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(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

But you already know that now, right?

So why is it some people push as far as they can or take advantage of others in the workplace, just because they can? And why is it others don’t?

Some of us just want to work in a space where we can—well—do our work—and receive a little recognition for that work.

Back to my first “real world” hostile workplace. No matter whether or not management or co-workers recognized what I did, I did my job to the best of my abilities. Because that’s just the way I am. My work ethic is about something bigger than whether or not an organization deserves my best. I deserve the satisfaction of having given my best, even when I’m throwing pearls before swine.

Some of my co-workers changed their habits, for lack of recognition. While I understand wanting to do that, in the end, I have to produce work I’m proud of doing. Hey, employers are just lucky I am that way. And, not only am I that way, but so are the people I value most in my life. My family members and any friends with whom I make close connections are all that way. We are the people who don’t play just because the cat is away—even if we feel freer to do our jobs well when we’re not being judged unfairly by said cats.

When I finally gave notice to that hostile company, I left copious notes for management, explaining the details of my job and any nuances they might not have understood. I even stayed late my last day just to finish those instructions. Did they deserve that? No. But did anyone walking into my position deserve as little instruction as I had received—or less, since no one would be there to train them? No.

Was I surprised when I received a call from the company three months later, asking for advice? Not really. Could I point them to the simple report for the next day’s (semi-annual) reporting deadline? No—because there wasn’t one step to the process. I could only send them to the detailed instructions I had left for them, knowing they would be missing the deadline.

I admit to feeling no small satisfaction—even to this day—that they finally realized there was more to doing my old job than they had thought. After all, I tried to prepare them. Yet, as was true to their management style, they assumed they knew what employees’ jobs entailed without consulting the employees to validate any assumptions—or, in this case, without consulting documentation left behind to enlighten them of the responsibilities.

My daughter is putting in her final week as a cashier at the summer job where she has worked for seven previous summers. She has always been told that there are no raises given and that she is too young (!) to be considered for promotion to supervisor. Imagine her surprise when she discovered a younger and less experienced co-worker as a supervisor. During training sessions, she was called upon many times to explain policy and procedures to the staff of green new hires, as well as to the supervisors. That’s when she realized she had another option and gave her notice.

And, yet, she feels responsible for getting those newly hired some real training, so much so that she even volunteered to come in on her day off because no supervisors were available to work yet, due to holding non-seasonal jobs in schools also. Yesterday not only did the “big” boss show her that he really did not know many of the duties performed by cashiers and their supervisors, but he also said, “Now that we’re teaching you to do these (other) things, you’re leaving.”

Oh, you’re going to miss her when she’s gone. Life’s too short to keep throwing pearls before the swine of the world who like to be in charge, but who don’t take charge for supporting the people they manage and for understanding their duties.


A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. Dave Barry

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

Everyone in a workplace has a backstory—how he or she got to that job, as well as the life led in the hours away from work. People are more than their jobs—and thank goodness for that. Life happens 24 hours a day, whether or not a person is working.

Here’s a bit about my own backstory in the work place. Almost 30 years ago I arrived in Denver during another tough job market with a liberal arts degree (in English) from a good mid-western college—a college no one knew about in this region. While I still believe in studying the liberal arts, I will concede that gaining employment with a brand new liberal arts degree is harder than if a person had studied something that led to a definite career path.

So eventually I decided to start at the bottom of a company in an industry where I wanted to grow. Thus I became a receptionist at a magazine publishing company. No matter that they would have hired me a day after graduating high school—or maybe not, since at that point I had yet to teach myself to type in order to produce all those English literature papers.

