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(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

We loiter in winter while it is already spring.
Henry David Thoreau

There’s a whole new season out there—America’s sport opened yesterday with hearty shouts of “Play ball!”, the grass is way more than knee-high to the already jumping grasshoppers, Mr. and Mrs. Finch have built a nest under our patio roof, the dandelions are shining like the sun, and the most recent snow didn’t even stay on the ground a whole day—well, in most spaces.

Easter Sunday, after singing two church services (the finale of a song-filled Holy Week that began with a Saturday all day rehearsal, followed by Palm Sunday service, the two-hour Bach St. John Passion service, a Wednesday choir practice, plus Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services), I was ready for what seemed more like a long winter’s nap than spending time outside in the midst of earth’s rebirth. But with what turned out to be just a short spring fling with sleep, I was ready to experience the great outdoors I had been so missing with all that indoor singing.

My husband Sherman and our dogs Furgus and Sam were just as willing as I was to get back at moving under the big blue sky with which we were blessed on Easter.

Just a few minutes into our hiking climb up the Hogback, I realized how early in this season it still was. Yes, it was warm enough that I needed to keep an eye and ear for rattlesnake activity, but my breathing told me I hadn’t been climbing for several months. Apparently the large (to me) hills I run in my neighborhood as well as riding a chair lift up a mountain in order to ski down have not kept my lungs in anything like the hiking form I soon hope to regain. Another excuse to pause and admire the view stretching below, right? Worked for me and Sherman (though he already has been climbing on his mountain bike) even if the dogs would rather we pushed the limits from the start versus eased into the season.

By the time we descended to terra more firma, we sported evidence of both sun and dirt, morphing our winter skin into brand new shades. And speaking of brand new shades, the warmth of the new season seemed to have ushered in the return of the full moon, thanks to a cyclist-gone-commando who felt no need to hurry into his post-riding shorts. Yes, it is most certainly springtime next to the Rockies.

Transformations are happening in our home, too—though we prefer a more modest (and appropriate) approach style-wise. Our daughter is graduating from college next month. She and I are both looking for work—in many ways it seems as if finding that first post-college career job is a lot like finding one as a returning job seeker. The world wants to see both levels as stuck in the winter of our recent pasts and yet we are primed for the rapid greening that comes with spring.

Oh yes, the seasons are changing—outside and inside this house. Let us not loiter too long in winter when it is already spring—each step we take brings us closer to the growth and eventual fitness that comes with moving upward and outward into the world.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Today I’m not going exercise class. Nope, I’m sitting at the computer wearing non-exercise clothes at noon on a workout day—and that’s OK.

Last week my exercise specialist and I had a big conversation about how little progress I was seeing from all their prescribed exercises—an hour a day!—as well as my usual classes and runs. I was tired as well as a little bit bored from all that work.

This time when she suggested a week off I did not protest. She thought that maybe the muscles we were trying to strengthen were in fact being overused at the same time.

All I know is that for all my effort, I wasn’t gaining enough.

After she conferred with the chiropractor, the two of them agreed that for this week I should walk or hike—while wearing my trochanter belt again—and stretch only.

Those instructions worked well with my travel plans anyway—as long as I could start after one more pre-road trip yoga class. While it’s good to have focused stretching the day before you set out, the day you spend six and a half hours in a car is a great day for light stretching without any extra exercise.

The exercise reduction was especially good timing since we had mini-road trips planned to get and return Christiana so she could go see her brother’s performance in Durango also, as well as visit with friends.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Wasn’t sure if Mother Nature would cooperate for the hike Sherman and I planned the morning after the play, but boy did she. Saturday dawned with just the sort of perfect October weather we had experienced when we had gotten married twenty-three years earlier. Whenever we can, we hike to celebrate the day. Was glad to know I had doctor’s orders to do so this year!

Despite using the stretching tools I’d brought—the foam roller, exercise bands, and tennis ball—I felt no different than usual. Then again, I felt no worse even though I’d sat in a car for way too long.

Another long car ride and a night of sleep, off we drove to take Christiana back to her new home. First, however, we went on another hike, this time outside of where she lives now.

Several hours later, Sherman and I returned, exhausted from our travels. Wasn’t until it got closer to bedtime that I realized I wasn’t really hurting. Not from hiking, not from riding in a car, not from just living.

Hmm. Maybe we’re on to something.

So I here I sit—will see what happens next week when I get back to work. A week’s break is nice, but two? I don’t think so!

A few months have passed since our “birdies” flew our coop. With a 6 ½ hour road trip one way, it would be easier if any of us could travel as the crow flies! Other than during their brief (34 hour!) home stay in September, we hadn’t seen our kids since we drove away from the City Market parking lot back in late August.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Jackson landed a part in Fort Lewis’ production of Almost, Maine, so it was our turn for a brief (44 hours, an extra hour thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time) visit this past weekend. Thankfully, the weather cooperated so we had dry roads as we climbed up and down all those mountain passes in between our home and their new home and back.

Oh, the places they had gone since we had unpacked what seemed like half of our house—yes, we left more than parts of our hearts in Durango! They’d been to classes, laundry rooms, dining services, ATMs, grocery stores, the health center, mountain destinations, and more. Christiana had even negotiated changing roommates and dorms, getting herself moved into the room directly underneath Jackson’s room.

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

So finding our destination was simple, but who were these kids of ours?

Jackson was busy with performances while Christiana wanted to show college life to Kelly, a friend from home who rode along with us for the visit. In between taking them separately and together out to meals, meeting their friends, bringing them to Wal-Mart and the grocery store, attending church with Christiana (even if she slept through the sermon), seeing Jackson’s performance, and viewing Christiana’s artwork, we had plenty of time to ourselves.

Which was fine with me—I don’t need to spend too much time on a campus to remember why certain experiences, such as living in the dorms, are best left to youth.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

We got to pass our morning hiking a dusty trail that took us high over the town and valley on a sunshiny picture perfect November day. The first dog we encountered—hiking in Colorado is often a dog-centric activity—belonged to the college president, Dr. Dene Thomas, a woman we recognized despite having only seen her in more formal settings. Although we met up with many more dogs and their owners, Sherman was glad to note I was more interested in puppies than in the shirtless college guys climbing beside them. (Once again, certain experiences are best left to youth!)

At one point, when Sherman stopped to take a picture of me, he discovered a direct view of the Fort Lewis campus sitting on the plateau that rises above the opposite side of town.

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

As the crow flies, we were close, but oh so far away. This was what all those flying lessons were about over the last 18 years—raising our kids to soar on their own.

Doesn’t mean there aren’t more lessons up ahead, but, oh, the places they will go—places much more exciting than laundry rooms and dining services. And when appropriate, we’ll be watching—from a distance.

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

These days, our family finds it very hard to come up with a weekend when we can go mobile by dusting-off the 1976 Mobile Traveler and heading toward the hills. We usually have about four weeks’ notice since we have to pick the date before the kids turn in their work schedule requests for the next month. Talk about choosing the right weekend this year—we left town on a day that hit the record books temperature-wise.

Arriving with no campsite reservations on one of the hottest weekends of the summer so far, we didn’t really expect easy pickings. Luckily, we have our own bathroom so our options are fairly open. We drove further up the pass, but still found plenty of competition. Eventually we settled on a relatively flat site with some pre-existing fire-rings and only enough room for our own RV—couldn’t complain about the view either.

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

Often we are pretty active when we go camping. Not so this time. We read, we played games, we stared into the beautiful spaces. Maybe it was the general bugginess of the area, maybe we were just tired, but turns out it’s OK to relax without an agenda. (I know, I have to keep repeating this to myself!) This was probably our final camping trip with just the four of us (and the two dogs, of course) before the kids go to college. Christiana still has knee pain, so she’s not up for much hiking, but at least that meant our gimpy old dogs had company while the rest of us were gone.

Those hikes we took were short, as dictated by unpredictable clouds. But the wildflowers were in full bloom and the grasses lush and green (why else do you think there were so many insects around?) We didn’t need to complain about heat much in between the rain showers. We could just hunker down on our 1970s avocado green seats and amuse ourselves inside.

Outside Sherman and Christiana built a campfire under the supervision of Fordham’s Springer Spaniel eyes, while Jackson and I remained behind washing and rinsing dishes under Abel’s supervision. Poor Abel heard many renditions of how the bear went over the mountain to eat a plump black dachshund, but it didn’t deter him from looking for any dropped crumbs that might make him plumper.

Our attempts at camp songs would have scared away other campers—good thing there was no room in the campground and we remained free to abuse our own ears. Round Robin storytelling was full of “look a chicken” moments as marshmallows were roasted and used in s’mores built with regular or gluten-free graham crackers, although no one was so distracted that he or she didn’t notice I just skipped the crackers and marshmallows and went straight to the Hershey bars.

By the time we had the fire out, we were freezing. Freezing! That’s how different our experience was from life in the city in July. I went to bed in long pants and long sleeves and couldn’t get my hands warm for at least a couple hours. A perfect way to celebrate escaping hot times in the lowlands.

After a very lazy morning and late brunch, we backed out and headed home. Apparently I liked doing nothing, because the closer we got toward the city, the more my stomach started to feel as if I’d swallowed and brought back several of the butterflies flitting around the alpine meadows.

You know how it is—you come home to dirty laundry, bills in your mailbox, and grit all over your body. But then you take that nice citified long shower, turn on the swamp cooler, and stretch out on that oh-so-comfortable bed and pretty soon you know it’s good to be sleeping again in your home sweet home.

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

Trina at Deer Creek, (c) SALYesterday while I was hiking under blue, blue skies, the blues jumped onto my back. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Sunshine, warm weather, fresh air, fall colors. What was there not to love about the afternoon?

All I can surmise is that since I hadn’t had that much time to think, when I got the time, I thought too much! I turned grumpy when the path we took seemed to be much farther than we had anticipated. That meant we weren’t going to get down to the car until dark. Then I wouldn’t be able to pick up those supplements for my mother that I can only buy outside of our neighborhood. More left to do on my to-do-list. Plus, it might mean we couldn’t visit her—and not only would she miss us, but also I really prefer visiting her with Sherman once in awhile so I’m not alone with her pleas to take her from the memory wing for good.

(c) 2009 SAL

(c) 2009 SAL

That morning we had gone to a session at church on being sandwiched. Oh yes, I could relate. But hearing about the difficulties of my life reminded me all the more about those difficulties. I didn’t leave feeling supported as much as feeling less hopeful. Not the intent at all—because we didn’t have much time to share with one another, those feelings and thoughts had time to grow in my head afterwards.

One of the things we talked about was how much caregivers needed help and how to respond if someone offered to give us some. That led me to thinking about what I need most right now, even though no one was really asking.

What I decided would help me feel better is to have a cleaner as well as less cluttered home environment. I’m the only one who is here all day—I don’t get to go away to a place where the “stuff” is limited by others or where there are janitors and cleaning crews, etc. I’m the one who sees the mess day in and out; however, doing the cleaning is never top on the list of urgent tasks for me. Decluttering and cleaning have always been my weaknesses and when I’m stressed, that’s even more true. What I need now is someone to help me put things away, including finding homes for those items I just can’t seem to figure out where they go. Heck, I need help just dusting and sweeping, so maybe I can clear out the cobwebs on my own aspirations.

The extra time on my hike seemed to bring back those thoughts from the morning—and the realization that I couldn’t even name my aspirations. Then I started thinking about how I had been working on getting out of crisis mode living and becoming better at daily living when the big crises began in our lives. All my life I’ve been good in a crisis, but I haven’t done so well at creating routines that allow me to have time to both do the necessary things and enjoy myself.

Well, this last year has made me even better at living for the moment and for the next crisis. As I struggled with that thought, I wondered if I’d lost all the ground I’d gained in my previous work. Then began the big questions: Who am I without the crisis? What do I do when I don’t have to spend so much time just reacting to the needs of others?

(c) 2009 SAL

(c) 2009 SAL

My hiking was not so different from my life. I could climb like crazy going up. But going down, I was slow and clumsy. I could do what was hard, but not what was supposed to be easy. Story of my life.

I admit that I am most likely depressed over the losses and lifestyle changes I’ve experienced in my life in the last year and a half. I have had to let so many other things drive my schedule, but these days, even when I can control my own schedule, I don’t know where to begin.

I don’t want to be like one woman we met in DBT. She was so depressed because she had some permanent health conditions that limited her lifestyle and would probably shorten her life span. Yet, she could not get out of the chair to enjoy what she was left to her.

So I’ve had losses. But how do I get back to enjoying what I can? Like enjoying a hike as an opportunity to relax and do something for myself? I don’t want to sit in the chair and miss the fact that I do get to control so much more than I could just a few months ago. My time is coming soon: my kids will be in college and, sadly, my mother will be gone, too.

The kids have even been gone a lot the last few weekends. With and without Sherman, I have known how to amuse myself. I’ve had fun with my husband. Seriously, when I’m not packing the blues, I wonder if more time alone really will resolve much of this dilemma for me. Although I have a hard time separating myself from others’ problems when they’re close by, when I have some physical space from the people, I do a much better job with boundaries. It’s not quite out of sight, out of mind, but a more balanced approach nonetheless.

(c) SAL

(c) SAL

The season when I get to be more in charge of my life is not so far away, yet I still have so much work to do on my journey to what’s next. So today after everyone left, right away I returned to the writing that had been interrupted by Christiana’s breathing crisis. Then I started this writing, even though I should have been preparing for a meeting with a financial advisor about my mother’s needs. I’m going to yoga. The sun is shining for another incredibly warm fall day. There is still time to be me, even if I’m a bit stymied by the process of figuring out how I want to be when I get the chance.

Last night, as the dusk deepened, together Sherman and I hurried down the path toward our car, the only lonely vehicle still in the parking lot. We’d hiked over ten miles together, but I’d been alone in my head for almost half of that trip—unless you count the blues I was packing with me. However, once I got into the car, my blues just slipped away—almost as quickly as they’d arrived.

I suppose sometimes I’m going to have to welcome them on my journey to what’s next, but I’m not about to carry them on my back the whole way.

Deer Creek (c) 2009 SAL

Deer Creek (c) 2009 SAL

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