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Not Just Pants. Anyone else remember the ads for a store called Just Pants? That’s how the jingle went: “Just Pants . . . not just pants.” Talk about an identity crisis. If they wanted to sell more than pants, why didn’t they call themselves Not Just Pants?

Last week I went to hear a speaker talk about branding which led me to try to figure out how to create the brand named Trina Lambert. That means you will know what my various “products” are or mean to you based on my name, just like you know what Nike means or what Apple means. In accounting talk, that’s goodwill you can put as an asset on your balance sheet.

I’m all in favor of goodwill, but I’m afraid to brand myself like Just Pants—and then realize down the road that I want to sell more than pants. (OK—don’t worry, I don’t want to sell any clothing!)

I went to a liberal arts college where I “got to” learn about something from each discipline—whether I liked it or not. Sometimes the classes themselves were painful to me, but I don’t regret what I learned in them.

One of the first classes I took was Philosophy of the Greeks and Romans, taught in the dreaded post-lunch hour by a man who talked like he was stoned—which he probably was. I may have slept through many of the lectures, but I will never forget the cartoon we watched on Plato’s Cave. True confession: the understanding for one of my favorite “intellectual” discussion topics comes from a cartoon! Just ask those who know me too well, I can go on for hours about the Cave.

The liberal arts student in me is afraid to limit what the brand named Trina Lambert means. I like to think that with access to the proper resources, I can write about almost anything, even if it’s new to me.

Tune in tomorrow as I ponder what I’ve written, what I already know about, and how I figure out how to brand myself loosely enough so that in the future I don’t have to create a jingle about my brand that ends with “not just . . . “

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People who run often have a secret pacing weapon: songs that get stuck in their heads. Just this year I learned such songs are called earworms. Lovely image, no? I can even cite the Dictionary.com entry for you:

Main Entry: earworm2

Part of Speech: n

Definition: a song or tune that gets stuck in one’s mind and repeats as if on a tape; also written ear-worm, ear worm; also called cognitive itch, sticky tune

Example: The song played in the grocery store became an earworm for her.

Etymology: German ohrwurm

Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7)
Copyright © 2003-2008 Dictionary.com, LLC

Anyway, these earworms can be quite positive for me when I’m looking for a nice consistent pace. But on the negative side, how many times will I have to run to “The Yellow Rose of Texas” or some other such rhythmic drivel from my early days of learning clarinet or violin? I’ve even run to dialogue that mimics songs such as the opener from The Music Man: “Cash for the merchandise, cash for the . . .” OK, at least in that case the dialogue actually helps me pick up my pace as the words get rolling.

I imagine earworms are one of the main reasons people choose to load up their iPods with specific songs for running . . . or maybe even stop running!

But, a couple weeks ago when I was running the Chatfield 5 & 10 (the 5, thank you very much!) I was stuck with Kermit the Frog. And who can really get tired of Kermit the Frog? As I got to the point in the race when I was starting to wonder if I’d ever make it out of the weeds and cottonwoods, I began pacing to “The Rainbow Connection.”

Maybe it happened because if it hadn’t been November, the trail would have been a good place to meet a Kermit. Or perhaps I just wanted to “get to the other side,” commonly known as the chute or finish line in a race.

But still, the words struck me. Why are there so many songs about rainbows? Don’t we all have to get through the storms if we want to see the rainbows? So I’ll keep pacing my race through the storms.

I believe in Kermit the Frog. I believe in rainbows. And I know what’s so amazing that keeps me star-gazing-it’s Life.

And now I leave you with a classic from Kermit, himself, and Debbie Harry, back from close to the days when I was going through my own high school storms. Enjoy!

 

Forgive my absence-I had to get some paid work done!

I, also, news flash, went to an information session on blogging. Beware, this show is about to go global, rather than remain available only to my few MySpace friends (relatives and friends of my relatives!)

Plus, Life itself got in the way. Sometimes I need to be hands-on with people rather than staying at a distance behind my words. While I’m busy living, the words are piling up inside my head just waiting for a chance to break free.

Of course, the longer I stay away from writing, the harder it is to convey just what I wanted to say. Often it’s not until I sit down to listen to someone else speak that I understand the truth of the matter.

