All the same…change it

Sometimes you have to come to grips with the fact that things aren’t much different than before. It’s just a different version of hell.

“Things will be better”, my ass. All the same old crap with zero actual changes. Stagnant. Repeat. Same old shit.

I would be interested in see the turnover rate of women versus men in male dominated jobs.

Women don’t leave because they couldn’t do the job, they leave because they get sick of putting up with the bullshit.

Singled out. Treated like a child. Taunted. Belittled. Bullied.

Do you stay to prove a point? Or do you go so you can live your life happily?

You owe no one anything. Do what is best for YOU. The rest will fall in place. Stay. Go. It’s your choice.

Choose what makes you happy. Choose what doesn’t drain the life out of you.

No explanation necessary. No justification needed. No cares given about what others think.

Lost my shit

Well, it happened. I lost my shit on a call. Luckily I didn’t cuss anyone in particular out. But I was hot. And I had to leave before I punched someone in the throat. (Not really…well, maybe….)

I took a mother to see her dead child. And within a second of being able to touch her child she was ripped away by people who apparently thought that was best for her. 

If you found out your child had been killed in a car accident, arrived at the scene, and had to walk by where they lay under a sheet, would you want to see, touch, hold, kiss, your child while they were still warm?

Yeah. Me too. And to witness a mother being stripped of her right to do that absolutely did me in. 

No one should feel that they have the right to say what a person can and cannot see when their loved one is killed, even if it is traumatic. 

Just because you are too weak to assist them through that process doesn’t give you the right to deny them that time with their loved one. 

THE BAR

https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10155294793981939/

She nails it! Just be prepared, when you speak up not only for yourself but for those around, some of the “fools” might not like it. 

Some find they need to “put you in your place”. They won’t hesitate to use how you are as a woman to humilate you. And they won’t ever see how what they do impacts everyone around them. 

That is on THEM! NOT YOU. Don’t pretend to be anything other than what and who you are. If that is a totally feminine woman, so be it. If that is masculine qualities mixed with some femininity, so be it. If that is all male qualities in a female’s body, so be it. 

Does that mean that your way is always the right way? No. It doesn’t.

Does that mean you shouldn’t find ways to work around differences in a professional manner? No. It doesn’t. 

Does that mean you have no  responsiblity to learn how to work WITH men instead of against them? No it doesn’t. 

Offended as a woman right now? Wondering how I could say such things? Are you reading what I just said as “bowing down” to the man?

Let me set you straight. There is no “bowing down”. There is picking battles and learning when to compromise. There is a huge amount of learning. There is a lot of time focusing on self-awareness. 

It’s give and take, ladies. And your approach is crucial. And timing is everything. If you immediately go at it like “I’m a woman, hear me roar.”, you won’t get far. Trust me. I’ve seen it happen over and over. And I’ve tried it at the wrong time and totally failed. 

The approach that has worked best for me over the years is to be quiet at first. Now let me explain something, I say “over the years” because that’s how long it has taken. I’m now at a point where I’ve been around long enough that in most situations, I don’t give a shit. But I always take the same approach. 

Does that mean allow them to harrass, degrade, or embarrass you? Um, hell no. Stand up for yourself if needed. Being “quiet” doesn’t mean being submissive. 

And I am going to go ahead and throw this out there before you read any further…men are simple. We are complex. Do not expect every man to put forth the mental effort and energy as you do. Like I said before…it’s picking battles and compromising where needed. 

When you enter a new environment filled with men you don’t know well, don’t immediately start spilling  your guts about anything  and everything.

I’m not saying be meek and mild and don’t speak at all or don’t stand up if needed. I just mean be conservative with what you share at first. And in reality, you should be conservative with what you share at all times. Not everyone is your friend or can be trusted. This includes other women (an entirety different topic and blog subject!). 

Join the group. Join the pertinant conversations. Join in the work load. Do your best. Don’t skimp. Accept some help every now and then if you need it. And certainly offer help.

Always remember there will be times when YOU are wrong and YOU are being  a fool. Own it if you mess up. And own it before someone else throws it at you. Stronger people admit they have flaws. They are self-aware and they are always monitoring how the perform. They eventually surround themselves with others  who compliment them and succeed in areas they may be slacking. It’s called ” being a team”.

This doesn’t happen overnight, in the first week, on every project, in every situation. It has taken me years to get comfortable with where I am as a woman among men. And I still have plenty of trials and errors. 

It is in those times of trial and error when you will see who has your back and who doesn’t. There is a very distinct difference in being told you messed up or that you are wrong and being “put in your place” because you are a woman. 

Trust me. I know all too well what that is like. 

There has been a time recently that I almost let it break me. But with the love and support of my rock of a husband, family, friends, counseling, and some awesome guys I work with, I came out stronger than ever.

Life is too short to let “the bar” beat the shit out of you. So stand above the fools and their bar. 

It’s never a simple extrication: Part 1

The following are some vehicle wrecks my coworkers and I have encountered that make you go “Hmmmmm…..”. 

“That’s not good.”

“How are we going to get this done?” 

“How the hell did they manage that?” 

“We are going to be pushing the limits of this person’s golden hour.”

“This sucks.”

“How are they even alive?”

This vehicle was a good 500 feet off the interstate, down an embankment, into the woods, in the middle of the night, while it is pouring down rain. See the reflecting stripes of turnout coats? Not really, I know, but they are in there.

It got called in as a trapped driver in a burning vehicle. Luckily for this kid a good samaritan pulled him out of his truck before he burned up. And of course he couldn’t walk out thanks to a very broken femur. But, he lived.

This extrication was several years ago when I was a Captain on an engine company. And this picture was taken AFTER the guy was in route to the hospital.

At some point in the middle of the night, this poor fella drove off the free way Dukes of Hazard style and landed upside down in a retaining pond. Of course this retaining pond was next to a deadend road that led to a manufacturing business area. So no one saw him until the next morning.

He was upside down just feet away from drowning. We have no idea how long because he was unconscious when we cut him out. I have no idea if he lived.

Then there was this guy. Not quite sure what he was thinking or if he even was. For some reason he took a sharp right turn where the was no right turn. Fortunately only a rock wall sustained some injury. The driver was able to climb down the ladder with no problem.

On a somber note, this extrication turned into a body recovery. For some reason this couple decided to take a short cut through the college campus. They chose to take the stairs… literally. 

Unfortunately the bounce at the bottom flipped them and crushed the un-seatbelted driver. The passenger walked away unscathed. 

And finally, one of the people who keeps us safe on the roads got hit while he was parked on the side of the interstate. The box truck that hit him landed on it’s side and the DOT truck went for a ride down into a ravine. It took a minute for people calling 911 to realized the DOT truck was the one who had someone trapped in it. 

He was one of my buddies. Someone who I’ve worked with for 5 years. Someone who is always looking out for us. I am so thankful that he lived. Although his status for returning to work is unknown.
We never know what we are going to find when we pull up to any scene. Working on the fly and adapting and overcoming is imperative. I am fortunate to work with men and women who can do that.  

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. 

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!!!