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(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

“Reluctantly crouched at the starting line . . .” (from Cake’s “The Distance”) we couldn’t wait to peel out when the lights turned green. Those were the days when there wasn’t much to do but “cruise the ones” at night during high school. I’m a fairly cautious driver, but that didn’t stop me from burning off the line in my mother’s car, an innocuous looking green Mercury Comet with a white roof that had some get up and go. (Little did I know then that my driving style was contributing to the late 1970s oil crisis, even if I didn’t drive that much.)

During those same years my need for speed was also being met on the running track. In that case, I aimed not to jump from the starting line, but keep the kick for the finish—something I did so well that in the last month of my high school career my coach decided I made a better sprinter than I did a long distance runner. Despite all those miles under my feet, he was right about that. Even if I’ve never been a star at any distance, I do love the rush at the end, arms pumping, eyes fixed on the goal, and the wind blowing past my ears.

Well, life in my 50s has not been nearly so zippy. In fact, after my bulging disc injury at the end of my 40s and lots of physical therapy and exercising on my own, for a long time I was happy just to get back to walking in a zippy manner.

As for driving a zippy car, that hadn’t happened since my turbo Dodge Shadow pooped out way sooner than it should have. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Honda CR-V—which our daughter still drives—but you’re never going to confuse that car with a car that can pass easily in the mountains—or even go up a hill without a whole lot of effort. And my parents’ Mercury Sable I inherited has a V-6, but, seriously, it’s a grandma-mobile—it’s a good road trip sedan.

So when my husband suggested getting a MINI Cooper, I had no strong opinions either way. Cars just cost too much money any way you look at it and I’ve rather stopped thinking about what I might want in a car. Then when my husband, son, and I took it out on a test drive on hilly County Line Road, I started to remember—not that I had much experience on hills growing up in my absolutely flat hometown, but I did have memories of zipping along County Line Road in my Shadow and loving how easy those hills seemed.

Well, almost six months and 6,000 happy miles later, that MINI Cooper and I (as well as every other driver in our family) have zipped around quite a bit. Hills, roundabouts, curves, highway entrance ramps, mountain inclines—those places are where the MINI excels—and/or accelerates, as it were.

As for me and my own two feet, I remain mostly not-zippy. But every once in awhile, thanks to PT, yoga, and a lot of focused work, I still have it in me to try to fly for a short distance. At the end of last night’s track practice, where I consistently hit my times 100 meter, after 100 meter, on the way to a consistent pace for a 20-minute run and three more timed 200 meter runs, I turned off the watch and just zipped through the last 200 meters as fast as I could. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah!

Nothing like going from zero to zippy from time-to-time to help me stay satisfied with the slower pace in much of my life—that’s what keeps me going the distance.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

My husband Sherman has reached the point at his employer where he needs to use up a certain amount of personal time (vacation and/or health-related) in order not to lose them at the end of the year. Most years he has trouble doing so. He was raised in an entrepreneurial family where days off were days when you didn’t earn money. His family still seems to regard time off with a bit of suspicion.

Be that as it may, he has chosen to work outside the family which means that while he doesn’t get to make all the decisions in his daily work, he does have certain set benefits. Still, taking rest doesn’t come easily to him. Although I’ve suggested he could take off some days to do relaxing things such sleep in, read, and ride his bicycle, he seems to feel better about using vacation days when he has a specific place to visit or activity to do.

He’ll take days for traveling vacations, visiting family, camping, helping his relatives, and skiing, but beyond that he doesn’t have much imagination for how to use them. In fact, when he and I have gone to “time share” presentations in Mexico (trust me, you don’t have to want to buy a time share to get roped into those—in fact, saying “no” a thousand times over is very much work), eventually the salespeople start insulting his inability to relax. Not only is this guy not going to buy a time share, but he also doesn’t even understand why people travel, seems to be the gist of their harangues toward him. Pretty soon, they’ll throw us in a van and take us back to our car in disgust.

Well, we didn’t want their time share anyway—but they are wrong that he can’t have fun—unless they are talking about the type of fun that requires traveling to expensive far-flung locales—which, of course, is their type of fun—you know, the kind of fun that pays their commissions.

