Been a minute

It’s been a minute since I’ve published anything. I’ve been writing, just not posting. Some of my writing is too heavy and might worry people in my life so I don’t share it.  I also work in an environment where every word I say is scrutinized or shared and usually twisted. So I have to regulate myself.  

It’s amazing how age and experience can open your eyes to things you have dealt or struggled with your  whole life. My topic of “struggle” today is depression. I’ve been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Moderate. What does that even mean?

I guess it means different things for different people. For me, depression comes in waves. I can go weeks with a good attitude, no napping all day, hitting the gym, staying on top of paperwork, being patient to my kids. Then a bad day or few days will hit. When I get out of it, it is like starting all over. I can’t just pick up where I left off. Then after another undetermined amount of time, I lose it again. It’s a cycle on it’s own time line that I can’t predict.

I still function and get the important things done, like pick up my kids from school. Feed them. Mostly cereal or pb&j, but damn, that’s food!! But these days are filled with guilt over not getting things done. Like walking right by the overwhelming clutter in my house. 

 You know it’s bad when you kick on the heat for the first time in a year, the house immediately fills with smoke, setting off all your smoke detectors, and you refuse to call 911 because you don’t want the firefighters to see your messy house.

 Do I like these days of being so overwhelmed I don’t even start? Or being unmotivated to do anything I used to love doing? Or slacking in the wife and parent departments?  Hell no. But how do you snap out of it?

Not too long ago I realized I didn’t give a damn….I didn’t give a damn about anything. Nothing phased me. I walked around in the strangest, neutral state. To be honest….it was awesome! I didn’t give a crap about what people thought. I didn’t care what I said. And I let some people know what I was really thinking. It felt great!! 

But when you don’t give a damn about anything, even joy doesn’t exist. And that was a problem.

So I found some joy and some motivation after going to a psychiatrist, Marie Beasley, at Riverview Psychiatry. She added Welbutrin to my “cocktail”. It helps your endorphins, unlike Prozac, which is for cortisol. So it helped even me out. 

I highly suggest if you choose to take anti-depressants, that you seek guidance from a professional….a psychiatrist. Not your OBGYN, your family practitioner, your dentist. A psychiatrist. 

Marie put what my medication was doing in easy terms for me to comprehend. Trust me, when you are a lost ball in high weeds it is imperative to have a professional give you easy-to-follow instructions to help you begin to feel better enough to chop down the weeds.

Seeing a counselor is also a great idea. I lucked out and found Linda Graham who specializes in trauma, traumatic stress, etc. Traumatic stress is a constant in the emergency services whether you run a bad call in a shift or not. You are always waiting for it. I found myself assuming the worst and not engaging with anyone because of the anticipation that something bad would happen. 

I still correlate good things and bad things. For some reason it seems that every time something good happens, something bad is right around the corner. But I’m getting better at seeing these things for what they really are. Just life. Linda is helping me with that as well.

I just want to share some of my experience with depression in hopes that someone will read this and come to some sort of realization about themselves. I hope it is a positive realization and motivation to get help or help others.

Functioning with depression, even major depression, is possible. You just have to see it in yourself and own it. Only then will you accept the idea of help for it.

If you are in the Chattanooga area and need help, please consider the following: 

http://www.riverviewpsychiatry.com/

http://www.compassion-center.com/

My children don’t see color

The statement “My children don’t see color.”, as it has come to my attention, isn’t necessarily the right thing for a white person to say. Yet, I’ve said it. And here’s why I will continue to say it…

You know as well as I do that you literally see and hear things and that your brain processes the information, including differences.  So technically most of us “see” color or other differences from ourselves.  But when you see something or someone and your brain processes and forms an opinion based only on what you literally see before you, you are being presumptuous. And when your presumptions are based on false ideas formed in the absence of good reasoning, you are seeing with prejudice.  

We all know there is a difference in teaching. There is “teaching by telling” and “teaching by showing”. The first is usless when it comes to matters that are subjective. Telling my children to not be prejudice, racist, homophobic, etc. is useless. There is too much negative, outside subjectivity.  And unless you make them live in a bubble with no outside world contact, ideas you rather they didn’t hear about will make their way into their heads. Ideas you might want to prepare them to defend against. 

Drug and alcohol use, sexual activity, work ethic, bullying, prejudice, etc…..I want my kids to be able to stand firm in doing the right thing because it is engrained in them. I want them to be able to stand up for someone else or help those in need without any type of judgement.  If you help someone and have to mention their skin color, disability, economic situation, etc. or feel more proud that you helped someone for any of those reasons….you are prejudice. It’s just that simple. 

I am far from perfect. But my children are being shown to love. They are being shown to take care of others. They are being shown compassion. They are being shown right from wrong. So when I say “my kids don’t see color” I mean they see without prejudice. They also don’t “see” wheelchairs, prostetic limbs, hairloss, sign language etc. and form a negative opinion. 

They may be curious, but I’m trying to teach them how to approach differences they don’t understand. Sometimes it is as simple as introducing yourself and talking to someone. Or asking a parent to explain the best approach to their child. The main thing I am trying to instill in them is to make no judgements about anyone until they have interacted with them on a regular basis. Form no opinions based on rumors, outside influences like social media or the news, or other people’s opinions. 

They are learning that not everyone can just get up and go to school and not feel like everyone is looking at them or judging them. They are at an age where they can being to process and understand what injustice means. As their mother it is my job to help them process injustice they have encountered  and how to handle it.

 Don’t deny it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t be passive. 

The statement “My kids don’t see color”, at least in reference to my kids, doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to learn history….all of it. It doesn’t mean they think everyone lives like they do and are as privileged as they are. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning about what’s wrong in this world and their role in changing things for the better. But I have never once heard them refer to anyone as a color, disability, or difference.

One time at a festival a young girl who was deaf, blind, and used a wheelchair, had a malfunction of her chair brakes. The chair rolled backwards down a slight hill and hit a curb. She fell out of the chair backwards and luckily land in the grass unharmed. But she was understandably shaken.

As I saw her starting to roll backwards I ran towards her in what felt like molasses. I couldn’t get there fast enough! And you know who was on my heals? My 5 year old daughter. I was actually shocked. She had been getting on my nerves by being a whiny butt just a few minutes beforehand. So much so that we were in the process of leaving the festival. Ha!

But there she was. A completely different child. Asking what she could do to help. She was the only child at that festival who approached the young girl without any hesitation. Yes, she was technically with me, but she wasn’t scared of a child who was different from her.  She showed no hesitation to help a scared little girl because that’s all she saw. 

As the girl’s mother checked her for injuries, she explained to Elle that her daughter was deaf so she wouldn’t respond to the words of comfort Elle was saying. Elle immediately asked what she needed to do to comfort her. Whhhat??? I just looked at my daughter like “Who are you and what did you do with Elle?”. The mother told Elle her daughter uses touch to understand things and having something in her hands would help calm her down. So as we are sitting in the grass, Elle hands the girl a wand with a fuzzy ball and streamers on the top of it that she had won in a contest…..without any prompting from me. It immediately began to calm the girl down. 

My children see human beings. They see a chance to learn about and embrace differences. I feel confident that I have set an open line of communication with them to where they feel comfortble asking me about things they have been told or have seen. They are learning to form ideas and opinions of people based on their own experiences with them. They are also learning that people have different experiences and that they should strive for other people’s experiences with them to be positive ones.

The best way to help them is to demonstrate “loving your neighbor as you love yourself.” It’s that simple. 

 

Parent failure

Parenting is hard a hell. And it is nothing like I thought it would be. I grew up with a mother who watched what we ate because she knew it had a HUGE impact on how we felt and acted. And that was back in the mid-70s until, at least, the early 90s. Back when kids weren’t “diagnosed” with anything except being an asshole.
When I had kids I fully believed I could be like my mother. A parent who makes meals and has plenty of food in the pantry. A parent who is cautious about what their kids are consuming. A parent who has breakfast, lunch, and dinner already made. 

But HELL no. I’m no where near being anything like my mother. I failed that years ago. 

People will say that it’s my work schedule and just how times have changed. But I know deep down it is because I gave up. I quit doing what I know is best for my kids because it is just easier. I’m gone 24 hours at a time and my ideas about food and how they influence behavior are stupid. And that’s just that. It was a constant battle and I gave up. 

Like I usually do, I made some dinner tonight. They have snacked all day because that is how we do it. But dinner is usually a meat and some vegetables. I fix it, they eat it. Just not together at a table. Tonight I got it started and what did they do? They at dinner with their little neighborhood buddy while they were next door. 

As much as I wanted certain things, they just haven’t been established and probably never will be. It’s impossible when there are two opposing forces in a home along with everything else that life throws your way.

I realize my kids will survive. I understand that they won’t be totally warped by the lack of a solid routine and dinner at the table. But damn it would be nice. 

Haunted Trail: Part 1

I am beyond excited about Halloween! For whatever reason this time of year has always been my favorite. I think it’s just October in general. But Halloween is just FUN!! 

I am the PTA Treasurer at my kid’s school. Have been for 4 years now. And every year we have a Fall Festival as a fundraiser. It’s been a tradition at this school for years.

Until a couple of years ago, we didn’t realize there was a hidden jewel literally in our school’s back yard. An outdoor learning center in the woods! It was put in 20+ years ago and had become over grown. We (the PTA) paired up with the local Master Gardeners and made it great again.

It is an awesome area for the kids to learn about nature and to get out of the classroom to explore. It is also open to the local community after school hours and during the summer to come and enjoy the various trails that wind up the hill and through the woods.

The thing I’m most excited about is the fact that it is a PERFECT place for a haunted trail. We have had one the past two years and this year I have volunteered to take over that project. I am going to try my best to put together an awesome one for the students, families, faculty, and local community to enjoy.

My first objective was to get ideas…. Pinterest overload! I am a major DIYer and found so many great ideas. BUT thanks to Vyvanse and Wellbutrin, I am was able to just pick a few managable projects that I can accomplish way before the last minute.

The outdoor learning area has two huge asphalt areas that are divided by a trail head. Then there are several trails that wind up and round in basically a loop right back to the asphalted areas. My plan is to have several “themes” on the asphalt and on a short loop around one of the trails. BUT that’s the idea in my head. I will have to go map it out and narrow things down…or maybe expand. We will see!

So far I’ve broken the trail down into these following themes:

  • The Witch’s Lair
  • The Ghost Trail
  • Clown Town
  • The Valley of the Dolls

My second objective is to collect all my supplies.  I have a budget of $200. Some from the PTA. Some from my pocket as a donation. Facebook is a great place to get some help. I’ve rounded up some good FREE stuff to borrow or keep to use.

I also hit up Craigslist and found some huge, FREE tubes I just couldn’t pass up! I fortunately have an awesome brother who picked them up for me. 

These are going to be tunnels for the kids to crawl through.

These tubes are about 20 inches in diameter and 4 feet long. My plan is to put them together, paint the outside, and put something on the inside to creep out the kiddos if they choose to crawl through! I I’ll keep you updated on the finished product.

Yesterday hit the jackpot at a couple of local thrift stores and stocked up on some creepy-ass dolls. Some of these things I don’t even have to “creepify”. It’s crazy!

The kids and I put the dolls on daddy’s side of the bed. He wasn’t amused.

So now I’m off to collect even more creepy things and to work on some easy and fun DIY projects that are kid friendly…which means I get to use my kids are free labor. 

Haunted Trail: Part 2, coming very soon! 

Coming out of a vacation coma

Lord help me. My vacation is almost over. 

No alarm clock has been set. 

No iternary has been followed.

No meetings attended.

No deaths. No fires. No destruction.

I have had a few conversations about work during the past week. “Blood pressure goes up” kind of conversations. Makes me dread going back. How is that possible in a career I love?  I have a love/hate relationship with it, I guess.

In my strive to reach my 25 years and not walk out the door early, I’ve decided to add more training and classes outside our department to give me a new perspective. Nothing tells you that you really do have it made quite like meeting other firefighters who don’t have it made. 

I’m also getting involved in a couple of things that might help me share some of me experiences with others, especially women and young girls. The first thing is this blog, because, well, I want all of you to know my business and how big of a mess I can be. I’m not perfect but I’ve been fairly successful in my life. A level of success that I am happy with. And if I can share something that another person can relate to and help them in any way, then “telling all” is worth it. 

The second thing…The Mayor’s Council for Women.

Whhhhat?????? The??????? Whhhhat?????

 I can hear some of you now.  “Do you even like the mayor?” “You aren’t classy enough.” “You’re too much of a smartass.”  “You have tattoos.” “You dress like a man for work. Do you even have any dressy clothes?” “Um…..you use bad words.”

I can hear you because these are all the things I’ve told myself for years as excuses to not even get involved in anything like this. I’m stepping waaaaayyy out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone is Incident Command of hellacious problems, not surrounding myself with women on a mission. I picture women way more sophisticated than me when I think of this group because I’m a little rough. But I’m going to give it a try, because that’s something I like to do….push my comfort zone.

So first of all, let’s make one thing clear…. it isn’t about the mayor. I have no ulterior motive. Not sucking up for a higher position. Not interested in political gain. 

I’ve researched the Council’s  mission. I’ve looked at their sub-committees and their goals. I even met with their Chairwoman. Maybe it’s normal for them to answer you application right away and want to meet immediately. I don’t know. But that’s what happened. And I must say, she’s a hoot! So much more like me than I imagined. She didn’t bat an eye at the fact that I had on no make-up, had some bed-head going on, and I was dressed in my work shorts and a t-shirt. 

It’s not about anything other than trying to make a difference. Trying to help someone move from one point to the other when they are hesitant. To let them know that you don’t have to be the smartest, strongest, richest, prettiest, luckiest….you just have to have some grit. You have to be able to pick yourself up when you hit the ground.  And you have to be willing to fall in the first place.

The best thing my Master’s degree in counseling gave me was self-awareness.  I have probably more of that than I need…. $30,000 worth. Ha! I believe that self-awareness is so incredibly important. Knowing strengths, weaknesses, level of tolerance, needs, and wants are the key to getting where you want to go.

I hope to be able to use some of the skills I’ve learned over the years of building my own self-awareness to help other women build theirs and gain that freedom. Because that’s self-awareness  is….freedom.

 Self-awareness can lead to self-confidence and self-control, both of which are powerful things for a woman. 

So we will see what happens. I’ll keep you posted!

Slime and more slime

Thanks to YouTube and now Elmer’s smart marketing people, I have spent more money on slime making materials than I am willing to say. Like, this summer was probably more expensive that when we went to the beach….just kidding, I think.

Anyways I wanted to share a discovery I had towards the END of the summer, because, well, I’m an IDIOT. And idiot who RAVES about Amazon Prime, yet chose not to check Amazon for the gallon of Elmer’s glue. Instead she took her kids to Hobby Lobby and spent way more for it….along with 100 other things we didn’t need….because that place sucks you in and spits you out…broke. 

I DID go to Dollar Tree for shaving cream. BOOM!  Because I was being a smart shopper. (Insert Eye-roll here.)

So here it is. Short and sweet. Gallon of Elmer’s glue at Hobby Lobby….$24.99. even with 40% off it isn’t as cheap as Amazon Prime’s $11.99. And that’s got free 2-day shipping…..you’re kids can freakin’ wait….

So here is the link. Be smarter than me!!!

I’m just going to remain rough around the edges


Yesterday I had an idea. The idea to apply for the position of fire chief that will be open soon. Now mind you, up until a few months ago, I was doing good to just get to work in the first place. Someday soon I will write about the last straw that sent me over the edge into the “I don’t give a damn” pit.

Up until a few months ago, some  good therapy, and the right cocktail to handle depression, I had said “fuck it”. (I’m sorry, Mom and Dad!)  I was even considering quitting my job. I was at probably the lowest point I could get before my brain became so unbalanced from depression that it might have considered suicide. I never wanted to commit suicide, by the way, because I have too many people that love me and vice versa. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t start that rumor. (I know some mouthy people will read this. Some who like to spin the truth.)

For me, the time before the point of no return was indifference. No care given. No feelings…at all.  No sadness. And definitely no joy. Short tempered was the closest I could get to feeling anything. But it only lasted a split second. Other than that it was: When did I shower last? Housework, schmouse-work. Why bother going to the last place I feel normal… Crossfit Hixson? Because exercise is stupid. We have dogs? You can skip school today because I don’t want to drive you over there. Good luck finding food to feed yourselves, kids. Dry cereal for dinner, maybe? And so on and so on….

So here I was yesterday, considering applying for the most stressful, time-consuming, ‘in the spot-light’ kind of a job on the department (in my opinion).

I talked to my husband, my best friend, and 4 of the men I work with that I trust to tell me the truth, not just what they think I want to hear. I can’t even begin to say how important it is to have these people. The ones who shoot you straight. Not scared to give you feedback on what you do and how you do it…good or bad. People, who you know when you turn your back, won’t talk shit about you. People rough around the edges.