This past Sunday, November 23, Pastor Ron Glusenkamp preached on eye contact-what we see or don’t see. And what we didn’t see was huge.

Huge enough that we are still holding our collective breath. Thank God for all the people and events that set in motion the better resolution.

Pastor Ron also pointed out a phrase from Ephesians about the eyes of the heart being enlightened. My heart didn’t want to see how much everyone else was hurting. Let’s just say my eyes saw something, but I left my understanding behind in my own anger.

What I’ve seen is that although the flock has scattered, no one is happy. I do my best to look out for my own sheep-and it’s a full-time job these days-but I wish could bring back the others. I was their ally, not their enemy.

I remember when eye contact meant hearts were intact. Forgive my often cold, German eyes-they do see with enlightenment.

 

That’s not a word I use everyday. What is it, you ask?

di⋅aph⋅a⋅nous

[dahy-afuh-nuhs]

-adjective

  1. very sheer and light; almost completely transparent or translucent.
  2. delicately hazy.

Origin:
1605-15; < ML diaphanus < Gk diaphan(s) transparent (equiv. to diaphan-, s. of diaphaínein to show through (see dia-, -phane) + -ēs adj. suffix) + -ous

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Today is one of those incredible days you don’t expect in November in Colorado. It’s like a gift. The skies are cerulean blue striped with ribbons of white clouds across the horizon. The white mountaintops hover in the distance. The autumn sunlight produces filmy shadows.

This morning as I was walking from my car to church, I looked down to see my shadow beside me. Although my skirt is not see-through, the shadow of it was particulary diaphanous. I could see the various layers defined on the ground.

I am not known for being particularly diaphanous. In fact, I am more often than not opaque. Here’s another definition for you:

o⋅paque

[oh-peyk]

-adjective

1. not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through.

2. not transmitting radiation, sound, heat, etc.

3. not shining or bright; dark; dull.

4. hard to understand; not clear or lucid; obscure: The problem remains opaque despite explanations.

5. dull, stupid, or unintelligent.

Origin:
1375-1425; late ME opake < L opācus shaded

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

I come from a long line of actors, both professed and not. Although my father acted on the stage, my mother believes that any sign of weakness is not acceptable. She is a product of her German-American upbringing where strength is only a thin line away from repression. She’ll tell you she has no problems.

I admit I have plenty of problems, but I do a pretty good job of hiding them myself. My name Patrina or Petrine is derived from Peter–the rock. Rocks are both substantial (good) and opaque (not-so-good).

I imagine many people are fooled by the mask I wear, including some who encountered me on Friday as I dropped off Christiana at her museum field trip. If anything, those who saw me probably suspected anger at the base of my rock-hard eyes.

But behind that anger is an incredible sadness that I suspect is becoming more diaphanous to those who truly look in my eyes. When I see people I haven’t seen in a long time, how many believe my answer of “fine” when they ask how I’m doing? My replies are no doubt exposed for the platitudes they are.

When will I tell the truth and ask for the help I need? After all, one often becomes opaque after learning the dangers of being transparent with the wrong people.

On the other hand, isn’t the duality of being simultaneously diaphanous and opaque at the heart of what it means to be whole? Isn’t there balance in knowing when to hide and when to share?

What I wouldn’t give for my heart, at the very minimum, to feel diaphanous for just a day again?

 

OK, there’s nothing exciting about my time, but I did it! Yes, I ran a five mile race after several years away from running and a year back running only 5Ks.

Today our family joined the Colorado Masters Running/Racewalking Association. Of course, only Sherman and I are “masters”-at least in age, heh, heh. Still it’s a pretty inexpensive way for us to race throughout 2009. It’s not like we need any more T-shirts anyway.

Did I mention it was cold this morning? Yeah, we’ve had some sweet weather lately and the forecast for today was mid-50s, but not at pre-race time. When I checked the temperature online, it read 19 degrees! Yikes, couldn’t we have slept in a little longer and run when it was decent?

Truth is, after freezing while waiting in the very long porta-potty line (did I mention that “masters” stands for older people like us, although they do let people like Christiana, Jackson, and Cheyenne run, too?), it took about two minutes of running for me to feel overdressed. First the gloves, then the headband, and finally the jacket went.

What a beautiful November day for running around Chatfield Reservoir. We had to go through some narrow trails in the trees and grasses next to the South Platte River. That kept me from slowing down too much because the people behind could only pass at certain points.

Unfortunately, the path was pretty tight and involved avoiding tree roots and rocks. That didn’t work for everyone. One guy left in an ambulance after face-planting about five people in front of me. Thank goodness we didn’t all keep going and demonstrate the Domino Effect!

The funny thing is I’m such a prairie person that about 3 1/2 miles into the race, I’d had it with running in the trees. I was starting to think, “Get me out of this forest and out where I can see something beside the person in front of me!” Who knew I could get claustrophobic running beside the Platte?

I’m just happy I made the right turn for five mile finish. I was starting to panic and worry I would end up on the ten mile route. Well, I didn’t! That’s good because five miles is the most I’ve run in at least half a decade, if not more.

I’m back-and definitely in black because, of course, it is the most slimming color. Stay tuned for more running times . . .

Yes, it’s true, there is a desk under the papers! This is the week I conceded that I could never get my paid work done without dealing with much of that unpaid work that is a big part of my life—Mom’s bills and medical information, our family’s bills and medical information, and all the other miscellaneous mail that overwhelms me.

I admit that I’m becoming more like my mother in this way. I open the mail and put it down because I don’t want to deal with it. Aargh! Time to set up a better system.

That’s right, the “operations person” in me realizes the only thing that can save me from my personal avoidance flaw is to create a system that at least keeps all the various types of papers together. Just like Judy’s “head in the sand” drawer, except that I will get to it one day.

Judy was a former friend of my brother-in-law’s who rented the top part of this house before I lived here. Sherman and Michael had to evict her and then clean out anything she left behind. We found a drawer filled with NSF statements from the bank, unreturned videos, and various bills—hidden but not forgotten, at least by those businesses.

Unlike Judy, I do meet my obligations. It’s just that I know you have to step up your operations systems when production or expectations increase. I haven’t done that well enough in this year of added commitments, so it puts a lot of stress on me and keeps me from being able to focus as well as I’d like on my paid assignments and the ones I want to create.

Today’s not the day to create the system, as tempting as it is to do—because it’s not urgent! Yes, that would be avoiding my real work. I don’t want to be like Conny doing a craft project because she’s supposed to be cleaning the house for Susan’s visit. Only, isn’t it hilarious that she chooses something fun like a craft project for her avoidance measure and I’m . . . thinking about creating a system??!!

Enough said. I’m moving the few remaining papers, taking care of the truly urgent phone calls, and then getting back to the Norman Conquest.

Funny, but if I accomplish these other things, it will be my own version of the Norman Conquest.

Yes, the last lyrics I quoted were bitter. Some days those are the kind of words I feel and I’m just glad someone else has expressed them so well. However, I don’t want to live there every day, all the time.

More often I choose lyrics of hope. We all need hope in a world where what’s good isn’t always obvious to us. Sometimes it’s because of where we’re looking, but other times it is because of where we are. In those times we know we’re going to have to walk through that shadowy valley before we get to rest beside still waters.

I still believe in a God who is good and who hears my prayers, even if they’re not answered in the way or at the time I would choose. So I keep returning to the hungry feast.

We come to the hungry feast
hungry for a word of peace.
To hungry hearts unsatisfied
the love of God is not denied.

We come,
we come to the hungry feast.
(c) Ray Makeever

Right now I especially hunger for peace at our dinner table, in our home, and in our hearts.

If I could, I would take on the hurt for what has happened outside our home. But . . . I can’t. And, it’s not up to me to dictate someone else’s healing or to tell another how to satisfy the heart that hungers or to say how long it will take before the acceptance piece transforms into colors.

I just know that peace won’t come as long as there is a battle going on. Not forgetting doesn’t mean a truce can’t be called.

I hunger for a home of peace. I’m going to keep working to guide our family through that valley and bringing them to that table, even if it feels as if it’s prepared before our enemies—or people who seem to be enemies right now.

I come, hungry, to that feast.

Peace be with us.

Sometimes I feel like singing Bob Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken” song:

Broken bottles broken plates
Broken switches broken gates
Broken dishes broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken.

I understand the whole “store up your treasures in heaven” concept, but it still gets old having to try to fix things—and people. Our shower leaks, the kitchen sink leaks, you know things like that. And, here I am, the one who thinks turning off running water is more important than holding a crying baby! (Note: that comes from the results of one of those questionable surveys people like to give . . .)

Saturday we discovered that both our cars out front had been vandalized. The CR-V has a chip in the front windshield that can probably be repaired without replacing the whole windshield. Knowing that was a small satisfaction until later that night when we discovered that the 240SX’s side window had been shattered. Let’s just say if it really does snow, it’s going to get in the car.

Jackson says he saw the neighbor’s grandkids throwing rocks into the street and at the cars. He glared at them and they ran inside. I have a hard time thinking that really young kids would be able to throw rocks hard enough to break windshields, let alone that they would not run after actually hitting the first one.

I think it’s more vandalism to go along with other actions like all the tagging in our neighborhood, the egging of our Mercury and the RV, and the throwing of the baseball through the RV’s back window. And people wonder why we get frustrated with our neighborhood sometimes . . .

But, unkind people can be found anywhere, can even visit our neighborhoods to bring about damage of all sorts. And it’s hard picking up the pieces after people who seemed like decent people either changed or turned out to be something else. Some changes are good, but not all are.

Every time there is a broken vow, especially when broken with unkind words and actions, we shouldn’t be surprised when “broken words never meant to be spoken” are spoken back.

I’m not so old that I don’t remember sending out a few broken hearts—whether belonging to friends or more than friends—into the streets.

Sometimes that’s what we have to do, but we better never pretend it’s a game.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Or is it?

I think I received a compliment this week that was sincere. Yes, I’m one of those annoying patients who does Internet research on medical symptoms.

But, I like to think that because of the researching skills I’ve acquired as a writer, I know how to evaluate the validity of sources. Sure I like Wikipedia, but I always look at other more reliable sources, too.

Yup, my computer personally has a problem with WebMD, so I don’t get to go there, but I tend to go other reliable websites.

As I was talking to my doctor about something I had observed, I explained possible medical connections to what was happening.

She asked me when I was going to go back to school. Ha, ha. When my husband graduated with his MS in 2002, seven years after I’d received my MBA, I declared that the next person in this family who goes to school better be born in 1992!

I told her I hate science. However, I seem to live a life where ignoring it is not an option! If only my eyes didn’t roll back in my head as soon as the language gets a bit technical.

She’s a writer, too—yes, one of those medical people who can write for the masses—so I explained that what I am is a good researcher. Maybe too good because I do a great job of finding a variety of related causes and start to see how complicated most medical diagnoses really are.

I could never make the call! That’s why indecisive people shouldn’t be doctors. I’ll leave that to the professionals, but don’t expect me to stop doing the research before the appointments.

My parents’ attitude of “whatever you think, doctor” is never going to be mine. I’ve watched that lead to disastrous results. No doctor is going to fixate on your personal problem as well as you are.

Hey, we Baby Boomers aren’t called Bellybutton Gazers for nothing!

I get excited when I see friends changing the world for better.

Go, Elaine! Yeah, this is dedicated to my former chemistry lab partner—the one who did everything right on our labs and I still couldn’t get the lab written well enough!

Elaine once told us her job was to go to work, play with her toys, then put them away and go back home.

You know what her job is? She’s a biochemist who works on DNA sequencing. Her toys are saving lives!

She’s sequenced things like the SARS virus and the chicken genome. She calls James Watson “Jimmy” and his ridden in his Lear jet.

Out of the blue, her mother called me Tuesday night. She said Elaine said there would be big news on leukemia today. Read about it here:
http://mednews.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/12873.html

Maybe it’s the kind of leukemia that killed my uncle, Dale. The illness that runs in the Rodehorst genes, according to family genealogists. Maybe not, but it runs in a lot of people’s families. Lives will be saved down the road from this.

I’m such a nerd, I e-mailed Christiana’s biology teacher, Ms. Rankin—I already knew she’d be a science nerd about this.

Her reply? “Wow!”

Wow is right.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert