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

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!

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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???!!!

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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. 

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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”.