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welingerinwinterscarf

Scarf designed by Christiana Lambert for Knotty Tie, Co. in 2016 (sewn by an employee who is a resettling refugee).

I have all the words—and they’re just running rampant in my head and not getting out into the world. I have so many words that—forgive me—I’m not going to find it possible to “mind the metaphor,” as my friend used to caution.

I returned to work just under a year ago (anniversary date=02.01) and have yet to find my way back to my writing routine. But what a year this past year has been—exactly not the year for me to go silent. Heck, what a week it has been.

How many of us have been rendered almost speechless daily by the changes wrought on our nation? You’re just trying to do your part by performing the work you are paid to do and then you come home to discover yet another congressional action or executive order has happened—and you are stunned. Stunned that what it meant to be the United States of America can change so radically in such little time.

As I sat in church this morning, I listened to lessons from the lectionary (a three-year cycle of prescribed bible verses that many churches follow) that seemed hand-picked for just the times in which we are living. Coincidence? Not likely. Micah 6:8’s exhortation to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” and Matthew’s beatitudes (the “blessed ares” that turn the power of this world on its head) as well as 1st Corinthians’ talk of the seeming “foolishness” of following Christ’s ways are words I needed to hear to remember that God is in charge—even if His not-so-subtle message is that we’re going to have to walk our walk for Him in the days and months ahead.

I have one writing prompt this week and it’s to write a prayer to pray at choir this coming Wednesday. What follows is my brainstorming for my assignment. I originally chose that date because Wednesday is almost Candlemas, which is celebrated on February 2. Traditionally in the church, February 2 is the day that commemorates the presentation of the infant Christ in the temple, as the date follows 40 days after His birth. Candlemas also was when families would bring in their candles to have them blessed for the year ahead. We here in America celebrate Groundhog Day on that day as we look for a furry critter to predict whether spring will arrive early or come as planned. From a strictly chronological viewpoint, February 2 is halfway through the winter—a time when we either start to wonder if spring will ever come or when the slightly longer days remind us that spring’s arrival is getting closer.

This year it seems we are stuck in the darkness of this particular winter of our discontent. We can hardly look ahead to spring. We are a nation in discord with members of our own families, with neighbors, and with other people of faith—as well as with our traditional enemies (both personal and national). Well, that groundhog has already seen the shadow—and it is the shadow that holds our prejudices and fears as well as our turning away from the pain and suffering of others.

But Candlemas is all about blessing the candles—which were the only source of light for homes in the days before other light sources were invented. Those simple sources of light were all people had to brighten the remainder of the year. In other words, the Presentation of the Lord is the ceremony that reminds us that He is the Light of the World. And that we who follow Him are called to be that light not just in our own homes, but also in our home that is this earth.

I don’t have a clue as to how we’re going to fix this mess our country is in, but I know God does. He knows how He’s going to mend the fractures amongst people who follow Him as well as with those who profess another faith and those who profess no faith. And I think it’s going to look an awful lot like people walking their faiths in order to bring about light.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “We loiter in winter while it is already spring.” No matter what the calendar says, we have all the light we need to fight this darkness and bring on a period of growth. I’ll just continue my quote-fest here by adding the motto of my alma mater (Wittenberg University): Having light we pass it on to others.

Having light (that means we already have it!), WE pass it on to others.

I can’t tell you why but during one of the darkest national times in my experience during one of the traditionally darkest months of the year, this typically stoic Lutheran kept wanting to throw her hand up in the air while singing about the beatitudes in the hymn “Blest Are They” (by David Haas and Michael Joncas). (Might it be God, perhaps?)

Providing blessings and bringing light into this current world is going to look a whole lot like walking—walking among those who are poor in spirit—for theirs is the kingdom of God.

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(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

Gold is the color around here right now but it’s absolutely free for the viewing. These are usually the best days of October in my neighborhood but I am often stunned by these glimpses of beauty. Photos cannot do these golden days justice—or at least with the skills and camera that my husband Sherman and I possess. The intense, low sunshine softens the captured images with a glare beyond even that seen by our own eyes.

Colorado may not have the range of fall colors that explodes in wetter climates but against the backdrop of a robin’s egg blue sky and snow-tipped mountains, the gold glows. Even the native grasses briefly turn from their mostly monochromatic schemes to shimmer in variegated glory.

This year, however, we really have had moisture throughout most of the growing season and even during many of the fallow times. The season’s usual colors in this year are set against grasses that remain green through no human intervention. The wow factor surprises me again and again.

Though the weather forecast calls for no frost in our near future and though we have protected our hanging plants indoors when temperatures have dropped low, it is too late in the season to play that guessing game nightly with the plants we plan to overwinter at Sherman’s office. Reluctantly I prepared those beauties for the annual trip to the office last week before we both carried that burgeoning jungle of greenery and bold blooms into the space with wide southern and western windows our house cannot duplicate.

Even those plants that relied so much on my hand watering, due to hanging in locations that only provide minimal rain access, are so much the happier for the rains that increased the moisture in the air. Humidity—what a concept around here. No, my plants have never had a better season with appropriate temperatures, increased rainfall, higher humidity, and just plain luck from avoiding the worst of the hail that often devastated neighborhoods all around our yard. Our little micro-ecosystem thrived this year with so little effort from me.

I may miss my hanging flower pots, but the delights outside my door remain too glorious for me to mourn their absence too much yet. On yesterday’s drive home from church, all those colors in the established neighborhoods told me I had to get out to see what Mother Nature was offering in her natural neighborhoods—and quickly before those fleeting moments of golden flashiness disappeared.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

We took off to one of our favorite fall spots—a location that one day soon will be flooded to provide more reliable access to water for the residents of man-made neighborhoods, especially since most years here are nothing like this year of falling rains, green growth, and flowing waterways.

I’m not sure why there aren’t more songs about beautiful afternoons. Of course, the dawning of morning is such a metaphor for new beginnings and growth, but joy may also come in the afternoon. I know it did for me—and so, while walking one golden afternoon with my husband and dogs next to a river still wild enough to be dammed by beavers and not yet by engineers, I burst out in song.

“Who will buy this wonderful (afternoon)? Such a sky you never did see. Who will tie it up with a ribbon and put it in a box for me?” (All apologies to Oliver!—and anyone who really does have a clear, soprano voice!)

But you see, all that gold does not glitter—it was free for the viewing, but not for the taking. The only ribbon there is is the one that binds October’s shimmering golden dance into my memory to keep me until she returns again—next year.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Yeah, I knew you’d like that one! I just didn’t want to write about a normal word, plus many “U” words start with “un”—which means you are defining a word based upon what it isn’t—which seems negative. So after striking out with the dictionary, I brought out the Dictionary of American Slang, 4thEdition (Collins, 2007, Eds Kipfer and Chapman) which I knew would not fail me, unless it failed because it could not offer an expression I could use in a family-friendly blog!

Ultraswoopy: adj Very fast: a down-sized, hitech, ultraswoopy model next year (1970s+) (See pg. 535 of paperback edition.)

However, I’m not talking about models of anything—I’m talking about people and their walking styles.

Before I got injured last year, I didn’t really amble much. Oh sure, if I walked dogs, I didn’t keep a consistently brisk pace, but when I knew where I wanted to go in my house, outside, or in other places, I was one brisk walker. I walked purposefully—sometimes so much so that I almost walked into automatic doors before they opened.

Guess what? I’ve had to stop myself lately so that I am not that idiot who walks into a closed door. And, it’s more because I am walking faster than the door is programmed to open than because I am not paying attention.

For almost a year now I’ve had to ask people to slow down when we are walking together. In fact, for a couple months, if I strode out more than six inches or so at time, then I would cry out involuntarily as the pain shooting down to my left foot literally stopped me in my tracks. It’s hard to walk in an ultraswoopy manner when your stride is barely longer than one of your feet!

Although I moved past being that hobbled long ago, I was still struck with annoying numbness that moved down to my right foot, even quicker when I did amble than when I walked briskly. Either way, though, eventually my stride got shorter and shorter despite being able to start walking using my regular stride-length.

The numbness is becoming less and less obvious which is why I can pick up the pace. Sometimes I almost forget there is anything hard about walking around while doing my daily business—whether that means running up and down the stairs in my house, shopping for groceries, or walking through that automatic door to get to my exercise classes.

If that’s so, can it be long before these ultraswoopy feet start running again? True, I haven’t been an ultraswoopy runner for years, but if I am just able to jog slowly again, that will mean I am more ultraswoopy than much of the population of my, ahem, age group.

Even then, I don’t think I will be as fast on my feet as one of my clients who is a 70-something, former college baseball player. From my window I see him park across the street from my house and before I can make it to my door—even pre-injury—he is ringing my doorbell. Now there’s an ultraswoopy walker—imagine just how ultraswoopy he was at 2nd base during his glory days.

My glory days have passed, too, but that doesn’t mean I can’t return to challenging automatic doors with my ultraswoopy walking pace.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Anyone else a runner during the running boom of the late 70s? Do you remember that some time later some studies came out that said running was actually harmful? What about the stir raised when running guru James Fixx died from running? I didn’t pay much attention to the hype, but it seemed the media often chose to pick up on the “running is bad” concept without analyzing studies or considering other factors.

I just thought a lot of people were looking for a reason not to do an activity they didn’t like in the first place. You know, the kind of people who are always doing the latest thing whether or not they enjoy it and whether or not it’s good for their bodies. I think the media buzz is happening again with yoga (and like it did with aerobics and Pilates and . . .)

Yes, I learned the truth—at seventeen—that running could hurt me. I ended up getting fitted for orthotics which helped me recover my health long term. The podiatrist said that running didn’t cause my imbalance problems—it just accelerated how soon they showed up and began affecting my life. Never again did I have the same obsession with running nor was I as naïve about the helpfulness of running, but I didn’t stop for good—I liked running.

You see, I didn’t run because it was “in” or the cool thing to do. For the most part it was a lonely experience, except for when I could meet up with my friends to do it or be part of a track or cross country team. Yet running often soothed my soul. I truly believe this was how I managed my undiagnosed ADD for so many years.

Enter real life obligations, children, and another undiagnosed condition that worsened—asthma—and running became less frequent in my life. It got to the point where I knew my weight gain was a risk factor for running, yet I didn’t know how to keep down my weight without running. This time I ended up with an injury common to inflexible, heavier, long term runners of a certain age: plantar fasciitis.

After that injury healed enough that I could use my feet, I switched to walking. Didn’t “everyone” say that was healthier anyway? I walked and walked—and continued to gain weight. With my feet problems, I couldn’t do any hard core land-based aerobic activities. So . . . I signed up for my first yoga classes.

By that point my lower back was hurting so much that I couldn’t get out of my chair easily. While I did find that yoga was helping in so many ways, maybe it wasn’t enough or maybe it just wasn’t fast enough. When I told my doctor, she thought I ought to add Pilates classes first to see if I could avoid physical therapy.

Here’s the deal: with yoga, Pilates, and walking, I did start to feel better—everywhere, but especially with my back and feet—and that ADD mind. And then I started to lose weight which meant I could move more vigorously, enough so that I could return to running and begin doing ZUMBA dancing.

So are all those things to blame for my recent back injury? Well, maybe. However, I will point out that my injury surfaced after I took off a week from exercise while spending most of that time sitting in a car.

Now that yoga is the new evil activity, it must have been the real cause behind my injury, right?

Really, I think that living and aging are behind my recent physical woes. As far as I can tell, people can get injured by moving—or not moving—or both as they age. When my father needed back surgery, it was because he carried excess weight and did not move unless necessary.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather earn my badges of aging from activity versus inactivity.

