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(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Sometimes I have to remind myself that the destination isn’t the only thing that counts. When you are young, you think “When I am five, I can go to school,” “When I am in high school . . .”, “When I get out on my own . . .” and on and on. The problem is it becomes so easy to keep thinking this way even though you long ago stopped being young at all.

So far true mindfulness has evaded me in many situations. When I run, I can’t always focus on body sensing or my breathing. In fact, one of the best parts of running for me is how my mind often takes off on its own journey—which is definitely better than thinking about what may hurt or what I have left to run. Not very mindful I know, but that mind journey is part of most running journeys for me.

On the other hand, when I am doing ZUMBA or dancing, I am just dancing, hearing the beats of the particular song playing. When I was dancing as if I didn’t know my age at my nephew’s wedding in February, I did allow myself to think—briefly—about how old I felt the morning after dancing at another nephew’s wedding in November, but then thought, “What the heck?” My feet prefer the muscle memory of the moment, not the muscle memory of the mornings after–and so I danced on.

In every thing—little or big—that we do, there’s always this tension between journey and destination. For the chores we must do, it’s easy to think that just getting done is what matters, but when we do so, we lose the meditative benefits that can come from doing repetitive movements. In fact, I tend to tempt myself into doing these chores by listening to books or music—which is fine from time to time. But there can also be something very Zen-like about hearing the whir of the wheels as you push the manual lawnmower through the grass and smelling the perfume from the blades of grass now opened to the air.

Moments of flow do not happen when we are focused on the end to the detriment of what is happening around us. They happen when we are just where we are, one minute to the next.

You’re on a journey—don’t miss it while looking for the exit. Too soon, the exit comes for all of us.

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(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Jogging down toward the light rail station, I encountered a man dragging some sort of baggage behind him. He gave me a look as if he didn’t think he needed to share the sidewalk with someone choosing to jog—as if he were the only one carrying burdens. I ran around him into street, but I thought, buddy, I might not know how it feels to be you, but don’t be so certain it’s that easy to be me, either.

Some days my baggage is a lightweight wheelie suitcase or backpack—some days a full-fledged daypack—and other days, it’s an old-fashioned suitcase I have to switch from one hand to another while struggling to maintain my balance.

That’s why sometimes I dance/run/hike/whatever to remember and other times I do so to forget.

Yeah, my life is just full of rock and roll lyrics—as are the lives of most people—that’s why those songs stick with us.

Lately, I keep encountering links for posts/articles where someone who has depression is describing how people don’t get how he or she feels and then that person goes on to describe how everything others say or do for them demonstrates that.

Well, the same is true of those of us who love depressed people—the depressed people don’t know how we feel either. Do they think we only want them better for our own sakes? Well, not at first and not for a long time, but after awhile it becomes so hard to try to help someone who doesn’t seem to be able to or at least think he or she is able to provide that self-help. Finally we admit that, yeah, we would really love to have the burden of depression lift from them not only for them, but also to lighten our own loads, too.

We are all ultimately responsible for our own happiness—I so get that, but for some of us it seems that to be able to find our own happiness, we will have to give up any illusions that we can help someone who is currently not open to receiving that help. And, if so, we will have to walk or run away to what makes us happy—without that person.

That is the true conundrum of loving someone with depression. How many years can you keep adding to your own baggage without receiving more than a little in return? The money spent on possible solutions, the time spent pursuing those possibilities, and the emotions spent walking along the side of someone plunged into darkness are the price for caring deeply. But sometimes it seems a bit like day trading—you are just at the whims of multiple factors beyond your control and all you can do is pay attention and respond.

I don’t want to keep waking up in between memories and dreams anymore—I’d rather grow young, than cold. Just got to figure out how to switch out my baggage for something a little bit lighter because it’s way past time to head on down the road.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

Driving down the road this morning I thought, I’m not ready to return to this road. Oh the specific road and the weather conditions were not the same, but the task was. Sometimes an aged love one just hits a phase in life when it is always something and each time it’s hard to tell whether or not the something is really, really big or just limiting and/or painful.

Either way, it’s hard to watch strong people you love grow weak. And now an even harder part for me is to keep my past experiences with my mother from filling my heart with worry that may or may not be warranted. My job is to provide support and ask questions, not to freeze with fear in light of all sorts of imagined possibilities. Truly I need to remain in the moment—neither in the past nor the future.

I have my own physical limitations these days, which means I’m trying to plan my runs for the perfect time. My PT says not to run until I’ve been awake for two hours and yet I know that waiting for the heat of the day does me no favors. As I reached that two hour point and started to finish getting ready to leave, the phone rang with a change of plans. My chauffeuring skills were needed sooner than previously planned. Hadn’t showered, but at least I hadn’t added the sweat from a work-out yet.

Out of my running clothes and into something more suitable for a hospital, I jumped in the car. But as I drove off, my emotions fluctuated between mourning running in the cool morning breeze and realizing that this wasn’t really about me—someone’s life could hang in the balance and this trip was an opportunity to help him in a difficult time.

Gripping the steering wheel, I remembered just how hard it is to keep living your own life between each phone call and any actions those calls require you to take—and how aware you have to remain of the awesome responsibility of working with medical professionals when answers aren’t clear. You really can’t rely on the outsiders to care as much as you do, but at least this time there are many minds to help remember symptoms, actions, and possible questions to share with those outsiders.

I came home weary from the short trip, not because it took long or required much effort from me, but because of the uncertainty surrounding someone else’s pain. No run for me—I just wasn’t up to hitting the road in the heat of the day. But it’s not good to sit and stew—and so I danced—albeit inside in front of my fan. I got in my “me” time—a few hours to forget the past troubles and the worries of this day—after all.

And thank goodness the next call I received brought better news than expected. Whew, right? So back to the original plan—until the next phone call.

The walls in the hospital room we visited were covered with inspirational expressions which no matter how true, may not always bring comfort in the moment to those seated in that room. Still, I need to take whatever comfort I can from them—this is not about me or even about my mom or what we went through together. As the sign read: Every day is a gift. One phone call at a time. Now to remember that life is best lived in between those phone calls.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Earlier this year I started working out with a heart rate monitor and was very frustrated by what it told me. Still, I gritted my teeth and committed to working with it for a few months to see if I would become stronger by first slowing down. All these years I’ve been telling myself to speed up and now I have to tell myself to slow down!

At the same time, I’ve wondered how accurate the traditional heart rate ranges are for a person with exercise-induced asthma who pre-treats with ProAir, a medication known to raise heart rates. I don’t have breathing difficulties in my regular day-to-day activities, just when I’m exerting myself aerobically. In fact, if I pre-treat very long before my activity begins, I get very jumpy.

As for that question, I just found out that National Jewish Health cardiology is doing outreach into the neighborhoods by offering Walk with a Doc monthly events where a specific health topic is discussed and then people go on a walk with the health professionals present and ask more personal questions. When I wrote the program with my question, the doctor in charge suggested I come and talk with them there—which I will do at the June event. However, he did give me hope that I may not have to restrain myself at the level I am currently. You mean I don’t always have to run like an old woman??!!

Typical run exertion rates Jan. 2013

Typical run exertion rates Jan. 2013

Since I’ve been using the watch for around three months, I have finally collected quite a bit of data and there is definitely a positive trend occurring. My watch “knows” what’s happening throughout my run, but the straight data I get is more along the line of mean and mode—it doesn’t really tell me what my median heart rate is. However, I can find a summary of that data through the training load chart. Checking it yesterday, I was surprised and delighted to see that my willingness to “listen” to my watch these past several months has paid off.

According to Polar Fitness, “Training intensity and duration as well as physical parameters (for instance, age, weight) affect training load.” The training load chart is divided into three zones: red indicates “cumulative training load is on a very high level” that is potentially straining your body so much so that taking a break is recommended; yellow indicates “cumulative training load is on a high level” and training level should be reduced in intensity; and, green, which indicates “you are recovered from previous training sessions” and can increase training sessions or their intensity levels.

Typical run exertion rates April 2013

Typical run exertion rates April 2013

I’m very happy to report that I haven’t hit the red zone in over two and a half months and that my workouts in the yellow zone this month have been very close to the green zone. For the most part my highest training loads happen in ZUMBA class where I do not make any effort to slow myself down. But even those sessions have improved greatly since I began changing my running patterns by exerting myself more as the watch suggested I should.

This news makes me ecstatic because it means that very soon I should be able to begin increasing my speed without overexerting my heart. Then I’ll just be running like the middle-aged woman I am! As well as exerting myself in a much safer manner than previously. Yaroo!

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Back is not the word I wanted to choose for today. But sometimes the word chooses the blogger—or so it seems.

My back has been behaving very nicely for several months now, thank you very much. I’ve been skiing, running (very slowly!), doing ZUMBA, yoga, and Pilates. What I haven’t been doing is any PT exercises beyond the ones I do in the shower every day.

Apparently, that was a big mistake. Easter Sunday—yes, the day my husband came down with strep for the first time in over a quarter of a century—my back just started hurting when I stood up after putting on my shoes. That it hurt on the opposite side, but in the same area around the vertebra that had been the problem last time, got my attention.

Uh, oh. I am so not going back to a life diminished by an immobile and aching back. Not if I can help it, anyway.

Just like last year, once again I was the person fidgeting in the choir loft—thank goodness I sit in the back and wear a long robe. In between church services I tried to find some exercises I could do discretely while wearing that robe and high heels. (Yes, this recent pain might be telling me that there is a reason I avoid high heels and that maybe no special occasion is special enough to break out those heels anymore.) However, when the guy with cancer seemed concerned about my back problems, I didn’t think he needed me to go on and on about my own pain.

My family at home, on the other hand, had to put up with my kvetching over my back-to-back aches. At least the dogs enjoyed helping me with stretching exercises by trying to crowd me off my yoga mat.

So after a restless night of not being able to find a good sleeping position, I called my former PT the next morning. I realize I’d only been in pain for around 24 hours, but—can I say it again?—I don’t want to go back to my life from two years ago.

He gave me an exercise to do again and again. This is the exercise that apparently I most needed to continue yet hadn’t.

Today I went to see the PT. Prognosis? Although he thinks I have not done any permanent damage, he does believe I have angered the nerve around that touchy vertebra. I’ve got to go back to doing that basic exercise—several times in the next week—and give up on any movements requiring bending forward or jarring my spine this week. If all goes well, next week I’ll be back in my yoga and ZUMBA classes and doing that turtle-like jog I call running.

And doing that one particular exercise forever and ever, amen. If that’s what it takes to get back on track, I’m in.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

The computer has not crashed yet, so we didn’t take it down after all. In fact, it took a break from ominous messages. So after I met with the accountant, I was able to prepare the FAFSA forms for this year. Then I continued by finishing my March bill-paying. I know—I have all the fun, right? Well, the ominous messages are back so maybe we’ll take down the system for Unplugged Day or whatever this is supposed to be. I call it a good excuse to go skiing and try to shake off all those unfriendly numbers I’ve spent time with this past week.

Speaking of numbers, though, I have made some peace with my heart rate monitor as far as the running goes. Yes, I let the watch tell me how often and how hard to run over the last four weeks. Though I never quite met its expectations, I did change my approach. Plus, I looked around for other interpretations of what my running heart rate should be that might better suit my own expectations.

The standard that sounds most fun I haven’t had time to do: aiming for the heart rate that allows me to hold a conversation with someone while running for 30 minutes. I might be crazy, but I didn’t really want to be known as that crazy woman who mutters to herself the whole time she is running!

Another option I discovered didn’t hold with using the 220 minus my age and then keeping me at a low percentage of my maximum. Instead the goal is to aim for 180 minus my age—which puts me right where I tend to run—well, after this past month of retraining myself.

Previously I would have considered even that heart rate too low, but now I see the value in not stressing my body too quickly. I’m still hopeful that I will return to my previous pace but while maintaining a more reasonable heart rate. After all, I thought I would just die going as slowly as that watch said I should, but now my own heart rate is what is telling me I can go faster. In other words, I can run faster while achieving the same heart rate that just last month I could only maintain by trudging.

I still don’t know how exercise-induced asthma affects heart rates in general or mine in particular. I have no idea if I will ever be able to run up a hill without breathing heavier (and my heart beating faster) than someone who does not have asthma.

Also, I don’t know if I can get myself to dance in ZUMBA at a rate that would make my monitor happy. All I know is that while I can slow myself down for running, I don’t even want to dance if I have to cut back as much as it recommends.

Which may mean that, though I am working at a higher level than most everyone in the class, I am not likely going to lose much weight in ZUMBA. Now that’s just crazy! I guess I’m going to have to look to running more for burning those calories than to ZUMBA.

Perhaps the running will eventually prepare my heart better for all that jumping and spinning. Or not.

Numbers are not all that life is about—having something you love goes a long way toward reducing the strain your heart experiences when dealing with disk space, taxes, bills, and all the other can’t-avoid-them numbers in your life. Sometimes you know something is good for your heart simply because you love it—now that’s heart-healthy in and of itself.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

Yes, it’s finally coming back. When you first fall ill, you’re sick enough to think it’s a great idea, say, to watch the entire Season 2 of Downton Abbey in one day—interspersed with naps, of course. But after you lose several days to doing nothing, you want to catch up.

However, the truth is after you’ve been really sick, then comes the time when you’re just tired. And, if you’re smart, you’ll listen to your body and rest when you body say, “Rest!”

Talk about dull and unproductive! And when you are productive, it’s because you only have the energy to do the dull things you must do.

Well, two weeks after my flu/cold, I finally regained some energy. Who knows if I am pushing it too hard or if I really am that much better? I’ve hardly coughed at all since Monday and that is a big improvement. Plus, maybe losing five pounds from not wanting to eat turned out to be helpful after all. (Don’t worry, I have plenty to spare . . .)

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have my Tuesday noon Pilates class—it’s been cancelled permanently due to low numbers. As much as I know I need the class or something similar to keep my lower back behaving, I didn’t miss it yesterday. I might not have been doing planks, but I was going up and down the stairs, putting away things that have been homeless for too long. I also undid the dogs’ winter-weather handiwork by mopping the floor. Finally I got around to putting the new rugs on the bedroom floor—but not until I cleaned the floor first. It’s rare when I find the energy to do domestic tasks so I pushed myself as hard as I could—I’ll leave out the rest of what I did. No, not exciting to do but exciting to have done!

Then today I woke up really craving some ZUMBA dancing, even though I’d be going to yoga later. If I’d known we’d be doing vinyasa yoga, maybe I would have waited, but probably not. I just wanted to move once I saw the beginnings of this glorious day. And then after working out inside, how could I resist the Colorado blue skies and warm temperatures that returned today? Yes, I went for my first run since the day before I came down with the flu. Was it easy? No, but it was just the sort of day that not only makes me want to run, but also has the kindest weather conditions for my conditioning.

So after all that, do I still have energy? Yes and no. Truth is sometimes dealing with frustration kills my energy more than movement. Let’s just say that online job application I worked on made me want to scream—the system really didn’t want to send me my password again and it really doesn’t want to make it easy to input a résumé (yeah, sure all the formatting disappears but will the system allow you just to send your nicely-formatted résumé? Not a chance!)

Boy, have I missed my energy, whether I wanted to use it for fun activities or just to get me through necessary—or even frustrating—activities. I bet I sleep well tonight—which will build more energy, right? Welcome back, Energy! See you tomorrow . . . when you and I work together, the sky is wide open.

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

Ever wonder what happened to my doggie dancing with Furgus? Well, it went from focused to spontaneous when our family had some other obligations. Poor Furgus! He loves dancing so much so that every time I turn on rollicking music he starts leaping at me—which would be really bad form in competitions.

Once you fall off the horse it’s really hard to get back on—OK, I didn’t fall off anything and Furgus isn’t big enough to ride so that expression makes little sense—sorry! What really happened is I stopped cutting up doggie treats and making time to practice.

Now, I, at least, have to relearn some of this stuff—maybe if I treat myself to some chocolate, I’ll be inspired to get us back out more regularly on the dance floor that is our living room rug. Good thing I really did file all the class papers in a notebook—and I even know where it is.

So though I kept saying I was going to start again, I never did—until my neighbor came over to tell me that someone’s fanatical barking at squirrels was waking her toddler. And how do you get an energetic young dog to calm down? You give him something better to do that, with any luck, will also tire him out.

The great thing about doggie dancing is that it is a very efficient way to use up a dog’s energy. The dog has to apply both his body and brain in order to dance. A person can wear out a dog by dancing with him for only ten to fifteen minutes while the dog’s going to need 45 minutes or more of walking to reach a similar level of exhaustion. Given my dog’s still less-than-stellar walking-on-a-leash skills, especially when I am alone and have to walk him and Sam myself, I like the dancing a lot more.

Truth is I enjoy the dancing more anyway. This guy is smooth with his moves. As our teacher said, his tri-colored English springer spaniel coloring—with the white chest and mostly black coat—just makes him look as if he’s formally dressed and ready to glide across some ballroom floor. When Furgus and I practice when Sam is otherwise occupied, he is calm and focused.

I love Sam, but when we’re dancing he reminds me of the George Balanchine quote: I don’t want people who want to dance. I want people who “have” to dance. He wants to dance, but he’d be just as happy doing something else to earn his treats. He is more of an athlete—the kind of guy more attuned to the leaping and maneuvering of agility activities than dancing gracefully.

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

Don’t worry—I get that my dogs aren’t people. However, Furgus has always been that dog who “has” to dance. Wouldn’t I rather he be the dog dancing than the one barking at squirrels, even if those squirrels are why Furgus developed his ability to stand for so long on his back legs?

At this time I have no idea if we will pursue canine freestyle dancing in a competitive setting—after all I have not been disciplined enough practicing obedience training with him so that he is well-behaved enough to compete. If we’re going to get better at this, we’re going to have to leave Sam out of most of our dance sessions and let someone else in the family give Sam his focused play time.

One way or another Furgus and I must continue our return to dancing together because we both “have” to dance—and dancing allows us to be good to our neighbors at the same time. And that’s a win-win situation even if our dancing never wins us a thing.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

I’m back—not from outer space, but from vacation with my husband Sherman. I think we’re both a little bit more tan, relaxed, and ready for our daily lives—and that’s what vacation is supposed to do for us, right?

Right—although first I have to do my run-around-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cut—off preparations and packing, which so far consists of keeping myself up too late and then leaving on vacation exhausted. This does not seem to work so well now that I am a woman of a certain age—OK, it never worked well but I used to recover quicker.

Ah well, at least I could relax once I got on the plane, unlike the woman sitting next to me. During our less than three-hour flight, she watched the news on the TV in front of her, read from the Wall Street Journal and various other papers and magazines, as well as from a book, and she never looked out the window to watch the changing terrain with its mountains, canyons, and seas—although she did often block the view with her reading materials.

As Sherman said, “I think she needed a little Mexico.”

Because the truth is you can only rush Mexico so much—and aren’t too many of us tired from all our rushing anyway?

Sherman’s family—his brothers, father, and he—bought a time-share in Cabo San Lucas several years ago from a family friend on the premise that it would force them all to take vacation—every three years anyway since we rotate the week amongst our own families.

This was the third time we had gone, but the first time without our kids. We love them, but it is so much easier to coordinate a vacation with fewer people and their wishes and desires. Sherman and I vacation well together—we have similar expectations for sleeping, eating, sightseeing, and entertainment—and it turns out, we still like being together alone!

Although we stay in a really nice resort, we continue to be ourselves—you know, those people who don’t like to be boxed in to a schedule or someone else’s expectations. No all-inclusive for us—we’re there to see Mexico, not one hotel. You can bet we’re among the rare people bringing in our own luggage and some groceries—the Clampetts Do Cabo San Lucas (only without the oil money and the firearms!)—to our five-star lodgings.

No jockeying for lounge chairs at the pool—we preferred to hit the pool after a day out seeing the sights in Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, or La Paz.

And two of our favorite outside activities were absolutely free—we finally made it to see the incredible (and peaceful) San Jose Estuary, where for hours we walked and took bad pictures of beautiful birds, and we also went to the public beach at Chileno Bay, where we floated in warm water under the sun while watching yachts and other large boats, as well as the snorkelers, kayakers, and locals enjoying the surf and sand.

Then there were the nights spent either watching the sun set quietly, going out dancing—or doing both! While I may be a fan of loud, pulsating rhythms, Sherman is a fan of dancing with his wife—even if the music is bad, bad, bad—and some of it was bad, bad, bad, even for a person like me who will dance to almost anything. Our energy level (and willingness to appear foolish) seemed to shock the younger people on the pub crawl and at the hotel—I think they were all expecting us to sit quietly in our rocking chairs or go to bed early. But not when we could sleep in the next morning . . . We definitely needed a little Mexico ourselves, but who said we had to stuff it all in the daylight hours, especially when the sun dropped from the skies too early, just as it does here at home these November days.

Is it any wonder I want to hold onto the sounds of the surf and the pounding beats just a little longer? I don’t care to listen to political discord or be reminded of how many shopping days there are until Christmas or anything like that just yet—I’m still in a Mexico state of mind and can’t hear that sort of noise over the music blaring from my computer.

Christiana and Trina jumping, 2009

I’m not a big fan of the current culture of sports. Don’t like the tribalism, the excessive focus on winning at all costs, the big money thrown at competing, or so much acceptance of rude behavior toward others. But I love watching the movements of those who are at the top of their sports and/or have worked really hard to get their bodies to do really difficult tasks and make those tasks look easy.

Although I’m not one to schedule my life around watching sporting events, I’m here to tell you I was enthralled with Peyton Manning’s comeback to football while leading the Denver Broncos to the win this last week. Kinda’ brought tears to my eyes, even though I’ve never really followed professional football closely or paid Manning any attention.

Even though people around the world don’t really care if Trina Lambert’s finished or not as they do with Manning, I understand having to sit on the bench, wondering if I’ll ever get back in the game again.

What I could see was this guy’s yearning—and absolute joy—to be back and to know he was still able to make plays.

I get the hubris that is involved in trying to keep your body doing what it’s always done as if age doesn’t matter—which it does. But on the other hand, sometimes you just want to feel the wind moving through your hair as you reach for the finish or the exhilaration of jumping in the air. The truth is, once we understand the prospect that we might never again feel those joys, some of us are willing to work for comebacks that just return us to doing what we love. Unlike professional athletes, if we have to slow down a little or limit the height of our leaps to keep moving, then we will.

You don’t have to be famous or even good to love to move your body.

So now that I’m jumping again, I’m ready to build my baby steps into running strides. However, my memories from my exile—when moving whenever and however I pleased was not to be—have taught me that wanting is not enough—I have to change my approach if I want to play again. It’s no good working so hard to get better only to go back to running with my same old form.

While focusing on developing a mid-foot strike and applying other techniques from Chi Running, last week I took my first steps around the track on that proverbial 1000-mile journey.

I felt more like a stranger to those lanes than someone who once thought running was as necessary as breathing.

Yet, in those moments when I forgot the 1-2-3 count maintaining my cadence, I sensed the possibility of the freedom to return to doing one more activity that’s helped make me who I am.

That’s all the victory I need for now.

And, no, I don’t know if I’ll be watching Manning play again tonight because, after all, my ZUMBA class meets on Monday. I am back and I am most definitely in black . . . exercise clothes.

Gotta’ run—or is that gotta’ jump?

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert