Where’d You Grow Wednesday? Into My Writing Business Britches

WORDS For Sale

As any writer or artist knows, talent alone doesn’t always lead to success. The ability to sell oneself is the difference between those of us who starve for our craft and those of us who have found a way to stand solidly in a fickle market.

I may know how to write, but I suck at selling.

Were it not for my generous, patient, and encouraging husband, I would have been a very hungry writer. Either that or I would have had to get a “real” job. Without his backing, years ago I would have had to abandon marriage books with meagre profits, agented non-fiction proposals that still sit on publishers’ desks, novel drafts, blogposts, Instablogs, and Facebook posts. With him I’ve been able to piddle and hone my craft because I have never had to rely on selling anything while I did it.

It is time for me to step up my game.

The seasonal businesses that have fed our family and financed every part of our lives are all dependent upon crowds of people. The entertainment company where my husband has been employed for over twenty-five years, (also employing other members of our family for nearly eight years) hosts sixteen days of partying for tens of thousands of people and hundreds of employees. Not exactly the essential type of gathering encouraged or dependable in time of pandemic. We also both coach sports teams. Also life-as-we-used-to-live-it-but-now-we-don’t-know-when-we’ll-do-that-again activities. Compounding all of this is the fact that we are in mid-build for our next adventure…yet another business built on events, gatherings, and celebrations for crowds of folks.

We always thought we weren’t putting our eggs in one basket, but we also never imagined that groups of people who would normally and happily congregate in any one of the nests we’ve built would be rightly concerned about that dangerous decision. For a time, it makes sense that the baskets we’ve always relied upon will stay empty and it’s time to build a new one.

It is an #endoftheroad unlike any we’ve ever navigated. I have to do something while we wait it out.

Choosing to Grow has pulled me out of desperately stagnant places before, and I am hopeful it will happen again.  I have no grand illusions that this venture, all on its own, will supplant all that has been paused, but it is an offering I can make right now with the one thing I’m prepared to do.

I am fairly certain my marketing techniques will not include shameless plugs, because like I mentioned before, I suck at selling, but I do think I’ll post announcements about projects I’m doing and I’ll offer invitations to let me partner for meaningful gifts for loved ones where words I can offer might help.

A few ideas percolating right now can be found on the newly created Custom Gifts tab on my website. Other possible projects for sale will include:

  • Personalized Poems
  • Picture/ poem/ prayer prints
  • Video montages
  • Postcards
  • Greeting Cards
  • Photo magnets

If you know of anyone looking for a unique gift, please send them my way.

In addition to these creative offerings I will also engage in more freelance writing opportunities, rewrite Choosing to Grow: Through Marriage (The Pandemic Edition), seek online or in person speaking opportunities and keep plugging on my novel revision.

I made a decision to Choose to Grow through my life and now, more than ever, is the time to do just that.

Meagan Frank

Copyright 2020

Where’d You Grow Wednesday? Earth Day at the End of the Road

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As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kinds of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.                      Henry David Thoreau

Choosing to Grow has dominated my life. As I knelt on the cold linoleum of a rented bathroom sixteen years ago, my prayer of desperation yielded the instruction to Choose to Grow. I’ve pursued that ever since. What CTG means is I never settle for blind acceptance of someone’s idea. I investigate, deconstruct and analyze continually to see what growth is possible and what noticing I should entertain.

To be honest, growing started in the dark recesses of my mind long before I realized it was aiming my shoulders to find blossom at the end of this road.

From a deep interest in Thoreau’s instructions for Civil Disobedience at Waldon Pond, to journal entry reflections written prior to 9-11, through the first book I researched, and because of all the moves we endured oscillating between still quiet and robust busyness in our married life, I’ve sensed this house would be our landing spot and our legacy project would be The Park.

Now that we are here, I’m more challenged than ever to allow space for the thoughts that will tread deep paths in my mind.

This Week’s Growth

It is Earth Day 2020. Fifty years since its inception and smackdab in the middle of  a contentious and deadly pandemic. What began as a Wisconsin senator’s launchpad for environmental activism has proven to be a chasm in today’s political climate. It’s one more thing people have decided to fight about. Many have become far too frustrated to sit still for a second, look at the world literally in their back yards and attend to the plants, or the weeds, or the birds and animals that work to exist there- even when a deadly virus mandates it. Finding satisfaction in the simple is not the way of our American life and especially not our stay-at-home resistance.

An increasing number of people prefer to fight. Joining causes and raising voices that pit science against beliefs and responsibilities against freedoms.  I stand firmly between the contrasts, contemplating all of it.

Fuel for my thinking this week came in both a book and a movie. The book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant has challenged me to stay courageous in the ways I chafe at societal norms. I also found plenty of food for thought watching the movie, The Biggest Little Farm, about natural, organic and co-existent farming that is an actual place with actual awe-inspiring growth.

My husband and I are spending this down time better laying plans for The Park. We want to make use of the landscape for the enjoyment and enrichment of all people able to visit. We want to encourage a gentle balance between the natural tendencies of the land to grow and people’s recreation on it. We have adopted a business model of Just Enough. Just enough visitors to keep the resources abundant. Just enough money to keep the business viable and the employees well paid. Just enough profit to make regular charitable contributions to those around us who need it. Just enough scheduling that there is balance between work and recreation for our family too.

Today is not a political day for me. To be honest, every single day here at the end of the road is Earth Day. Especially now that I have time to observe the spring version of this property, I am compelled by the life that struggles to bloom, emerging through decaying layers that were yielded before the winter snow buried them. I’m distracted by the return of birds to nests and the cyclical rhythm of next-generation-eagle-pairing. I am not an activist, but I guess I will claim I am an environmentalist because the world around me is too fascinating to disregard.

Here are today’s Earth Day postcards from the end of the road.

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New sprout sidled up next to last year’s dead root.

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A pair of geese chatting about the wind-driven waves and the direction they intend to fly away from me.

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A discarded fishing reel from over fifty years ago…one of the trash items collected for Earth Day.

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Budding trees are subtle, but incredible when observed up close.

May this Earth Day provide at least a moment of contemplation and fertile ground for your choice to grow too.

Meagan Frank

Copyright 2020

Life at the End of the Road

We’ve hit a dead end. All of us. It’ll be disorienting for a while, but I believe we can, and must, learn to live well at the end of the road.

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This was an actual surprise dead-end we found trying to get our drive-thru shamrock shakes back to the family.

It is likely your end-of-the-road is not exactly like our family’s new and literal end-of-the-road home, but I know we are all sitting in a similar place right now.  An unexpected end has happened for all of us in one way or another. I am admittedly unsure how the road will open up again, but I am confident of one thing: Hope IS on the other side.

Our family of five is huddled in our newly-almost-fully-renovated-three-and-a-half-bedroom-one-bathroom lake house at the end of a road. Rough, I know. Our twenty-year-old is home from college for the semester and our high schooler has resigned herself to the real possibility she’ll spend the rest of her senior year at the end of this road. The eighth-grader thought she’d have this place pretty much to herself, but that is not the case for the foreseeable future. Not much of our move here has gone how I sensed it should, but in the strangest sense of all, it feels like exactly where we are supposed to be.

What if that is the truth for everyone? What if your hard stop is intended for difficult reflection, a reset of priorities, a shift in perspective you never considered you’d need to do?

People tend to fear endings so much, but the more I let myself look at them, the more I believe we are meant to live as fully in our endings as in any other part of our lives. Bring faith to all of it: beginning, middle, and dead/ final ends.

Over a decade ago, I had a premonition I would meet my end at this lake house.

The first night we stayed in our then-run-down little cabin, my husband went out to buy supplies. I had tucked our three small kids into bed and as I stood waiting at the window for him to return, I became awash with fear. I felt so uneasy in the unfamiliar, dimly-lit kitchen and I was overwhelmed by the thought of one thing: mortality. It was a feeling more than it was a word. I thought, “he’s not coming back tonight.” I was sure of it. The nervous energy ushered in an almost paralyzing fear. I was compelled by this feeling enough to write myself a letter to make record. He did come back and I quickly pivoted the admission that the feeling of mortality probably applied to me. It was like the certainty I felt after my husband kissed me goodnight and I knew we’d be married. I simply knew ends at this lake house would happen.

I still believe in that truth. Maybe the COVID-19 world shift is the end I sensed or maybe I’ll meet my actual end here, but no matter what, I’m not afraid of it like I used to be. You’d think knowing what I do about this place, I would try harder to avoid it. That’s what I would do if I wanted fear to carry me. Faith-filled choices carry us too, and without resistance sometimes that means we head right back to face the fears we spend most of our lives avoiding.

The crazy thing is, simultaneous to the thoughts of endings at this lake house,  my husband and I have followed a compulsion to live here and pursue plans to build The Park. Each day we wake up, we’ll continue to work toward that. I do sense, in these crazy times, I should be doing something else too.  The Park, like this house, sits at the end of a road. (sorta think that’s not a coincidence) I feel a new calling to photograph and blog about how we attempt to live life fully while we wait at the #endoftheroad.  I’ll post those photos and musings on my Instagram and Facebook pages.

soft white grass

For those of you wrangling with the difficulties you have today and the anticipated discomfort yet to come, I am sincerely sorry you have landed where you never intended to travel. I do believe the end of the road is not to be feared, however, and instead sits waiting in invitation to remind us that hope, faith and love are real things that deserve our attention in beginnings, middles and endings.

When all else fails, look to the children. Shel Silverstein was one of my favorite poets as a kid. This morning as I walked and photographed the space of our property at the end of the road, inspired by a photographer who posts pictures regularly from somewhere on his eighty acres, I thought about Silverstein’s poem Where the Sidewalk Ends. Without knowing why I loved it as a kid, rereading it today reminded me that I loved it because he highlights the hope that exists because of children. They are a hope we can look to as we wait at the end of the road for the other hope we know is coming.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends

And before the street begins,

And there the grass grows soft and white,

And there the sun burns crimson bright,

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight

To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black

And the dark street winds and bends.

Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow

We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And watch where the chalk-white arrows go

To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes, we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know

The place where the sidewalk ends.

Meagan Frank

Copyright 2020

It’s a Calling. It’s a Dream. It’s a Park!

WoodWind Park

Hubby and I are pretty quiet people with loud, preposterous dreams.

Since 2001 we have actively sought purpose. Much of that time has been spent throwing out ridiculous ideas over coffee or while laying awake in bed. Sometimes we would stop in the middle of the trail we had been walking because an awesome idea had arrived.

“Let’s build a free sports center.”

“Let’s renovate an old movie theatre and turn it into a music venue.”

“Let’s buy that old creamery and use one part for a bar and grill and the other part for a formal dining room.”

“Let’s sell t-shirts with a character doing fun active things. Let’s call him Pudgie.”

“Let’s make fried ice cream in every flavor imaginable.”

“Let’s find a way to bring people together for events and ideas.”

My journals have recorded this messy pursuit. I wrote down whisperings and nudgings that got louder and louder for us over the past ten years. What I realize is that every curiosity, every misstep, every miscalculation was a flat-out answer to prayers.

What felt like simply fun and interesting conversations was a calling neither of us realized we were contemplating answering. I kid you not, these “visions” were so strong for me that I literally wrote an entire draft of a novel about this magical place that houses eternity and some of the elements of what I wrote about three years ago are actually starting to be real-life things.

Hubby and I realize we were meant to buy an abandoned ski hill and turn it into something amazing. To foster a place where activity can be offered for practically nothing, where music can be enjoyed in big and small ways, where informal and formal dining can co-exist, where apparel highlighting the antics of our cartoon Pudgie is actually possible, where fried ice cream has a place to be created and where events and ideas will be endless.

For this imagined thing to come to life, we will be selling our house, downsizing to our cabin on the lake that is less than twenty minutes from our new project, changing the nature of the jobs we have and working like crazy for the next couple years to get the doors open and the outside welcoming.

The progress and setbacks are being chronicled on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and we are grateful for the support and prayers we are receiving from all corners of the world.

Copyright Meagan Frank 2019

 

 

9/11 Led Us to The Park

WWP

If you were old enough, you remember where you were the day planes crashed into buildings and the world changed forever.

I was shaken awake by my husband at the news we were under attack. “We”: our small nuclear family of three, thousands of miles away from actual destruction, death, and chaos. Yes, “we” were under attack.

What we believed about the world was no longer true. How we trusted goodness and leaned into love was challenged to the absolute core. I’ve never felt more a part of that larger “we” than I did with the events of that horrible day.

Maybe I had no right. I had walked away from the TV images and taken our then one-year-old son to the empty and silent playground at a park in Castle Rock, Colorado. No one was there playing. No one was laughing, or swinging, or chasing, or sliding. No planes flew overhead and yet in that silent stillness I felt this guttural connection to the contrast of noise: the sirens, the roar of collapsing buildings, and the screams of terrified people.

What I discovered at that playground is that we stop living when we’re under attack.

The trajectory of life changed for a lot of people on that day, and our family was no exception.

Later that fall, on a road trip back from Minnesota I asked my husband whether he felt like our lives were purposeful. Lots of people asked that question in the wake of 9/11 and those who spent time truth-seeking found unique and various answers. Some felt called to rush to the scene as helpers. Others felt the need to take up arms and physically defend against other possible attacks. Some moved home. Some set off to see the world. Some got married. Some made babies. Some made art. And some, feeling utterly useless otherwise, set out to the park.

No matter what our next steps were, we all had to step into a brand new world.

The attack changed us. For those who honestly sought guidance to return to truth and purpose, I have watched in so many beautiful ways how the gaping hole of 9/11 has planted gorgeous outgrowth in response.

It certainly happened for me and my husband. It has been a slow-growing and unexpected revelation but we did keep earnestly seeking in pursuit of the one thing that felt like our battle against attack. After eighteen years, we have landed at The Park.

I will spend time in upcoming blogposts writing about how this story has unfolded for us,  but here is a glimpse of the destination we didn’t even know we were pursuing. It is a testament to the power of faith and proof that goodness and love remain. No attack can diminish them.

WOODWIND PARK VIDEO

 

Meagan Frank Copyright 2019

 

Choose a Territory of Love

I was on the ground in four states yesterday, flying from Colorado to Arizona to Minnesota and then shuttling to Wisconsin. I’ll do the trip backward tomorrow, without the annoying Phoenix connection.

It’s how I roll this time of year.

On the weekends, I sleep in an RV bus. I spend my time wandering around a foothill in Larkspur, Colorado, listening to minstrels and bagpipes, and marveling at people willing to spend hours on makeup and costumes, some of whom get paid to do it.

Then I pop home a few times during the week and find scenes like this one, unfolding in my kitchen.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/BzNjUruAWDo/?igshid=qw3vprkum1r5

With a six-hour solo travel day on planes and in airports, it’s impossible not to people watch (and listen).

I’ve decided something important. No matter where you are, or with whom, you choose your territory. It goes with you and you have so much more choice about the territory you carry than most people realize.

If you watch the video long enough, you’ll see my neighbor’s cat pop in the window, sidling up to the music. His owner is away house sitting as she prepares to build a house next door to the one she sold. The vet told her to leave Frank, the cat, in his territory because cats are more tied to territories than people.

I’m not sure I totally buy that because I know Frank absolutely adores my neighbor and I think the rest of the neighbors he visits make the territory he roams a loving one. He has been a stray for part of his life, but navigates by seeking out the support he needs. Without loving people, I don’t think Frank would stay in this territory. He certainly has the demeanor to attract loving people and maybe that’s the sort of territory the vet meant. Cat’s create their territories by how they come into an area.

So, today, no matter where you are, or with whom you are navigating the spaces you occupy, I challenge you to imagine the most loving territory you can, and bring it with you everywhere you go.

Copyright 2019 Meagan Frank

An Introverted Writer Goes YouTubing

I post one blogpost and I feel like I’m yelling from a platform–with a bullhorn–at a microphone.

What? You can’t hear me? Oh. That’s fine. I tried. Bye.

I want to say that. After short efforts to put content into the cyberworld, I want to hole up back in my cocoon and be content with collecting and digesting ideas and information, occasionally creating something new, whispering it to the worldwide web, and calling it good.

But it’s not good.

I’ve learned too much about the projects I’ve tackled to keep the valuable information to myself, for just our little family, or for the teams and families I coach.

I am a writer, so I will write, but there is this other part of me that simply hasn’t been given space enough to grow as it should and I need to pay attention to the gnawing feeling I have to attend to it.

I need to teach.

I HAVE to try to share what I’ve learned in whatever media I can. So, I will try harder.

I will write more. I will step into those places I ventured once and build back up the teaching/presenting/consulting muscles I’ve let atrophy.

I heard a baseball coach interviewed this week and he spoke about the mantra they have for their team: “Work while you’re waiting.”

I am waiting to get feedback on my proposal, on queries, on the next steps for The Team Adult Playbook I need to finish, and I have chosen to work while I wait.

So, I’m working on defining and fine-tuning my Choosing to Grow brand. I wear a lot of hats for the various projects I pursue and I want to share the observations, research, and writing in all the ways I can.

I have been Choosing to Grow:Through Marriage for fifteen years now. I just completed the research for Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It and The Team Adult Playbook is blossoming because of it. I am chronicling the ways I am Choosing to Grow: GREENER and writing ties it all together.

I wear different hats, and I am now standing firmly beneath my Choosing to Grow umbrella choosing to grow in the ways I offer up the fruits of my labor.

If you are a YouTuber, I’d love to have you as a subscriber on my Choosing to Grow channel.

If you are on Instagram, I Instablog on my account regularly @meaganfrank.

I have an author Facebook Page as well as pages devoted entirely to Team Adult and Choosing to Grow: Through Marriage. Oh yeah, and I’m on Twitter too @meaganfrank_ctg.

Thank you for reading the words I write, listening to the stories I tell, and sharing anything you think will be valuable to people you love.

Copyright Choosing to Grow 2019                                     www.meaganfrank.com