It brings to mind vacation. Travel. Beaches, ocean, sand. Rest. Living, loving, luxuriating . . .

Until the sands of life shift suddenly.

As they did it this summer when my husband landed in the hospital twice for a collective nineteen days and two heart surgeries. Existence as we knew it changed in an instant; just as we felt we’d gained a foothold, the sands shifted again. There was no time to think of the sun or even a chance to see it deep in the fluorescent-lit maze of tiled corridors and rooms. No taste of salt on the ocean breeze—oh, and salt is taboo from now on. Savoring life converged to a pinpoint, a prayer, many prayers, for staying alive, every day an uncharted vista with its own unfamiliar seas and long, long shores of loose, uncertain sands.

But he is home at last, convalescing. I grapple with new regimens—dressing wounds left by chest tubes, administering medications, a different diet, slow, slow walks in the driveway. Extra doses of patience. New priorities. The word traction comes to mind. We are on solid ground. We are moving forward, bit by little bit.

Perhaps that particular word returns to mind from childhood. My mother suffered with several health issues, one being injury and surgeries on her back. Her convalescence involved sitting in a chair beside a bedroom door with a rope-like contraption thrown over the door itself and a cup in the dangling loop for her chin. Each day she was to tighten this rope and sit in the chair for a given amount of time to stretch and align her spine. It was called traction.

I love words, their shades and nuances, so once traction got hung in my mind I kept spinning it to see its colors and facets. Traction as a foothold, as aligning, as momentum. Grabbing hold, finding a place of solidity, setting things in motion, in the right direction. I can say that my adventure this summer gave me new spiritual depth and traction.

And when I wrap myself in such metaphor I tend to see what else this blanket enfolds . . . school. I have missed the beginning of school, and while I wonder how I’ll gain traction with so many new programs and systems I’m expected to learn and teach this year, my mind doesn’t linger there. Perhaps it should. But perhaps not. I think of the children and the growth they’re supposed to make. They never will if all the sands keep shifting, if things are not aligned or set in motion in the right direction.

The lesson of my summer was restarting. My husband’s heart was restarted twice. Once during CPR which fractured his sternum and once after bypass grafts. The surgeon repaired his heart and his fractures. Healing is underway. We have new priorities. Life is restarted, with new traction. Why should it be any different for our schools, for our children? It is time to restart, to find a place of traction in shifting systems, opinions, policies, and priorities, and do what needs to be done for their sakes. Too much is at stake. It took a medical team—several, in fact— to save my husband this summer. And so it will be a collective effort to meet the needs of children on their educational journey. We shall seek and find solid ground. We shall move forward together, bit by little bit.

To me the story is the same, no matter how you slice it or apply it. This is life. It all begins and ends with the heart. Start where you have landed and find your traction.

17 thoughts on “Traction

  1. >And so it will be a collective effort to meet the needs of children on their educational journey. We shall seek and find solid ground. We shall move forward together, bit by little bit.To me the story is the same, no matter how you slice it or apply it. This is life. It all begins and ends with the heart. Start where you have landed and find your traction.<

    The power of your story has given me chills and I may have dabbed my eyes a bit a well (I'm not crying, you're crying!🙂), and I love it. I love it when words bring that emotion out of us and make it physical. Whether that gasp of amazement or the single tear, words have that power.

    And yours do. As I clicked on your slice, traction, as I think of it with tractors, wagons, muddy roads, and tow trucks. Oh how wrong I was! 🙂

    I loved how you transitioned between summer "adventure", your memories of mother, and finally with your students. However, in each case, but found myself nodding as in each instance, the need for solid ground and firm footing was evident. Thank you for sharing with us today, and I hope that, in your new reality, you continue to find that traction.♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • What an amazingly lovely response, Darin. I am deeply grateful for your words and for your telling me so freely that mine struck such an emotional chord. When we write from the heart (or teach, or do anything from the heart), impacts the hearts of others… I am thinking that your tractors, wagons, muddy roads, tow trucks (it’s natural that a farmer would think of these immediately!) are perfect examples of the image and experience I was trying to relate. For a while there, my family and I were quite struck in the murky mud of life, spinning our wheels… it works 🙂 Thank you and bless you, Darin, for all of your thoughts.


  2. Fran, you are simply inspirational. I agree, it all starts with the heart and it takes teams working together to gain traction and shift the sand. Continued prayers for you and your husband for healthy days ahead. Thanks, as always, for Shari g your brilliant writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darrin highlighted your final paragraphs, the exact ones that caught my eye. I especially love these lines, “This is life. It all begins and ends with the heart.” I also love the way you transition from summer to hospital to memories to school.It all comes together. May your husband continue to heal. May you both adjust to what is new. May you find traction together as you go forward.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had lots of time to think of the connections – really, they just sort of materialized. Grateful to have captured them before they evaporated (’cause you know they will). Thanks so much, Amanda.


  4. Fran,
    I admire so much about this post. Number one being that you are still able to write despite / through it all. I echo the words of others who have commented before me in that it takes a collective effort to gain the traction to make a difference and to impact change. These words are swirling around in my mind and heart as I begin a new year.
    I continue to keep you in my heart and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There is so much beauty here. A hope in restarting. I went back several times to this line: “And so it will be a collective effort to meet the needs of children on their educational journey.” I sometimes wonder if we lose sight of this- getting stuck in the to-do lists and stress. But what power comes from being a blip in getting those kids started- giving them traction.

    Sending you lots of love as you journey on. I’m sure your school is missing you and you’ll do just fine readjusting once back.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have managed to turn a terribly scary event in your life to wisdom about education. And with such beautiful language. Traction is sometimes so hard to find. I love this ending, “This is life. It all begins and ends with the heart. Start where you have landed and find your traction.” We all need these words. Thanks for sharing and caring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was hoping you’d return, hoping it would be a good-news post. I’m relieved this post is just that. What struck me most was your acknowledgement of family taking priority now, as it rightly should. (Perhaps because educator self-care is a focus of mine this school year.) Yes, the students are in your thoughts, but I’ve no doubt they are in good care at school, though lacking your expertise–for the moment. Thank you for acknowledging that teachers have family obligations, too. May your new “normal” continue on a path to wellness, with care for both your husband AND you, the caregiver.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for these thoughts, Chris. I am always moved by your insights and your profoundly nurturing spirit. You are right in that we must also nurture ourselves, to be mindful of our own care, and yes – it is a priority. He continues to get better each day – will be weeks yet before he returns to a sense of “normal” with his work etc. I am wading back into mine slowly. Grateful for your words & wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

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