Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Reframe Artist

I had the honor of speaking with an 84 year old woman, who had this remarkable talent to reframe a situation.  She like many of us is dealing with issues that have impacted her current standard of living.  Her issues are as problematic as any, yet she crafted their descriptions with the idea that “she had an issue”, not like “the issue had her”.  She is what I call a “Reframe Artist!”
This woman has spent the better part of her life in service of others.  She and her husband of over forty years have raised three children and had a special hand in raising countless grandchildren.  She is currently living in a rehabilitation center after a recent illness that caused her to be in and out of a hospital for about a year.  In addition to her husband’s passing a few years ago; this past year she has buried her youngest son, her only living sister and her best friend all within a few months of each other.
Just to get an idea of the level of difficulty she is facing, I will share one of her issues which surrounds the difficulty she is having in order to leave the rehab center and return home.  It seems that the rehabilitation center and possibly other outside systems are requiring for her to pay an inexcusable amount of money in order for her to be sent home with a visiting nurse.  She like many elderly people today, has to surrender her income in such ways that prohibit her from experiencing her life the way she wants to.  Her independence, her ability to sleep in her own bed and her ability to live in the comforts of her home with the assistance of a nurse’s aid comes with a hefty price!
With a matter of fact expression she said, “This country is not set up for the elderly… they didn’t plan on us living this long! But I will continue to talk about this with the social worker.  I am not giving up!”  I began to think to myself, “My goodness, this woman lives her whole life working hard and raising children, only to be told in her old age that her freedom and well being has a price greater than what she can afford.”
While I was left without words to describe my sadness for her, she swiftly added that, “She is in it to win it!”  Her witty and charming personality seemed to have infused itself into the idea of the problem as she spoke of it in a way that wouldn’t allow her to surrender to it.  With an infectiously upbeat tone she said, “That’s alright, people have given me big numbers to contend with before. I’m gonna be just fine!”  She went on to explain that while she has faith, she also puts her faith to work and continues to advocate for her return home.  She has the support of her family and I am sure she will win, but I couldn’t help but notice how the positive energy she exuded transferred into my thoughts, feelings and spirit.  I thought, “If this woman can remain focused on her goal to return home despite her challenges, I too can remain vigilant about reframing life’s issues.” 
Before I left, I told her that she was a “Reframe Artist!” and the fact that she chooses to reframe her problems in ways that allow her to capture them, rather than allow them to capture her, is nothing short of the Art of becoming at its very best!