Last Friday, with the snow uneven and crusty, Sherman conceded he’d rather do something other than ski for his planned day off, even though it was killing him to see such a quantity of snow on the mountains this late in April.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

So we took our daughter Christiana on what we considered as goofing around for all of us, but also as a business trip for her—the three of us visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, about an hour to the south of Denver. You see, this particular zoo is the zoo with the largest (18!) giraffe herd. And, well, our daughter is a giraffe artist these days. This was a research trip for her, even if it was just rest for her father and me.
(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

She loved the giraffes, and not just for art’s sake and all the photos she took that will work into her projects. I haven’t seen her light up like that in a long time. This was just the kind of stress relief she needed after a long, hard semester that included major surgery and recovery in the middle of it. Plus, talk about giving her father joy on one of his own breaks from work.

Sometimes when our kids grow up, we forget to play together.

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert


Sure, our family still skis in a group, but going on this sort of outing doesn’t require the same sort of planning, expenditures, and physical effort. This was just simple fun together and a great way for Sherman and Christiana to take a break from his work and her school assignments. And yet, it was so enjoyable to visit a zoo without having to pull our “child” in a wagon—which is an especially good thing since the zoo’s name does not lie. Just because we took a break from daily life, however, didn’t mean we weren’t exhausted from that break. Ah, maybe that’s the real reason why Sherman doesn’t yield too often to taking time off.

Then again, there’s nothing like smiling a lot to get you ready to get back at it—and that’s another kind of yield altogether.

Christiana, 1994, wearing giraffe buttons and a big smile.

Christiana, 1994, wearing giraffe buttons and a big smile.

Autumn-weary moss roses and purslane after a long summer of blooming.

Autumn-weary moss roses and purslane after a long summer of blooming.

Out here in Colorado, there are always debates about water usage and landscaping. Bluegrass lawns? Xeriscaping only? A combination?

In places where natural water is unreliable, we need to realize that when we pick plants more suited to this environment, we then have more control on how much intervention will be required to keep our plants happy or even if those plants will stand a chance at surviving.

Plants that naturally grow in this place are resilient—just as we would like to be. Well, what we really would like to be are people who get to experience all the perfect conditions we desire in order to bloom in unmatched splendor. But, lacking those conditions, we need to be ready to face the elements—and bloom anyway.

Xeromorphic plants are those that conserve water usage and tend to have fairly tough greenery.

Take the humble moss rose or portulaca grandiflora. These plants love most conditions, but hotter and drier is even better for these colorful bloomers. I’ve grown them in many containers, but where they especially thrived was when planted in a shallow, rusty wagon, placed to take the maximum beating from the afternoon sun. Yet, instead of baking, all they could do was self-seed and expand into a full wagon-load of ever-changing multi-colored blooms. If a hailstorm cut those blooms to pieces, the next day fresh moss roses would open with even more vigor. These flowers can even handle too much rain and a little frost, even if they do look a little beat down for a bit—before they bounce back to full form.

Life is full of unpredictable conditions—better to be a moss rose who can make it through almost anything than a plant that only thrives when things go just so.

And, thus, I’m mostly leaving you with pictures. Well, other than of relaxing activities such as my delicious nap today and my soak in the tub—I will spare you those images. Thank goodness for small favors, right?

Christiana petting giraffes on our trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Christiana petting giraffes on our trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Running.

Running.

Road trips.

Road trips.

Reading.

Reading.

Singing in church.  (c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Singing in church.
(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Walking dogs.

Walking dogs.

Now, off to grab 40 winks–or more.

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

Oh, how great it is to discover this late in the rental season that my daughter is now a vagabond in a college town that has a 2% vacancy rate. This after she asked if she needed to look for another situation back in February because that’s the best time to find housing.

Just because it’s legal to give 30-days-notice doesn’t mean it’s the best way to value a longtime connection, especially knowing the consequences for our family. A little bit of notice would have been the way to respect the costs associated with this change.

It’s way past time to move on. Time to vamoose and vacate the premises. Vaya con dios . . .

"Udder" nonsense

“Udder” nonsense

So much for a theme for Blogging A to Z—I had no idea how difficult I would find it to talk about beliefs for a month. Beliefs are just so serious—ugh! And I am not that serious all the time. About half the time I am a goofball who doesn’t want to think deeply.

Right about now I am craving the chance to utter thoughts about utter nonsense. [Instructions: use utter as a verb (infinitive form) and as an adjective in the same sentence. In other words, use the word in more than one way and play with it—that’s more like me.]