Finding these people takes time no matter where you work or what position you are in. You may have to fly solo for a bit before you find them. That means keeping your mouth shut and just observing. Be careful who you confide in. Maybe even throw something out there to see how far it goes and who takes it there. Yes, that’s baiting someone. But who cares. Just be aware that someone may try it on you. So when you say “I won’t tell anyone”….. don’t.

So back to applying for the chief job…I conducted a poll with those 6 people. It came back unanimous. “You can do it.” “Go for it.” And…..”the person you will report to probably can’t handle you”. Hahaha!

I cuss. I’m a smartass. I have reached a point where pissing people off doesn’t bother me if it’s what I have to do. I suck up to no one. Money and power aren’t what I think life is about. I’ll tell you like it is. I’m rough around the edges.

Let’s face it. Around here the big chief has pretty much been chosen before the job is even open. So far in my career, none of the 4 chief appointments have been a surprise. Well….there was that one time they  made a “Rowe” chief. Worst chief ever.

But the job is always posted and people always apply. And they should. There are a ton of perfect candidates for the job. And the process can be a good experience to use later on down the road.

But me….not going to happen. I enjoy my free time. I don’t need anything more to deal with. And I rather be out with the men and women making a difference in that capacity….ya know….delivering them water and occasionally acting like an Incident Commander and stuff.

I believe that most people eventually find their niche. And mine is with those rough around the edges.

I can’t make this stuff up: Volume 2

Here are a couple of stories from when I was on an engine company…..

One night we got a called to forced entry on a residence to gain access to a patient in a diabetic emergency. When we got there we could see an elderly lady through the front windows. She literally looked like a fish out of water flipping and flopping. Knocking over furniture. Injuring herself. Making a sound I can’t even begin describe. 

One of my firefighters wanted to force the door but I said there was no sense in damaging it. I busted out a small pane of glass in the grid of the front window. I reached in, unlocked, and opened it. I then used my cat-like skills to climb through the window. I only took out a table lamp when I fell in.

I immediately made my way to the door to unlock it for the medics to come in. I turned around and the lady was suddenly on me like white on rice, pulling me to the ground with her. Strong. As. Hell.

We had to hold her down while the medic started an IV. Have you ever tried to hold down an elderly lady? It was awful because her thin skin was tearing. But once the IV started she immediately came around. At first asking us to kill her. Then asking what happened. Then saying how embarrassed she was. 

Bless her heart, she was so sweet and so horrified. But we tried to make her feel better about it. We lied and told her she had just been “rolling around some”. I’m not sure she bought it.  
____________________________

One day we responded to a party having “difficulty breathing”. Lord have mercy. When we rolled up she was already coming out the door. And I couldn’t. stop. staring. 

She had very clearly gotten a face lift the day before. And when she woke up that morning…..holy shit!!!! Her face was green and yellow with infection and so swollen that the staples all around her face where ripping out. Her mouth was so taut that she could barely speak and I thought for sure the sides of her mouth would split all the way to her ears.

She was terrified. I was trying not to look terrified.

 She sat on the firetruck tailboard while we waited for the ambulance. It was so hard not to stare. She was trying to tell me something. I’m not sure what. It came out mostly as drool. Then she passed out.

I cried for her later that night. 

It. Was. Awful.

_____________________________

Lenovo Yoga Book

We finally cracked and bought our daughter her first real tablet, a Lenovo Yoga Book. She first had a Leap Pad. Then an Amazon Fire for kids. 

So far we are impressed with it. The keyboard can flip all the way backwards. It is also a touch screen keyboard that can be changed to a blank drawing pad with the touch of an icon. It is lightweight and has great screen quality. It runs on Android which I also love. 

She LOVES to draw. And for some reason she loves to draw anime. Not sure who’s kid she is, but I still love her. Ha! The Yoga Book comes with  what they call a “real pen”. It is used in a variety of ways including draw on a special pad of paper that transfers the image to the tablet screen. 

She has pestered us since she was 8 for a cell phone. What??? Crazy kid! Now that she has her Yoga Book she doesn’t say a word about a cell phone. She is able to use Google Hangouts through her email to talk to her friends….and I can see EVERYTHING. And I don’t have to pay for a phone line or data. WIN!!!

If you have a child who loves to draw or write, check out the link below and give the Lenovo Yoga Book a look. So far my daughter loves it. And Amazon Prime had it at our door in two days! 

Parenting win….so far…..