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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

 
 

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Washing off Dust with Water

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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.

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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

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 18, 2013 in life balance, Marriage

 

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Choose What Kind of Old Person You Want to Be

When I’m old, I want to be in a weekly flash mob.

There is a book I’ll write some day…Choosing to Grow:  OLD. The tricky part will be that I don’t want to wait until I’m old. I know well enough that if I am going to age gracefully, it starts with the habits I have now.

Age happens, and there is nothing…did you hear me? NOTHING…we can do about it.

There are limited hours in the day, limited amounts of energy to expend, and we have to choose how we use the time we have.

My quick glance through Google this morning identified a problem. There are age-defying skin products, age-defying fashion tips, age-defying fitness programs, turn back the clock regimens, and BE YOUNGER ads everywhere. I am pretty sure this is a multi-gazillion dollar business. The movement afoot is about NOT aging.

SHUT UP!!

What a waste of time! (and we’ve already established that we don’t have very much of it!)

The more time people spend trying to turn back a clock that is stubbornly moving forward, the less prepared they are for the inevitable future.

I would actually listen to a company that sold products to celebrate the age I am while helping me to plan for the age I will be.

I can hear the tagline now: “Be the best at the age you are…and plan to be the best at the age you will be.” Now I just need to find a product to go with it.  The thing is, I fear no one would buy it.  Everyone would rather just pretend they can make themselves younger rather than working to age gracefully.

So here we go…for those of you who want to choose to grow in a beautiful way through your life. Spend a few minutes thinking about these questions.

How do you envision yourself as an old person?

Will you be bitter? Will you be kind? Will you be like a neighbor I once had?

When we moved in, my neighbor Edna introduced herself with a plate of food and a hug. She winked at me when she told me she likes to hug people…especially if they don’t expect it. I adored Edna…and I want to be just like her when I grow old.

If you want some motivation to think like an old person now, check out this awesome article: Think like a senior citizen and supercharge your life with happiness.

We cannot change the momentum of aging, but we can choose how we approach the process.

You’ll have to excuse me, I have to go…I have a flashmob dance to practice.
                                                               

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

 

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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

 
13 Comments

Posted by on April 23, 2012 in life balance

 

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