Even I’m bored with my utterances. Really. I am, however, amused by a question listed on Dictionary.com: “how to soften a cows utter.” First of all, that’s not a question! Second of all, use the possessive—and, third of all, that’s udder, not utter—unless you’re trying to lower the volume from cows that are mooing and bawling and such. While my writing on udders might allow for a whole lot more humor, I regret to inform you that I have always been a town girl and (actively) try to know as little about udders as I can. I’m still traumatized by the time a classmate’s mother tried to serve me fresh-from-the-cow milk with my cereal.

I will leave you with one more reference from the Dictionary.com listing for utter—well, with a slight change—and be done with my formal utterance for this day.

(Trina) uttered a shriek.

The End—and that’s (almost) the truth. [P.S. If you get the Edith Ann reference (Lily Tomlin character), then you are old. Plus, you also need to know that I stink at making raspberries and will not be uttering one with this post. Feel free to utter your own, if you so desire.]

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert Furgus looking out the window as he leaves his mother and his home in the desert southwest.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert
Furgus looking out the window as he leaves his mother and his home in the desert southwest.

Some we choose, some we know are coming, and others are thrust upon us, seemingly out of the blue.

It’s often those surprising twists in our paths that really hit hard at our sense of safety. Though we have barely begun to mourn what is over, we often must focus on some sort of action. Right now or yesterday, or—at the bare minimum—tomorrow. There’s not much time to ponder what’s going on—many times the reflection will have to wait until later once we have answered the immediate question of “What now?”

So tiring to deal with those twists without an accurate road map, but there is no time to find a rest stop. In those moments of great shock, we can only let our reasoning skills take over and do what must be done. The head must rule until the heart won’t distract from choosing the next route.

Transitions are life, despite how much we want to believe otherwise. Many times we have to travel a long way down the road before we realize that the rocks in the road—that did not hit us, the bridge that washed out—before we reached it, the slow detour—that showed us a much better route, all those sorts of things either saved us from disaster or sent us on the journey we were meant to take, even if we did have to experience a few bumps on the road along the way.

My mother Mae singing with guys--no doubt as the high tenor!

My mother Mae singing with guys–no doubt as the high tenor!

Oh for certain we sang this hymn at my mother’s memorial service. Her life had been one long song to the next, something I’m sure she passed on to me when I was yet in her womb. How can I keep from singing?

Though I am not the musician she was, I am musical, often in ways I don’t even recognize. I never stop hearing the beats in all kinds of music. My toe can be found tapping out some tune even when my brain isn’t aware of having a song in that head of mine. I hear the fluorescent light’s buzz that often echoes the one being sung by the bass section in choir. Snippets of songs run just below my consciousness levels and sneak out when I least expect them to do so.

I sing the blues, I sing nursery rhymes, I sing praise, I sing advertising jingles, I sing Broadway tunes, I sing corny Americana songs taught to me by the banjo-playing music teacher who was not my mother, I sing classic rock and (crappy) pop from my youth. To my family’s dismay, I even sing random ZUMBA songs. It’s just one long (or short) song to the next in my head—and sometimes out loud.

And my life is so much better for it. My family of origin, for better or worse, was always breaking out in song, something my husband pointed out when he first got to know us.

My son might not want to admit it, but he’s been infected by this disease, too—or at least I think that’s what he’d call it when he gets a particularly bad earworm repeating in that lovely broken record format in his head. But it’s a thing of joy to me when I can hear him singing spirituals through the bathroom door and above the running water sounds coming from his shower—oh how proud his grandmother would be.

But I really know life is improving around here when the other half of this family starts breaking out in song too. Just Saturday on the ski slope, my daughter was singing while she skied—something she always did as a kid. And then on Sunday, my husband was making up songs as he created and put together his Easter Day “resurrection” pizza. What music to my ears to hear those two forget to stay silent.

How can I keep from singing? Indeed.

(c) 2009 Lori Lange, Lange and Lambert families wearing many hats!

(c) 2009 Lori Lange,
Lange and Lambert families wearing many hats!

My American literature professor spent a lot of class time discussing author Ernest Hemingway’s “grace under pressure” concept. I admit that I am macho enough to admire some of the themes from Hemingway’s works. I suppose that goes back to the German-American pioneer spirit imbued in my genes, or at least in my upbringing.

Well, I have that grace. In a crisis it takes a lot for me to become that cliché character in movies that starts hyperventilating at the first sign of difficulties.

I have walked through many fires and not been burned—even when I have been singed.

