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(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Breaking news—I am tapping on my keyboard in front of the monitor in my office. This really is big news because I am no longer just using my laptop on my lap in some chair or on the dining room or kitchen table as I have done for most of the time since I got my puppy—yes, that’s the puppy who is now 2 ½ years old. You see I initially fell into that work-at-home habit because he was just too “big” to fit in my office, no matter how small he was. He was always running around and needed lots of space—and plus, it was so much easier to puppy-proof the other rooms. Though I can work anywhere, I know it’s really helpful to have the option to go to a space dedicated just for working.

Just yesterday ARC picked up my old heavy oak L-shaped desk and drove off with it. My modest-sized 1940s former bedroom/now office breathed a sigh of relief—and so did I. Until I figure out just what sort of work space I want to create, I am working from a short utility table that has just enough room to fit the printer, monitor, keyboard, laptop, and a pencil cup. It’s the end of the world as I have known it lately and I feel more than fine.

My husband Sherman is going to make me some sort of desk from a solid-core door, but we haven’t quite decided what all it is I need in a desk. So far we’ve looked at Lowe’s and Pinterest for ideas. I’m feeling the need for advice because, let’s face it, we use desks differently than we used to do. Though I’m still trying to break away from all the paper documents and references, this isn’t going to be a virtual-only workspace yet. However slowly I am making strides toward saving the trees of the world, I am still going to need some file cabinet space. Nonetheless, I am trying to figure out if I can live with some sort of bins instead of a drawer for supplies—isn’t that what right-brained organizers, such as I am, are supposed to like anyway?

Anyway, getting rid of the desk and reorganizing the office is just another way we are clearing out the unnecessary clutter that has been hogging too much space in our home. Time seemed to stand still and speed up at the same time when my mother’s health troubles set in—leaving little time and energy for the difficult tasks surrounding keeping track of “stuff”—especially that belonging to others. That my back injury followed soon after her death most definitely did not help with the process, either.

Though it is way past time to move everything out, thank goodness we’ve made such great progress this summer. As I mentioned earlier this month, Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way program reminds artists and other creative people that getting rid of what no longer works for us creates space for new growth. On that vein, taking care of the office is especially important to my long-term professional growth, whether more of that growth happens here in my own space or in someone else’s space. This room is the room where I get down to business more than any other room in my home. This is my “room of my own”—and I’ve been away from it for far too long.

Glad to be back in my own office chair in my own space where my seat is most firmly planted. Ready, set—grow!

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(c) 1998 Trina Lambert

(c) 1998 Trina Lambert

Before you decide I belong solely in the writer/editor box, remember that writers are observers and learners. We pay attention, often seeing both the forests—and the trees. Then we gather up what we have discovered from our observations and research in order to tell the stories of those forests and trees, through tools such as words, structure, facts, and anecdotes.

As for me, I embrace the principles of my liberal arts education—I truly believe my undergraduate studies prepared me to apply my skills and past experiences to any new opportunity I encounter, whether in a job setting or in living my everyday life. However, my formal studies go beyond the liberal arts—I am, in fact, an English/Spanish major/MBA who has worked with more than words.

Besides through writing and editing endeavors, often I have told the story of an organization through accurate numbers. Over the years I’ve also been paid to do magazine circulation administration, financial reporting standardization, and financial report preparation.

Though my background may sound fairly random, the specific positions point to how I work and think, as well as to the desired end results from my efforts. All those jobs required an eye for detail, analytical thinking skills, and the ability to do research, plus resulted in providing valued resources.

Yet what was missing in my early more analytical work years was a chance to perform really creative work as well as perhaps help solve problems while executing the detailed work. As I better understood just how much more of the forests I did want to see, I added accountability oversight, systems creation, and productivity improvement into my volunteer, as well as personal, activities.

I am more than the specifics of what I have done so far because, for me, my life is one big learning adventure—may I never stop seeing the forests, yet still take the time to discover the trees that lie within.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

I’m always fascinated by attempts to categorize people through their learning and work styles—even though some people are frightened by such real life assessments, insisting that “They’ll just use that information to put you and keep you in a box!” (That’s right, I’m talking to you, my husband and son, and you both know it—that sort of response is so typical for your types—bwa, ha, ha, ha, ha.)

