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Also true of my heart--but also what I expect back from others, family or otherwise.

Also true of my heart–but also what I expect back from others, family or otherwise.

I am who I am—and part of that involves believing—often mistakenly—that others I might enjoy surely share my values. Too easily I think people want what’s best for the common good and share my beliefs that—no matter how short we may fall—it’s important to try to live our lives attempting to treat others as we would like to be treated. I also believe there’s often more than one way to do things and, despite, my intense desire to do things the way I consider right, that it’s no good to be highly critical of others who fall short—especially if I make the same mistakes myself. Plus, none of us can be good at everything.

But I’m tired of others telling me and my own that how we live our lives is insufficient if we do so much as put the wrong spoon in the wrong slot, don’t eat enough vegetables, or choose professions that afford us more time with our family but less money in the bank account. I’m tired of people comparing the apples of circumstance to the oranges of circumstance and thinking that their conclusions are oh-so-rational and valid while ours are irrational and unsupported by evidence.

Quite frankly none of those details matter if we don’t treat others with respect—especially those whom we claim are important to us. Dave Barry says that a person who is nice to you but not nice to the waiter isn’t a nice person—well, it’s also true that a person who acts nice to the waiter, but not to you is not acting in a nice way. If we want to remain in relationship with people whom we enjoy and who we can count on to stand with us in the tough times, we also have to put up with some of their flaws—and that involves acting “nice” toward them, even after we’ve become comfortable with one another.

A constant diet of criticism is not how we should reward those closest to us. If others’ habits really have grown too heinous to tolerate without feeling the need to make corrections, then maybe we no longer care about them as much as we once did.

Healthy relationships are a balance of giving and taking—if the balance is off, then what remains is a power relationship. And this is especially where I admit to being just who I am—I believe in relationships we maintain for connection, not for status or image or whatever can be gained beyond connection. If I have to worry about impressing you or doing things your way constantly, then we’ve got a problem. Relationships are about enjoying time together as well as being able to tolerate whatever it is we don’t enjoy about someone—because in a mature relationship we’re never going to enjoy everything about someone; however, if the relationship matters to us anyway, we’ll love them as they are without trying to improve or fix them.

I may be good at finding errors in documents and how things are done, but that doesn’t mean I should always share my criticism or opinions. Sometimes it’s not my position to say—and other times it doesn’t really matter that much after all. You know the whole drill: is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Maybe I’m especially sensitive about this because as a woman with ADD, I’m better at rational and creative thinking than I am at putting everything in its proper place or maintaining all the details of a life. But know this, what is my greatest weakness is also my greatest strength. I am nothing but responsive to people and situations.

If you call me in a moment of crisis, I’ll drop what I’m doing to help you—even if it means I don’t get proper sleep or finish my own obligations as first planned. If my mother or my father-in-law or anyone in my family needs to be visited while in care, I’ll go, even if it means I will have less time for my own tasks. If the family business needs me to pull financial documents for a loan, I’m the person. And if you need my help critiquing your paper, I’ll make time to do so.

And though I won’t be as good at doing what comes naturally domestically, that might allow me to come up with even better than typical domestic organizing systems—such as laundry organizers that go way beyond lights/darks or a desk designed just for me from what we already own. I might put off painting my house for years, but when I do, I’ll come up with a color scheme that pops because I’ve been thinking about it while waiting to move forward.

None of us gets “it” all, but I’d like to think my heart and work ethic as well as my creativity are in the right places and make up for whatever organizational qualities I may lack—I do what I think is necessary for other people or organizations first before I put my effort to doing everything just perfectly in my own space.

Besides, if you’re looking for perfect, you’re not going to find that in me—or anyone or anything. If you’d rather be perfect or right than relational, loyal, and decent to others, then we’ll have to agree to disagree about what really matters in this life.

But there is one more thing. If after all this is said and done, and you say you do understand where I am coming from—I will be willing to try to forgive and forget and move forward as long as you understand that your desire to show and do kindness is the only way you’ll ever truly impress me, even though you—an imperfect human like the rest of us—will inevitably fall short from time to time. That you care enough to try is what matters most to me.


(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Is it wrong to try to come up with something to write just so you can retreat to your big, comfy chair cuddled up with your warm puppy and your even warmer laptop? Hard to tell what I am “using” more—the dog or the laptop.