Kids, this backstory about answering telephones is no fictional device—back in those dark ages, real people actually answered telephones—there were no automated phone trees. And phone calls were expected to be answered within a ring or two, even if several lines were ringing. Talk about causing stress for a person who really wanted to take care of each person individually. Then add to that the stress caused by a total lack of logic regarding additional duties. With a phone system that was not at all mobile, I was also supposed to make coffee (and clean up any messes caused by others), water plants, prepare all business mail coming in and going out, prepare a bank deposit, type any letters asked of me, sharpen the publisher’s pencils (5 a day—no exceptions), and go in to the publisher’s office to tell her when she had another call if she were already on the line—all while not asking those assigned to back-up phone duty to do so too often.

My liberal arts degree did teach me how to be flexible, but not how to do the impossible. The job was hard enough without many people treating me as if I had no skills or knowledge, even when I caught any errors in documents I was given to type or when they read my detailed and accurate messages or if I knew that a phone call from a certain Malcolm Forbes was a big deal. For so many of the staff, a receptionist was just a person who was beneath them. So can you blame me for putting a picture of me in my college graduation gown on my desk?

However, those who called in couldn’t see my little photo. The magazine’s policy required me to ask for a personal and company name so I could announce the information in order for our people to answer their calls with a personal response. (Yes, I was caller ID for our staff members!) Many of our callers found this policy offensive, I guess because they, too, were so important. My second day on the job, I asked a caller, “May I say who is calling?” His reply came, “You know who this is. I call every week.” To which I replied, “I’m sorry, sir, this is my second day on the job so I really don’t know who you are and I am following company policy.” And, no, though I got his name, I never received an apology.

Thank goodness for those other callers who treated me as the human I was. Their decency and small kindnesses got me through three harsh months before I got promoted into a position where I only backed-up the receptionist. To this day I can’t forget the name of the gracious woman who published the city’s social register and how she went out of her way to thank me for being so courteous and diligent each time she called. I only wish my backstory included more such names.

Backstory—it’s something to remember as new college and high school graduates go out into the world or as other students take to summer jobs. These people are more than just the people learning their jobs or meeting (or learning how to meet) your needs. They have backgrounds and lives away from work. They deserve to be treated with respect, whether that is in day-to-day interactions or even when they need to be reprimanded for some on-the-job mistake.

I like to think that I didn’t have to work retail, clean toilets, bus tables, or answer phones to learn how to treat people well, but I also think that having those jobs really taught me to understand that there is a human being behind all the people who perform activities for me. In case I’m ever tempted to assume I’m so much better than someone, I try to remember what it’s like to clean up after someone who deliberately made a mess on a table or who even left a mess around the coffee station at work, believing they were too important to clean up after themselves. The truly defective person is the one who treats “underlings” with disrespect rather than the person who earns less or who performs an unglamorous job. Actions and words speak louder than titles or rank.

That’s also why I like to remember the backstories of people who I see all the time—even when I’m the one paying them and they have fancier letters behind their names. I try to understand a bit about who people are outside their jobs, such as knowing that the receptionist at physical therapy worries about watching out for her elderly father, or that the older PT had concerns about her kids, too, or that the younger PT’s dog shares a similarly disgusting habit with my dogs. They are real people to me, not just a position, title, or a means to an end.

These days I, for one, do my best to avoid places where others work so hard to try to make me feel small. I also do my best to check myself if I find myself minimizing others and their efforts. The more all of us realize that other people have backstories too, the likelier we are to create workplaces and other social environments where we treat each other with respect, concern, and empathy.

Trying to keep others small so you can be big is the kind of backstory that should be history.

Still life by Christiana Lambert, 2010

Still life by Christiana Lambert, 2010

So after my last posts about biology and how it should not affect the ability to get an education, biology is back on my mind. Is biology destiny? And how do you confront biology that might be a bit flawed in one area—can systems and/or willpower change approaches?

Why do I ask? I’ll tell you why—I’ve just moved my daughter again and it’s a lot like moving my mother, even though my mother’s no longer here to demonstrate her lack of organizational abilities for my daughter. Yes she had dementia, but the moving difficulties were really more related to lifelong patterns and approaches. Neither of those two could load a dishwasher in a way that makes any sense to me—nor to even those in the family who are not quite as obsessive about it as I am. My spatial abilities are specialized while theirs might be or have been almost non-existent.