So of course I had to read the article in today’s Denver Post that explained how Douglas County School District (65,000 students) is piloting a program to assess students’ learning and personality styles in order to help educators figure how best to teach to particular students. The Emergenetics International program divides thinking attributes into four categories: analytical, structural, social, and conceptual. Student profile results are assigned a percentage for each color-coded thinking attribute and should help guide more individualized teaching techniques.

As a parent of a couple students who always seemed to be learning outliers, I’m excited that the district cares enough to try to reach out to students in different ways. Of course, this sort of information could be used to keep kids in boxes (think of all the dystopian novels you’ve read—I’m specifically thinking of Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey novel where people are categorized by the specific color they can see), but used properly, it could not only lead to better learning, but also to improved self-knowledge for those students.

Admit it—many of us enjoy taking all those random quizzes on the Internet that allow us to discover our Lord of the Rings character, the house we’d be selected into at Hogwarts, the animal that represents our Myers-Briggs type, our Downton Abbey persona, etc. Some of those quizzes are just plain silly, while others have some kernels of truth in them. Well, at least I’ll admit I enjoy taking those quizzes.

My daughter will also tell you that thinking about these sorts of things can prepare you for a job interview with companies that are not yet using Emergenetics’ corporate tools or any other assessment tools.

The question she was asked recently was: “What Disney character are you?”

I like that one—and I knew immediately what her answer was. She’s Buzz Lightyear—and not just because she looked really good in her homemade Buzz costume in high school. I can bet her answer also told the (now) employer a lot about who she is even though the employer didn’t know her as well as I do. She’s Buzz Lightyear to the rescue—she’ll do whatever she can to make things right for others.

Of course, though I’ve never taken a Disney Internet quiz, I also knew my answer in about 30 seconds—and so did my kids. I’m Belle. No, not because I look good in yellow—which I don’t—or because my husband is a former beast—which he isn’t. I’m curious and often have my head in a book or some other form of reading material, my family members matter to me, and I value people who treat each other with kindness and respect—and, maybe, just maybe I wanted to leave my provincial little town oh so many years ago before I settled here—in another still somewhat provincial little town but also closer to bigger opportunities.

None of these assessments—goofy or professional—gets everything right about us. We are individuals, after all. Still, I remain somewhat fond of reasonable categorizations.

And just so you know, my answers are: Frodo, Ravenclaw, a beaver (!), and Isobel Crawley.

Surprised? Didn’t think so.

Shoes by Christiana Lambert, 2009

Shoes by Christiana Lambert, 2009

Long time no write, huh? It’s just that little thing called “Life” getting in the way of plans—the best laid and otherwise.

This has been a rough month here because a few weeks ago my father-in-law returned to the ER for the third time since the beginning of this year. The poor guy has been fighting an incredibly resistant staph infection, something that is no minor matter no matter how old you are, but is really dangerous when you have reached your mid-80s. Not only has he been incredibly exhausted and in constant excruciating pain, but he’s also gone through two separate multi-week daily IV antibiotic regimens—and all the inherent disruption from driving to and from appointments and going through all that’s involved with treatments—only to have the infection surge again after it has been supposedly defeated.

Talk about feeling defeated, right?

So that’s why the infectious disease docs felt that the post-treatment results have demonstrated that the medication treatments could only do so much for him—and that only surgery stood a chance of knocking out this bug. Once again, though, surgery becomes pretty risky as you add years, especially if your system is compromised in the first place.

The family had a lot of reservations about going ahead with the surgery, but let’s face it, he hadn’t had much good quality of life this whole year. Besides the decision was really his to make—and decide to proceed with the surgery he did.

Wish I could say everything’s been easy ever since, but the first good sign was an early call from an ecstatic surgeon who expected a much longer and more challenging surgery. As my husband says, either he’s an exceptional salesperson or he really felt the procedure was going to make a big difference.

