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(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

Winter finally blustered back in once when we were settling into a lovely pseudo-spring. Just last Thursday we were enjoying 60 degrees and sunshine and now the thermometer has gone so low as to almost hit zero. I blame two people for the severity of this abrupt weather change since they seem to have forgotten the old adage of being careful when telling the Universe what you want. A few specifics surrounding their requests might have helped.

First our niece Alex said she really hoped for snow on the ground for her February wedding, scheduled to take place outside in the foothills of the mountains—well, not only did she get it on the ground as well as falling from the sky, but she also received arctic temperatures to preserve all that white stuff. Perhaps she should have suggested specific snowfall amounts and limited the temperature drop? But, hey, thanks to well-positioned heaters as well as guests who knew enough to wear accessories such as long johns, snow boots, and whatever else we needed to stay warm enough, her magical winter wonderland wedding ceremony did go on outside. After she got the white wedding she desired, she and her Mr. Right and everyone else got a whole lot warmer by moving into the venue’s snug—and well-heated—stone house for the remainder of the evening.

And then there is my husband Sherman who has had to plow the family’s commercial building parking lot five times since last Saturday—yes, that includes the morning before the wedding, the morning of, and the morning after. At this point, he’s grateful he could recover somewhat by skipping the task Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to take up the plow yesterday and this morning. You see, he decided he wanted to put together a bike for the upcoming spring riding season, but mentioned he spent all his savings and his birthday money on the first few pieces he bought. In order to start building he would need to earn some extra cash—which I think the Universe interpreted as a good reason to keep bringing him snow jobs. Maybe he should have expressed a time frame so the Universe didn’t feel so pressured to do it all in one week?

Now the Denver area has topped all previous snowfall records for February. Coincidence? I think not, Alex and Sherman.

I—thanks to picking the right year to upgrade both my snow boots and winter coat—am still capable of enjoying the corresponding beauty, even though I didn’t ask for any of this extreme weather. Last month when I scheduled my upcoming massage, I didn’t think to ask the Universe to provide the funds, but provide it did—the funds, that is, as well as the slightly more achy back from all that pushing the snow blower.

Well done, Winter—welcome back. Now that we’ve received much of the moisture we were missing—some of which we likely did request—let’s talk about March. No need to keep us quite so cold or snowy in the coming weeks, is there? As for my husband’s bike, he’s too tired to put it together yet anyway, so his parts can wait. And Alex is back to the desert, living happily ever after—well as happily as she can live away from the snow she misses.

Here’s a request, Universe. How about a little rest from the daily snows for now? That seems specific enough, and, yet, somehow I bet you find some wiggle room in my words. Which leads to one more request: please be gentle in how you surprise me with your interpretation of my request, OK?

Yeah right. Thanks anyway!

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Shoes by Christiana Lambert (2010)

Shoes by Christiana Lambert (2010)

Who touched me? That’s the question Jesus asked when he felt his healing energy find a target on its own. The woman who dared to grasp at the slightest thread of his cloak had little to lose—she had been bleeding for 12 years and, thus, had been declared unclean.

Who do we call unclean? We don’t really have a list of conditions such as a bleeding disorder, but we do start to question others’ health realities after a certain amount of time goes by. When people don’t get better fast enough for us or if they have some underlying issue that is either fairly hidden or just not well understood by the medical community and/or the general public, we wonder why they don’t “get over it” and move on.

Sometimes we have a reference point such as our own recovery or the recovery of someone we know and we assume that there is a formula that states that “X” disease/injury = “Y” recovery time in every circumstance.

Often, however, we know little about a condition and just grow rather fatigued with the inconveniences caused to us by the length of others’ recoveries.

In either situation we can begin to question the person’s motivation or the health care provided.

I think it’s just another example of our belief we control many factors that we may not. I want to believe that if I work hard enough or rest well enough then I’ll get well quickly and regain what I have lost. Isn’t it easier to believe someone is contributing to his or her slow healing than to realize just how at risk any of us is to capricious health threats?

In some ways we act as if it’s catching to be around someone who isn’t well, even when the condition itself isn’t contagious. They should just buck up and get themselves well and stop slowing down our lives.

As if a slowed-down life is a desire for most. As if it isn’t heartbreaking enough to experience enforced rest—from work and life’s other activities—often in conjunction with pain without feeling further abandoned by others who seem over the wait for healing.

Imagine that woman who—thanks to a medical condition—was treated as if she were a moral threat to healthy individuals. In her time of great need she was treated as if she had caused her own problems and as if she deserved her ostracization.

Let’s not make the mistake of declaring others untouchable during the moments when their bodies are most in need of healing as well as the time to do so. Since they don’t have the opportunity to grab Jesus’ robe as he walks by and in lieu of hitting the bull’s-eye of absolute healing they crave, might our patience and support instead be the next best miracle they can receive? The power of Jesus’ healing touch flowing through us lands not far off the mark.

(c)  2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

It is a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word. Andrew Jackson

By the time I sat on the gifted and talented advisory committee for my kids’ school district, I already knew the director spoke the truth. Every few months she reminded us good—or bad—spelling was no sign of giftedness or intelligence.

Some of us must come with a spelling gene that works with this crazy English language of ours. We don’t need to be taught—more than once or twice—how to spell the basics. Plus, we do pretty well with challenging words, also. Even when we have to use some memorization techniques to help us remember, we do remember.

I confess—I am that person who cringes when I see misspelled words. For the longest time I believed people who didn’t spell well just weren’t very bright. I am trying to dial down my judgment (by the way, why isn’t that word spelled as judgement?) and save it for professional organizations and professionals who make a living using words. And, don’t worry, finding my own mistakes feels like fire and ice to me—shame colors me red while chilling the blood flowing through my veins. I cannot hit “edit” or “update” fast enough while knowing that the whole world (literally or figuratively—you decide) can see my errors.

However, I married a person who often cannot see whatever is correct or incorrect about many words. Spelling doesn’t keep him from knowing what the word is or getting the meaning, though. Maybe there’s an even higher intelligence in de-coding words when they don’t meet some exact formula. Turns out he’s smart enough for me to love, even if he can’t spell well. Who knew? Not me when I lived in the ivory tower of spelling elitism.

As for the children of our union? If there’s a spelling gene, it’s certainly skipped our daughter. But for her, she can get the spelling long enough to pass some quiz, even if she doesn’t always retain the knowledge. In fourth grade she’d often fail the pre-test on Monday, but after doing the practice work, she’d ace the test on Friday. Our son has more natural ability, but still doesn’t care to the level I do.

While I am less uptight about others’ spelling than I used to be, there are still situations where I think getting it right really matters. I guess if I didn’t think that way I wouldn’t be much of an editor or proofreader. If spelling is not your thing, but you’re putting something out to the world—literally or figuratively—then that’s a good time to ask for some help from one of your friends who cares just a little too much about spelling.

Believe it or not, but for most of us it is a compulsion—we cannot not see the errors.

You help us by keeping us from hyperventilating over seeing errors and we help you not to put those errors you can’t see out into the world. I’m not offering to edit and/or proofread your novels, but it is easy for me to see small errors in short pieces.

Well, easy to see unless they are my own. Sigh. Even holier-than-thou spellers make mistakes—feel free to save me from myself when I, too, have committed orthographic sins.

Note: for all my spelling arrogance, I never knew the meaning of the word orthography. Just because I know how to spell doesn’t mean I am naturally gifted in learning vocabulary—spelled correctly or not.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

My mom was proud of her family. She loved making sweeping generalizations about the whole extended group of us: “We don’t do that. We do do that.” Anything my brother and I did differently from the context of her family must have come from our father’s side. Sigh—sometimes we’re just like the Jones family or the Langes.

Exactly. Even when we don’t know we are.

We modern people in the US like to think we create our own destinies. We are unique, born of a certain time and circumstances and our reactions to our experiences. We don’t really like to think our genetics have anything to do with how we act—unless we are someone like my mother.

I really didn’t think about the nurture or nature debate either way before I had my own kids. But when I did, my own little twin study project told me there was at least something to the whole nature side. Week one I had two very different babies with two very different reactions to almost everything in their environment, it seemed. Since I started out tandem nursing and continued doing so for months, there were few moments I spent with just one baby during those early weeks except for in the rare instance when one was sleeping while the other was awake.

Twin A contemplated her hands and maybe raised an eyebrow when she was hungry. Her body was often floppy, like a rag doll. She got distracted while eating. She didn’t make a lot of noise but when she did she made sure she was heard. Twin B was always making noise, reacting to every transition and screaming in anger when too hungry or too wet, or not moving enough. His body was often so rigid we called him Mr. Plywood and he never, ever got distracted while eating.

These two brand new people were persons in their own from the start. However genetic matter had combined in each of them it had created each with some sort of history and even—it appeared—some baggage.

No doubt we have since nurtured their natures in ways that make their original natures even more pronounced, but we definitely did not have a say as to how they were molded in the first place.

I am no scientist, but I admit to being fascinated with all the DNA breakthroughs that have happened in the last decades as to lineage—the personality and behavioral traits as well as the physical traits. How have my ancestors—the ones I never knew—affected who I am and how have my husband’s ancestors combined with mine to affect my children?

A few months ago I started talking with a woman in my church choir about where we were originally raised and pretty soon we realized we could be related. We both come from German-American families in Nebraska who gathered together to sing—and she and I are singing together today. What would it mean if we have a mutual ancestor who is our link to the move to the New World? Anything? I don’t really know, but somehow I care to discover if we are connected and, if so, how.

What I do know is that I’ve found the relative whose looks I share on my father’s side. My son looked like his paternal grandfather’s mother as a toddler—and looks like his own father now. My daughter looks like me in many ways, but not all. But what about the who of who each of us is—how much of that can we tie to specific relatives we never even knew?

Is there really something to my mother’s “we do or don’t do that” statements beyond the way we were nurtured? Something about that feels so deterministic and opposite of notions of independence and yet I wonder . . . and being a good descendant from the Ritters and Rodehorsts, my words instantly lead me to burst out in song.

Oh yes, I wonder, wonder . . . who wrote the book of love—or rather, who wrote the book of life that flows through my veins? Or even more so, what are the whys and whats that DNA reveals about the great plan the Who—God—had for our ancestors before us—and for us—and for those yet to come?

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

The days and nights have been mostly lovely for running: warm sunny days and cool but not cold nights. Even the ground of late has not been treacherous, which is a particular blessing in February. So I’m getting faster, right?

No. Still listening to my body and it’s still not telling me to go farther and faster. So I watch my shadow and try to sense whether or not my form is proper for good health and healing and work on keeping my footsteps fairly quiet. I breathe in the blue skies or cool night breezes.

I try to stay with the fitness I have now and keep each moment as it is. I remind myself that the numbers are not the point. They should not be the main point even when my body is stronger but they are especially not the point when my biggest goal is just to do the running and keep that form of movement part of my life still.

These are hard goals to accept for someone who ran track for eight years and who was running alone on the roads long before that was a common activity for young girls in high school. I have been doing this running thing off and on for more than 35 years, but there were definitely some years when I was sure I had run my last mile—and that felt just awful to me.

So often it is just me and my head and my feet on some road or trail. I never have been one of those people who had to surround myself with people in order to run, even though I did enjoy running workouts with others during my track and cross country seasons. It’s just the social aspects of running aren’t the main reasons I run and sometimes I even find myself feeling a bit off-kilter from running with others.

Last week my husband and I planned to run a club race where I knew—by doing the math from the numbers I do observe—that I was going to have to accept being one of the last runners in the pack. The distance was longer than my normal run and most of the other people run many more miles and more often than I do.

The day dawned warm, but windy in the way that was the norm where I grew up running. But I’m many years and many miles away from that first running space—I no longer have to have the mental toughness to run daily in such conditions. Still, I showed up.

Because I do pay attention somewhat to the numbers, I realized I was running too fast, lulled by that wind at my back that was going to confront me with full-frontal force when I turned to face the back of the out-and-back course. Suffice it to say the run got a whole lot harder and I got a whole lot slower the longer I was out running against the wind.

I was doing the best I could just to finish, even if my finish time was going to be faster than I had expected. I figured that maybe I really shouldn’t worry too much about kicking it in as I usually do—I may run a race slow but I am that former competitor who knows how to finish strong. Nonetheless, my sleeping body still complains too loudly of its aches most nights and I weigh too much—my ego needs to stay in check with reality. Hey, I was running, and that was good enough, right?

But my ego hates that some people think I am new to this thing I have been doing for about 70% of my years on this earth—as you can probably tell, my ego is the part that keeps up with the math and the statistics and what used to be. I ran the race I should for the body I have right now—and was working on being good with finishing two and half minutes earlier than expected when this woman jumped out to try to hold my hand to help me finish.

I hope I didn’t seem too rude but—even with my end-of-the-race labored breathing—I told her I didn’t want to hold hands. I know what I’m doing—and right now it’s listening to my body just as it was all those years ago. I’m guessing she wanted to be helpful, but she insulted the girl I was who ran mile after mile alone and who was willing to be the only female in a race. I am in this life for the long run and if that means I have to take a slower, shorter run than I’d prefer, then that’s what I’ll do.

Besides, the days and nights have been just lovely for all those slower and shorter runs I’ve taken. I focus on breathing in and out and letting it all be enough, one footfall at a time. Slow and steady wins the race I’m running these days, even when I finish at the back of the pack.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Sometimes you introduce something awesome to other people and they just run with it, leaving you wondering just what you are missing. But, hey, that’s not all bad, right?

I’m coming up on 10 years of doing yoga, mostly with the same instructor. One of the great things about my teacher is that her classes are not often predictable—she varies the styles of yoga and often introduces different tools. Only once during those 10 years did she do something called yoga nidra in my regular classes, but I never forgot that one class.

Let’s just say that I have control issues, so I don’t always get my mind to let go during my yoga classes—even after practicing yoga for all those years. One time when I really did let go was during that long ago yoga nidra class. Yoga nidra is a systematic guided relaxation technique—which can result in a waking sleep. When it works well it is almost indescribable—at least I can’t really get my words to explain to you just how freeing it is—you’re just going to have to try it yourself.