Today dawned gray and gloomy and cool. No true rain fell, but the air felt wet anyway. In search of warmth and color, I topped long pants, socks, and closed-toes shoes with a bright blue long-sleeved shirt as well as my scarlet red rain jacket before striding outside. Though the back yard and sidewalk were dry, by the time I’d walked about ten feet toward the front yard, I encountered mist and saw that the sidewalks out front were all wet. On my drive I found similar dry/wet patterns—thought I’d get carpal tunnel in my thumb turning the wipers off and on and up and down.

Since the warmest part of the day happened early, once I made it back home, I added another layer to my clothes, then closed windows and turned off ceiling fans—goodbye to the lingering summer feel around here.

This is the kind of weather for reading books or watching movies—or both. So I ran out again to visit the library, grab a movie and a few more of the books recommended by my library advisor, and prepare myself to hunker down . . .

which wasn’t too hard when the dogs looked at me with those eyes.

That’s right—here I sit with my dogs, computer, blanket, and books. Though I’m still wearing street clothes, my pajamas are starting to call my name, but, hey, I’ll at least wait until my husband slogs home through the rain—wouldn’t want him to think I’m too much of a sloth, right? Besides, it’s not as if we live in Seattle or anywhere remotely wet—we get those famous 300 plus days of sunshine here, so a little bit of sloth on a rainy Friday night goes a long way.

Anyway, tomorrow morning I have to think and learn at a writing workshop. How about I just say I’m conserving my brain cells and call it a night.

Trina (mid-1970s)

Trina (mid-1970s)

Want to know the hardest thing for me to write? A bio! Where I come from, talking about yourself isn’t that common—or at least it wasn’t. Go ahead—read all that pioneer literature and you’ll see how often the adults in the stories admonish the kids for straying from modesty.

And you better believe compliments from others were handed out about as often as candy was, too. My mother’s mother, the oldest child and daughter, had to drop out of school at eight-years-old to take over the household work when her mother was no longer able. Despite her early exit from schooling, it was no secret she valued education for others. But when she talked about my mother, did she boast about her being the first in their family to get a college degree as well as a master’s degree? (OK, she did spend time with a sister-in-law who often dropped news of “her son, the doctor” as often as possible.) No, whenever she talked about my mom, she would say, “All she ever did was read.” If you looked at her face, you knew she was bragging though she was trying to present the statement as if it were a complaint.

Oh, no, I come from a long line of people who downplay our abilities and accomplishments. That is so not the modern way, not even in casual interactions. Can’t even begin to tell you what my grandmother would have said about all those high school and college kids posting their grades on Facebook at the end of each semester. Even my peers would have stuffed me in a locker pronto if I had done stuff like that in high school.

Maybe it’s good that some things have changed over the years—there really is no need to hide everything you do well even if I still don’t think it’s very good manners to rub your successes in other peoples’ faces. Several decades past responding to people’s compliments with an explanation about why their statements are wrong, I’ve moved from protest to simple thank-yous.

On the other hand, I think my kids—part of the everyone-gets-a-trophy-generation—will say I’m still a little stingy with compliments. Even so, they know I value hard work and effort. Plus, by now they understand that when I give them praise, I mean every word.

But back to my own self-promotional words. I’m always working against my background when I need to write résumés, bios, cover letters, applications, etc. I can tell you what I did or do but have a really hard time telling you why I’m good at it, even when I know very well just why that is—and especially when I know why I’m particularly better at it than other people are.

Yeah I know—not exactly the moment for a normally wordy person to plummet her word count.

Speaking of word counts, I have exactly 300 words ahead of me—300 complimentary words about how well I do what I do, that is. This isn’t writer’s block I’m facing. No, it’s writer’s phobia. And the gospel truth is that I don’t do that sort of writing well—yet. Maybe if I pretend I’m writing a character analysis on the fictional hero of my story, I’ll forget my upbringing long enough to get my story into the kind of words my grandmother never would have said of me—despite secretly agreeing with every single word.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

I’ve been here before: up the hill, down the hill, at the start line crushed together with my husband and new “best” friends, as well as crossing the chute with absolute relief. But just not for so long that I had to look in my old calendars to figure out when I ran my last race. Turns out it’s been three years since I set foot on a public racecourse and three months short of that since I ran a private race. Money and time led to infrequent racing, but when I ran that last race in December 2010, I had no idea just how long my body would postpone the timing of my next race.

When Sherman and I were first married, we did quite a few road races together, especially since my company tended to pick-up the fee for my races if employees had put together sign-up sheets for company teams. This was one of the ways we enjoyed spending our weekends when we were DINKs. Then, after I gave birth to our twins, we lost my funding source, plus we had to take turns running events or find someone else to watch the kids. As the years passed, we experienced various injuries that kept us from running at all, let alone racing.

Eventually I staged a comeback that lasted four glorious years. Though Sherman mostly decided to stick with cycling, he did do some runs with me from time to time. Those years were glorious for me, though, because I could run and was able to see major improvements from when I first stepped out again and as I kept going—until that fateful early May day in 2011 when my back just twinged. (Turns out Sherman’s back wasn’t so happy during my injury period either—see what a team we are!)

The truth is I finally started again—building up distance and pace very, very slowly and working toward a new form (ChiRunning)—a little less than a year ago. A few months into my “return”, Sherman also started his running build-up, more often during his lunch hours, but sometimes also with me on a weeknight or weekend. In fact, the build-up has been so excruciatingly slow that we haven’t really considered it worth our money or time to participate in any race.

Last week, though, we found ourselves wanting to support a cause—the Second Wind Fund—and realized we’re both so cheap that we just didn’t want to pay the race fees only to walk the course.

So despite knowing that the course was incredibly challenging—so much so that our kids found it a difficult run even in the middle of peak fitness during their senior cross country season—we said, “What the heck?” Funny part is the volunteers at the packet pick-up didn’t give us the running bibs and timing chips until we reminded them we were signing up for the run, not the walk. Perhaps we didn’t look like runners? Ah but runners come in all different shapes and sizes and paces—it’s all about whether both feet are off the ground at one point or not—something that does not happen while walking.

The weather was in our favor race day—nothing like the near-100-degree-heat we experienced three years ago. Nonetheless, the hills were as hard as we remembered. Sherman ran the downhills fast while slowing on the uphills while I just maintained a steady pace. We didn’t worry about the numbers—this was all about the finishing—as well as the beginning of our latest comebacks.

Sherman and I both made it, running together for some distances and apart for others. I’m happy to say I could still kick at the end, even if in previous years I would have cringed at my final time. The good news about beginning again with a challenging course is that it won’t be nearly so hard to achieve a (returning) PR (personal record) when comparing the first race post-recovery with those that follow, right?

In the end, what really matters is getting to aim for that finish line, not what any clock says. And what’s even better is being able to do so side by side. Here’s to us and our first steps on this newest beginning—we’re back on the road—again.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Sometimes you’re forced into a whole new way of doing things—yet somewhere amidst the panic of relearning, you start to see that maybe, just maybe, there are sound reasons behind the changes and that the results could be infinitely better than you had imagined.

Truth is much of life is like this—we have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into change. We aren’t going to go, they can’t make us, that’s just wrong, blah, blah, blah—those are the kinds of thoughts that run through our minds. When the terra firma upon which we stand is no longer so firma, we just have to leap. And often where we land is terra even more firma than we had known possible.

Big change is going down in our church choir after the retirement of our former director who was the most excellent director I’ve had in the tradition of various directors I have experienced throughout my life. However, I’d only been in this particular choir for two years, so I wasn’t really so set in my ways that I couldn’t move on. Or so I thought.

The truth is all my directors—choir, band, orchestra—had a similar style throughout my life, one I can only assume developed from the educational theories and the society of the times in which they lived and grew, whether that was during times of direct military conflict or while being raised by people who had served during the conflicts. My mother began her directing career while men were away serving in Korea. Still, women took over in the same traditions. Even the directing my own kids experienced in community and school groups was little different. The director is In Charge, right?

So when candidates for choir director auditioned with our choir, I thought the candidate who thought we ought to look at him less and “feel the music” more was crazy. Heck, I thought that was crazy for the general public, let alone for a group of Frozen Chosen Lutherans leaning closer to Medicare age than to the era of early career days and parenthood. Look, I dance around here all the time and I know I “feel the music” more than many—in fact, I have been known to move in time to music in church—gasp. But, still, what could he mean by that sort of crap? I mean I’m still this obsessive-counting German-American type, raised by a woman for whom not having rhythm wasn’t an option for her children.

