Let The Games Begin…


And so it begins again. Tomorrow is the first day of school here where I live and I will be working again, but in a more random capacity. I’ve worked there all summer, helping wherever I was needed. It was fun actually: with the halls quiet and peaceful.

But tomorrow they will be filled with the excited (and loud) voices of our returning students and the nervous, tiny Kindergarten kids. Lucky for them we will all be there to help them all handle the first day and rein in their jitters.

There are some new teachers this year too–including a man! Whoop whoop. That place needs a balance of testosterone if you ask me, so it will be interesting to see how the kids feel about him. And there is an older (like me) new long-term sub also, which I am happy to see.

All in all, it will be an interesting year. No more full-time lunchroom duty for me! Hooray!! And I also offered to sub in the classrooms, which could turn out to be a total disaster, but we’ll give it a try. Mostly, I actually enjoy the administrative, boring stuff. It’s funny because the teachers keep telling me I’m a hero for helping them laminate, staple and collate. And I think to myself: from saving lives as a paramedic to saving these teachers… hmmm?

They assure me they would have a heart attack without me. But….

I’m not so sure.

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Poem: The Chase


You passed again today

through my wandering mind

your dusty shadow

shimmering in the graying light

I followed among the scattered leaves

that blow with whispers

so near the winds of thought

and wonder where you lead

Yet there is a ray of simmering light

amidst the darkened hollow

that echos in my brain

A day will come

when you shall stop

and slowly turn around

And in this precious moment

my eyes will finally learn

who hides behind the chase

 

Poem : Adventure


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Like an epic hero
Facing out into the flat edge of the sea
Or one who takes flight upon whittled wings

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We may venture unknowingly forward
Towards arcane adventure
While others just judge

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But it is a deeper word
That we may hear
One whispered not in the ear
That  vital thrum heard louder
As uncertain steps slide on

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So fear not the dark unknowing
Or the icy glare of others
For if not for those who who braved
All the fearsome lonely deeds of past

Still trapped in silent solitude
We’d be

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Baby Steps


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Maybe today dawns bright and hopeful, whether or not it’s raining where you live. So often our days are filled with news that is brimming with despair and gloom making it hard for any of us to feel there is reason to move towards any kind of joyful tomorrow.

But for me two rather monumental things took place recently. Two things that show maybe, just maybe we have can have a reason for small glimmering hope. It may only be like a thing that is crouched in a small corner, hiding in the darkness, fearful to show itself in the full light. Afraid that if it does, it will be recognized and laughed back into its anonymous place. Yet, it’s there, and it’s creeping out….

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There are those, though, in this world of ours that do great work! Those that fight against the despair. These warriors battle for the future, our future and all the injustices and crimes against the planet so that we may go on.

It’s to those, that I dedicate this blog post. They are our heroes.

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Recently, many nations met at the  2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. It was an incredible and, in my opinion, unprecedented conference to come up with concrete goals to combat climate change and all the horrors that come with it. Most of the Big Players were there, which is huge! Finally! The world is paying attention to something that can truly end our planet. Read about it here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_United_Nations_Climate_Change_Conference

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Another giant step forward for humankind was that this was the first time that Saudi Arabia allowed WOMEN to run for office and vote! Quoting NPR: “Today, the government announced that several of the 979 women who ran had been elected to the council.” Also 130,000 registered (which isn’t a lot, but it’s a start). For a country that has been decidedly sexist against women for decades, this is truly hopeful!

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So, I see this as progress in an otherwise bleak forecast. Baby steps these may be in the vast amount of work there is yet to do in the damage we create and the inequity that exists, but at least it’s forward movement.

With this year rapidly coming to a close, maybe we can each evaluate our own lives and say: how can I take up the battle cry and head to the front line? I know I am going to try.

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Finding Heroes


beech tree1As I was done with my morning routine today and was leaving my sacred space, I spotted of photo a friend had given me. It was of the two of us someone had taken on a past holiday. The photo made me sad because we don’t talk much any longer as the way of friends–sometimes good friends.

But it gave me pause and made me think about the nature of relationships. How we pick our friends, who or why do we tend to attach to or look up to in a person? Is part of it that they become someone we admire? And do they, in some way, become our heroes?

For me, this is most certainly true, not just with friends, but with people in general I may admire. In my lifetime though, there are some special people who I can think of that are truly heroes in my eyes. And not for the reasons one might think…

While it’s true that I am in the emergency service business, one would most likely think I come across these people every day. But these aren’t really the people I am talking about. Honestly, we are trained to do a job and I personally cannot stand when someone calls me a hero. I am not in that sense of the word to which I am referring.

It’s the everyday person, that has no intention of doing something amazing, good, kind, brave or honest that raises them in my eyes to this special status. The folks that go beyond their limits, or the average person’s limits for someone else or even what they thought they could do.  And it’s not their ‘job’ to be a hero. These are truly the stand-outs.

To name a few:

The friend who extricated herself and her child from an abusive marriage after 10 years of isolation and fear. She did it alone with guts and with no knowledge of what would happen to her and her child, no money–barely any hope. Just a leap of faith and a knowing it was what she needed to do.

A friend who was fired after many years of being the Chief of an ambulance service. A woman who gave her heart and soul to the place, but was turned on by petty politics of small town. She only took one day to cry, then pulled herself together and found another job: as a grunt paramedic–and loved it; continued to serve the public she always had with dignity and professionalism.

My Mom, who after years and years, could finally admit that our relationship was less than it could be and agreed to make it right with me. This is not easy for someone her age and generation.

And my oldest daughter, who had struggled with drug addiction, but has been clean for years. She kicked it on her own and now has graduated with honors from college, has a wonderful job and is doing beautifully. She fought demons and won.

One who had turned her young life of living with alcohol into a healthy life of gardens and good food, and then found herself facing cancer. But she has battled it bravely and honestly, doing it her way despite the paths of others. She now has a new body and continues to come up against new struggles at each corner, but she is undaunted and doesn’t complain, continuing to honor and love life.

Another dear friend who grew up amidst sexual abuse but never gave up her struggle to be whole and free. Always kind and loving, never letting her inner suffering turn outward onto others; instead her love is always felt by those around her and we are always grateful.

Of course, the countless reporters that put themselves at risk doing stories in violent places when they could just as easily could be here at home; or the medical people who go to help in countries where people have diseases like Ebola; or teachers or workers that go to places to help at their own discomfort; or the dreamers, scientists, philosophers, musicians, artists or anyone that steps outside themselves or comfort level for someone else’s benefit. It’s hard to pick them out with the news filled with pain and suffering, but these heroes exist among us!

And finally, this may sound selfish or lame, but slowly I am unearthing the hero buried deep within myself. She has laid dormant but is starting to awaken. She is the person that wants to be on the edge of human need, face her dragons head on banish them, face every day with joy and courage and try to love a part of each human she meets. This may be the true test of a real hero!

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Hero


What makes someone a hero? There have been times I have been called a hero. In my line of work being a paramedic, someone may come up to me during a parade and say this to me.  I always shrink at this label! Never, ever have I felt like a hero. Maybe because my concept of what a hero is may be different from theirs. Maybe because I feel what I do is my job. Maybe because I read about real heroes in the paper every day and know, that so far, what I do every day doesn’t compare.

Like today, in my local paper, I read again about a local family that just lost their home and entire contents in a house fire. But worse than  that, two lives were lost. One was a 24-year-old man, the other a 24 month old baby. In a distant way, I feel connected to the family as my first ambulance Chief is related to this family and the first service I worked for serves this town. The entire town is in mourning.

I read today how the Fire Marshall’s office believe the adult died. There were other adults in the house who got out, some of whom are still hospitalized. So I’m sure the unfolding investigation includes eye-witness accounts. This adult was already out of the house when he learned the baby was still inside. He went back in to save him. Hero? To me, this is the definition of a true hero.

And the accounts of the teacher during the Sandy Hook shooting that was found on top of her students. Her body protecting the little ones. Another hero laying down her life in the hopes of saving those with years ahead of them. She was young too. Or the principal and the others that charged the shooter. Some may feel they were stupid for doing such a thing. Were they? Or was it an instinctual reaction to save and protect those who could not defend themselves?

I’ve often wondered would I be so brave? If the time came to put myself in harm’s way to save someone else–would I do it? When my time came to really BE a hero, would I? Would I pull someone from a burning car, defend someone being hurt, protect an animal? I can only say I hope I would.

It is true that we in the emergency field are taught to think these types of emergencies through so we don’t get killed. “Scene safety” is the first thing we are taught. If we die, then no-one gets saved. One would like to think being a hero would include everyone coming out alive. But if push came to shove and there was no time to make all the right moves, then I hope I do the right thing whatever it took.

And until that time comes, if it ever does, I honor all the unsung heroes. The people who we don’t read about in the papers. The people who defend the honor of someone, that stop a bully, that step in if they see violence instead of looking the other way, that speak up even if it’s within one’s own family. These are our every day heroes and in a world that gets scarier, more violent and less friendly I would like to think that there are still decent people out there that have capes hidden under their coats.

Fallen Hero: Fragility of Life


I am reminded of the fragility of life today as I am preparing for the funeral of a local Fire Chief. He suffered a heart attack while in the line of duty. It happens all the time to fire fighters. We think they die in fires, but this usually is not the case. More often than not they die of massive heart attacks or responding to calls.

In my careers, both as a paramedic and in the past as a medical examiner, I’ve been touched so often by how quickly our lives can change. In an instant everything is different. The truck that is just around the corner coming at you, that blood vessel in your brain ready to burst, that last bit of plaque ready to lodge in your heart vessel. And your life forever changed–yours and your family.

Did they say they loved you? Were they mad in the morning before you left? Did they kiss you and did you kiss the kids? This is what they will be thinking if you never come home. I’ve seen it in their eyes as we roll the stretcher into the hospital doing CPR. Or have to go to the home once they know their loved one has really died: that look. The ultimate sadness, the shock, the disbelief that this person is truly gone. And they never got to say goodbye, or I”m sorry, or I love you one more time.

I’ve had to tell them: yes, they are dead. Yes, it was quick and painless. Yes, we did everything we could. No it wasn’t your fault. I’ve had to hug them or just leave them alone. I’ve seen young ones leave their parents behind and adult children who have cared for their elderly parents. It doesn’t matter. It’s painful for the ones left behind no matter what. Babies are the worst though. And children. Parents should never bury their children. But they do. And then they try to go on.

So is it really worth getting upset that you can’t find your keys? Or that it’s raining again? Or that we had a bad winter? Or that you don’t have the TV you want? Or even that your house burned down if you all got out safe and sound? It’s really about who you love and making sure that every day you let them know. Because you never know when you might not be able to say it ever again.

And thanks to all our heroes who purposely chase that fateful moment every day.