Now a week and a half out from that surgery, my father-in-law is starting to look stronger than he has for a long time. Pain remains, but I can tell by his willingness to move that something has changed for the better. He explains that movement is tough for him because he’s tired, but not because it’s too painful. That’s a big step in the right direction.

Last week he moved from a regular hospital bed to one in a long term acute care rehab hospital which is the sort of place where people go to recover when their care needs are higher than a nursing home can provide, but when they are on their way away from immediate post-surgical recovery and toward long-term recovery from their surgeries and/or illnesses.

The especially good news, though, is that he finally seems capable of believing that it’s still possible for his life to improve after all.

In my mind, this is the most important step of all—this one step alone drives all the others, making all the difference between shuffling through his remaining days versus doing whatever he can to break back into the dance of life in whatever ways still left to him, no matter how small—or big. One foot in front of the other . . .

Sherman Lambert's feet--(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

Sherman Lambert’s feet–(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

It’s late summer (or at least it seems late when people in your family go to school) and suddenly the living feels easy-er: my daughter is feeling better and leaving soon for a temporary campus job that could work into a job while she’s in school too, my son finished the course—and coursework—that’s been in the way of his moving forward in college, the salary freeze has been lifted at my husband’s work, all the work we’ve done to get the commercial property loan we need is leading to a closing date, and with just a small weekly commitment to physical therapy exercises I am remaining relatively pain-free and able to improve again with my activities. I finally feel as if we can all move forward.

As for me, I’m thinking more about the lessons I learned while doing (Julia Cameron’s) Artist’s Way almost 15 years ago. There are obvious steps that move you toward your goals and then there are subtle activities that can open up you—and the Universe—to what comes next. So on one hand, I am evaluating what type of work I want to pursue and working on how to present myself. On the other hand, I’m doing other things that seem to have no professional purpose yet they help me both to remember who I am and create enough space to help me discover how to create a new way of living.

Sometimes you just have to stop thinking and do something—with your hands, with your whole body, or with your possessions—or all of them. Movement inspires more movement.

Part of getting ready to move forward is leaving behind what doesn’t work anymore or what’s been an impediment. That junk that causes me to stub my toes and then say things I wouldn’t think of putting in print is dragging me down. This past weekend my husband started removing items from our detached garage and soon I joined him. Why were we storing the whatchamacallits and thingamabobs of previous decades (and the past century and millennium) when we have current doodads that need a storage home? We kept at the work for a good part of two days and couldn’t believe how much easily-accessible storage we really do have. Just imagine if we keep up the work—and do not fill up every available free space . . .

However, the garage work is just part of the physical movement we’ve done that frees up room for more ideas. I can count three other areas where we’ve made major changes for the first time in years—the house is beginning to feel very different.

Speaking of ideas, I had one a few weeks ago that didn’t involve words. In times of great emotion, sometimes words come too fast and seem to keep me too deeply anchored to the present and past. No, I don’t usually think in pictures but this time a fully-formed picture came to me that expressed where I’d been for far too long. I’m no great artist, as my daughter is, but I just knew that making a small crazy quilt project would be better than writing the same old things . . . blah, blah, blah, blah.

Just so you know, I’ve never made a crazy quilt before but have pieced together quilts. Also, somewhere in the really far past I did embroidery on 4-H projects. So I looked on the Internet and—voila—found a pattern perfect for my project—just as I had envisioned it. Then I scrambled through my scraps looking for just the right pieces—and at the same time got all the remaining scraps organized for future projects.

The top is now pieced together and waiting for me to have time to sit down and practice my embroidery skills a bit more—my first attempts showed me I am not quite ready for prime time, but I am close. Hope to share this completed project with the pattern’s designer and in a future blog post later this month. And, you know what? I do feel more hopeful about both my renewed embroidery efforts as well as most everything else in my life. Really—the picture I saw is starting to become reality.

What is next for me? Don’t know yet, but little by little, day by day, the future looks more like a picture at the end of a gallery than one hidden behind clutter in a garage. And that makes it easier to find a little focus—which is one more reason this summertime feels—if not easy—easier.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert