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I am heartsick at how the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was rammed through the House of Representatives this past week—on the National Day of Prayer, no less. This cruel piece of legislation was approved without the representatives even taking the time to read what it does, without their listening to professionals in the medical fields AND insurance companies, without their hearing the pleas of people all around this country who are in need—in short, without caring. The word “care” in no way belongs in the term “Trumpcare.” The message of “I don’t care” is being shouted throughout this country I already considered great—and is reverberating around the world.

And to add to my utter despair are the words that were spoken by people who voted for this travesty and by those in other positions of power.

Despite what these people would like you to believe, we do not always get what we deserve—sometimes we get more and sometimes we get much less. There is no perfect formula that says, “if you do this, then that will follow”—especially in our health matters.

I’m here today because when I was four months old, the citizens of our country still believed that when an infant falls ill from a congenital birth defect, it is our duty as a society to provide her with healthcare, and in a manner that does not bankrupt her parents.

As I grew into my teens—with no lingering effects from that early life-saving surgery—unaware that I had exercise-induced asthma, I fell in love with running (once my father stopped smoking). I would run 14 years—including four years of high school track and four years of college track—before being diagnosed with that breathing problem in a routine physical. And, yet, the only cost associated with my condition these days is for the inhaler I use to pre-treat before I do cardiovascular exercise—if I were sedentary, I would never need an inhaler, but I doubt my blood pressure numbers would be nearly so good either.

Another pre-existing condition—one leg shorter than another—something I’d been told didn’t matter when I was a 15-year-old high school athlete—turned out to make a big difference after decades of running. In my late 40s, I was so much healthier than most people my age and have the numbers to prove that from tests that were performed for buying life insurance. Most weeks I ran three times, practiced yoga three times, did Pilates once, and danced at Zumba twice—that was every week. My bulging disc came out of nowhere and was not at all related to being sedentary, as the literature our insurance company sent me seemed to imply.

I was devastated and did what I could to get better: chiropractic, physical therapy, and the exercises I’d been prescribed. At one point I was doing those exercises for an hour a day—in addition to the yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and walking I still did during the week. A good proportion of the costs associated with my healing fell on us—for every $50 copay we paid, our insurance paid the providers an additional $10 to $20.

While it was challenging for us to pay those costs and for me to take the time to work on my healing, it was not impossible. Many people must live with their pain or stop working because they cannot afford the care or to put in the focused effort to heal. These days I still put out additional money to make certain I remain healthy—I pay for neuro-muscular massage and we have purchased a new, fairly expensive (to us) mattress that also makes a difference. Not everyone has these types of resources.

When members of congress state that people earn their pre-existing conditions through bad habits, it is really insulting—both to people like me who most certainly were not poster children for the condition I developed and to people who do not have access to the resources that make it easier to stay healthy. That type of statement ignores the randomness of how disease and injury can enter the lives of anyone at any time—such as when I came into the world with a congenital defect that would try to kill me within months of my birth. It’s hard not to think that what these people are really saying is that people should just go ahead and be “selected out” if they can’t afford to treat their own medical conditions.

And then when a wealthy, older man such as Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, states that older people will need to pay higher premiums because they use insurance more and cost more, my first thought is that with his money, he can afford his health care, and, second, that We the People provide his health care—unless our level of coverage isn’t good enough for someone like him. There’s no denying that people my age and older are more expensive to cover, but do we really want to be a society that cares for only the strong?

That is an immoral position, but that’s the sort of position that creates these types of legislation and the policies behind them. When your main concerns for managing government are about determining who is a winner and who is a loser, and then making certain that you never are required to pay anything for anyone you have deemed to be a loser, then society is the real loser. What’s so great about that?

Let’s not forget that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” thing. Besides, none of us knows the future. Just remember, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

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(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

Once upon a time I was a small-town girl living in a lonely world—well, while attempting to get my career started in the metropolitan area where I have since lived for over 31 years. I first came to Denver to study book publishing at the (University of) Denver Publishing Institute, returning a month later for good.

I didn’t find many openings in book publishing so I set out to information-interview the local publishing companies. After one such interview, my car (of the same vintage I was—young for human years, but old in car years) broke down at the side of the road—fortuitously by a gas station that still had working mechanics on site. The young mechanic got me back on the road (for free!) and I returned to the faraway suburb where I was staying with my mother’s friends during my initial job search.

Fast-forward (slow-forward?) almost 30 years and I answered a job post (through the Publishing Institute’s job listing) for the same company I visited right before the car’s roadside drama. Morton Publishing is still in the exact same location, although expanded, yet the people interviewing me were much younger than I was, including one I knew from yoga. I did not get that position but later that year Morton contacted me about doing freelance proofreading for them as they went through the busy preparations for the annual textbook releases. Completed two books for them in 2014 and four in 2015.

This loop in my life looks even more orchestrated when I think about how I met and married a man who owned a house less than a mile from Morton. I have lived and socialized and worked out in the same community as where the company is for almost 28 years. For 11 of those years I have attended the yoga class where I originally met someone who would eventually work at Morton because another student—who later joined our yoga class—worked at the company.

Over the years I’ve deviated from my original dream to work in book publishing. I began in magazine publishing, but fell into (and learned to like) numbers work there. I reasoned that I could do numbers work in a variety of industries, so I moved into a financial reporting business. At one time I was even an accountant—and, yet words kept calling me. I eventually wrote articles and compiled detailed charts for magazine articles. And then—through that yoga class—I connected with an author who needed an editor for two projects over many years.

And, now, I start a job as assistant editor at Morton in just over week. As my daughter pointed out, “It took you 31 years to get that job.” Right—while the company was growing, and while I was adding to my skills as well as raising a family.

Don’t stop believing.

(About the photo.)

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Yoga is funny—there you are being all mindful—or at bare minimum focusing on how long you have been in the moment of one particular pose—when something else pops into your mind. Maybe something about moving a certain part of your body brings that thought to surface or maybe it’s just another mystery of how your own mind works.

At the end of Wednesday’s class, I thought I was relaxing into savasana when somehow my mind turned to who I was when I was growing up. Too many heart-chakra opening poses so soon after my recent high school reunion trip must have jogged my brain into thoughts of, well, jogging/running.

And just like that I was mad at running.

Oh, Running, I thought you were The One. My first True Love. I was devoted to you—monogamous. Sure, when I met you, I did so with my teammates at my side. Unlike some of those girls, I never shirked on workouts or pretended I didn’t see the coach’s signal to start. You should have loved them more—with their longer legs and easy breathing—but they would not commit to you as I did.

And when that school year ended, I began taking those baby steps that lead toward what eventually became an obsession. We began to meet almost daily. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night—nor unrelenting winds that ranged from 95-degree furnace blasts to sub-zero chills that froze my eyelashes together—kept me from my appointments with you.

I wanted more from you—I dreamed of glory but what I got was quiet time and peace in the moment and a chance to hear the thoughts in my own head. As the miles passed beneath my feet, I learned to love the process and how not to focus only on results.

But you turned out to be a fickle lover. You broke my heart with a kind of pain I didn’t expect. I knew the pain of working hard and strengthening my body. I knew the pain of keeping moving through all sorts of weather or feeling as if my lungs could not catch air—which was ironically the result of an undetected medical condition that would not be discovered until 13 ½ years after we started together. What I didn’t know was that though my body was designed to keep up with you, it wasn’t necessarily designed well to do so for as many miles as I did without adjustments to how I moved. That pain didn’t exactly make me stop, but it made me understand I couldn’t just all out follow you without possible repercussions. What I did for love was not enough—I had to protect myself by not trusting you with abandon as I first had.

We’ve had that kind of on-again, off-again relationship that friends will warn you about. I don’t expect so much from you anymore. I set boundaries for myself and—mostly—live with them. Though I still have the speed to try to catch you, I’m not ready to push myself just to have another piece of me break again. I see you more as an old friend these days than as the focus of my passion. And that’s mostly OK. That we can still meet is almost good enough—except for during those rare moments when my heart remembers that I thought we could have so much more together.

Maybe if I keep working, one pose at a time, I’ll find the peace that brings me to accept that however many miles you and I get to share, those miles belong to a good-sized portion of the best days of my life—past, present, and future. May all that practice help me to open up to releasing what was in order to make space for whatever is yet to come.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Mention you go to yoga and many people will say, “I can’t do yoga. I don’t bend well.” Me neither—that’s exactly why I started doing yoga. I’m coming up on ten years of practicing yoga and I’m still not that “bendy” person people believe every yogi is. But that’s OK because becoming “bendy” is really not what doing yoga is about.

Well, then what is it about?

My yoga guru/instructor, Dr. Dennie Dorall, is always reminding us that the purpose of doing yoga is to experience joy.

In yoga class we work on joy, pose by pose, breath by breath. So often that whole notion seems counter-intuitive, especially when not all yoga poses feel joyful and certainly some breaths seem to keep us focused on pain for far too long. In many ways the joy received from yoga is something you can only develop with conditioning: the conditioning of your body, mind, and spirit over time to better receive that joy.

But joy is not a cheap emotion—so often it must be earned by going through sorrow or pain. That’s the sort of resilience that practicing yoga helps build. Breathing into and holding onto a difficult pose when your mind is saying you can’t teaches you that you are possibly capable of so much more than you imagined. At the same time, your emphasis on your body in that challenging moment teaches your mind to tune out the extraneous noise or that which has nothing to do with the present and join to struggle and rest with that body.

By learning to fully be in moments you would not choose for yourself, you gain strength to get through so much of what life throws at you. You celebrate when you discover you can do what you formerly could not—and you keep believing that someday you will be able to do that which today you cannot do. Nonetheless, whether or not you ultimately can or cannot do something, you learn to be fully present in the attempt.

As much as yoga has taught me to how to be more present in the present, it has also taught me not to hold on to the past so much that I miss the new “present” offered to me. For me, being more open to receiving joy has taught me to put aside a focus on regrets on certain losses outside my control.

In this past Wednesday’s yoga class, Dr. Dennie asked us for a word for that day and then challenged us—each in his or her way—to share that word with others. My assignment? To tell you all about joy.

That day I could have felt frustrated or even a little angry about the time lost to my recent illness, but instead I woke up happy that I got to do all the ordinary activities I had to miss last week—and that I wasn’t too tired to enjoy them either.

On an unseasonably warm December day, complete with blue skies and snow-capped mountain views, I could hardly wait to get out for a post-yoga run. I knew it really didn’t matter that I was going to have to take it easy after my hiatus—but I got to go—I just had to tell my number-cruncher side to take a hike and let me enjoy a leisurely jog on a gorgeous day—which it (the number-cruncher side) did and I did, too.

That’s the kind of joy I used to miss out on before I began practicing yoga.

You may associate joy with something seasonal, but I like to think joy is something I can carry out into the world with me throughout the year. However, this time of the year the concept of joy seems to have been misapplied to concepts such as getting or noisiness or busyness—or at the very minimum to some sort of grand emotion we are “supposed” to feel.

True joy is more the sort of thing that allows a young unwed mother to give birth in a barn amongst animals and yet to call herself blessed and to treasure and ponder in her heart all the commotion surrounding this humble birth.

As for me, bending my mind and spirit in yoga has helped me to be more willing to receive that in which I already believed, allowing me to be more open to giving—as well as to receiving.

Practice feeling authentic joy in each moment during this season of waiting for hope to come into this world. Your practice of joy has the power to light up a world desperate to receive both hope and joy.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Boy, have I been blocked this month. I’ve started a few posts I have yet to finish and tried other times without getting any words down. My main technique for getting unblocked—getting moving by doing something purely physical such as exercising or performing chores—has not worked. Maybe it’s time to look for a writing prompt.

But today I finally have something to say—and I wonder if the loosening of the block is related to what is happening to my longtime physical block. After the last really tough physical therapy treatment didn’t yield nearly enough relief as I had hoped, I thought I ought to try something else before the next PT appointment.

At my age it’s pretty easy for me to know other people who have been dealing with injuries and/or pain—and some of them have even found relief. Those are the people whose advice I seek out for better possibilities. Thanks to a referral, on Saturday I got the hardest (deepest?) deep tissue massage I have ever had—which was just as planned. I went in seeking short-term pain that might be able to relieve the less intense but long-term pain I have been experiencing.

A big part of me is into traditional western medicine but another part of me acknowledges that sometimes the difficulties can lie more in the realm of the unexplained. That’s when seeking a whole body approach to why something hurts in a specific location might work better. Just what about those old emotions and/or experiences might be keeping logical solutions from working?

Though my lower back and hips have been crying out for attention, I was not unaware of the possibility that maybe something on the front side might be torquing that back side into those painful knots. Suffice it to say, I believe now. After the massage therapist reviewed my surgeries and accidents, she chose to focus on areas in my abdomen and groin rather than where the most recent pains have occurred. I don’t think I cried during the session, but to get through the worst moments, I definitely used that yogic breathing I’ve been practicing for years. The crazy thing is that when I stood up from the session, I knew I was better. My shoulders were more relaxed and I didn’t favor the achy side anymore.

Yes, those relaxed feelings were just the calm before the storm of aches I knew I faced. You don’t work tissue that deeply without moving toxins throughout your body. I went home to a hot Epsom salts bath, then drank and drank as much water as I could as well as rubbed (lightly!) Arnica on the most abused areas. Sunday was incredibly painful—more water and Arnica followed.

But today? Today I woke up feeling much less one-sided than I have felt in almost a year. Plus, I didn’t need to wait a few hours for my body to loosen this morning. And in yoga? So much of the resistance was gone. I could work hard and not really feel so obsessed with the areas that have been so prominent for so long. The cries for attention were almost inaudible to me—and that’s even though I am still very sore from the massage.

I’m sure it’s too soon to know if my massage has really chipped away as much of this block as I think it has, but I know something in me has shifted. Stop the world—I want to get back on again.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Still embroiled in the yoga changes here, but am trying to breathe and stay in the moment. As a woman—named Sunshine appropriately enough—said in Saturday’s makeshift class in the park, this abrupt change is just the Universe saying that now is the time to make way for something better to happen.

The community recreation center has served me well in so many ways over the last twenty-some years. While pregnant, I took water exercise classes—an exercise itself since my twin-pregnancy-bladder could not even make it through a one hour class. A year later my husband and I were bringing our twins to infant swimming classes, learning games such as “motor boat, motor boat go so slow” and helping them chase down rubber ducks.

T-ball and baseball, tumbling, dance, and swim lessons—our kids learned in the local community. The fellow townspeople we did not first meet at school, we met at the rec center and in the parks.

And as the kids grew, I found more time to return for my own classes. Step aerobics, fitness classes, (outside) water exercise, Pilates, ZUMBA, and yoga. My community circle kept growing as I met people—older and younger—who did not have kids the same age as mine were.

But of all the classes I’ve joined, my yoga classes have been the best community-builders. Yoga is more than a fitness class—it is a way of life. Because of that most people who start taking classes just keep coming session after session, even if they have to miss a few classes from time to time.

The more you place your mat next to someone else’s mat, month after month, year after year, the more you start to realize that you are becoming kindred spirits. Your backgrounds, lifestyles, whatever may be different, but when you give in to doing individual poses, partner poses, or group circle poses in the same space, the more you realize that you have to trust these people—at bare minimum—not to ridicule you, but also to cheer you on when you’re close to achieving a pose that has eluded you for years or to spot you when you try something really difficult. You start to know who is always looking for stress relief or who is experiencing grief or whose hip is in trouble or who is starting to become comfortable and fit in his or her own body. These people see you in very vulnerable—and not very attractive—positions. And every class ends with each of you resting in savasana, eyes closed, trusting that no one else will harm you.

You become a close community, as together you work to remain open. Though a few people float in and out of that community, many remain constant, dedicated to a way of life, led by a particular teacher.

This sense of belonging with these kindred spirits is what I most want to keep from our community. As we transition from a group that meets together in one particular place with one particular teacher to those who stay with the place and those who go with the teacher, may we never forget that what we have shared together cannot be taken from us. My community has grown from a particular place, but is not limited to that place.

Om shanti, my friends. Peace . . .

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Once upon a time, I knew nothing about chakras or energy or any of that stuff. And, if I had known, I wouldn’t have believed in it.

Now after taking yoga for nine years from the same instructor, I realize sometimes you can believe in things you don’t understand. Though they don’t always make sense, often they just are.

Years ago I was in a book club where the month’s hostess chose the book for the night and any associated themes. We were all so cliché—I would choose the small town or chick lit books, someone else would choose a current bestseller you could never find in a library or in a paperback version, and another would pick a genre book, etc. For the most part it was good for us—it stretched our limits.

Good-hearted Angie always chose woo-woo books, which were really enlightening for the skeptic in me, even if I didn’t believe. One time we read this book by Michael Crichton (the Jurassic Park author) where he detailed all sorts of spiritual experiences. I had heard of chakras through yoga, but had no idea that even a person such as I could feel energy from another person’s chakras until I read that book. Not that I thought it was true, until I tried to do so. Call me shocked and amazed.

Around the same time, I experienced one of the more physically difficult yoga classes we would do—working with a tennis ball on each side of the spine and moving them throughout class from the pressure points in one chakra to the pressure points in the next. Reaching all that deep tissue was really painful, but I had no idea that accessing those areas would also bring out the corresponding emotions for each chakra. When those tennis balls reached the heart chakra, all of a sudden I was in tears, crying not because of physical pain, but because of buried losses—my father’s death a few years earlier but also a death twenty years earlier, a friendship too soon ended, and all sorts of losses of the heart. It happened just as the instructor had explained even though I didn’t expect it to happen to me.

In order to benefit from yoga in a more than physical way, you have to develop a trust for your instructor and give in to the process. There is a reason many yoga instructors are called gurus—I respect and follow my other fitness teachers, but yoga asks me to surrender control in a way that goes beyond that.

At the same time, yoga is this ancient practice that requires a whole lot of knowledge. The more I learn about yoga, the more I understand that this practice can harm me if not guided by someone who really understands anatomy and how the body (and mind) works—and does not work. Faith in my instructor’s knowledge is also a big part of how I can feel comfortable enough to give in to the process and trust that what hurts me in the moment will heal me in the long run.

We in our community have been blessed with an instructor who not only knows much of what the ancients knew but also keeps learning much of what modern times can teach. She comes to our classes, aware of many of our chronic personal aches, asks what we need that day and modifies and/or designs the class to meet our needs in that moment. She is genius at changing her plans for us and yet still keeping a class on a timely schedule and running as seamlessly as if she never varied it. Her classes are like stepping into a river—different each time.

I have practiced yoga when out-of-shape and hurting, fit and improving, in pain and while working through serious injury, through my mother’s journey deeper into Alzheimer’s and her subsequent death, as my precious dog sickened and died, during my daughter’s intensive treatments for her health needs, and so on. Yoga has shown me how to find joy in my days and helped me survive despair in the night.

Yoga has taught me to how to breathe, improved my always bad posture, changed my outlook toward what I can and cannot control, and moved me back toward health when painfully out of alignment.

I have learned focus and patience, two attributes I most definitely do not possess naturally. Now when stuck waiting, dressed only in a flimsy gown, for some doctor who breezes in thirty minutes later, I can rest and breathe and feel gratitude for the pause in my day.

For these nine years, I have worked my schedule around one person’s yoga classes, never missing signing up for a session, even if I have had conflicts for individual classes. While pursuing moving from self-employment to working for someone else, I have been considering how I might be able to switch to my guru’s weekend classes.

Though I continue grounded by the practice I have done over the years, my heart hurts to discover that the facility I love and the guru who guides me have parted ways. Suddenly, the earth as I’ve known it has shifted beneath me. By now I know enough to believe that what beats in my fourth chakra is more than a physical heart—it is also a sense of loss for what has been and what has now ended.

If you’ve never taken yoga or only see it as another exercise class, this probably seems more than a little melodramatic. I can only assure you that a yoga connection can grow your heart, much in the way the Grinch’s heart grew from love. Tonight while my heart grieves, I will practice deep breathing, aiming to keep that fourth chakra from shrinking so it can still remain open to harmony and peace.

This I have learned to believe: so often all you can do is trust in the process.

Namaste.

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

Yesterday while running around in circles on the track at my local recreation center (Baby, it’s cold outside!), I finished listening to the audio book mentioned in my most recent post. Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Most From Your People by Edward M. Hallowell, MD, continues to spark my thinking. And, yes, though I still don’t have my “own” people to manage, the truth is we all have our own people. Hallowell had a book to write about motivating people, but when he met the shoe-shiner he calls Dr. Shine, that’s when he figured out how he really wanted to direct the book.

Dr. Shine told Hallowell he worked for him—just as he works for anyone whose shoes he is shining. Here’s a man who believes in trying to find the spark in everyone he serves in that job. Not sure if he knows anything about yoga, but that sounds a whole lot like the phrase that ends most yoga classes: Namaste or I bow to the divine in you. In yoga classes, this is a reciprocal phrase spoken between teachers and students. But do most people whose shoes are being shined think to reach out to the people, such as Dr. Shine, who are serving them? Do they see the spark in him or tell him they do?

Come to think of it, do I do that? No, I don’t get my shoes shined, but there are many people in my world—personal and otherwise—who help me along my way.

Sure, I thank my servers and try to respond to their well wishes with a hearty “you too”, but do I actually express my gratitude to the people who “serve” me more frequently—my exercise instructors, my physical therapist, my minister, my choir director, and other people working with me from a specific role in my life. And beyond that, do I let my loved ones know what I especially appreciate about who they are and what they do for me?

No, I don’t. I am quietly grateful for all these people, but rarely show anything more than polite appreciation, if that.

My mother was a great encourager to those who gave to her. In her last years she kept busy baking dinner rolls for the pharmacy or the doctor’s office staffs to show her gratitude. She really did let people know she appreciated what they did, even if they were just performing their paid jobs. Plus, she would give compliments to the young people she knew at her church, pointing out their strengths and applauding their learning and growth.

Nonetheless, for me she kept her approval more silent. I always knew she appreciated me, but I mostly heard that when she sang out my praises to other people in my hearing. In those last years she would tell people, “She takes care of me.” Of course I did—she was my mother—but it was still really nice to hear that she valued what I did for her.

Thinking about Dr. Shine made me realize just how stingy I am with words of praise for those who are frequently in my life.

I tell my husband I love him, but forget to let him know how much I appreciate the meals he makes for me and the income he earns to provide for our family. I tell others how much he does for me, but remain silent more often than not to him. It would be easy for him to think I don’t notice that his efforts, as well as his belief in me, are a big part of why I have the time and strength to do what I do.

The same is true for my kids. They don’t expect false words of praise from me, but would it be so hard for me to share with them what really impresses me about them?

So yesterday, inspired by Dr. Shine, I told my son, “You know, I think it’s great that you look for what is good in each person and you often keep looking.” He’s no Pollyanna, which is what makes that even more impressive—he has this mission to bring hope into this world even while being pragmatic about the high odds that the world and people will still disappoint.

My daughter has had so many health challenges to face and she gets so weary. However, through all that, she works hard at school and in jobs. So many people in her shoes would not even try, but she is compelled to do her best, even when that comes with a big personal cost. And still, she feels kindness matters, even when she doesn’t experience it in great doses.

My yoga teacher? She changed my life and outlook and helps me through difficulties—physical and otherwise. My physical therapist moves me back to wellness. My minister reaches my soul and strengthens my faith, even when I want to turn away. My choir director challenges me to learn in new ways and in so doing reminds me of what I already know and that I might yet discover more. Those are just some of the people who improve my journey and who I never give more than a quiet “thank you”, if that.

You don’t have to be a manager to make a difference in people’s lives and that’s what Dr. Shine already knows. Treat people as people who were each created with a unique spark and thank them for how that spark helps you. That’s the real meaning of all those Namastes and Peace be with yous and Also with yous that we mouth back and forth to one another.

Namaste—I bow to the divine in you—and may I yet learn to tell all my people that.

(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.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert