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!

Mama Chief advice

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I recently joined an organization called HERdacity, an affiliate of the nonprofit Anywhere Woman Project. HERdacity.org is an online platform that was built to bring women from all walks of life together. To inspire. To mentor. To empower.

I am not an extreme feminist. A wise woman I know, Gail Holcombe, gave me feedback for this blog. She said “Feminism  has been made extreme by folks who fear strong women”. You can be a feminist without making a scene. You “simply support women and girls in their growth”.

I feel there are places women and men don’t need to merge. After close to 20 years in the fire service, I’ve learned alot about men. We are not the same. And that should be embraced as a good thing. One thing I do believe is that women are in no way “inferior” to men.

I am what I consider an advocate for women. I feel like at this point in my life I have more than sufficient wisdom in certain areas pertaining to women. I still have a lot to learn myself but I want to help them find their courage and their voice. To change their mindset of inferiority.

I truly have incredible men in my life…my father, my husband, my brother. And I have been extremely fortunate in my career in regards to how I have been treated by the men I work with. But there is one specific incident that happened to me several months ago that triggered this need in me to aggressively begin helping women find their voice. I will blog about it later so stay tuned!

There was a post on HERdacity.org asking for advice that I felt compelled to respond to. A woman, who was the Director of Events and Marketing at a corporate office, was in a situation where her supervisor told her that she had to be at a function occurring over the weekend. Sounds like a reasonable request from a supervisor, doesn’t it, considering events are her job?

She had organized this function, had everything in place, and knew it needed no oversight. She had also worked several prior weekends in a row at larger functions and needed some time off. So when asked by her supervisor if she planned to be there, she stated she wasn’t because there was no need for her to be.

Her supervisor proceeded to tell her that, because it was going to be an event only men were attending and that men didn’t know how to make coffee, she would need to be there….TO MAKE THE COFFEE.  He then told tell her if she couldn’t attend she needed to get one of the other office ‘girls’ to be there.

WTF?????  I mean seriously….WTF?

So here was my ‘tactful’ advice to her. I hope she can find her voice.

“I give this advice as a woman who has been in the fire service for 20 years as a career firefighter.  So I am a little rough around the edges now. Haha! So take it or leave it. The fact that you are seeking advice shows you are smart.

I think this will depend on the how well you and your supervisor work together and if he has a history of this that you know of. Don’t get me wrong…this walks all over me if he wasn’t making a joke. But, you definitely did the best thing to begin with which is not pop off at the mouth or be defiant.

You have several options. Ask him if he was kidding.  Maybe he was and he thought you caught on to it. I deal with that daily. Haha.

Or don’t ask him if he was kidding, then don’t show up. You can tell him you “didn’t think he could possibly be serious considering how sexist the suggestion was”.

Ask another man in the office to go if there isn’t one going all ready.

Have a quick staff meeting on how to make coffee or just leave instructions.

Or, if he was serious and he is telling you to be there to make coffee,  find your voice. It doesn’t have to be loud to make an impact. Here are some suggestions of thing that you could say when approach him again..because you need to:

-Tell him it makes you uncomfortable to be referenced as a barista….or however you want to phrase it.

-Tell him it is an insult to the men. What man doesn’t know how to make coffee????

-Flat out tell him that he is being sexist and using you in a demeaning way.

I say all these with some silliness, but all silliness aside, pick one, make it your own, and go for it.

One thing is for sure….you are better than just making the coffee.

Good luck!”