particular activity from my freshman year in college? Usually the phrase isn’t “What happens in Bach Chorale stays in Bach Chorale.” As far as I know what happened is that I practiced with the group every Monday night until we performed a good part of Bach’s St. John’s Passion during Holy Week.

I now realize this experience should have been a big deal. The St. John’s Passion is very difficult. And while I come from a very musical background—having played piano, clarinet, oboe, and violin, as well as having sung in parts since I was 10—I am a generalist who has never taken musical theory—or practiced much individually—I’m rather a musical bum. Or as my music teacher mother finally said of me and my brother, “I don’t know why I wasted so much money and energy on your music lessons if you were just going to turn out to be jocks.”

That is, musical “jocks” who didn’t take musical preparations as seriously as we took our physical workouts. My brother has almost perfect pitch and we both picked up reading music easily with our first piano lessons back in kindergarten. In some ways music was so much of our early childhood that we don’t even know how we know what we know and too often we get by on that easily developed knowledge.

From time to time I discover I “know” many parts of the St. John’s Passion my choir is practicing even if I can’t tell for certain what all I have sung of this music. For certain, my choir did not sing the words in German, but I have had particular English phrases from the songs stuck in my head ever since that one “lost” year—and I sing them, too—just ask my dogs who have been called malefactors many a time.

So it seems very strange to me that I can’t access exactly what I did in those practices. Did I find the music hard or not? Shouldn’t it stand out if it seemed that way? Maybe my malleable 18-year-old brain was just in the middle of constant learning and it found the music neither harder nor easier than anything else I was learning in my first year of higher education. I do know that while the choir itself was geared toward generalists, music majors who did not have time to be in the traveling choir were required to participate in this choir instead. Perhaps we amateurs were paired with these people deliberately as I do remember one person who I would say was my mentor during rehearsals.

Fall trimester Monday rehearsals seemed hard because by Monday night I would realize just how little I and my poor time management skills had accomplished over the too-short weekend. But by the second and third trimesters, I also had added track practices—that jock thing—and sorority meetings. It’s possible I was just in a daze at choir practices due to panic over what all I had to accomplish after my longest day of the week ended and before I could go to sleep.

Whatever the reasons, I don’t really know what I did or did not do in that choir. I did decide I didn’t enjoy being in the choir enough to do it and track together for several months. Ever the generalist, I didn’t really care about all the music theory and jokes bandied about between the director and the music students. However, what I most learned from the experience was that I liked Bach.

Bach still appeals to me, even as my brain feels so much less malleable than it did when Bach and I first met, well, first met in choral singing anyway. The genius of what to me is a call and response between the various vocal sections of the choir is just a marvel and adds so much to the meaning of the pieces. I love all the counting—even when I get lost. Learning German is a bigger stretch and though I loved learning foreign languages in my early days, I am glad that I learned these songs first in English—the emotions of the words I don’t yet understand are stuck to the notes in my mind already.

Each time I practice this particular music I re-discover a little bit more of what I learned so long ago. So glad to get back to these specific works of Bach that somehow are a part of me—despite my not giving them the attention they deserved the first time around.

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