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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

The past two Aprils I participated in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge—well, April starts tomorrow, so it’s time again to challenge myself to writing an almost-daily blog post.

Believe it or not, I even started thinking about my April blogging before April. As much as I think past experiences with this blogging challenge have been good training by forcing me to meet a prompt-based deadline, I also think I have a lot to learn about planning ahead. Yes, gasp, I decided this would be the year for a theme, although I do wonder if it will be a bit too ambitious—or at least difficult to keep myself to writing short posts.

My first-time-ever-theme is based on NPR’s “This I Believe” series. By this age in life I either believe certain things strongly or don’t believe them at all. Opinions? Yes, I have opinions. The trick might be choosing just one for a specific day, especially with letters such a “C” or other letters full of great options.

Now, the question is, will my humor still creep into my belief statements or will I be “playing it straight” in the coming month? Even I can’t predict that one! Until tomorrow . . .

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(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Heart rate monitors, physical therapy exercises, ChiRunning, Epsom salts baths—I’m a bit frustrated with them all right now. I would love to rebel against the tyranny of thinking so hard about running, but, so far, my body tells me that only with help can it do the running it does do.

Yes, I feel plateaued. I have worked awfully hard to get where I am but right now my ego is struggling to accept that where I am doesn’t look very far to others. Heck, it doesn’t look very far to me either.

I am trying to focus on the fact that I get to do it. That I have those moments alone, just me and my feet and my breathing and the breeze flowing through my air. Sometimes that is enough.

And the rest of the time? Not so much.

You can read all the “expert” advice you want, but the truth that matters to you is how you experience something. I got a cold and took off a week from running—and I didn’t even do all my PT exercises or sleep in my own bed (was helping my daughter post-surgery)—but guess what? My back and hips felt better. Grr.

Not a very scientific experiment, but it’s also hard to avoid the results I experienced. Started up running again—slowly—and got back on the personal PT exercise wagon—and the aches came back. Actually, they came back stronger than before I stopped, a time period when I had been experiencing relief from both my own practices and from my visits to the PT.

True, I haven’t been back to the PT for awhile—still trying to recover financially from the previously mentioned surgery in our family. Of course, the symptoms are getting too strong for me to think I can just do the exercises I already have and all will be well. Will be calling for an appointment next week and sharing my observations with the professionals who have more statistics and experience than the N=1 I have.

Meanwhile my running club’s track practices started again a couple weeks ago. I was about two months into the track practices three years ago when my injury happened—I have craved returning for so long. I didn’t bother last year because my speed and distance were too slow and too low. I just kept plugging away for this year’s return.

The thing is, though I’ve worked really hard to be able to return, I’m not certain anyone can tell that. Part of the reason I don’t run more is because my body seems to tell me not to do so, with its post-run aches. And, according to my heart rate monitor, my pace is about as rigorous as it should be. Seems as if I’m running in circles, just not well enough to run on the track.

Something’s got to change—just not sure what, yet. Guess I’ll ponder that thought when I go out this afternoon on my short, slow run. Yes, I can pout and put my feet to the pavement at the same time. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the temps are warm—and I still get to go.

(c) 2010

(c) 2010

God loves you, you know, even if the late Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist) said, “You’re not going to get nowhere (sic) with that slop that ‘God loves you.’ That’s a diabolical lie from hell without biblical warrant.”

No, the diabolical lie is that God propagates hate. Of course, there’s biblical warrant for saying God loves you. But like everyone else amongst us, Phelps was prone to pick the passages in the Bible he preferred over those he didn’t. I’m just as guilty as he is in that one, but I choose to fall on the side of the “slop” about love.

No matter how much hate Phelps spread in this world, God still loved him. Not for what he did, but for who he was—a child of God. Phelps did more to promote God’s love than he knew by bringing us together to denounce the Westboro message of hate. All sorts of people who couldn’t agree on faith issues could agree that Phelps and his group were going about the message all wrong. His idea of promoting what was “right” in God’s eyes meant any way to promote his insight into God’s message worked, including the collateral damage of harming innocents to shock us (as individuals, people, nations, the world) into accepting the truth as he saw it.

