(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Knowing your own true north is all about discovering who you are at the core. Once you know that, everything else follows. True north does not vary by situations—it is what it is wherever you are. To live an authentic life means you must first determine what your bedrock values are.

It’s all so simple and so very complicated, especially in a world that wants to tell you that everything depends.

Here I stand and there I walk, grounded in who I am and what I believe—I can do no more.

Trina & Sherman, 1991

Trina & Sherman, 1991

I’m prejudiced enough to believe that if you’re going to get married, then you should marry someone you call a true companion—although maybe everyone else does not ask or need that from a life partner, as I do. A true companion doesn’t have to be a soul-mate—just someone who is by your side as you go through this life that is so often hard—and someone who can make you laugh, year after year.

The problem is that when life is challenging you, you can forget to have fun with your true companion. You can become so busy just working through every day that you forget why you got together in the first place. Likely, if you just wanted a friend, you probably wouldn’t have married him or her!

Though there will always be bills, tears, chores, and whatever other burdens trying to tear you apart, you’ve got to take time for the smiles, laughter, and remembering why you love this particular person more than you love other companions. You laugh more when together with true companions you marry. Who else is so good at causing you to smile for no particular reason?

Sherman & Trina, 25th Anniversary, Taos, NM

Sherman & Trina, 25th Anniversary, Taos, NM

When it comes to love, I want to be a fool for my true companion the rest of my days. I so need to stop focusing on what’s difficult in life and remember to bring in more of what makes us smile when we are together, as it did when we first met, before the years had done the irreparable harm we’ve experienced so far and that still yet to come. I see us walking arm and arm, a couple of old fools still in love, for many years to come.

“And when I look in (his) eyes, I’ll still see that spark until the shadows fall, until the room grows dark . . .” (“True Companion” from Marc Cohn, written by Marc Cohn, 1991)

So blessed to have met and married my true companion . . . may I treat him as the treasure he is to me.

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

Facebook keeps suggesting ads for many of us that are related to our names. What I keep getting is “It’s a Lambert Thing—You Wouldn’t Understand” T-shirt ads. How do they know about the Lamberts? Are they all that way? Supposedly the name means “bright light” and has nothing to do with sheep and rams, and yet I wonder . . .

Over these 25 years after having taken Lambert as my married name, I have gained many insights—but that still doesn’t make me a Lambert. I am most definitely a Lange and a Ritter—as my mom would say, “We don’t do that . . .” but most likely the Lamberts would.

“Do what?” you say.

Well, approach life in a certain way, for one. Mom always used to say, “A rule is a rule.” I’m not sure a Lambert considers a rule a rule until he or she has really pushed all the angles to verify that the rule really must remain a rule. Maybe that’s why those of us who have married in to the family tend to be a bit more focused on the details of life (you know, such as time, space, gravity, and so on) yet are still able to go with the flow. If nothing else, if we didn’t understand why it matters to ask, “Is that rule as much of a rule as the world would have us think?” we would never have a chance at being able to remain Lamberts in name.

Not only do they question rules, but they also approach their goals like (mountain sheep) rams, my father-in-law’s favorite wildlife animal. They do not stop until finished and that means finished doing whatever they’re doing just right.

My son Jackson works in his uncles’ business, where his cousin is also a manager, and where his grandpa spent a lot of time before his most recent health challenges. He often comes home shaking his head and saying, “Lamberts!”

Finally Sherman, his dad, got fed up with that and burst out, “You’re a Lambert, too.”

Of course he is and he knows it, too. So is his sister Christiana. He takes after the “never met a rule I like” side and she takes after the “bee in the bonnet” side.

Where Jackson is more like me and my own than his sister is in communication styles. We’re not ones to bottle up—for long anyway—how we’re feeling or to assume that everyone knows how we’re feeling through using some sort of mental communication. That’s not saying that anyone understands what the heck we’re saying when we’re upset, but we do say a lot of something. Whenever Christiana and Sherman are upset with one another, the room gets deadly silent—well, until it’s not.

That reminds me of a time when I was watching Sherman’s dad and brother work “together” to move something in the warehouse of a previous business. Neither one of them shared his plans, but each had one. The tension built as it become more and more apparent that maybe those plans weren’t at all as similar as each had assumed. I wasn’t certain whether I wanted to stay to watch the outcome or get out of the space before the explosions began. Don’t worry—no bombs were deployed, just a lot of explosive words that, nonetheless, led to a completed task.

The Lamberts really are quite the team, even when each person approaches tasks in a very individual way. Those question-the-rules attitudes lead to a whole lot of innovation and creativity and improvements, even if the air can get more than a little hot before all the dust is settled. But no matter the individual paths, each team member does want to achieve the very similar goal of doing the best thing possible for the customer, the company, the family, the end product, etc. These people may be all in their heads but they are in it together for the long run.

It really is a Lambert thing. Despite my giggles at and frustrations over the Lamberts through the years, I am still glad I married one and am proud I gave birth to two of them.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Still embroiled in the yoga changes here, but am trying to breathe and stay in the moment. As a woman—named Sunshine appropriately enough—said in Saturday’s makeshift class in the park, this abrupt change is just the Universe saying that now is the time to make way for something better to happen.

The community recreation center has served me well in so many ways over the last twenty-some years. While pregnant, I took water exercise classes—an exercise itself since my twin-pregnancy-bladder could not even make it through a one hour class. A year later my husband and I were bringing our twins to infant swimming classes, learning games such as “motor boat, motor boat go so slow” and helping them chase down rubber ducks.

T-ball and baseball, tumbling, dance, and swim lessons—our kids learned in the local community. The fellow townspeople we did not first meet at school, we met at the rec center and in the parks.

And as the kids grew, I found more time to return for my own classes. Step aerobics, fitness classes, (outside) water exercise, Pilates, ZUMBA, and yoga. My community circle kept growing as I met people—older and younger—who did not have kids the same age as mine were.

But of all the classes I’ve joined, my yoga classes have been the best community-builders. Yoga is more than a fitness class—it is a way of life. Because of that most people who start taking classes just keep coming session after session, even if they have to miss a few classes from time to time.

The more you place your mat next to someone else’s mat, month after month, year after year, the more you start to realize that you are becoming kindred spirits. Your backgrounds, lifestyles, whatever may be different, but when you give in to doing individual poses, partner poses, or group circle poses in the same space, the more you realize that you have to trust these people—at bare minimum—not to ridicule you, but also to cheer you on when you’re close to achieving a pose that has eluded you for years or to spot you when you try something really difficult. You start to know who is always looking for stress relief or who is experiencing grief or whose hip is in trouble or who is starting to become comfortable and fit in his or her own body. These people see you in very vulnerable—and not very attractive—positions. And every class ends with each of you resting in savasana, eyes closed, trusting that no one else will harm you.

You become a close community, as together you work to remain open. Though a few people float in and out of that community, many remain constant, dedicated to a way of life, led by a particular teacher.

This sense of belonging with these kindred spirits is what I most want to keep from our community. As we transition from a group that meets together in one particular place with one particular teacher to those who stay with the place and those who go with the teacher, may we never forget that what we have shared together cannot be taken from us. My community has grown from a particular place, but is not limited to that place.

Om shanti, my friends. Peace . . .

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Sometimes I have to remind myself that the destination isn’t the only thing that counts. When you are young, you think “When I am five, I can go to school,” “When I am in high school . . .”, “When I get out on my own . . .” and on and on. The problem is it becomes so easy to keep thinking this way even though you long ago stopped being young at all.

So far true mindfulness has evaded me in many situations. When I run, I can’t always focus on body sensing or my breathing. In fact, one of the best parts of running for me is how my mind often takes off on its own journey—which is definitely better than thinking about what may hurt or what I have left to run. Not very mindful I know, but that mind journey is part of most running journeys for me.

On the other hand, when I am doing ZUMBA or dancing, I am just dancing, hearing the beats of the particular song playing. When I was dancing as if I didn’t know my age at my nephew’s wedding in February, I did allow myself to think—briefly—about how old I felt the morning after dancing at another nephew’s wedding in November, but then thought, “What the heck?” My feet prefer the muscle memory of the moment, not the muscle memory of the mornings after–and so I danced on.

In every thing—little or big—that we do, there’s always this tension between journey and destination. For the chores we must do, it’s easy to think that just getting done is what matters, but when we do so, we lose the meditative benefits that can come from doing repetitive movements. In fact, I tend to tempt myself into doing these chores by listening to books or music—which is fine from time to time. But there can also be something very Zen-like about hearing the whir of the wheels as you push the manual lawnmower through the grass and smelling the perfume from the blades of grass now opened to the air.

Moments of flow do not happen when we are focused on the end to the detriment of what is happening around us. They happen when we are just where we are, one minute to the next.

You’re on a journey—don’t miss it while looking for the exit. Too soon, the exit comes for all of us.

Since today is National Sibling Day, I thought I’d just share some images from a long, long time ago (read: about 50 years ago!) of my brother Scott and me. Images also remind siblings such as the two of us to stay connected in the here and now—even though we live a couple states apart and though we’re no longer quite as adorable as we once were, we’re still the only siblings we’ll ever have.

Vacation 1964

Vacation 1964

Summer 1964

Summer 1964

Fall 1964

Fall 1964

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Once upon a time, I knew nothing about chakras or energy or any of that stuff. And, if I had known, I wouldn’t have believed in it.

Now after taking yoga for nine years from the same instructor, I realize sometimes you can believe in things you don’t understand. Though they don’t always make sense, often they just are.

Years ago I was in a book club where the month’s hostess chose the book for the night and any associated themes. We were all so cliché—I would choose the small town or chick lit books, someone else would choose a current bestseller you could never find in a library or in a paperback version, and another would pick a genre book, etc. For the most part it was good for us—it stretched our limits.

Good-hearted Angie always chose woo-woo books, which were really enlightening for the skeptic in me, even if I didn’t believe. One time we read this book by Michael Crichton (the Jurassic Park author) where he detailed all sorts of spiritual experiences. I had heard of chakras through yoga, but had no idea that even a person such as I could feel energy from another person’s chakras until I read that book. Not that I thought it was true, until I tried to do so. Call me shocked and amazed.

Around the same time, I experienced one of the more physically difficult yoga classes we would do—working with a tennis ball on each side of the spine and moving them throughout class from the pressure points in one chakra to the pressure points in the next. Reaching all that deep tissue was really painful, but I had no idea that accessing those areas would also bring out the corresponding emotions for each chakra. When those tennis balls reached the heart chakra, all of a sudden I was in tears, crying not because of physical pain, but because of buried losses—my father’s death a few years earlier but also a death twenty years earlier, a friendship too soon ended, and all sorts of losses of the heart. It happened just as the instructor had explained even though I didn’t expect it to happen to me.

In order to benefit from yoga in a more than physical way, you have to develop a trust for your instructor and give in to the process. There is a reason many yoga instructors are called gurus—I respect and follow my other fitness teachers, but yoga asks me to surrender control in a way that goes beyond that.

At the same time, yoga is this ancient practice that requires a whole lot of knowledge. The more I learn about yoga, the more I understand that this practice can harm me if not guided by someone who really understands anatomy and how the body (and mind) works—and does not work. Faith in my instructor’s knowledge is also a big part of how I can feel comfortable enough to give in to the process and trust that what hurts me in the moment will heal me in the long run.

We in our community have been blessed with an instructor who not only knows much of what the ancients knew but also keeps learning much of what modern times can teach. She comes to our classes, aware of many of our chronic personal aches, asks what we need that day and modifies and/or designs the class to meet our needs in that moment. She is genius at changing her plans for us and yet still keeping a class on a timely schedule and running as seamlessly as if she never varied it. Her classes are like stepping into a river—different each time.

I have practiced yoga when out-of-shape and hurting, fit and improving, in pain and while working through serious injury, through my mother’s journey deeper into Alzheimer’s and her subsequent death, as my precious dog sickened and died, during my daughter’s intensive treatments for her health needs, and so on. Yoga has shown me how to find joy in my days and helped me survive despair in the night.

Yoga has taught me to how to breathe, improved my always bad posture, changed my outlook toward what I can and cannot control, and moved me back toward health when painfully out of alignment.

I have learned focus and patience, two attributes I most definitely do not possess naturally. Now when stuck waiting, dressed only in a flimsy gown, for some doctor who breezes in thirty minutes later, I can rest and breathe and feel gratitude for the pause in my day.

For these nine years, I have worked my schedule around one person’s yoga classes, never missing signing up for a session, even if I have had conflicts for individual classes. While pursuing moving from self-employment to working for someone else, I have been considering how I might be able to switch to my guru’s weekend classes.

Though I continue grounded by the practice I have done over the years, my heart hurts to discover that the facility I love and the guru who guides me have parted ways. Suddenly, the earth as I’ve known it has shifted beneath me. By now I know enough to believe that what beats in my fourth chakra is more than a physical heart—it is also a sense of loss for what has been and what has now ended.

If you’ve never taken yoga or only see it as another exercise class, this probably seems more than a little melodramatic. I can only assure you that a yoga connection can grow your heart, much in the way the Grinch’s heart grew from love. Tonight while my heart grieves, I will practice deep breathing, aiming to keep that fourth chakra from shrinking so it can still remain open to harmony and peace.

This I have learned to believe: so often all you can do is trust in the process.


(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

Do you even want the gold you are busy panning for? Or have you long since realized it’s better to pan for what you want, even if that means you’ll find less gold?

Maybe you already know that all that glitters is not gold. In fact, maybe you’re just fine with that—you like the sparkle on fool’s gold for its beauty, not for its absolute worth.

Have you learned that where you find beauty and shine, that’s what’s golden to you? Even if others around you seek the real deal, are you content with what glitters for you?

For me life is more about being and doing than having. Quite frankly, I’m just not that good with figuring out where to put things and how to keep them clean and how to maintain them properly. Why would I want more things to worry about? Oh, I suppose instead of spending, I could just keep the “gold” in the bank or the stock market or whatever, but that doesn’t mean that out of sight is out of mind. I don’t really want to start thinking that what I have is who I am, even if I’d appreciate having a little more gold to cushion me from whatever unknowns lie ahead of me.

Lest you think I’m not at all tempted by the gold, know that I watch the stock price on my inherited stocks all the time. Why? I don’t know, but it’s a little scary how much tracking the growing value thrills me—and how much the downturns upset me. Better to work with my financial advisor to protect my future, and then forget about the numbers in my daily life.

Also better to pan for my own gold in how I live and how I treat others and what I do with what I’ve been given. Shiny is as shiny does. May I never forget that where my treasure is there also lies my heart. And if for some reason I do end up finding real gold in my pan, may I remember to share that shine, too.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Me in yoga? Not flexible, despite nine years of practice! Yet without all that yoga, I not only wouldn’t be able to do “tree” pose, but I also would be about as stiff as those sixty-year-old Colorado Blue Spruce trees dominating my tiny yard.

And since I’ve already described the firm foundation of my beliefs in an earlier post, you might be thinking that I am a particularly inflexible person all around. But no, not so. I figure what matters most is the why of what you do. After that, I’m open to the how, as long as the methods don’t contradict the why—or any absolute rules. (Read: laws of nature, civic laws, IRS code, grammar rules, or that sort of thing.) In fact, I’m pretty opposed to ideas such as there is only one way to do something or that “we’ve always done it this way” is a reason to keep doing so.

There are many paths, grasshopper: your path, my path, a new path, a path we have forgotten, a different path for a different time, the path you never planned to take.

Plus, I haven’t found that Life operates just as planned. No, often just as soon as you make a plan, Life laughs. When you’re flexible, you might be able to laugh back—or at least not dissolve into a funk of helplessness. You’re not just stuck with Plan A and “Now what?” Sometimes you have other plans in the works, and sometimes you just have to react.

On a bitter cold January night over twenty-seven years ago, a young man and a young woman who barely knew each other set out on a first date to see a movie—only to find the large multiplex dark with no sign of explanation anywhere. Awkward, right? Did they panic? No—they bought a newspaper (pre-cell phone days) and picked another location—then spent the unplanned extra time talking together for so long that they almost missed the new movie time.

Not sure if Life was laughing at us that night, but I know we’re still laughing together all these years later, even if few of our plans go as we planned. Good thing we are flexible people—well, except in yoga class.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert (Amaryllis from Lent 2012, Bethany Lutheran Church)

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert (Amaryllis from Lent 2012, Bethany Lutheran Church)

In the dark nights of the soul, what I need to hear is “Ephphatha!” (Aramaic word meaning “be opened” as spoken by Jesus in Mark 7:34 when he healed the deaf and dumb man.)

Because what I tend to do in those times is quite the opposite—I close myself off from God, loved ones, comforts, and new ideas and possibilities. So often I also curl tightly into myself—alone, lost in my self-righteous distress. Help will not come as I want—why should I open myself to something that will not arrive, or at least will disappoint if it does show up?

Plus, don’t I deserve to enjoy my sense of loss in those moments? If I am in pain, why should I try to feel better? If life has more than disappointed me, has treated me wrong, why should I try to push back against the dark or allow entry into hope?

Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, but when I’m down, so often my ears—like pretty much everything else about me—remain closed. “Why me?” I ask. Then again, why not me? Could definitely stand for certain parts of my life to improve greatly, but which of us couldn’t? Do you suppose He’s got an “Ephphatha” for me right now? How will I know unless I remove my own self-imposed ear plugs of “not listening” and “can’t hear you”—and wait for what follows?

How indeed.

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