Then we get to the first practices and the “feel the music” director doesn’t even warm us up. He just starts us with hard, hard pieces. And tells us to sing boldly—even if we don’t hit all the notes right. No, in fact he’d rather we get the rhythm right first (score one for being raised by my mother!) Anyway, little by little we’re learning to sing—or sin, as I say—boldly reading Bach—in German, no less. And for all these people with Germanic backgrounds, can I just say that we as a group (and that includes me) are probably sinning so boldly in that language that our ancestors are rolling (in rhythmic precision, of course) in their graves.

Every practice I go to, I think I can’t do this, this is beyond me, etc.—and I know I am one of many. But then we get a section right, a song right, and the sound is something new to us. I can’t help but think that we are “feeling the music’’—perhaps for the very first time in a choral setting for many of us. This choir has always been technically advanced, but no doubt a little emotionally restricted. Might our ministry reach people better if they felt our music too? Can we cerebral Lutherans yet stretch into something more?

The first Sunday we sang together in this new era, people came to us afterwards gushing just a little. I think we all felt we had been a little different, but how so? I came home and watched the archived service. You know what? Our director had most of us moving with the music, not just the most expressive members. We were—dare I say it—feeling that music.

Last night we practiced again. I thought I was floundering, that we would never get it right, whatever, all over again. And, yet, I also didn’t feel as if it were wrong to sing a wrong note on the way to getting it right. I didn’t feel that I would receive dirty looks from fellow members or that there wasn’t room for a little levity surrounding the boldness of our singing sins. No, what I felt was that making those mistakes was actually part of the learning process and that it would get us where we needed to be. Even though that doesn’t seem technically possible, I have hope based upon what improvements I’ve heard so far.

Isn’t this what I’ve been searching for much of my life? A release from the tyranny of needing always to be right from the beginning versus giving into the inevitable mistakes encountered on the way to true learning—which could bring me and others to much higher levels than would be possible if we’d never sinned—boldly or otherwise. Feel the music of that . . . .

(c) 2013 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2013 Sherman Lambert

Soon after my parents retired, they followed their dreams and moved from Nebraska to their favorite vacation spot: Estes Park, Colorado. Although the town and surrounding areas had a history of flooding—and a local business in the form of an ark—the years they lived there were relatively dry years—except for a couple huge snowstorms, such as the one that fortuitously happened during the filming of the TV version of The Shining (a story that grew from Stephen King’s stay in the local Stanley Hotel) and the Christmas snows of 2006.

In fact, for most of this year the stories of natural disaster were all about drought and fires. When my mother lived there, she talked constantly about things such as creating defensible spaces around your home and friends she knew who had to rely on whether or not their wells would run dry. However, since the Big Thompson River ran right beside the walkways downtown, she also taught my kids about the “angry water” that ran through there from about May through July. Plus, she would tell them that those signs that seemed so silly—“In Case of Flooding Climb to Safety”—were not at all silly after the catastrophic flood of 1976 when the Big Thompson Canyon quickly filled with water and flooded Highway 34 as well as dwellings high above the road.

The town of Estes Park, as well as the large body of water that is Lake Estes, rests in a valley upstream from the Big Thompson Canyon. Precipitous rainfall sometimes causes the water authority to release voluminous overflow from this repository for mountain waters into that narrow canyon that leads to the community of Loveland.

My father breathed his last in that beautiful little valley. My mother continued to live in their Estes Park condo for yet another five years or so after he was gone. Once she moved down “the hill” as she would say to Denver, more than another year passed before we moved out all her possessions and sold her home—by that time, we had been traveling the various mountain roads to and from there—Highways 34, 36, or 7—for over 13 years.

That’s one of the reasons why all the pictures from the flooding in areas north of where we live in metropolitan Denver are especially devastating to me. Our family has so many happy memories of traveling through places such Boulder, Lyons, Longmont, and Loveland, as well as from traipsing around the town of Estes Park and picnicking in the surrounding natural areas. I look at images and remember that house, that curve in the road, that bridge, that little locally-owned and operated business. I wonder about my parents’ friends who might still live in the area and who might be part of the elderly who have been evacuated or if those friends’ new church building had any flooding. I worry about the shopkeepers who will have to decide whether or not to start over.

Just last week all of us in this region were lamenting our unexpected late season heat and wishing for a little moisture and cool air. I’m afraid we along the I-25 corridor got way more than we bargained for, but more so those people in northern Colorado.

As for me, my plans got changed by the weather, too. Our daughter has been driving around with a cracked windshield and so we switched cars with her in between weekend trips home. The plan was to let the auto glass people do the replacement outside our son’s work place while he was working so no one would have to go anywhere or wait around. Well, now I’m sitting here in the Safelite auto store trying to tell myself that the inconvenience of coming in here is nothing compared to what’s going on elsewhere.

And, though Christiana’s campus hasn’t been as affected as the University of Colorado campus is in Boulder, Colorado State University in Fort Collins has now closed for this day, too—thank goodness her housing is up a flight of stairs. I suppose her planned field trip here will be a no-go since the bridges to get to the highway and on the highway are iffy—if that’s the case, we’ll have to make new plans for exchanging cars.

Expect the unexpected is the order for this week. I pray that the end to these rains comes and that our supersaturated soils have a chance to dry out sooner than later. Also, that no more bridges, dams, retaining walls, culverts, roads, etc. fail and for the safety of the first responders, both local and federal.

My memories and plans are threatened but for many people, it’s their homes, lives, and livelihoods that are threatened. For their sakes I hope we get to wake from this bad dream ASAP—in order for these unusual-in-September “angry” waters to recede as quickly as they came, leaving space for re-imagining to take seed and grow into the rebuilding that will follow.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

In our house we don’t have everything in its place—far from it as our more left-brained friends can attest to. But that’s not because we’re lazy, as some may assume, and it’s definitely not because we’re sitting around watching TV. Frankly we spend a lot more time in our heads than we do in the material world and much of the where of where to put things just isn’t as obvious to us as it is to many. However, because this “stuff” area is an area of weakness for us, we are much more likely to analyze why we just can’t seem to put things in the supposed obvious place, such as the drawer or cabinet, and eventually we come up with totally a different way that works much better for us.

That this sort of thing doesn’t always work for others became abundantly obvious when I decided the best place to store my hair supplies was not beneath the sink or on the overcrowded counter top but in a trash can (read: container) I bought to fit the gap between the wall and the cabinet. Every morning I’d just pull it up in order to get ready and then when I was done using all the products, I’d put them in that waste basket and return the whole container where it belonged. No mess on my counter or cramming more items into the too-small cabinet—and it took advantage of formerly wasted “dead” space.

Perfect, right? Except for when we had company—and too many people didn’t even notice that this converted trash can wasn’t a trash can, despite the carefully placed bottles in it or the much larger covered trash can sitting right next to the toilet.

Sometimes people who always have a more typical place for everything—whether that’s a place for objects or for what their observations tell them something means—miss that there could be more than one place for everything or more than one meaning behind an action. Or get this—that just because something has typically gone here or meant this doesn’t mean there isn’t a better place to put something or a better way to do something or a better understanding of the meaning behind actions. Or that what works for many doesn’t work for everyone . . .

In the years after I got out of college, I used to read all sorts of career articles. I’ll never forget the one where a hiring manager said she likes to hire people who have all the details put together because if they didn’t, she assumed they’d do sloppy work for her. The all-important detail she noticed? Whether or not a woman with pierced ears was wearing earrings. Really. (You read this sort of thing and think, “For this I went to college?”) My ears were pierced for about three years of my life—in junior high—before I gave up due to constant allergic reactions that made me look as if I had leprosy. But besides that, sometimes people either don’t think accessories are as important as knowledge and ability or find they can’t “do” it all so choose doing quality work and looking neat and professional over obsessing over details that don’t matter to the particular job at hand.

Heck, even looking around my neighborhood I can notice people who choose where their priorities lie—people who are obsessive about some details and not others. There’s the man who has the perfectly-manicured lawn and well-maintained trees and bushes but who has never ever painted his house in the twenty-five years I’ve lived here—and who knows how many years before that. If you think he doesn’t care about appearances at all, you’d be wrong, but he’s more of a detail-oriented specialist than a detail-oriented generalist.

The devil is definitely in the details, but so is demonizing someone from assumptions based on only one small detail or one type of detail versus the sum of the details.

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