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.

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. 

 

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.

Neighbor kids

Most blogs take me a day or two to finish thanks to my brain, my kids, and my life. But not today!!!

Is it wrong to despise some of the kid’s in your neighborhood?? I’m nice and I show some grace….until I’ve had enough. Which takes about 5 minutes. Then I talk to them pretty much like I do my own kids.

Like:

  • “What did you just say?”
  • “I didn’t ask for your opinion.”
  • “It’s time to shut your trap.”
  • “No one told you you could have that.”
  • What did I just tell you?” 
  • “You gonna act like a fool in here then you’re goin’ outside.”
  • “You’re only safe from the belt because you aren’t mine.” (I’ve never paddled mine with a belt, but the suggestion sure does work well) 
  • “Don’t make me start counting…”
  • “Nope. Not gonna happen. Hate it for ya”.
  • “Well then, see ya!”

And they just keep coming back. Usually at lunch or dinner time….or both. 

Am I the only parent with this problem?????

Turkey comas and dysfunction

Unbeknownst to us at the time this picture was taken, we had enough food to feed all the companies that respond on the 3rd alarm fire we had. We rotated crews to the station to eat a Thanksgiving meal.

Some days I absolutely amaze myself. They don’t happen often. As a matter of fact, it might only be once a month. The rest of the time I’m turning in circles wondering where to start.

This feeling reminds me of Thanksgiving Day 2017 when I found myself in the street looking at a 2nd alarm fire (it was only 2nd alarm at that moment). We had just finished our firehall Thanksgiving feast. I was making myself comfy on my couch when the tones hit. 

I’m not even sure how I got there. I was in a turkey coma and I just followed my firetrucks rolling out of the station. This day, I had to. I was so sleepy! Plus I didn’t hear the address. Ha!

I rarely lead the way to a call. In my opinion, the firetrucks need to roll in first. They are the most important and so is there placement. Some may say this is the wrong approach and that as a leader I should go in first. But I disagree in this situation. It took me a while to figure out my officers. To learn how they think. Learn how the respond to me. And I choose to LEAD from the back of the pack because I have faith in them.

It can be done. Pushing them forward. Letting them make decisions on their own and to take control. Hell, they are adults getting paid to make decisions. Most of my officers are seasoned and know what they are doing. They know their people the best. They and their drivers know the maximum abilities and limitations of their apparatus. Use that to your advantage.

They know I will make a decision.They know who is ultimately “in charge” (I don’t like that saying). They know when I say to do something a certain way then they need to do it because there is usually a reason. I don’t give out piddly orders just because I can. They also know that all responsibility falls on me if things goes wrong. And I have broad enough shoulders to take that. 

So back to Thanksgiving….

This is what we refer to as the fire “gettin’ it”. 

As I rounded the corner and said “Oh Shit” at the amount of flames literally roaring out the windows, I didn’t bother to look at any street sign. Genius. This building was a block long. In order to do a 360 I had to speed walk pretty far. (For those who know me, picture that in your head. Haha!). 

 While trying to direct incoming firetrucks to where they needed to go, I found myself a block down the road turning circles…. literally. I had no clue what street I was standing on. This moment later became the only way I could describe to a counselor and my psychiatrist, how I felt. Perfect analogy.

Just in case you need one I’m going to insert this here…

www.riverviewpsychiatry.com

Most supervisors will have very similar moments (turning in circles). And they won’t tell a soul. But me?? I think it’s funny. I can laugh at myself. I’m me and I’m not perfect. Do I often say “I’m not perfect”? Yes. Do I admit when I mess up? Yes. Do I share my story about literally turning in circles in the street? Yes, obviously I do. 

I posted on Facebook and in a recent blog about pulling into the driveway and thinking the newspaper was a cat. I had someone comment “I can’t believe you would post that.” 

Well why not? A huge part of fire service in EGO. And ego, in my opinion, holds us back. Ego tells us we are all knowing, we are perfect, our way is the only way. And that just simply isn’t true. Ego tells us that those we supervise are literally beneath us. That definitely isn’t true.

Our people are assets. Treating them as such gets you further. Letting them know that you aren’t perfect too isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s just simply a way to communicate with your people. Letting them know that despite wanting things to go perfectly, they won’t. And you know that from experience.  


a 360- the term we use in the fire service to describe walking around the entire structure (360°) involved in fire in order to see everything, such as fire extent, exposures, potential hazards or suppression hindrance.

The real me….Volume 1

​So when I pulled in the driveway last night I saw a cat laying there on the edge of the asphalt. I noticed the poor thing didn’t move even when my headlights hit it. So I pulled up the driveway and parked. Cat hadn’t budged. How strange! So I got out sayin’ “hey sweet kitty”. I figured it was sick or injured.

Nope. It’s was the newspaper.

_____________________________

I’m the size of a man. I own multiple guns. I’m certified as a cop and would defend one in a heart beat. I’ve arrest complete psycho (arsonist are CRAZY!!!) I’ve run into burning buildings so many times I lost count. I even pulled a 4 year old out of one. Heck, I even own a snake! 

But my co-worker, Telly, has unintentionly startled me 463 times and at least 7 of those times I may have wet my pant.

_____________________________

When I was the Captain on an engine company we we’re responding to some sort of fire alarm. As we approached one of the bridges that crosses the river, I saw a guy hanging off the side of it.

I pointed him out and while my crew was desperately trying to find where I was pointing I reached for the radio to call for our platform truck to respond. Where the guy was clinging to the side of the bridge was still over land and it was reachable with the platform. My plan was perfect.

Except for the fact that he was just a shadow.

_____________________________

Back in 2012, the fire department got a new knock-on system. For those unaware, that is what we call the lights and tones that come on in the firehall to alert us of a call. 

This new system was shocking to say the least and hard to get used to. Your heart ended up in your throat when it went off.

My bunk in the firehall was a room big enough for a twin bed and small table. It also had a small bathroom with a small corner shower.

Shortly after we got that damn system, it went off in the middle of the night. I shot out of my bed in a panic and ended up in the shower yelling “How do I get out of here???!!!

_____________________________

Back in college my friend and I were at the gym on treadmills next to each other. At some point  I looked at her to talk and my foot came off the side of the belt. I stumbled off the side but stayed upright. No big deal.

Until I immediately put one foot back on the treadmill….that was still moving. That time I landed on my face and burned the crap out of my legs on the moving belt. 

_____________________________

On a fire scene one time, out of the corner of my eye, I thought a ditch full of water with grass clippings floating on it was solid ground. I stepped over a supply line right into the ditch. Upper thigh deep. Turned my ankle. 

Just call me “Grace”. 

Make a decision

This cracks me up every time I read it!

www.powerofpositivity.com

I just got a phone call from one of my officers telling me that they had been dispatched to go sit at a private company and babysit two propane tanks while the fumes were burned off. 8 hours for each tank . 

Um…No. The officer knew he needed to run it by me. I, on the other hand, don’t have to run it by anybody. They pay me to make those type of decisions. So my response was…”Tell them I said “no” and that I said we don’t do that. They can call and hire a private company for that.” I know my officer is tactful and I knew he could handle the situation. But just in case, I added, “If they give you any trouble let me know. I’ll head that way.”

Know your people. Trust them, if they have earned it. Have their backs.  Even when they make a decision that isn’t the best choice. Back them for at least making a decision. Remember it could ALWAYS be YOU making the bad decision.

On with the story….I made a decision. I didn’t call and ask someone above me what I should do. I didn’t run my decision by anyone. I didn’t ask permission to say “no”. I just made a decision. 

It took all of 1 minute to make. We are EMERGENCY responders. Standing by for a burn-off isn’t an emergency. Now if it exploded then we would respond as the emergency responders that we are.

 Plus it is hot as hell outside. How miserable!! And boring!! We have training to do. Calls to run. Equipment to maintain. I can’t make my people sit in a running firetruck for 16 hours. 

Could I justify 16 hours of burning diesel at the taxpayer’s expense? AND at the expense of their safety? What if a house caught on fire and the closest firetruck was sitting there babysitting a tank? Nope. Not gonna happen. 

Unless…that company decides to call my boss. Then things could get flipped on me. You never know who might want to do favors for who. But my decision stands and I won’t back down. Won’t be the first and definitely not the last time. And because I’ve had my co-workers back time and time again, they have had mine. 

That’s how it is supposed to work.

I don’t care if it’s a multi-million dollar company. I don’t care who’s connected to who. My people are worth more to me than that. And so are the citizens of our city. 

Redneck slip-n-slide

Soooo….. I’m somewhat of  a cheap-ass. I rather DIY most of the time. When it comes to entertaining the kids it’s no different. The cheaper the better. One of their favorite “it’s hot as hell outside”entertainments is the redneck slip-n-slide.

To be truly honest I’ve grown somewhat of a social phobia. (Something else I’ll blog about more in the future.) So the more we do at home or somewhere that doesn’t include a crowd of assholes, the better for my sanity.

One day I went and bought some “waterslides” from “Wal-Maddening” to use in our front yard. To say I was disappointed when I got them out and set up is an understatement. Those damn things didn’t look like they were portraited on the stupid box. Reminded me of a nasty McDoo-Doo hamburger. That crap never looks like it does in their commercials!! That day I said “never again”. And that is when the redneck slip-n-slide became a summer staple at our house.

One thing you should always be able to find on any firetruck is a tarp. We use tarps for a variety of things. Mainly for what we call salvaging….where we cover people’s stuff to reduce water and smoke damage. They are also used when we stage important equipment for rescue operations. Sometimes they are used to make water chutes to divert water.

*The following pics show off a damn good water chute put together by one of my crews on a fire scene. Photo credit goes to Capt W.*

Water chute made by one of my crews to divert water and protect property.

Two pike poles with a huge tarp used to divert water leaking from the floor above.

At our home, tarps are basically used for slip-n-slide and grass killing. Tarps, stakes, a water hose, and some dish soap….BOOM! Hours of entertainment for all the neighborhood kids. The type of entertainment where the adults just take about 15 minutes to set it up and then get a few hours of freedom to drink beer or something…more than one, two, or ten days in a row.

This is the first year I went and bought new tarps and a sprinkler. In years past I just used a knozzle on the hose and set it to where there was just enough pressure to whip it back and forth across the tarp.

I got this awesome sprinkler from Home Depot. It is stationary and has a bunch of water spray patterns. 

Do you have some random items that you seem to have an abundance of? Something that you aren’t sure #1 where they came from and #2 what the heck they are for? Well, I have a supply metal stakes that I have no clue where they came from. Somehow I had about 4 different packs. Perfect for the redneck slip-n-slide!
So here you go….the redneck slip-n-slide.

#1 Find a place that has decent padding. Anywhere with rocky terrain,concrete, or some like traffic is probably NOT a good spot.

#2 Somewhere with an incline is preferable. Anywhere with over about an, ehhh, 86° angle would probably be frowned upon. If you aren’t sure..here is a pic of angles as a reference….

#3 Use some stakes to tack down the first tarp that will be the top of the slide. I’ve been told that running space is necessary to obtain maximum speed…so plan accordingly.

#4 Tuck and tack any other tarp under the one before it….meaning overlap them with the one above being on top. If you don’t understand, sorry. I just confused myself. But I have total confidence that you will figure it out.

#5 Hook up a continuous water supply. No water = tarp burn. 

#6 Throw a bottle of soap out there for them to use. Dollar Store stuff works just fine.

#7 Enjoy some free time to drink some beer or take a nap or whatever.

So there you have it. The redneck slip-n-slide. Hours of unmonitored fun. You’re welcome.

No care given

(This quote is fresh and based on what I was typing just now. I’m cracking myself up with these stupid things. So at least one of us thinks it’s funny. Haha!)

 The past few of weeks I’ve managed to piss off a couple of co-workers, the entire DA’s Cold Case Unit, a judge, some random court officers, and countless civilians. And I haven’t looked back with regret or shame. 

I have gotten pretty good at pissing people off just by speaking the truth with zero sugar-coating…or “confection”. Haha! Get it?? (If not, then Google the word!) I still find tact to be important. But  sugar-coating is stupid.

I’ve been around long enough to not give a damn about saying what I think. Some of it is my battle with apathy. Most of it though is age and experience. BUT I must say, I usually only speak out on things I am confident about and I feel are important. 

You probably won’t find me poppin’ off about stuff I don’t know or stuff that doesn’t mean shit in the scheme of things. (That’s my “positive”, Beth. Ha!)

Pet-peeve: A know-it-all you doesn’t have their facts straight. 

I strive NOT to be that person. And I strive to surround myself with co-workers and friends who feel the same as I do.

 Tact and fact only, please.