But most of us did not buy into his terroristic methods. People, often with nothing more in common than an aversion to hate, came together to hold hands and form a chain of love against the unchained hate of Westboro Baptist.

Unlike what Fred Phelps did, God doesn’t name call. He also doesn’t elevate one sin over another. Sin is simply anything that gets in the way of us and God.

And when it comes to that sort of sin, we’re all as guilty as Fred Phelps, whether or not we separate ourselves from God by knowingly turning from him, by not putting him at the center of our lives, or by arrogantly believing we know exactly how God believes and that he has called us to be his enforcers.

The truth is, not a one of us is good enough to be saved by God. But our God is a God of love. He longs for our hearts to be turned to him and longs to take our sins, any sins no matter how heinous.

That means anyone can be saved until his or her last breath. You and I should be glad that God is God. Fred Phelps, Ted Bundy, me, you, whomever—we all need his mercy and forgiveness.

For God so loved the world that he gave us his son so that we could be free to love others and let God worry about the final details. So get out there and never stop promoting that slop about God and his love.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

I’m pretty sure sophisticated isn’t an adjective much applied to me and my writing. Down-to-earth, irreverent, innovative, strange, revelatory, and traditional (and yet not) are just a few descriptions that might work. But I don’t even care to approach sophisticated on any level.

Sophisticated just sounds snobby to me at the same time it sounds a little too worried about what other people think.

I understand being worried about what others think, but there’s only so much of that worrying you can do before you and your work stop being authentic. That feels a little bit too much like junior high to me—and I didn’t really succeed at being anything but myself back then either.

Not sure if I’ve said it here before, but if so, I’ll say my opinion in my unsophisticated way again. Most of us suck at pretending to be what we are not.

One of the values I most wanted to teach my children is that they should try to be who they are, not who others want them to be. This seemed to be a surprisingly odd parenting value in my generation. From parents choosing the sports or activities their kids should do to picking their college majors and selecting their classes, many of my peers seem pretty set on deciding what or who their kids should be.

Maybe it’s because my first and only babies are twins. We parents like to think we’re so all-powerful about how our kids turn out, but I can promise you that my babies demonstrated very unique personalities and temperaments from week one. And that is freeing to realize. While the experts loved to say that an anxious mother (during pregnancy? after the birth?) led to a fussy baby, why did I only have one who screamed for hours at a time? Was I only stressed on one side of my body during the pregnancy? Where’s the logic in that?

My now grown kids to this day have chosen to accept some of the values I sought to teach them and rejected others—maybe on that premise that they are who they are or maybe just because they refuse to be told how to think or who knows why?

But I’m pretty certain my anti-sophisticated approach to life is one thing they’ve retained.

So no wonder my daughter is having some troubles reconciling her artistic vision with the one taught in her drawing program. You see, these kids who study the arts really need to research the philosophies of the programs where they plan to attend, but so often at 18 or 19 you’re busy thinking about the overall culture of a college. Unfortunately, she didn’t really read enough into how her university describes its approach and vision.

Guess what? The program’s aim is what? Producing artists who produce sophisticated works.

Unless she was truly a rebel, she stood little chance of even being drawn to that type of art, being raised in this house. We’re just folks here. We are who we are—which is, by the way, very intelligent and creative—but we are not into creating works to impress. We are more into creating a life where creativity is the norm and our processes and end products are about providing meaning but not an elevated meaning.

So she draws (incredibly) with common tools such as Sharpie markers and ballpoint pens. Her art veers more toward urban and street art than high form. But it’s good. And it’s hers.

And that’s a form of sophistication all in itself—knowing the art you want to produce and doing so despite what everyone else says you should be doing. After all, the word comes from sophia, the Greek for wisdom. To thine own self be true is really one of the wisest statements of all.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Of course last night was the first night of the post-time-change season, but is there anyone else out there who had trouble sleeping because the air felt too warm? Not really too warm, but too warm for winter blankets and winter pajamas? Be still my beating heart—oh, can spring be far away?

Even here in Colorado where this year’s winter has only given us extreme moments versus having been extreme all season, the hint of spring tantalizes the hopes of the heart. When did those bits of green start appearing in the lawn? And didn’t more rain than snow fall recently? And how many more types of birds are singing and flying around after months filled only with raucous murders of crows and honking gaggles of geese?

Tomorrow will likely bring a nasty mix of rain, snow, and wind, but it will be a springier mix, softened by warmer ground temperatures and longer hours of daylight. Not sure I’ll feel that way when I’m getting pelted with sleet, but with Wednesday’s sunshine, the springtime in my heart will be warming up once more.

Didn’t even know I was experiencing spring fever until I realized I was smiling just because of the change I felt in the breeze. Oh, I’ve got the fever . . . morning, night and in between!

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

I’ve been here before—well, not here in the literal sense, but here watching someone go through a medical treatment and healing. It’s hard—kudos to everyone who works in the healing business because I find observing someone else’s pain to be really difficult, especially when I can’t take it away from him or her.

Our daughter finally had her gallbladder removed about 10 days ago. All the unexplained pain and tests eventually led to surgery—during the semester, unfortunately. However, her condition was already affecting her ability to do her work and sit through classes in a functional way. Spring Break seemed way too far away.

Thus surgery last month. Routine procedures aren’t so routine to those undergoing them, even when all goes as planned. There are consequences for removing an organ, even if today’s surgeries often involve really teeny, tiny incisions. Plus, turns out she didn’t react well to the prescribed painkiller, meaning she got that help for less than 48 hours. She passed most of a week lounging on the couch with our two dogs, moving between deep sleep, “old lady” movements around the house and the block, watching movies and other shows, and taking naps. And she still wasn’t that well when it was time to return to college.

Nonetheless, she drove off on her own and tried to get back to her regular schedule, even if that meant paying for parking instead of walking and taking the bus. But I don’t think anyone—she or her professors—really thought about how hard it is to sit so much with just barely healing incisions. Turns out art majors use their abs for leaning forward and drawing or for snapping photographs and processing film. Those classes are scheduled long on purpose to promote progress on projects.

Let’s just say the university’s “no excused absences” policy does not make for a relaxed recovery. So here I am, staying with her off campus. Today, I drove her to classes and back to the photo lab after her nap—or at least the nap she tried to have with the foster kitten who is into cuddling on the couch as much as the dogs were back home. (Shh—don’t tell them just how she is cheating on them.)

I understand that the college wants to make sure that completed courses have meaning and I also bet many people have probably tried to take advantage of the system, but, really, who has major surgery during the semester unless it needs to be done sooner than later? That’s why we had the surgeon send a note, even if the “no excused absence” policy includes medical reasons. Yes, it’s inconvenient for the professors, but it’s really inconvenient for the person who had the surgery.

When I was in college, I missed a whole week (during mid-terms and in a 10-week quarter) due to having mono and strep so badly that I stayed in the student health center that whole week. My own home was 1,000 miles away and not even possible to visit. The professors worked with me, plus I had the university’s make-up policy giving structure to when my delayed work was due. Trust me, it’s bad enough to be the student inside watching everyone else have a nice healthy life without having to worry about whether or not the professors really believe you’re physically unable to keep up with all the assignments when it’s all you can do to get through each day. Believe it or not, most students—and especially most seniors—know how important it is to finish each course and its attendant work.

These are high stakes times for those of us “consuming” both health care and higher education and my daughter knows that. She feels guilty about having high medical costs and worried about whether or not her health is going to delay her education while increasing the cost of it. The thing is, she shouldn’t have to feel guilty about wanting to feel reasonably healthy. Sometimes health problems crop up in highly inconvenient times, but let’s face it, when does anyone want to have a health problem at all, whether or not the problem falls at a convenient time?

I’m tired of seeing people whom I love in pain and really wish other people would show a little more empathy for how hard it is to be that person in pain. And, as I said before, it’s not that easy being the person helping people in pain either.

With any luck, my daughter’s on her way to not being that person in pain and I’m on my way to not having to help with her pain. But first, she’s really got to have a chance to focus on healing from the treatment. I’m pretty sure she’d love to get back to doing her work in a more convenient way—both for her sake and for the sake of everyone else.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert