Growth under Fire

Mountain Jackpot News photo of Rampart Range Reservoir outside of Woodland Park, CO

Where’d You Grow Wednesday?

July 27, 2012

I grew to appreciate deep breathing in a cool Denver basement.

Where I want to grow?

I hope to grow closer to an understanding of why I can’t stop watching wildfire news coverage from Colorado Springs. It is a painful necessity that only stirs a myriad of emotions for me.

We’re supposed to be moving south to Monument tomorrow…to hole up in a furnished townhome for the remainder of our time here in Colorado.

That move is not going to happen.

We previewed the property last Friday, and by Monday, and after the Waldo Canyon fire had evacuated thousands of people in Colorado Springs, the price for our one-month lease jumped in concert with the wall of flames that barreled down on the city.

There are hundreds of families who will need a townhome like that for many more months than our July proposal.

I am okay with leaving that space open for people who might need it.  I hope the agent who seemed so willing to take as much money from us as she could, softens her demands and lowers the price for a displaced family.

It’s only a small part of how this Waldo Canyon Fire has affected me.

On Wednesday, I cried softly as I drove the familiar stretch of highway between my childhood home and the area of the world that has arguably shaped and defined who I am.

This is the view looking toward the springs just north of Monument

Alone with my thoughts, I drove toward the smoke, noting the lines of cars, trailers, and campers that were hurrying the other direction. I was driving to pick up our oldest.

Tuesday night, Big Sprout stayed with some of his friends in northern Colorado Springs, friends he has had since preschool.  After the group of them had finished their annual Air Force Academy hockey camp, he texted me that the fire was getting really bad, and he was going to his friends’ house for a game of airsoft and a sleepover. I struggled with the decision to leave him there while we all watched helplessly. The fire terrifyingly jumped the ridge and started to devour part of the city we love.

I knew he was safe, so we decided to stay out of the way and pick him up on Wednesday.

I couldn’t, however, pull myself away from the images…the live reports…the mind-blowing footage.

It’s beyond surreal.

I couldn’t even really process at the time why I felt so overwhelmed.

Over the past few days, I have started to understand why this is so devastating for me.

I started spending part of my summers in Colorado Springs when I was nine or ten years old. Annual soccer tournaments took us to the Air Force Academy year after year. A couple of my teammates lived in the springs, and as I got older I would stay with them for that long week and other times through the year. I met, and started dating, my first “boyfriend” one of the summers I was in the springs for that tournament. He took me to my first high school dance at Rampart High School. I definitely did a lot of my growing up there, and so much of my life can be tracked back to places in and around the city.

Air Force Academy:

  • Summer camps, tournaments, college soccer and basketball games, CC hockey games while the World Arena was being built, football games, Stanley Canyon hikes, youth hockey games for the team my husband coached, chapel weddings and services, fly overs, and graduations

A picture I took of the kids after attending mass at the chapel summer of 2011

A photo taken by a cadet July 26, 2012

Stanley Canyon hike 2009

Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas:

  • Four years at Colorado College…the transition from child to adult…growth and identity-shaping.
  • My husband and I met there, dated for four years there, hiked there, camped there…fell in love there.
  • We lived in Monument for six years
  • I trained in and around the springs so I could run the Pike’s Peak Ascent
  • Our oldest was born there
  • I taught at Cheyenne Mountain High School for three years (an evacuation site)
  • Some of my closest friends live there
  • We spend arguably half of every summer there.

Home is where your heart is, and Colorado Springs is as much home as my current house in Minnesota.

I’m heart-broken.

I hurt for the friends I know who are evacuated…I hurt for the friends I know who have probably lost homes (in one case two homes!!) I hurt for the people I don’t know, but whose lives are forever changed.

My life is forever changed.

What I have loved about coming back to the place where my roots have so clearly dug themselves is that I could expect what I have known.

What I have known… will never be the same.

That’s why this city grieves.

For those who have lived here their entire lives, for those who have recently begun to call it home, for those who have memories of visiting this incredible and majestic place; as a collective whole… we grieve an irreplacable loss.

There is so much yet I need to process. So much yet I need to let myself feel. So much more I want to do…

There were times this spring that I hesitated to come to Colorado at all.  I can’t fully explain the overwhelming sense of apprehension, but it was unlike the way I have ever felt about coming back here for the summer. I don’t want to say I had a clear premonition, but I definitely had a sense of foreboding. There was something so distinctly different about my preparation to come. I was anxious…worried…and I had a really bad feeling, but I knew I needed to come.

I am glad I am here with my husband through this…that our family is safe and able to help in even small ways. For anyone else who might have ties to Colorado Springs…or other places in Colorado that are going through similar wildfire chaos, or who feel compelled to help how they can, here are links to the best ways to do that.

The American Red Cross – Colorado

Help Colorado Now

Colorado Springs News Outlet Resources

Care and Share Foodbank of Colorado Springs

Fire forces change…and eventual re-growth. This is the summer of change..most certainly. I can choose to change by growing…or re-growing as the case may be,  or I can choose to simply let change happen to me.

No doubt…I choose to grow.

We are all faced with unpredictable and consistent change. The challenge is to find ways to grow, and share about those changes as we go.  Feel free to email me with some of your own growing pains. I don’t write what I write to go through this process alone.  choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com

Happy Growing!

                                                                                  

Copyright 2012    Meagan Frank                              Choosing to Grow

Where’d You GO? wednesday, and …

I know I missed a Where’d You Grow Wednesday?  Actually two. And, I am sad to admit, this is only the beginning of an upcoming and extended blog drought.

The one thing about starting a regular blog routine is that you kindof have to stick with it.  I should have heeded the wise advice of caution. A brilliant writer friend of mine doesn’t want to get into the blogging scene because she is not sure she could be as consistent as she should be. I laughed at her when she said that because “you’re a writer…you’re always going to have material to write.” And she does…she just doesn’t have time to to do it for free.

Here’s the deal…

There are bloggers who make oodles of money selling ads on their sites…marketing for companies…engaging regularly in the blogging world.  That’s not the kind of writing I do, nor do I want to do. I have figured out that my writing has to find its financial legs offline for a time. I have a limited amount of time in a day…a certain number of words I can produce…and if I am writing and writing and writing, but not selling…I end up with a whole lot of words for nothing.

So I am off on a freelance writer/ contracted-writer career shift. That’s where I’ll be Wednesdays for a while (and all the other days of the week too).

I liken myself to the baobab tree. The growth that happens in the dry season for baobab trees still happens, but in order for the tree to sustain itself, it sheds all of its leaves.  The shade disappears so that the tree can get through the trying months of drought. It produces only what it has to…but I would venture a guess that baobab trees really like the times in its life-cycle when it can create lots of leaves too.  I look forward to the leaf-creation that will resume some day.

I’m not going to say it will be the fall because I hope to be writing my book, but I may occasionally pop by with a story to share or a growth spurt to explore…just know that it won’t be consistent.

Happy Growing!

If you still want to share about any of the growth you’ve chosen to do, I’m always interested to hear about it.  choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com

                                                     

Copyright 2012                                        Meagan Frank                   Choosing to Grow

 

Outgrowing my Blogspace…

Where’d You Grow Wednesday?

May 9, 2012

I had the best of intentions this morning to write a great blogpost about motherhood, learning to be a mechanic, and growing myelin. Then life started at about 8 am, and nothing ever materialized. I hope to get back to those topics next week.

So, in lieu of my planned blogpost contribution for Wednesday, I am going to direct all of you loyal readers to an online space where some of my writing has landed.

Brooke DeLench of MomsTeam is honoring sports moms all month, and the editors of her site graciously invited me to participate as a contributor. The post appeared today. I am grateful for impeccable timing!

It’s not exactly the Mother’s Day tribute I had swirling in my head, but there is always next week, right?!?

So I am happy to say you do not have to go through this Wednesday sans a WYGW post. You can simply read my outgrowth on the MomsTeam website.

I hope next week seems calmer and I can do some other blog writing that more directly addresses the many ways I have been growing lately.  In the meantime, ENJOY!

And P.S., if you are a mom, and you have not yet seen this fantastic piece about motherhood…treat yourself to a few minutes and soak it in. You deserve it!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope you have all had growth-filled weeks, and if anything extraordinary (or small) happened for you, I’d love to hear about it.  Shoot me an email at: choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com or add a comment here.

Happy Growing!

                                               

Copyright 2012    Meagan Frank     www.meaganfrank.com         Choosing to Grow

Staying Calm in Chaos

Where’d You Grow Wednesday?

May 2, 2012

This week, I grew on a dandelion-filled soccer field and I grew to appreciate chaos.

For those of you who subscribe to my sports blog too, I apologize for the redundancy, but I can only do so much growth in a day, you know.  🙂

I spent some time this morning writing about what I’ve learned with regard to coaching young kids. I had a chance yesterday to join some of the staff from our kids school as they monitored a running club for kids ages kindergarten through 6th grade.

I’ve decided something: Helping kids to be active requires efficiently navigating chaos.

I am fascinated by those people who are so much better at swimming in that chaos than I am.

So for today’s WYGW post, I am going to direct you to the For the Sport of It blog where I talk about embracing chaos as the best way to teach kids, especially when it comes to physical activity.

I hope you’ll make a quick visit over there…maybe you’ll grow to embrace chaos too.

 

Where did you grow this week?

I’m always up for the chatter and conversation, so if you were really challenged by something, or you feel like you’ve moved to a new place of thinking because of an experience, I’d love to hear about it.  Either comment here, or shoot me an email:  choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com.

Happy Growing!

                                           

Copyright 2012     Meagan Frank       www.meaganfrank.com        Choosing to Grow

 

Don’t Delete the Awkward Pictures

Where’d You Grow Wednesday?
April 25, 2012
Special Edition for

For a few months on Wednesdays (or as close to Wednesday as I can manage) I have chronicled the ways I’ve chosen to grow through my life. It is a snapshot…a bite-sized version of intentional steps I take to improve myself. Very often it is not a painless process.

Some weeks are better than others, and I never shy away from the growth that is uncomfortable.

I Choose to Grow the same way I deal with my digital pictures. It’s easy to take hundreds and thousands of digital pictures and then delete all the photos that are not perfect.  I make a point to keep at least one awkward picture with every grouping that I print.  The awkward photos tell a story too…and I am not good at pretending that everything is perfect.

Awkward Picture of the Week

Saturday night, while I sat at my writing desk, Big Sprout, our nearly twelve-year-old son, came in and sat on the wooden music chair my daughter uses to practice her french horn. This is rather common behavior for him.  My husband trailed quietly behind him and lay down on the foot of our bed.

I should have thought, “This is going to be an important moment.”

I didn’t know that.

The conversation started rather simply… Big Sprout asked questions about how his dad and I thought he played in his two hockey games that day.

There was nothing about that conversation that I had planned.

After more dialogue than I can explain here, I hadn’t planned to say, “Your chances of making it the NHL are pretty slim.”  I hadn’t planned to watch his face sink and his eyes well. I hadn’t planned to get the look of “What the hell were you thinking?” from my husband. I hadn’t planned to feel like the worst mother in the world.

I scrambled back to better parenting when I explained to him that it wasn’t that I didn’t believe he could, but that it only matters that he put action behind what he believes about himself. I believe he is destined for great things, and I will do anything he needs to help him get there…but the work it’s going to take, has to come from him.

Doubting and dissecting every part of that conversation led to a blogpost on my sports blog. Dialogue started. Debate began. And now, that snapshot of parenting will be the feature topic of conversation on Hey Coach Tony’s ESPN radio show this upcoming Saturday morning. I hadn’t planned that either.

Sharing that awkward moment of our lives has led to growth for a lot of people…and had I just pretended it didn’t happen, the story would have ended there. Instead…the story continues.

To our son’s credit, he chose a better reaction than I could have possibly scripted for him. Instead of wilting with my comments or being pushed down because of them, he chose a new attitude about what hockey (and work) mean to him right now. He may not completely understand how it will pay off for him in his life, but he made a step on Sunday toward embracing work ethic…determination…grit. I couldn’t have been prouder of him… nor more relieved.

I didn’t take a picture of my son as he sat on that chair, with the background sillhouette of my husband on the bed. I didn’t need to. That image is a permanent part of me now.

I’m not sure who grew more in that moment, me or our son, but I know, without a doubt, we both made a choice to grow because of it.

What sorts of choices did you make to grow this week?

I would love to hear how you are choosing to grow.  Either comment here, or send me an email:  choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com.

                          

Copyright 2012     Meagan Frank              www.meaganfrank.com                            Choosing to Grow

Flying High…Landing Slowly

Where’d You Grow Wednesday?

April 18, 2012

I grew in so many ways this week…I can’t write about it as well as I would like.

For those of you who know what I’ve been up to over the last week, you understand that I have been flying on cloud nine…literally.

I had the opportunity to attend the Female ADM (American Development Model) hockey symposium in Burlington, Vermont. The trip afforded me a chance to attend the World Championship for Women’s Hockey.  I learned so much that I could hardly describe my experience in a succinct blog post.  Instead I will highlight some of the biggies.

I LEARNED:

    • Flying in a small plane…in the spring…with plenty of turbulance…upsets my body.
    • My body…my ENTIRE body…responds to plane upset by sweating…A LOT!
    • Burlington has an adorable (and VERY small airport)…Newark, NJ does not.
    • Vermont has both water and mountains…but very few people.
    • Symposiums are an extremely great place for lifelong learners.
    • USA Hockey has their stuff together. Organized, well-run, and staffed with very committed and competent people.
    • Head microphones are great for moving about a room, but they are sensitive to breathing. 🙂
    • Presenting continues to be a passion of mine.
    • I live near one of the best resources for research about girls and women in sports. The U of M Tucker Center does phenomenal things.
    • Hockey people are a fun bunch. (I already knew that, but it was further confirmed over the weekend)
    • Canada’s Active for Life campaign inspires me.
    • Canada and the United States are years ahead of the rest of the world for the development of female hockey players.
    • The Canadian and American national teams put on a GREAT show in gold medal competition.
  • One of the Canadian captains, Hayley Wickenheiser, is certainly among the best female players to ever play the game, but she is also gracious, kind, and a fantastic representative for women’s hockey.
  • The IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) is doing some wonderful things to inspire growth of women’s hockey around the world.
  • Presenting to a crowd of Olympians and Olympic coaches is a pretty fun deal!
  • There is plenty of room for growth in both my presentations and in my body of knowledge.
  • I am inspired by inspirational people.
  • There are a lot of smart people intent on making sports better for kids!

I hope in the coming weeks, I can better verbalize all the ideas and thoughts that are floating in my head. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity I did, and I am absolutely certain about a couple more things:

1. I am a new fan of elite level women’s hockey and

2. I am motivated to create more fans in the girls who love to play.

I do hope you’ve found a way to grow where you are, and if so, I’d love to hear about it.  Shoot me an email:  choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com.

 

Happy Growing!

 

Copyright 2012     Meagan Frank                       www.meaganfrank.com          Choosing to Grow

 

Shel Silverstein Lied

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Where’d You Grow Wednesday Thursday?

This week I grew frustrated with the reality of relationships.

April 5, 2012

I used to believe Shel Silverstein… I don’t know if I can anymore.

I bought in to his magical world full of hilarious drawings and ridiculous circumstances.  I loved it. I loved him. I loved his use of words and imagery, his fantastic art and wit, and I would read his poems for hours.

I recieved my first Shel Silverstein books for my seventh birthday.  Look…here’s the inscription:

A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends were my first real literary experiences.  I didn’t study what he did…but I sure did feel something when I read his work.

One poem, in particular, has always stayed with me.  It is that poem that contains the lie.

Did you catch it? You know the lie I’m talking about, right?

It’s the last couplet:  “How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”

I used to read that line over and over and over again. I marked up the page with smudgy fingerprints and the binding is visibly tattered. I have fabricated my life around that line and up until recently, I really believed it to be true.

I’m growing in another direction.

That poem has its place…among children…and it is important that I outgrow my seven-year-old ideologies to come to a better understanding of how to relate to the broken people of the world.

Love doesn’t really work the way Silverstein describes. As much as I’ve tried to pour out my love into the relationships in my life, I have come to realize that sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you give the people you love. Love has to be received in order to be effective.

So here is the grown-up version of “How Many, How Much” that has been swirling in my head this week.

How many times should I ask how you’re doing,

when silence is what you say?

How many hugs should I stand to offer,

when you get up to walk away?

How much time should I spend,

waiting for a call to come?

How much love should I pour out,

when I’m not sure you’ve taken some?

In my version, I can’t answer the questions in a definitive way. Love is too hard to box up in a neat little poetic package. I love that Silverstein captured it for my seven-year-old heart, but I have to understand relationships with an adult-frame-of-mind, and I’m finding more confusion and frustration than warm, fuzzy feelings.

The only way I make sense of this is through the truest example of love I know.

Easter is this weekend, and we celebrate the most sacrificial love that has ever been.

What if I loved like Him?

I think my poem would be drastically different. I wouldn’t be asking questions at all. I wouldn’t be quantifying or counting anything, and all I would do is continue to offer. It’s about semantics, but I want to move to a new way of thinking about this. So my fully transfigured poem and my Easter gift to you:

If I ask you how you’re doing, and silence is what you say,

I. will. fully. love. you. anyway.

If I stand to offer hugs, and you walk the other way,

I. will. fully. love. you. anyway.

While I’m waiting for a call to come, to put my fears at bay,

I. will. fully. love. you. anyway.

And though I loved you yesterday and you forgot today

I. will. fully. love. you. anyway.

Choosing to grow takes intention, and it is worth sharing about the experience along the way.  If you have a CTG (choosing to grow) story, link, photo, or idea, I would love to hear about it.

We are all meant to grow…but we were not meant to do it alone.

Happy Easter! (and happy growing)

Copyright 2012    Meagan Frank                                            Choosing to Grow