I get that I have not worked full-time for years and that when I have worked, it has been as a freelance writer and editor or as a volunteer or as a daughter, wife, or parent. I don’t always know programs or letters, such as Photoshop or SEO optimization. But know that other than some word processing I was taught to do on a Wang system (and, yes, that really was a big computer system in a time long ago, not something obscene), I have taught myself everything. I was handed a manual and told if I read it, then I could probably learn how to create spreadsheets—I’ve been through Lotus, Quattro Pro, and Excel all on my own and I’m damn good at spreadsheets—not because I’ve been trained, but because I’m the sort of analytical person who loves the clarity spreadsheets can provide. I’ve switched from the WordPerfect I loved to Word because my work needed to be put into Quark in chart format—which I learned to do from doing it. Software programs come and go—and I learn them when applicable to what I need to do.

When my circulation boss left right before the auditor called, I figured out how to prepare the requested reports and proofs for the auditor. I read industry resources and called contacts and got the information I needed to meet the requirements and then exceed those as I had more preparation and time to develop my own systems.

In fact, the only time I have been trained to do much of anything in my work life is when I standardized financial data for a McGraw Hill company—I was rather in awe that I got to work for a couple months just learning—what a concept, right? Before I was done with that job, I was the person who created the new training manuals/programs for two specific industry groups.

Writing and editing? Not trained except as a college student and with the introductory studies in my graduate publishing program. But once again, I have utilized written resources and contacts, although I have not really got into watching online videos—I’m not so auditory in my learning style that I have converted to that type of learning, although it’s good to know that I can if I am stumped.

And I can’t tell you how many times my MBA studies have been relevant in both my volunteer work and my family life. I’ve used operations management techniques for standardizing and improving back room operations for large volunteer-run clothing and equipment sales and my knowledge of accounting and finance for analyzing financial reports as oversight for the local school district, a non-profit preschool, and any other volunteer organization I have supported. Plus, without my MBA, I doubt I could have proven to a large hospital and our insurance company just why the billing was wrong and why we were the ones owed money, not the institution.

Then there is all I had to do to “rescue” my mother from the details of her life as she fell into dementia. I had to jump in to her finances and analyze what she had and hadn’t done and come up with a plan for catching up and going forward. I had to manage her healthcare, finances, possessions, and real estate—and still find time to love her and my own kids who were still at home.

At the same time my daughter experienced her own health crisis (the one that led to the big billing problem) that required weekly if not more frequent medical trips as well as handling the human side of that crisis.

Even so, during these twin crises, I was still editing, volunteering, and exercising, as well as managing our own household finances, appointments, possessions, pets, etc. Everything that was essential was completed, but at the same time I didn’t feel I could commit myself to outside work and do it justice.

Those days are past. I have been baptized by fire and am ready to share my abilities with a worthy organization. No, my path has not been straight and I am not an expert in one particular thing. But if a computer program is spitting me out for not having “x” years of experience in this or that, then I will never get a chance to show just how much I can do. I need a hiring manager who has the imagination to understand the assets my life experiences, character traits, and my skills are and how they can add to an organization’s value.

On the other hand, I realize that there is still so much for me to learn about the way workplaces are now. Just because I have an MBA, that doesn’t mean I think I should start at the top. But know that I am a loyal person and when the time comes that I get a chance to dig in and begin at a lower level, I will put my powers of learning to whatever tasks are at hand and grow both myself and the organization that hires me.

I am relevant in so many ways—what I call “grace under pressure” is now called “grit”—and that I have in spades.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. Louis L’Amour

It’s been a long week for me with a whole lot of singing, first at choir practice, then followed by singing at Holy Week services on Thursday and Friday night, as well as at two Easter services today. And, in between all that singing, my family and I threw in one last ski session together. No wonder I can barely string together more than a few sentences to complete this blog post that is already a day late and just a few hours from being two days late.

However, since a friend of mine posted this Louis L’Amour quote in one of her blog posts last week, I’ve really been pondering those words in regards to all the yoga turmoil and changes in our community as well my seeking outside employment. When one (or two!) chapter(s) end, that is when something else can start.

These past few days I’ve sat (and stood) through several Holy week lessons, songs, and homilies. Turns out this quote can be applied to more than just your life or mine. As I’ve been reminded, the journey to the tomb certainly made it appear as if everything was finished.

And, yet, that was just the beginning.

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Blogging AtoZ Challenge 2012

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert