Trying something new

One day I took the kids to find something to pass the time other than some sort of electronics. We ended up at our favorite store, Dollar General.

I should buy stock in DG because I would then be giving myself a ton of money.

Anyways…We stumbled on the craft section and found some Art Skills products. We grabbed some artist pads and a charcoal and graphite pencil set and went on.

Well guess who never used their new art supplies? My kids.

We went camping for their fall break and I decided to break those bad boys out and give it a shot.

This is what I came up with.

I’ve always been drawn to “depression” art. It may seem dark, but to me it is enlightening. It reminds me to go outside and sit in the sunshine.

The first is the original. And the second is using some fancy filter that I thought looked cool. Don’t ask me which one it was though.

Free Range fear

I’ve heard and read so much criticism about different styles of parenting. It seems that everyone is an expert in how others should do things.

I’m not an expert in anything, but I sure don’t mind saying my take on all the drama.

Listen ladies (because that’s who it is…other fucking mom’s), get over yourselves. Trust me….I’m not paying a bit of attention to what you do and how you do it with the kids God gave YOU to raise. As a matter of fact, I don’t care.

Our daughter is strong and independent. There is nothing I can do and not truly much I can control about it. Because God made her that way and gave her to US to raise.

Hover, hamper, deny…it still happens around here. Just ask my daughter. But I refuse to stifle her spirit just because I’m terrified.

And let me tell you something…. I’M FUCKING TERRIFIED. I know a hell of a lot more about what’s going on in this world than most, but still no where near as much as others. And let me tell you….if you knew and you are as tight as you are now, you would literally be petrify. Just a few recent examples:

Pulse Night Club shooting:

Intended Target was Disney Springs. No doubt about it.

Fallen Five:

There is a terrorist compound in our very city. No doubt about it.

I could go on and on.

I’ve been asked in round about ways if I would be upset if something happened to my child. Um….”You’re an idiot and a bitch.”, has been what I want to say.

But instead I responded, “My daughter is a gift from God. He gave her to her father and I to raise as a team. And as a team with both know that life is going to kick her in the gut more than once. And we will be there for that.

We know that life isn’t fair. God didn’t make it that way. It just is. Let’s just call it the devil. She could be gone at any second. In whatever way we both fear. But that does not give us the right as her parents to stifle her.

To overprotect her from things that, in the scheme of things, probably won’t be what sends her to Heaven.

And to think for a second that I/we don’t worry our asses off is ridiculous. THAT’S WHY GOD GAVE HER TO US. To worry FOR her. To let her live within reasonable boundaries to become a well-rounded, high-functioning, human being that will go on to do great things.

Great things doesn’t have to be tons of money or fame. It only has to be to touch a person’s life for the better, even if just one person.

Is she fearless? Nope. But that’s what we are here for. To calm and rationalize that fear. We are also here to tell her she BETTER be scared of certain things. Because life is a bitch!

Because I don’t hamper my child and force her to do or not do what I think is best for her doesn’t mean I don’t care as much as someone who does hamper. It doesn’t mean I will be less destroyed if we no longer have a her.

I’d probably end up in jail. We’d all go as a family. Her dad and brothers and I. Because I would lose my shit worse than it is already lost.

You can only control so much. Anything else is forced. And, in my non-professional opinion, forced is only going to make your child weak-minded. If you make all the decisions for them, they won’t be able do shit when a big decision comes along. They will cower.

I want a strong-willed, larger than life, child. And so far as have we one. I freak out every single day when I think of all that could happen to her. But I refuse to let MY fear disrupt her path.

Don’t be a helicopter parent. Own your own fear. Because that is what it is…YOUR fear.

Step up and take on you children’s fear. That is what parenting is all about. Be realistic. But don’t be a pansy.

Just ask my mom and dad.

Define.

This time of year is so draining. I’d like to say it’s just the heat, but it’s not.

It’s the heart. It’s the mind. Its the profound memories. It’s the things you have no control over. The insights.

Certain times of years remind you of what you lost and/or what you let go of. Things happen that open your eyes wider so you see truth. Moments and truths that give you “ah ha’s”, “duh’s”, and “well, shit’s”. Things that are said or done that define for you….

Define courage.

Define wisdom.

Define adaptability.

Define love.

Define family and friendship.

But remember and be open to the fact that they can define the lack of each just as quickly. Sometimes louder.

You begin to see things for what they are worth. Sometimes what you thought was worth something turns out to be worthless. And that can change you.

Let those worthless things go. Let any change be for a better you.

Stick to the worthwhile things that are defined…

The worthwhile love. The worthwhile family and friendships.

Stick with those who are courageous, wise, and adaptable.

And make any changes you need to be courageous, wise, and adaptable yourself.

A worthwhile you.

Letters of shame

Not too long ago I was informed that I had a crew that was “deficient” in a subject matter. I was taken by surprise with this. But then again I wasn’t. That might make sense to you if you know me, or it might not.

Anyways…over the years I have honed in on the skill of finding out all sides of a story before popping off at the mouth.

Note I said “honed in”….not “mastered”. Ha! I’ve lost my shit and been wrong. I’ve eaten several “I apologize” in my time. I’ve probably apologized more for crap I didn’t do than anything else. But that’s the game. (That’s another blog for after retirement…when I can unleash. Hahaha!)

So I’m told how they don’t know basic information. How not knowing this information could get people killed. A couple of examples were given that made it sound like the “defiency” in this one crew could have killed us all…. although the crew had no part in the decision making of either example. I did.

I read it, and stored it for a later day. Why? When you engage in your employees, you get to know them, and you pay attention to how they act in certain situations, you can usually grasp whether accusations are true, somewhat true/somewhat false, or false. I already had a sense of what was true and what was false.

When dealing with complaints, be sure and take in all factors for BOTH the accused and the accuser….who, what, where, when, how, why. In this case I did just that. And I then felt the need to roll my eyes. (Saying that will probably get me a write up….or I’ll have to apologize. Hahaha! You know as well as I do that people will read this and twist it.)

I finally got around to speaking with my crew. It was a basic training session to go over stuff that we rarely deal with. My guys were rusty. They admit that. That’s a truth.

Another truth while I mentioned it… They were no where near as rusty as their boss’s boss…aka ME. Hell, when I read what they had been asked I couldn’t have rattle the answers off either. And don’t even ask me what I thought the piece of equipment they were referring to was used for…..

The issue boiled down to this…..when he was asked a question he couldn’t remember right off the bat. Didn’t rattle anything off fast enough. Didn’t have information memorized that we get from a resource we carry all the time….a reference book.

So what happens next? The instructor immediately acts like an asshole about it…in front of everyone. Well, when you pop off like an asshole, chances are the person you are belittling in front of other people will immediately shut you out.

Whether they pop back off at you, they decide to walk off, they get upset, they report your behavior, or they just shut down and don’t talk anymore, they are shutting you and your “instruction”, your “knowledge”, your “authority” out.

And that’s what happened.

Approach is everything. Lack of tact and too much ego aren’t skills I ever remember hearing about being effective. Especially not in this day and age.

You just look like an egotistical asshole. And once that happens, it is hard to get your credibility back. I speak from experience. I’ve been that asshole.

Contrast

The contrast from one event to another is very interesting in the first responder world. I feel it has a huge part to do with acute stress that first responders build. This is just one example of the 1000’s I’ve had. It was the latest. I would love to hear others from any first responders.

Last shift I worked was the final night of a major festival in our city that occurs in the district I am responsible for. The last night of this festival includes a huge fireworks display.

I have some freedom in the position I have so I met my family at a location near the festival to watch the fireworks. I stopped for ice cream for my children on the way. I made it about 10 minutes with them before a vehicle accident with entrapment came across the radio. Being the closest Battalion Chief, I responded to assist.

The only patient was the passenger in a large truck. His wife was driving and their young son was in the back seat. They were hit head on by an alleged drunk driver. Another car had been following the swerving vehicle for a few miles. From what I was told, he was calling the police to report him. Then BAM…during his efforts to protect, the vehicle hits a family head on. Imagine what he felt seeing that.

The victim was very critical and unresponsive. He was what we call a “load and go” due to his condition. He was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.

While he was being loaded into the ambulance, his wife and son we’re watching. His mother had been contacted and came to the scene. When she saw him she immediately went into shock and became another patient.

When the incident was taken care of I left and drove right straight to where my family was. My husband and 2 children. We got to listen to some great music and watch an incredible fireworks display together.

In a matter of 30 minutes, I went from a scene of broken and twisted metal, a broken body, and a broken life to ice cream, music, and fireworks.

The contrast.

Men and Microwaves

I’m pretty sure that among the majority of men there are standard procedures for certain things.

One of those things are microwaves.

I can’t remember one time in my 20+ years in the fire service that I didn’t have to reset a microwave before I could use it.

3 seconds left…..

It’s time to get real with my out-of-shape ass, UPDATE…

So this is happening. Lord help me. The Sunny Indoor Cycle Bike. With Amazon Prime it will be here in 2 days.

I’ll let you know if I even survive even putting it together. Ha!

Update…It’s here!! I am still amazed by Amazon Prime every time I use it. A cycling bike shipped in 2 days??? You better believe it! And a HUGE shout out to UPS and USPS for busting their butts getting stuff to the doorstep!

I thought for sure it would be a cuss-fest trying to put it together. But as you can see, #1 my awesome husband tackled it and #2 it came pretty much put together. What you see above is how it came. It only took him about 30 minutes.

I have always been hesitant to buy one of these. I figured it would #1 cost an arm and a leg and #2 the bike would turn into a clothing rack.

But I was super happy with the price. Amazon has financing as well if you want smaller payments. I use Amazon so much that I had a ton of “rewards” AKA dollars to use towards it.

A while back I gave up going to an awesome place… CrossFit Hixson. www.crossfithixson.com I wasn’t able to make it to the scheduled WODs due to our funky life schedule. I truly miss it because of the people and the awesome lessons I learned about myself, my body, and my body image.

Because of our schedule I bought myself a barbell and some weights to use at the house. Another Amazon Prime, got it all in 2 days purchase!

As much as I love dynamic exercise and lifting, I desperately needed to add cardio. Well, anyone who knows me knows that my left ankle has always been a hot mess. And then a week ago I turned my right ankle for the first time. Anyone with ankle issues knows that it’s over for that ankle too. Ha!

And anyone who knows me well knows I only run from cops and bears, because, running is stupid. Hence the spin bike.

So now I’ve got to add my mental health portion…

Somehow I’ve gotten to this place where I’m ready to get back to my old self. The one that took care of her physical self. The one that took time to enjoy her hobbies. The one who found joy in so many things.

That person was gone for a long time thanks to one homegrown terrorist asshole. Or at least that was the tipping point.

So if you think you can’t or you will never be ready, give yourself a break. But at the same time, get up every day, eat something, take a shower, and put one foot in front of the other. Eventually those footsteps won’t be so damn heavy.

And if you even need a neutral ear, I’m here. Sometime a stranger can listen better than anyone. I have a Master’s degree in Counseling, so I understand confidentiality 100%. I’m not license but I can still listen. And that may be all you need to get steppin’. Just send me a message through my email, fieryandflawed@gmail.com.

Thanks for stopping by!

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D@#n mulch bags

Mulching can be a total bitch. Especially if you have a ton of bags. This is common knowledge.

So when I decided to mulch the entire area of my garden, I knew I would be cussing quite a bit. This is because I despise carrying and shaking the big ass bag.

I always end up with a big pile, then a trail, then another pile, then sprinkles of mulch, and then I have to try and get the rest out of the bottom of the bag.

So I tried something and mulching went so much easier. Now I don’t dread the 12 other bags I have waiting on me.

I’m sure master gardeners and landscapers have plenty of hacks and easier ways to lay mulch. But I’m neither of those.

So this is for those who piddle with gardening, have little to no expertise, and hate laying mulch.

Lay the bag flat. Cut across the top of the bag in the middle.

Make sure and cut the sides too.

Simply put your hands under the bag where you cut it, and lift straight up.

Then just the bottom of the bag.

BOOM! Now you have 2 smaller bags. Easier to move. Easier to spread. Less cursing.

Happy gardening.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mosquitoes

I posted this blog last year and feel that it is one that should be shared every time it gets warm and the flying assholes emerge.

Mosquitoes love me. Especially the pterodactyl kind. Every summer for the past several years has been miserable. I even said “forget it” to gardening, something I love, thanks to those blood suckers.

I’m serious people. The mosquitoes in our yard are like….carry-your-kid-off huge, Pterodactyls…..

#jurassicworld

Around March of this year I decided that I should finally follow my mother’s advice (it’s only taken about 42 years). She’s always said to take B vitamins every day for stress and jaw-clenching… something I was experiencing.

I noticed a difference in the jaw-clenching immediately. Stress is an overwhelming thing if you don’t get it under control. Everyone has different ways of doing that. I added the Stress B Complex to my stress-reducing methods and am thankful I did. Little did I know it had an extra benefit.

That benefit: Being less attractive to mosquitoes. I continued taking Stress B-Complex once a day. When May rolled around and it was gorgeous outside I decided to take a chance and do some yard work. I thought for sure I wouldn’t last 10 minutes.

I spent hours outside and never got a single mosquito bite. None. Zero. I knew those suckers were there. I saw them…. remember, ours are pterodactyl size. They even landed on me!

In the back of my mind I was curious how it was possible I wasn’t getting bitten but at the same time didn’t put much thought into it as long as they weren’t biting the life out of me.

Then one day, scrolling through Facebook, I saw an article about vitamin B-1 and how it deters mosquitoes. You know how you read a gazillion ‘cure’, ‘DIY’, ‘the answer to all your problems’, posts that are garbage? Well this one wasn’t. I had tested out the theory before I even knew about it.

So…. B-Complex is now a daily thing. For me and my kids. I get the kids some multi-vitamin gummies with B vitamin in them. They seem to work so far.

Warning though…..B-Vitamins stink. Like, don’t carry them in your purse even in the bottle because your child might tell you your purse smells like a butt. They should also be taken close to meal or snack time. If not you may get a little burpy.

Here are some links to the products I buy off of Amazon.com. Easy Peasy!

For me:

Nature Made Stress B Complex with Zinc Tablets, 75 Count

For the kids:

Sundown Naturals Kids Star Wars Complete Multivitamin, 60

Cheapest mosquito preventative EVER!!

One more product I will throw in here for pets:

If you are looking for a GREAT flea and tick collar for your dog or cat check out what we use, Seresto, in the link below. 8 months of protection!!

I love the convenience of Amazon, especially Amazon Prime! It is worth not having to go into a stinky pet store.

Seresto Collar Dog Large 70 cm by Seresto

I’m not too far off

Everytime I post about leadership, I wonder if I sound like a complete idiot. Sharing how I feel I try to manage things isn’t easy. What if I’ve got it totally wrong? When if the people I work with really just hate my guts? I will just sound like a fool.

 I know I’m not a perfect leader and I don’t meet all the best qualities like I should. But I don’t think any of us do.

One thing I know for certain is that the only way to become better at ANYTHING you do, is to first be open to the fact that there may be a better way.

As I scroll through Google and read leadership articles I begin to realize that my style isn’t so bad. I also read things that stand out to me…things I need to improve on…things I need to try. Self awareness is the key to doing just that. 

The following article from Fire Rescue Magazine lays out some key characteristics for successful leadership. Do you possess any of these? 

http://www.firerescuemagazine.com/articles/print/volume-4/issue-5/command-leadership/key-characteristics-of-successful-leaders.html