You see, ADD runs through the family, but how that manifests varies in each of us. Besides, I am not certain how far along the scientists are in tying what difficulties to what genes in this area. And though our family participated in one of the first big studies involving ADD and genomes, it wasn’t the sort of study that provided any information to the participants. We have no idea if in some lab somewhere, a scientist looked at all the traits reported and started to make sense of how the information on our DNA connected with our behaviors.

As for my mother, we know little about her biology other than the fact she had a head injury in an early car accident. By the time we were helping her, she was hopeless when it came to packing, either because of the biology, accident, and/or lifelong patterns.

I pray there is still help and hope for our daughter—and, consequently, us. If nothing else, she hasn’t had any head injuries and she’s young enough that she still can learn and still search out tools to help her.

The girl loves her stuff! And as an art major, she has a lot of supplies, too, that she actually needed at one time or still needs. Bins, stacking organizers, shelves, dividers, etc.—I keep trying to find something that will help her keep it all semi-together. Would it be too much to ask her to search out solutions herself, even if they might not be successful? Ask my family—while I have found some really good solutions for myself, there are many more I have tried that just did not work for me. When your mind isn’t wired to realize that there should be a place for everything—or that such a concept even exists—you have to concede you need help and search for whatever tools that work for you—and keep searching when you haven’t found a reasonable solution yet.

The Battle of Too Much Stuff is a constant in this household—and it would be so much better if I could rally more troops to fight against all that stuff instead of having troops who add more stuff to my stuff. I am dealing with my own biology on this—I don’t need other peoples’ stuff and biology to exacerbate my own disabilities. Really.

Love my daughter and loved my mother, but their stuff? Not so much.

Mae graduating from college

Mae graduating from college

Earlier this year I ran into (at a running event!) someone I knew before either of us were mothers and when both of us had mothers. I run very, very short distances and she’s an ultra-marathoner. But what we also share now is a term that was explained in an article she posted prior to Mother’s Day—we are unmothered. That is to say our mothers no longer walk this earth, which makes Mother’s Day forevermore a bit of a sad holiday for us, even as we celebrate being the mothers we have become.

Laurie came up with an idea for her friends to raise money in honor of mothers during May. When I first read her blog post, I thought I would be donating to Alzheimer’s, the disease that stole my mother before she ever left. Quite frankly, though, I forgot about Laurie’s challenge until she posted an update on FB today.

Turns out because of the current situation with the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, I already have donated to a cause my mother would support. I didn’t do it in her honor, but the Malala Fund very much mirrors my mother’s beliefs. Mom believed in education for everyone, but especially for girls and women. My mother got a lot of guff from her neighbors and peers in rural Nebraska for being a smart person who craved learning.

Though she scored high enough on the county test to earn a scholarship to the local college, the fact her small town high school was not accredited kept her from the award. Instead, she worked 30 hours a week at the drug store, taking a full load of classes and participating in a variety of musical, social, and academic clubs and activities.

When she graduated with her teaching degree in 1951, she went to work in K-12 schools, teaching everything from choir and band to music education to the youngest students. What she never told me, but I learned later, was that directing bands had been limited to men. But due to a shortage of male teachers during the Korean Conflict, women got to direct bands for the first time at that time.

While I did not know how groundbreaking her first jobs were, I did know that she and her teaching friends were held to different standards than men were. When a male colleague used to park his car by their lodging to hide the fact he was gambling elsewhere, the women had to worry that they would be fired on suspicion of lax morals. Though concerned he might be fired for gambling, he did not worry about the potential for damaging their reputations and livelihoods. The three women had to resort to removing the distributor cap on his vehicle to remind him to keep them out of his dirty laundry.

Mom studied during her summers, completing her Master’s degree six years later. She knew men in the program who only passed because their wives wrote their papers. She needed no one to write her papers.