So I’m not going to stop practicing yoga even if I am more likely to modify my poses now. I have always gone to restorative yoga classes led by mature instructors who aren’t fostering a competitive environment. And I will argue with a teacher if I think a pose goes against the advice I am receiving from the medical practitioners treating my condition—if I’m not going to believe them and follow their advice, then I need to stop seeing them.

I guess I have to say that if people don’t like to do yoga, then they should not be doing yoga to please others. They can take their chances lifting weights, swimming laps, or sitting in their Easy Chairs while I’m holding a Downward Dog—or attempting to get back to running again.

Maybe we’re all just running against the wind trying to maintain our bodies in the face of time, but I’d rather move than sit down to wait for the Grim Reaper to find me.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Be glad I kept my laptop shut—or at least chose not to approach it last Friday. In general, my blogging policy is if I can’t say anything nice at all—or at least head toward a slightly positive ending—that maybe I should just leave my private thoughts, well, private. After all, I do know how to write by hand in a journal if I want to spew.

But I didn’t do that either.

No, I sat in my reading chair with the dogs (don’t worry, not until after I invited them, Mr. Behaviorist) and finished a book. As I reflected on facing the weekend with limited mobility and limited funds, I realized a trip to my local library could rescue me from a truly mopey fate. Thankfully, our taxes still support a superb facility that can provide entertainment to the poor and downtrodden or those just temporarily broke and grumpy, such as myself.

Unfortunately I ran into a longtime acquaintance when I was really not up for chit-chat. I was too busy wallowing in my supposed restricted future, thank you very much, to socialize.

“How’s it going?” she asked.

Ms. Grumpy replied, “My hips don’t work.”

Now, she’s known me long enough to know that I wasn’t talking about pain. Still, I wish if I were going to be so brutally honest, that I would have added something like, “And you know how I get when I don’t move.” She and I are both, after all, women of a certain age, who have experienced our share of physical downtimes due to injuries. We may have met on school committees, but we also run into each other at the local recreation center (another public-supported facility that has saved both my body and soul!)

Then I took myself, as well as a few books and a DVD, home to my chair where I lost myself inside someone else’s world—OK, not a world I want to inhabit. But hey, I wasn’t reading about my own murder.

The next day I woke up, hips aching, not ready to give up my grudge against Life’s newest twist. A few hours later, though, I’d kind of forgotten about the hips because they had started working better with little more than a B-Complex capsule.

Which meant my previous day’s conclusion—that life as I had known it was over—might have been a little melodramatic.

At the chiropractor visit the week before, I’d finally had success—my hips had not moved at all thanks to work with wearing my oh-so-stylish trochanter belt. That meant I graduated to wearing it less, as well as increasing my level of activity when I did wear it. I have to admit, I worked hard in my yoga classes with that belt. However, I did have to exercise in Deep Water class without it.

By last Thursday night, I could not even walk close to a normal pace as we worked with our dogs and the behaviorist.

On Friday, when the chiropractor asked how I was doing, I told him much better except for that walking thing—which was really not improving.

So he attacked the painful spots and then followed-up by having me lie down on the roller table where I also received more of the electro-stimulation treatment. Then he suggested I follow the session with a slow walk.

My fifteen minutes on the trail were excruciating while my stride mirrored the length of my foot. I just assumed that my hips had not even held half an hour.

“Gloom, despair, and misery on me . . .”

I’d forgotten the chiropractor had stated that in a perfect world I’d go straight to a deep tissue massage, not a walk. What I think I was really experiencing was a reaction to having the scar tissue manipulated—I know from doing restorative yoga that focused release of longtime toxins can initially cause intense pain.

Not only was I not sentenced to my chair for the whole weekend, but I also continue to notice improvements.

I think I am getting better.

Thank goodness I didn’t receive the new DVD/CD for ZUMBA instructors on Friday. I might have thrown it at the wall, but instead, yesterday, I got out the music, popped it in the CD player, and started figuring out which songs I plan to learn in order to teach.

My beat goes on . . .

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert