Washing off Dust with Water

20130318-145841.jpg

 

Let’s pretend that this is new. Better yet, let’s pretend I’m young.

I was okay in the dust when I was younger because I didn’t know about water.

We lived in Monument, Colorado, with a surprisingly arid landscape full of cacti. I had never seen a natural lake.

Dust felt natural.

You and I stood at the indoor balcony of our first house and watched the water pour as a paint bubble down the front, two-story wall. It wasn’t supposed to rain for four straight days. We didn’t believe the compromised roof was going to fail so soon. We tried to call for help, but learned your energy to work was going to fix things faster than any delayed contractor could.

Water started our path through dust.

We renovated that house.  I trod off proudly to my teaching job with signs of your labor carried in lines of dust on my skirts. It was a declaration of home ownership.

It didn’t bother me then.

It didn’t even bother me the other three houses we’ve renovated. It was all part of our young adventure.

I am done with dust.

It has been so messy around here the last few days. Sanding drywall drops a layer of dust that doesn’t really ever go away. I’m certain I have dust from every house we’ve renovated imbedded in my skin… or buried in my ears. Part of me is so ready for the mess to be cleaned, while another part of me knows this phase of our lives is coming to an end.

I have to admit I’m a little sad to see it go.

This last project mimics this past winter and maybe with a new perspective I can avoid bitterness about both. Let’s imagine the story has just begun and the dust settling at our feet is magical instead of maddening.

20130318-145853.jpg

Remember the way snow felt at the start of December? Yeah, me too. Now, let’s forget the snow that fell today has come in late March. Instead, let’s relish its freshness.

We’re at the last house renovation. This is the last time you’ll be covered in soot of your own work. From the very first house we’ve owned together, we have raised the dust to bring life to what was dying in some way.  I should embrace gratitude for our dusty story.

That’s why I need to stop myself from cringing with each footprint we leave as we walk through the dusty part we’re mending onto the wood floor we’ve already replaced.

This is it.

This is the layer of dust that, once blown away, will reveal the calming center of where we’ve been aiming to be.

A house on a lake…imbedded into a shoreline with humid leaves for blankets.  It’s not the dust-filled, wide open potential of a Pike’s Peak view, but it is the calmest place we’ve been able to imagine together that will let the dust of our crazy lives finally settle.

www.meaganfrank.com                                                              

Copyright 2013    Meagan Frank                          Choosing to Grow

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

Control of Change: A Big Fat Impossibility

Change builds

Stacked in moments, days, weeks, years.

Change breaks

Instantly… from here to there.

No matter the preparation

No matter the acceptance

No matter at all.

Change is

Big Sprout walks out the elementary arches today. A symbolic exit into that big, scary world that is sure to gobble him up. The 12-year-old who starts this next phase, will not be the kid who comes out on the other end.

No one with teenagers has been able to lie to me about how great these next few years are going to be. No one.

I know what’s coming, and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

In six short years he’ll be gone. Visiting occasionally, I know, but essentially…gone.

I’ve tried not to think about it this past week, so instead I have simply chosen to be miserable to everyone.

The thing is, I kindof love this kid. I love that he gives me a thumbs up every morning when I wake him for school. I love that he digs inspirational quotes and witty jokes. I love that he cares deeply for people around him… making the compassionate choice more often than not. I love that he can be friends with pretty much anyone. I love that he has a contagious enthusiasm for life. And I love that he still hugs me goodbye… but it’s the last thing I want him to do.

I’m out of words…for now. I’m actually surprised I was able to write anything at all this morning.

Choosing to grow through this…because obviously, what choice do I have?

                              

Copyright 2012                  Meagan Frank                             Choosing to Grow

www.meaganfrank.com

Taking Control of Change

Day One of Momalom’s Five for Five


 

For most of my life I have been thrown around by change.

My mom likes to tell the story about how I handled a family move when I was two years old.  I stared at the packing boxes for the entire night before we moved. She identified early that I was not comfortable with change.

She was right.  I never really liked change, but I grew to know it well, and I became rather good at dealing with it.

I learned to navigate a world where dads change from sober to drunk. I adjusted to life with a single mom. I watched my body change (thankfully short-term) from athletic to practically immobile. I eventually accepted the change from high school to college, despite the uncomfortable challenge it was for me. I rode the wave of change into my marriage and into early motherhood.  I changed houses six times. And then the roll-over car accident… changed everything.

Change was what happened TO me.  I had found a way to float through life, to take stock of the tumult happening around me, and then pride myself on my abilities to adjust. Riding the wave of change is what I learned to do.

I also learned that it is easier to get stuck that way, than it is to take charge of change for yourself.

If what you know is to bat things out of the air, to defend yourself against assault, or to run quickly in a new direction… it is more comfortable to keep doing exactly what you’ve always done.

The most important thing that I have learned though is that the tools to navigate change will only take you so far.

Life is better lived if YOU are the change-maker.

When I felt as though I were out of options to navigate change…I decided to change my life myself.

With three kids and a husband who travels far away from us for weeks at a time, the change seemed impossible…outlandish even. So I started with the only changes I could make.

I changed my internal script. I started to regularly ask myself, what positive thought could I orchestrate when negativity and frustration were the only things I really wanted to think? It didn’t happen overnight, and it is still not perfectly achieved, but I feel like it’s getting easier. (I thank Dr. Martin Seligman and his book Authentic Happiness)

Change still happens in our house.  My husband is literally on the road today…changing from telecommuter to out-of-state worker.

Our 12-year-old son is quickly changing into a hormonal pre-teen and our girls are changing at both the molecular and the visible level too.

I cannot control that change is part of life, but I have come to believe that I have control to change my attitude, my approach, my perspective, and NO ONE else can do that but me.

I lean heavily (and regularly) on a prayer that has helped me for my entire life, and I offer it up to you here:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

The courage to change the things I can.

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Here’s to being change-makers!!

To learn more about Meagan or her current choosing to grow project, you can visit her website:  www.meaganfrank.com.

Copyright  2012      Meagan Frank                                Choosing to Grow