People gave her a hard time for pursuing education versus pursuing marriage. The “old maid” met up with my father in the summer of her 29th year and was married less than six months later. Though my father longed for the domestic abilities of more typical women of the era, I could tell he enjoyed her intelligence. My parents hung around other educated couples, people who were enjoying the fruits of being the first generation in their families to achieve college educations. Not a one of those women in that crowd was uneducated.

My mom was a lifelong learner and a lifelong educator. Though she stopped teaching in the schools in her early 40s, she did continue as a paraprofessional for several more years before switching to working as an unemployment claims taker where she attempted to educate those who sat at her desk. Plus, she continued to direct various choirs in the community and churches. She also mentored individual young people, tickled pink (as she would say) by their learning, growth, and achievements.

Mom tended to be reading around three books at a time, usually biographies, histories, and other dense nonfiction works. Her favorite television programs were on the History Channel and PBS.

What she really could not tolerate was people who preferred ignorance or who chose to keep knowledge from others, especially from the poor and/or females. No matter the religion, she scorned those who would squelch learning in the name of some narrow version of worship. Her God was a God who gave us all brains to use in order to create a better society. Her God did not ask us just to operate on feelings or spirit, but also on learning about the times behind the sacred texts and understanding the subtleties of the language. And, her God did not keep women and girls away from books, the pulpit, or work.

My mother would love Malala Yousafzai and the fight she leads to bring education to all, especially those kept away by their sex (whether because they are girls or fidgety boys who don’t fit the system), their caste, their rank, their income level, their religion, or their disability or whatever keeps education from them. Education is a great equalizer—and that’s exactly why certain people want to keep others from it.

May we never stop fighting to provide education—and may we return those to safety who are in danger simply for wanting to grow. Thank you, Mom, for fighting the good fight—I honor you by honoring those who continue that fight.

Mae and Trina, 1995 (Trina's MBA graduation)

Mae and Trina, 1995
(Trina’s MBA graduation)

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert Furgus and Sam take their first ride in the new(er) 4Runner.

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert
Furgus and Sam take their first ride in the new(er) 4Runner.

The things you do for love . . . sometimes extend into agreeing to try things you swore you’d never try.

For the record, I have rarely liked the cars my husband Sherman likes. But then again, I’m not really a big fan of driving anyway. I was the kid who got her license because she wanted to go places, not because she wanted to drive. Driving was a means to an end.

Plus, since I come from a flat, small town, driving in the city or the mountains is way different than where I began. However, I have lived here longer than I lived where I lived while growing up—where I didn’t really drive for too long before I left. Perhaps it’s time for me to grow up and into the driving reality of where I have been driving most of my life.

But is my brain ready to learn how to drive a stick shift at this age??!!

Well, for my husband I pledged I would do so—which really shocked him after my initial (mostly failing) test drive in a public transit parking lot.

The thing is, I’m not intuitively natural with manual activities. At least I tend to do better with foot activities—although that wasn’t exactly the case with the clutch the first time. Perhaps if I think of it as dancing?

Sadly, listening and doing are probably not going to be my best way to start learning anything. But, dork that I am, I can learn better having read and watched and memorized instructions. Guess who will have to do some research?

Still, I really, really don’t want to be going through all this with an audience. I am longing for those remote country roads and almost deserted residential streets where I first practiced driving. However, with the gas mileage on this vehicle, I’m not going to want to take long road trips with it! No, this is my husband’s car for plowing the parking lot or for taking his bicycle to go on foothills’ climbs or for transporting the dogs—safely behind the gate—for runs, walks, and hikes.

Sherman has been searching for replacement Toyota 4Runners for weeks now while waiting for his previous 4Runner to be sold. Although he’s looked at a few manual cars, I’ve been telling him that learning to drive a stick shift car now wasn’t really how I planned to try to prevent Alzheimer’s by expanding my brain’s activities.

And yet, it really is learning those things that are hard for us that can have impact on our brain health as we age.

So when Sherman found a beautiful 4Runner in the right price range that was not an automatic, I still agreed to look at it.

Am I resistant to this change? Very. But has my husband done a lot of things for me over the years that wouldn’t have been his first choice? Oh yeah. I’m pretty sure the balance is fairly uneven and it’s about time his wants trumped mine, especially since this isn’t my vehicle. I just need to be able to drive it, not drive it all the time.

Baby, you can drive my car, but it’s probably going to be awhile before I can drive yours!



Have been doing some hard reading, both fiction (Amy Tan, The Valley of Amazement) and nonfiction (Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala), lately that reminds me to question whether or not girls and women will ever be safe, especially in certain societies. And then there is the current news from Nigeria . . .

I grew up as feminists took to the streets of America, bras in hand, and as Title IX came to enforce sporting equity. Opportunities were expanding for many women here. I never questioned that if I wanted to become a doctor or lawyer or scientist—which I didn’t—that I could do so. No one said I should just go to college to find a husband or, worse yet, that I didn’t need to go to school because I was female. I also got to run on my high school’s first girls’ cross country team, one of the many sports teams added in the late 1970s.

Oh sure, things didn’t change overnight. Didn’t fellow track team member (now Lieutenant Governor of Illinois) Sheila Simon have to lobby our college to remind it of the inequities in allocation of sports funding, such as providing shoe allowances to women too? Didn’t it take a new woman in athletic administration so that women athletes could also letter? (Yes, despite four years as a varsity track athlete—post-Title IX—I did not technically letter in my sport.)

Some people today even question why feminism mattered because they have not lived through and known what happened before.

But for the most part women of my era stared at our elders in horror when they discussed things such as their fathers refusing to teach them to drive or professors grading down their efforts and telling them that only their husbands should be in the classroom or women not getting jobs for which they were better qualified because the male candidates had families to support. It’s bad enough that a woman often could not use the brains she had been given because those brains threatened so many in a paternalistic society. Still, those difficulties were modern first world problems.

Even worse is that in many times and places a woman could not own her own body. Whether married or not, she did not have that power, thanks to many legal and societal issues, as well as a biology that made her more physically vulnerable. Often women only had the ability to sustain any living condition at all as a wife/common-law wife/mother/daughter, through the kindness of a relative, or by working in the sex trade, situations almost always controlled by a male. And even for women who chose to use the power of their sex, their illusion of control was limited by matters of safety.

Unfortunately, those times and places still exist for many women and girls in this world, sometimes in locations where women had previously gained the ability to make a living for themselves and the freedom to choose partners.

If I feel sick to my stomach reading about how fundamentalist men in Pakistan felt so threatened by intelligent girls studying that they attempted to kill Yousafzai, I am sicker still that almost 300 girls in Nigeria have been kidnapped by the extremist Muslim group Boko Haram (translated as “Western education is a sin”). That the leaders feel they can sell these women as brides or as sex slaves for the sin of learning—in the name of their faith—is appalling. It is a sin to treat any human being with such disrespect, but to choose to claim your right to sexual favors while denouncing the “sins” of those more vulnerable than you is an hypocrisy only available to those physically stronger. This is something that these men get to do because they can. Allah weeps at how they treat these fellow creatures of God.

So hard for a modern woman such as I to admit that in so many circumstances women are only truly safe when surrounded by men who understand that women are worthy of being treated as equals who are just created differently. Real men do not play with power. May we continue to raise up boys and men who know enough to denounce these other men for the monsters that they are.

May we also not stop searching for those who have been taken. God save those girls—and all the girls whose stories we do not know because there is nothing newsworthy about how they are treated, day in and day out, throughout their lives.

(Note: These words were written—and then forgotten—in the busyness of March. Almost two months later, much more is different and changing. Healing continues in more ways than what we could even guess back then. Hallelujah!)

(c)  2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Back from my retreat from my life—ha, ha, right? OK, so three nights and three days helping my daughter get around college post-surgery didn’t really constitute a break, but it did limit how much else I had to do since I wasn’t in my own home but in the home of my daughter and her friend.

My main duty was to be the chauffeur to get her to and from her classes. A distance that translates into reasonable commute times and good walking exercise under normal circumstances is pretty challenging post-surgery recovery. Campuses aren’t exactly car-friendly anyway, even when you’re not parking, so I was pretty darn happy to have a small car to drive on our short travels.

Somehow the extra quiet time on my own seemed fitting for starting my Lenten journey. Though I couldn’t sing with the choir at my church, I could take in a midday Ash Wednesday service and receive the cool, gritty ashes on my somewhat furrowed brow. No, I hadn’t planned to spend more time away from home and duties and, no, I didn’t really enjoy watching my daughter’s pain or absorbing some of her stress from trying to work with her professors regarding extensions, but I could relate to being on a journey not of one’s choosing and yet still feeling God’s love.

I am so weary of the health-related challenges and the difficulty of walking alongside someone in need, but I do so because of love. God loved me enough to give me this child when I asked him. I also know he walks with me always in all our challenges together.

In my solitary moments, I read or wrote or escaped outside to run along muddy trails through bits of nature preserved within the developed spaces. I let the girls’ current foster kitten purr on my neck as well as on my laptop in whatever strange position she chose to flop—provided she wasn’t suffocating me or loading up unknown programs on the computer. And I prayed—prayed that healing would come sooner than later and that the school would work with my daughter enough so that she could stay on the planned track—and prayed for happier days for all of us.

Together we ate simple foods, relaxed with TV, laughed at the kitten, and worked through her assignments—not that she is taking a single course with which I could provide any more than moral support. I was the keeper of chronos time, both for staying on task (usually!) and for keeping up with the allowed pain relief in the forms of alternating Tylenol and ibuprofen. I was the photographer’s assistant who pointed out angles and light and shadows and watched in amazement as the artist in her forgot, temporarily, to limit her movements in the quest to get the right shot. I was also—for one of the few times in her life—the better sleeper as she struggled to find any comfortable position.

After a hard week’s work for her, we returned to our home so she could attend her post-op appointment where the doctor pronounced her as healing in the typical manner—which meant she still has some hard days ahead of her and yet she has every reason to believe she will feel better soon.

Though tired of the uncertainty of the hows and whens of healing in one way or another over the past several years, she also had a chance to reconnect with an old ally who is so often able to help her spark her own sense of renewal and hope and help her along the path to recovery in so many ways.

These past several years have been a journey seemingly set forth in so many ways by outside forces and, yet, there is still time to renew a sense of joy and direction. Healing happens so often when we accept that the valleys that got us to where we are now can teach us to see joy in things ranging from a kitten’s purr to a long overdue apology and point us back onto a road that still leads to both ordinary and extraordinary peaks in a life too long subdued.

Sometimes we need to put to ashes our old pains so we can get back to resurrecting our future.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

Three years ago today, I was about to embark on the last of 2,600 miles in a car in one week. Did I feel sore? You bet! However, I thought that was nothing that some exercise—running, ZUMBA, Pilates, and yoga—wouldn’t straighten out within a week. I couldn’t wait to get back to my classes, and especially to my running club’s weekly track workouts.

But the bulging disc that revealed itself the day after I returned from all that road-tripping pretty much postponed any track dreams I had, even if those dreams were little more than to be on the track, running with the slower people doing the workouts.

Even then I wasn’t fast, but I was faster than I am now. And within me resides that veteran of eight track seasons who yearned to return not just to running, but to the track. I know the lingo, the etiquette, the distances, etc. The track is where I spent many of the better afternoons of my youth.

Yet when I finally did pick up running again, the process itself was slow. Very slowly adding distance, very slowly doing any distance, and very slowly telling myself to take life one run at a time. I didn’t return to track workouts last season because I didn’t believe I’d built up enough endurance to benefit from running short distances. I just kept working on my own and improving my strength, even if I felt disappointed by my lack of progress.

Last fall I gained a weekly running buddy who I knew from yoga. Although younger, Karen was new to pursuing running on a regular basis. She joined me on my once-weekly indoor runs that followed yoga class—something I did so I could focus more on form and pacing than I was able to do on the two or three outdoor runs I did each week. But, true to my nature, by running with someone, I also talked enough to forget to obsess so much about what the numbers said—which was a good thing.

Later I brought Karen to the annual membership run and meeting for the Colorado Columbines, the club that puts on the track practices. We vowed to take to the track when practices began. The time trials put her into a faster group where she is challenged to work with the endurance she has developed since she started working on her own and then added meeting with me. I aim to hit all the prescribed times for my group—which I have done with a precision these past seven weeks that reflects the track nerd within me.

Although her schedule has changed, we still meet from time to time to run together, now in the great outdoors on trails or paths. Yesterday we took off once more and, as always, talked until the exertion took away our voices.

Ever the number junkie, I looked to my running app to see how far we went and at what pace. I laughed because the pace was just two seconds below the current pace set for me by the track coach—and much faster than I had been running either on my own or with Karen.

Track works. It teaches your mind to understand how your body feels when you maintain a planned pace. It reminds you that when your endurance improves, then you can add speed to your final approach to the finish line. And then there are all those little lessons I learned so long ago from my coaches. Run past the finish line. Move to the inside when you can. Don’t collapse forward when you finish, but keep your lungs open in order to replace oxygen more efficiently. Drop your shoulders when you start to tense up. Don’t start quicker than makes sense with your conditioning level. Running on a track is about thinking first, but with practice, your body absorbs the thinking and soon you can begin to let it fly on its own.

What seems like running in circles is actually one way to learn how to free your body.

So glad to be back on track—even if I first had to fight my body to get it to remember how to feel free enough in order to seek the magic of the track and the freedom that follows.

Trina and Scott with Whiskers, the dog we had after Dee Dee.

Trina and Scott with Whiskers, the dog we had after Dee Dee.

Letting a dog go never gets easier, no matter how many dogs you’ve had cross the Rainbow Bridge in your life.

My in-laws had to say goodbye to another dog today. Today I realized that might be especially hard for them not just because she was their dog, but also because they have gone through this so many times before.

As I was thinking about that, then I realized what day it was and burst into tears for my not-quite-five-year-old self. May Day 1967 was my unwilling initiation into the dog loss club.

Oh, Dee Dee wasn’t an elderly dog—which is something altogether since in those situations we have so many years to connect with our dogs and grow to love them more each year we share.

No, she was my first dog, the one who came to me on my fourth birthday, so small she fit into a grape basket. I never imagined she wouldn’t grow old as I grew up.

May Days in small-town-Nebraska were festival days when kids took their handmade paper baskets, filled them with goodies, and distributed those baskets to the doors of the homes where their friends lived. But the wind and our typical unlocked front door conspired to turn our joy into sorrow. As a family opened our door to protect the gifts they had brought us, out ran our little girl, straight toward the wheels of a vehicle being driven down our normally quiet street.

Not sure if seeing that all happen made it much worse or not. After all, I got that she was really, really gone. Even if I didn’t really understand death, I understood what I witnessed.

She is just the first of the names of my “soft and warm and fuzzy” loved ones written on my heart. Dee Dee, Whiskers, Duncan, Chelsea, Fordham, Abel.

And those are just the names of those who have lived with me over the years. I also have not forgotten many of those dogs who stole the hearts of those humans I also have known and loved.

I definitely get that my in-laws are really, really hurting, too. That’s why I’m bringing my mother-in-law flowers tonight. I can’t fix her pain, but I understand it, although maybe not as well as I will understand when I reach her age.

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