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

Rain Running:Tracking Life Moments

IMG_4816I ran in the rain yesterday. On purpose.

I hobbled home in a downpour. Because I had to.

For two glorious miles, I sucked humid air into my lungs, celebrated streams of warm rainwater on my face, wrung out my weighted t-shirt, and listened to the birds sing in the patter. I smiled the entire time. I rejoiced in how far I’ve come that a recreational run in the rain evokes complete gratitude. I relished the fact that fullness of life is possible in such simple, pleasant moments.

Two steps before turning around to head home, a shooting pain in my left calf, the leg that I’ve so carefully guarded because it still has an intact Achilles tendon, literally stopped me mid-stride. Staring back down the path from where I had come, I was in a new moment. A moment of pain, a moment of consideration about my new reality, but unbelievably still a moment of sustained gratitude. I’ll get to that later, because I did have to head back down the joyful path that had taken me there, but with painfully, slow progression.

Half a lifetime ago, none of what I experienced yesterday was possible.

When I was a senior in college, and preparing to graduate, I turned down an invitation to walk in the rain. What I believed about such activities was that it was useless. What was productive about a walk in the rain? It has taken me decades to learn what my college roommate apparently already knew: striving, achieving, and controlling is not living. Living is being present in a moment…no matter what that moment might be.

Maturity and children are responsible for chipping away at the version of myself that was too driven to live well.

I now gauge my progression through life on experiences that involve my kids too.

I told my sixteen-year-old yesterday, as I set my phone and headphones down on the desk, that I was leaving them behind because I didn’t want them to get too wet.

“I’m headed to the stop sign at the end of the path, so at least you know where I was running if I get abducted,” I told him.

He smiled, amused, and then went back to watching whichever show he had pulled up on his phone.

Part of the joy I experienced the first half of my run, before pain interrupted my thoughts, was the recollection of another rain run I had nine years ago.

Nine years ago, my children were six, four and one. We were planning another move, from Menomonie to Woodbury this time, and my husband was already in Colorado for his six-week spring stint. I had had one of those days and all I needed was a good, hard workout. By the time I got the kids to bed, it was lightly raining and, when I looked outside, I decided I was in need of a cleansing run.

The decision to run around the circle road just outside our townhouse was a selfish one. I needed independence from the responsibilities of children. I needed a moment to myself. So, I ran. I ran around and around the circle, glancing at the front door of the townhouse each time. I was drenched and filled with endorphins by the time it was done. I bounded in the door and what stopped me in my tracks that day was the immediate visual of my worried six-year-old on the phone with his arm around his scared younger sister.

“Oh, she’s right here,” he said and extended the phone to me.

“Hello?” I breathlessly answered.

“Yes, ma’am, this is the 9-1-1 operator. Your son called us because he couldn’t find you.”

“Oh, I’ve just been outside,” I said, “I’m right here.” Panic replaced my runner’s high.

“Well, we’ve already dispatched a unit to your home, he will be there in a minute or two.”

I managed to adequately explain to the officer my son’s seeming abandonment was a misunderstanding and the disheveled nature of a house littered in moving boxes was totally normal. The situation must have looked as desperate as I felt in that moment. I was a young mother still striving to be productive and willing to traipse my family around the country to achieve something I have since discovered is too elusive to actually attain.

So, yesterday, as I stood dripping at the end of my path, I reached into my pocket for a phone to call my newly-licensed son. I could still walk, but it was a struggle with a fully-cramping calf, and I thought it would be easier if he could drive to pick me up. It took me a moment to realize, I didn’t have my phone.

My slow and methodical walk back in the pounding rain gave me time to enjoy how far I’ve come. I may be outrunning the abilities my body once enjoyed, and my kids may no longer see a brief absence as an emergency, (actually no one even really noticed how long I was gone yesterday) but I am finally in a place where I can gratefully experience the moments I’m given. No matter whether the moment is filled with joy and smiling or pain and grimacing, life’s moments are meant to be relished.

If I could go back to the college-version of myself I would tell her to go walk in the rain. And to my future self I want to tell her: run if you can, walk when you must, and when time takes from you the independence to do either on your own, find the people who will stand or sit with you in a rainstorm.

 

(for those of you wondering…it’s just a calf cramp…I should be fine:))

                     

Copyright Choosing to Grow 2016                                     www.meaganfrank.com

Walking in Dad’s Shoes by Sitting in a Cast

cast and crutches

Injuries mean a loss of independence. It is a loss of the way life has been and a miserable process of acceptance that life is not in our control. This particular injury is providing even further enlightenment I hadn’t expected.

It’s a joke, really, that we have control in our lives. The truth is we can’t control ANYTHING! We can’t control freak injuries or illness. We can’t control procrastination in others or a lack of attention to detail. We can’t control whether people around us want to do the things we ask of them and we certainly cannot control whether they go about doing those things with a smile. We can do things to influence others, but we really don’t control any of it.

I try though. I see tendencies in myself to fill when I’m hurting. Fill by achieving something, fill with food or booze. I am my father’s daughter that way I guess. I find a temporary relief in “feeling” full. I have approached my many injuries as an opportunity to fill with something else.

This injury I am not maintaining the full…I am purposefully emptying instead. Except for one day a week I am restricting sugar, carbs, caffeine, and alcohol. I was scheduled to do a 28-day cleanse starting the day after my injury, so I know God intended for me to endure this injury empty. The process has been eye-opening and HARD.

I don’t like having lost independence. The ice makes it REALLY hard to get around outside of our house. I have taught myself to drive left footed, but I am incredibly hesitant to go any place where I will have to park the car and crutch on the slick surface more than 100 feet.  It is a scary deathtrap and it will stay that way until the temperatures start to rise.

So I’m dependent upon help. Needing help, asking for help and accepting help is getting easier for me, but it is still a struggle. The bigger problem this time around is the struggle with my kids. They have had a hard time transitioning from kids depending on mom to mom depending on kids. And I’m not doing well with helping them. It’s not moving quite fast enough and I’m admittedly frustrated. My dependency needs were immediate and their willingness to pick their heads up from various electronic devices hasn’t happened in quite the way I had imagined it would. They are acting like, well, kids!

This is it. This is what my dad battled, isn’t it? He got to a monotonous part of his life and was struck down by a torn Achilles tendon. He denied the injury for so long he ended up in a much worse place than he would have been: a full-leg cast and weeks of immobility. He could control nothing when he thought he was controlling everything.

He lived in a house with four children (some of whom were similar ages to my kids) who were slipping out of his control too. They were at an age of their own independence and it was excruciating to watch from the couch. All he wanted to do was get up and drive somewhere…anywhere. He couldn’t. He was stuck. He was stuck in a life that wasn’t meant for football gods from small-town Nebraska. He saw he was in a life out of his control: the one that included the 9-5 (or 9-9) job as an attorney with a wife and kids. Those kids… god, 3 of the 4 of them were girls too. What use were they anyway? None of them could even play football or replicate even a small version of his football story. They played soccer: that sissy sport with sissy rules that were worth arguing about with those men who called themselves refs. And his son, well, football wasn’t going to be for him either. He was too cerebral, too much of a dreamer, too naturally gentle to be the reflection of anger and aggression that was filling him.

I wonder whether he ever gazed at himself in the mirror during those dark days. Did he make eye contact with himself and see the demons rising from within? I would bet it was too hard for him to look.

I don’t know that a torn Achilles tendon threw him over the edge, but when he tore the other one playing touch football, it was the start of an unraveling no one could have predicted. Two torn Achilles tendons in 18 months would be a lot for anyone to handle, but if you are struggling to understand the worth of your life, it would be devastating.

I am having a chance to see, firsthand, how truly tough this immobility can be at this stage in life. It may only be 10 weeks, but currently sitting in the middle of it, I can attest to the bouts of frustration, anger, sadness, self-pity and questioning.

Injury is temporary but aging is permanent.

He must have come to that conclusion too. Did he start to wonder whether all the hard work was worth it when he was facing an ugly truth: he was just as mortal as the next guy? His accolades didn’t matter as much as everyone had told them they would, and he was starting to realize it. There was one thing he could control though. No one could tell him to stop drinking if they never saw him do it. His next greatest achievement was hiding that from everyone.

families where grace is in place

My cleanse has been perfectly timed. Also well-timed is a book club book I am reading called Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen. VanVonderen is one of the intervention counselors featured on the compelling A & E series Intervention. One particular section of the book describes an inner circle of self and an outer circle of self. The inner circle can only be filled by God’s grace and love and the acceptance that who we are is enough. The outer circle is the one we create (and fill) to make us feel as though we are complete.

Maybe no one told my dad that he mattered without things or achievements. Maybe they tried, but he didn’t listen. He had been filling his emptiness and neediness with accomplishments and accolades his entire life. He thought covering up shame again and again would be enough.

He probably never considered that God might be waiting with the news that who he is…is enough.

Emptying needs to be happening for me right now. There is plenty to learn and work through for myself and with my children. “Filling” would only keep me from the great work I’ve been tasked to complete.

                     

Copyright Choosing to Grow 2014                                     www.meaganfrank.com

The Difference of Blogging

I am assigned the task of writing about the difference blogs/books have made in my life. I am taking part in a bloghop hosted by the magazine I work for, Books Make a Difference. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I have procrastinated all month, and although I could blame my husband’s annual departure, our impending house sale and move, or the general expectations of my job and child-rearing, it is also true I have not made time to write through this piece.

banner_300x250

Blogging hasn’t always been this way. I used to have to restrain myself from putting out too many blogposts in a week.
Blogging with small children was as necessary as breathing.

I started blogging fall of 2003, and I found the support, encouragement, friendship, wisdom, connection and sounding board I so desperately needed.

That’s what writers do essentially, right? We write to hear an echo back from the world. We write in the hope our words will be important to someone else. Maybe not every writer needs emotional feedback, but I sure did. I was a stay-at-home mom unhappy with having made the deliberate (and seemingly permanent) decision to stay home and raise our children. Motherhood wasn’t what I had expected and I needed to know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

As I grapple with the focused subject of this post I am sitting in the back hatch of my car. My laptop is open on my legs and I am lounging near an elementary school playground . I glance up occasionally to make sure the girls are happily playing and taking frequent breaks to pet the dog. Big Sprout is building his muscles and stamina at a dryland hockey practice at a gym in town and I’m admittedly a bit nostalgic.

I never thought I would be at this point in motherhood.

Over and over again, in the early years of blogging, I’d write about the permanence of motherhood with small children. It was either pervasive frustration, or bouts of hilarity. I’d catch the sprouts teaching me things, and without a classroom to hash out the life-changing reality of the motherhood experience, I decided instead to put my stories out into the world for commentary.

I am most grateful for the commentary.

As I write this, I am watching a young mother with her little boy. He is about the age Big Sprout was when all of this blogging madness started. When I started to blog, Big Sprout was four years old and starting preschool, Middle Sprout was just over a year old, and Little Sprout was merely an idle egg in my ovary. I felt as though life were never going to be any different. Big Sprout turns 13 this month, and long gone is the permanence of mothering small children.

Blogging, instead, has been my permanence.

I was talking with someone yesterday about the shelf we have moved seven times during our marriage. We are preparing to move it again. It is a plain, white, cheap, particle-board bookcase, but it is the most important piece of furniture we own. On one side of the bookshelf there are hand-scrawled marks denoting the height of each of our children at various points in their childhood. If I’m grateful for any of my ideas, I am grateful I made the decision early in their lives to put this record on something portable. I didn’t ever want to have to paint over the marks or leave them behind. I guess that is sortof what blogging has been for me too.

Blogging is my portable marker. I can go back to old posts and I hear the voice of a woman I hardly recognize. I see linkbacks to women who have remained important friends in my journey through writing and motherhood and I can hardly imagine what type of mother I would be without them.

So, what difference has blogging made in my life? Having a space to write through and mark the growth that has happened for our family, and for me personally as a mother, has truly made more difference for me than I have words to explain.

 

Meagan is constantly moving, but you can sometimes catch her these places:


Website:
www.meaganfrank.com

Twitter: @choosingtogrow

Facebook: MeaganFrankAuthor

Email: choosingtogrow@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

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

 

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