Rallying for Life…as Women March

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“Those are the weird people in Menomonie,” said a teenaged girl, after my daughter explained that the group gathering at the University clock tower was getting ready to march.

I’m pretty sure my daughter was grateful I wasn’t in the crowd yet.

To be honest…I was scared to go.

I know the sentiment of many people in our community and I worried I would be misunderstood. I’ve never rallied, I’ve never marched, I’ve never been a physical part of any movement whatsoever, and I’ve watched and listened to the anger rising in this country because we’ve stopped listening to one another.

The details of the reasons I felt compelled to walk would be of little importance to the people who assume I’ve taken sides.

My husband and I had a bet about whether anyone would drive by and try to splash me, or yell at me or throw things at me. He said there would be honking in support and I said there would be angry yelling. We were both right. Plenty of people honked in support (for which sign I don’t know because there were so many), but there was anger too. One man revved his truck engine at a stoplight and another yelled out the window and flipped off the group as he drove by. There have been angry rants on Facebook since, and no doubt even posting this blog will move me to a new place in people’s estimation of me.

I truly don’t take offense to that young lady’s assessment that weird people were gathering, because she’s probably right. I am one of the weird people…practically everywhere I go.

What makes me weird is my inability (or maybe my unwillingness) to fully align with mary-poppins-mrs-banksa group.  I am a white, Catholic woman who believes in pro-life…for everyone…coaches a diverse boys high school soccer team in a Wisconsin football town, writes books, and runs a kitchen employing seasonal workers at the Colorado Renaissance Festival.  I would say I am a conservative Democrat/ liberal Republican. I work hard to love saints and sinners alike and I oscillate between the two camps on a daily basis. It’s complicated.

As a family, we occupy this weird space in the world, and there isn’t another family anywhere who is going to understand us. Maybe that’s why I am slower to judge the complications and uniqueness of each family and the choices people make, including the choices people made this past weekend.

I’m grateful to be alive at this point in history when it is possible to have the freedom to be so complicated…and to march for it. I marched on Saturday (with my Protestant friend who has been a staunch Republican…and felt strange surrounded by so many Democrats). Like I said, it’s complicated.

It was a rally for me from the beginning. Some who marched were there to protest, but I was there to rally around the freedoms  I cherish and to put into action my vow to defend those freedoms for every person. Every. One.

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The reasons I walked are unique and I have no doubt there were 2.9 million unique reasons any particular marcher felt the need to show up that morning. Unfortunately, reporters have to pick headlines and quick phrases to define what the march was. I wanted to write down, as specifically as I could, why I was among the marchers this past weekend.

  • I walked for my daughters. I wanted them to see I’m willing to physically show up for something I believe is important and I think all people are important. They both have incredible freedoms because they are American girls in 2017…I want them to know they have a right to celebrate those freedoms and they should always feel safe enough to speak up for what they believe.
  • I walked for those who’ve adopted children from around the world and who may not look like the little faces they feed.
  • I walked for my friends and family, and their children, who struggle with their freedoms because they are gay.
  • I walked for the women I know who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused.
  • I walked for the stay-at-home dads who battle stereotypes because they believe in fatherhood and supporting the work of their wives.
  • I walked for my family members with disabilities and for those who are currently receiving government funding to live in assisted living situations. I want them to know I believe they deserve protections.
  • I walked for my friends in bi-racial marriages whose children have been, quite recently, targets of racism.
  • I walked for my friends who are public school teachers because I want them to know their talents and their services are valuable and worth defending.

Walking for women’s causes is complicated and many of the issues have only one thing in common: a woman cares about it. Not even all the issues I care about were represented on Saturday and many women I love didn’t feel welcomed or comfortable to march at all.

Several friends of mine don’t like the rhetoric reported by women they feel are in opposition to their beliefs. In a Facebook post that is making the rounds through feeds of women I know who support more Republican values, there were questions about the differences between the women who marched and those who didn’t:

In the post it’s written: I’m not a disgraceful woman because I didn’t march.

I completely agree. There is nothing disgraceful about the choices afforded to women in this country. That is precisely why I rallied. I didn’t protest. I didn’t carry a sign. I could barely bring myself to pin on the button, but I was compelled to show up and we each have a right to march or not…to carry a sign or go empty-handed.

Also written: You waste your time complaining about women’s rights in the US. You should spend your energy defending the rights of women around the world…those are places where women are really mistreated.

The marching energy was a rally cry…inspiring legs to keep moving for all people. It is true, American women have an incredible freedom in this country unlike anything afforded to women in the history of the world and with that freedom comes a great responsibility. My personal commitment is to remain responsible to both the vulnerable here in our country and to those suffering around the world.

Because I am a devout Catholic, I liken my march this past Saturday to that quiet walk I take every Sunday when I accompany the diversity of our church to the altar for Communion. I know there are vast opinions and philosophies from pew to pew, yet we gather each week around the guiding principle of love. Each relationship with Jesus is unique, each level of sinfulness personal, and we are asked to love instead of judge. Loving looks different for each of us.

My efforts to love meant I walked this weekend. I walked for the weird people who walked alongside me, and the vulnerable who couldn’t attend. I walked for those women who disagree with me and I also walked for that teenage girl who may never understand why I walked at all.

Copyright Choosing to Grow 2017                                     www.meaganfrank.com                                        @choosingtogrow

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.¬† ūüôā

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

 

It’s Not Just Jazz-her-cise

Celebrating a Choice to Grow

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jazzercise…

When you hear that word, what image pops into your head?  Do you picture the long-haired blonde of the eighties with her leotard, spandex, and leg warmers? Or how about the older woman who finishes a water aerobics class and then saunters in for a few movements on the jazzercise floor? What about the Grinch?

If you laughed out loud, you are why the writers of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas inserted Jazzercise into¬†the Grinch’s¬†monologue of excuses¬†for why he¬†couldn’t attend the holiday party.¬†It is one of the funniest scenes in the movie¬†and it’s also one of the first times that 20-year-old Jacob Krech ever heard about Jazzercise.

Whatever visual you have, I would venture a guess that it doesn’t immediately include the Grinch, and it most likely doesn’t include a man.

I have been Jazzercising for several months now. (some of you may remember my admission in a previous blogpost) I was immediately struck by the fact that there were no men in these classes…that is until Jacob showed up.

Not too long after I started, a young man began dancing in the row in front of me. He jumped higher, slid further, and moved bigger than everyone around him. It took everything I had to try to keep up with him, and I was usually reminded (for days) that I am not young enough to move like that.

His passion for dance and movement is immediately evident, and I was thrilled to hear that he wanted to instruct.

He is now a certified instructor and he teaches Jazzercise classes in Woodbury.

He joined his mom and his sister at classes in the fall of 2011, and it did not take long for him to realize that it was a good fit for him.

“I saw how much enjoyment my mom was getting out of it,” he told me, “and I thought it would be fun.”

Jacob has been passionate about dance since high school, becoming particularly interested in modern dance while attending St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.

When I¬†asked him if it bothered him that he was usually the only guy in¬†a Jazzercise¬†class, he said, “It’s kindof been my whole life. I’ve always been outnumbered.”

The younger brother to only sisters, Jacob feels incredibly comfortable being the only man in the room.

The other thing about Jazzercise, he wrote in an email to me, is that “No matter who you are, everyone will welcome you in with open arms, and be happy to see you.”

He’s right. It is what keeps people coming back and a reason why men would be warmly received if dance is something they enjoy.

Will Henke, a friend of Jacob’s and the only other man¬†pictured above, is a college sophomore who played football in high school and is currently training for his first marathon. He has had¬†dancing experience, but he¬†was still nervous about going to the classes. He worried about keeping¬†up with the movements, but his mind was quickly put¬†at ease.

Will told me that it was a good workout and a lot of fun.

“Everyone just does their own thing,” he said.

It’s true. You hardly notice what¬†anyone else is doing, (except of course if Jacob is dancing in¬†the row in front of you) and you just do what you can to¬†keep up.

There are no mirrors to distract you, and the music always compels you to keep moving. You are accepted exactly as you are and inspired by the dancers around you.

Jacob has a challenge for all the guys who are unsure about trying something that seems so far out of their comfort zone.

“Try not to get set in stereotypical things,” he said.¬†“Go out and try new things. When you try new things, you’ll open yourself up to¬† a whole new set of opportunities.”

Jacob Krech has made a choice to grow through dance, and there is something incredibly inspirational about watching someone do something he loves.

 Besides teaching Jazzercise classes, Jacob works 4 am shifts at Target and he has recently been cast in The Hobbit at The Open Window Theatre in Minneapolis.

If you know someone who needs to be celebrated for Choosing to Grow, I would love to hear about him/her. Send nominations or story ideas to choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com.

To learn more about Choosing to Grow or Meagan Frank, visit her website:  www.meaganfrank.com.

2012 Copyright   Choosing to Grow                                             Meagan Frank