When my instructor recently offered a scheduled yoga nidra class, I signed up right away. And then I thought about my son who has been learning meditation techniques through his martial arts practice—and who has also been sidelined from most of his physical activities with his recent concussion. He’s been crawling out of his skin without being able to move in the ways he wants—here was a guy who needed to relax but who also was becoming more open to different relaxation techniques.

Last Saturday we both attended the class. I received many benefits from the session, but due to my lower back speaking to me way too loudly as the session continued, I eventually became more fixated on my physical state and less able to disassociate from the here and now.

Not my son—it seems he really experienced something closer to what I experienced the first time I did yoga nidra. Several days later he is still talking about it. The thing is I can also see the change in him. He’s been in a pretty irritable state since his head got injured, but in the last few days he’s starting to have more moments when he’s relaxed. And even before he got hit on the head, he wasn’t a very relaxed sort of person. (Hmm–where does that trait come from?)

Wouldn’t it be great if he finally found a tool that could help him to help himself? This is especially important right now when he can’t do so many of the things that usually calm him down.

Hey, maybe it will be catching and I can find some more calm myself—but first it seems I need to prepare my body in advance for lying still so long—turns out all those positioning pillows I need for good sleep might be necessary to get my body and its aches out of the picture long enough to let my mind go wherever it’s been needing to go.

But discovering where the mind can go when the body remains still—and quiet—is nothing short of miraculous.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

My friend shared on Facebook how differently his life has turned out from the plans he had 30 years ago when graduating from college. Instead of becoming Mr. International-Business, he is back living in his childhood home, after choosing to be his parents’ full-time caregiver. His life is full of love and laughter, despite the tears and despite having to do hard tasks for his parents. He understands how to find joy in ordinary moments such as walking along the river, observing the patterns created while pushing a snow blower, or reveling in sharing memories with his mom and dad while their shaky hands slowly help decorate the Christmas tree. And yet, he is happy in the life he has.

That kind of happy is easy to be around because it’s not the kind of happy that comes from having, doing, and/or achieving. Instead, it’s the kind of happy that comes from being—and loving.

Today I sat in a radiology waiting room with a man so like the one my friend thought he would be all those years ago. This man was busy—and, as far as I could tell, happy with all that busyness. He made one call after another. “I’m not sharing this with anyone else yet.” “I won an award.” “Please change the flight for our nanny for the Hawaii trip.” “I’ll be in a conference call from 2:30 to 5:00.” Call after call, the man just kept going.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t trying to listen—I’m just sharing some of the snippets that kept intruding on my plan to read my book in relative silence—while, once again, waiting for someone I love who was at a medical appointment. I was looking for a quiet, peaceful moment when I could relax and try not to worry about the whys for our visit.

Most likely our visit was just a rule-out activity, but it’s not lost on me that for some people this is the place where what they never planned to experience is discovered.

From the cheerful banter and movement from one phone call after another by the other occupant of the waiting room, I got the impression the man was there for something such as a picture of an achy knee or some other sort of a hitch in his get-a-long—some body part that was slowing down his fast-paced life.

That’s why I was surprised when I heard his offhand tone as he said, “Oh, I’m just waiting to get a CT scan. They want to look at those blood clots in my lungs. They’re saying I might not be able to fly.” After a pause and a short laugh, he added, “Well, that won’t work. I have to be there, you know?”

Despite his almost frenetic activity, I really did get the impression it was no cover for fear. He just didn’t have time for that sort of thing (health difficulties) in his life—he had things to do, people to see, and places to go. Something like that just wasn’t going to slow him down.

I wish him well, but I just wanted to shake him and ask him if he’d heard himself. If nothing else, there are the people who rely on him at work or at the companies with which he deals, not to mention his wife and the two boys under his nanny’s care. Might taking a break from all his plans be better than letting everyone else figure out how to do without him permanently?

Nothing against the man—well, except for the fact it never seemed to occur to him that maybe I didn’t want to listen to all his phone calls—but I question his priorities. His body clearly has some problem, but he acted as if he thought he was just spending time waiting to check off another “to do” from his list.

If that’s the kind of person my friend had become, then we probably would have drifted into way different circles.

But long before his parents became ill, he recognized those original goals weren’t really his. He is a healer of a person, not a wheeler and dealer. I am blessed to know him—the him he was and the him he allowed himself to become. And truly the world would be a better place for us if more people such as he is were the wheelers and dealers of this world, but I don’t think that lifestyle would feed the healers of this world in the ways they need to be fed.

Blessed are those who feel blessed, even when they have few of the trappings of the world—for they know how to slow down and see God in the tiniest grain of sand or while experiencing a nano-second of joy.

Well done, oh good and faithful servant—you “get” it.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert