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

Great Writers: Recovering Word Addicts

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (Plato)

This confirms it….I’m a fool.

Actually…I’m a foolish word addict.

Hello, my name is Meagan and I am a pathological writer.

I sometimes write because I have something to say, but very often I write because I HAVE to say something.

I can tell when the words have made a pile in my head. My mind slows, I can hardly get it to stop running the same phrase over and over, and until I write it down, it becomes a roadblock to functional living.

My husband asked me once, “How many words do you think you write in a day?”

I honestly have no idea. I write comments on articles, blogposts, drafts of ideas for my next book, facebook posts, presentation material, emails, ghostwriting projects, notes. (I just decided…right now… I am going to start to use a wordometer to track my daily word-count.)

I am starting to think I might be addicted…I exhibit most of the signs (according to about.com):

Extreme mood changes – happy, sad, excited, anxious, etc 

Ask my family about how my mood follows a writing day…

Sleeping a lot more or less than usual, or at different times of day or night

Inspiration strikes when it wants to…and I’ll be up at wee hours and napping in late afternoon

Changes in energy – unexpectedly and extremely tired or energetic

Wordless= Tired         Got the flow on= Full of Energy

Seeming unwell at certain times, and better at other times

I am unwell when writing is blocked and better when words come easily.

Pupils of the eyes seeming smaller or larger than usual

Apparently the hours spent at a computer screen are not conducive to normal pupils.

Secretiveness

Kids ask, “Mom, why are you in the closet with the door locked?” The answer that I rarely verbalize is, “So these words and I can hang out all by ourselves!”

Lying

Husband asks, “what are you doing in there?” “nothing…just checking some emails.”

Stealing

I shamefully admit I steal words and ideas from people all the time.

Financially unpredictable, perhaps having large amounts of cash at times but no money at all at other times.

Yikes! Now I’m really worried…this perfectly describes my finances since taking on writing as a full-time gig.

Changes in social groups, new and unusual friends, odd cell-phone conversations.

Have you ever heard a group of writers talk about things?

Repeated unexplained outings, often with a sense of urgency

There are times I simply run out of my house with my laptop in hand. I cannot think past the noise of our children, my husband, and our dog, and I don’t take time to explain to them that if I don’t find the space to write the words out…I’ll tragically lose them altogether.

So, the first step to recovery is acceptance, right? I’m pleased to be moving out of denial, but I am unsure whether I will ever be able to abandon this addiction entirely. I think at this point I want to become a much more sophisticated addict.

I want to harness the compulsion and wisely consume, dispense, and manipulate those words so that I am no longer just saying things to say them, but rather controlling myself so that I use words only to say something that needs to be said.

It might be possible to adopt the identity of a “social writer” but in case I can’t…please make sure when you commmit me…they let me take my laptop too!

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

 

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