I don't like to slow down

I was studying at SBUX before the holidays, and an acquaintance stopped to say hi. After the pleasantries, they asked what I had been up to lately - it had been a while since I had last seen this person. I gave them the Cliff's Notes' version of my life and was really excited to tell them some of what I had been up to.

They responded by saying that they hadn't seen me at church lately and hoped the holidays would afford me time to 'slow down' so that I could really focus on what was really important. That set me back a bit. I pressed a little deeper into what they meant, and the gist of it was that being busy prevents a person from truly appreciating the blessings in life or having a 'right relationship with God' - time to pray and 'talk to God'.

Huh. Who knew?

I'm pretty sure God cocked an eyebrow at that one.

See, He and I talk every day; often hourly. Sometimes, it's a simple 'Thank you' or 'Help' - those are my two favorite prayers. He hears those often. But I also talk to Him about the people in my life - those close to me, acquaintances, people I pass on the street - and the things going on for them and for me. It's pretty much an on-going conversation with Him that starts the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep. Thankfully, He never tires of my incessant yammering and He's never unavailable.

And here's the key: I can talk to Him even when I'm outside the 4 walls of my church.

I started to get defensive as I listened to this person talk and I started to point out that the majority of what I do during the day is in service to others (Matthew 28:19. Or Matthew 22:36-40. Or both.) or in preparation to be in service to others, but I stopped myself. There was no point. I do not need to justify myself or how I live my life to anyone. I am who I am and I know WHOSE I am. And I am becoming more and more aware of what He has called me to do and be in this life and NONE of it involves sitting still.

I am not wired to sit still. I never have been - ask my mom or my friends that have known me for any amount of time. Sitting still (for me) does no one any good. I'm of no use to anyone by sitting still, least of all God. He didn't put this passion in me for no reason.

Don't get me wrong - there is a time and a place for REST. But sitting still and rest are different things. God didn't design me to sit still.

So I don't. And I won't, until He tells me to.

I thanked this person for their advice and went back to studying. Must get awfully heavy for them to be carrying that gavel around...



"Examination Scored.
Congratulations on passing the NREMT National EMS Certification cognitive examination. Your passing results on the cognitive examination will remain valid for one calendar year from the date you took the examination, provided all other entry requirements of the NREMT are met. "

Goal #3 NAILED. I am a nationally registered EMT-B. It hasn't yet sunk in. Twenty-three years. Not perfect, but I'm making it work.

And now, I have nine days to catch my breath, tackle my 'TO DO' list (that hasn't really been touched since...we moved back to Kansas, if I'm being honest), and get ready for EMT-Advanced. That's an 8-month course that will add the ability to start IVs and intubate patients to my tool kit. While I'm working through that, I'll be prepping my application for Paramedic school. And if Paramedic school doesn't pan out (tough selection process for the program I'm looking to get into), then I am going to look into taking things in the Emergency Management direction. Not sure if that would be a Master's degree or just a certificate or what just yet. 

Can't sit still...


Looking back

I'm tying up some loose ends as 2016 winds down and it's neat to see how big of a year it has actually been.

- First Day hike with swim team friends. What better way to kick off the new year than with a hike in freezing temps with great friends after ringing in the new year with some of the same? We even spotted some bald eagles!

- Began coaching the girls' high school swim team. It felt SO good to get back on deck and back to one of the things I truly love.

- MOBEX Trigger. The TR fun begins! I discovered so many things about myself that I didn't know, and met so many amazing people that would turn out to be pieces of me I didn't know I was missing.
- Easter. One of my favorite days - signifying so much.

- JJ Grey and MOFRO concert. One of my favorite bands and I was able to see them play live. Amazing. Can't wait to do it again.
- Dancing in the rain - literally.

- Started working for TR as the state membership manager. When I went to Trigger, I never envisioned myself working for TR as anything other than a regular volunteer and was blown away by the offer to join the leadership team.
- Olympic Swimming Trials. I'm still floating on cloud 9 from that one!

- Operation Found It in Eureka, KS. My very first true TR operation. Life-changing and so incredibly reaffirming that what I'm doing (EMT, TR, etc.) is the right thing. Passion, purpose, serving others...all right there. I'm hooked.

- Regional Training Conference. My first opportunity to get to know the full leadership team. Lots of work. Lots of fun. Life-long friendships started ('FRAMILY') and solidified.
- EMT class begins. More confirmation I'm on the right path. Felt like coming home.
- Mulvane operation. My first operation working behind the scenes. Amazing to watch this leadership team in action.
- Both kids in public school again after 7 years. Took some time to adjust to that. Still working on it.

- Stepped into the role of State Admin. Just...wow.
- Veterans Community Project work day. My introduction to this amazing group and the incredible people behind it. Another life-changing experience.

- National Conference. Like the Regional Conference back in August, but on crack. So incredibly cool to put names to faces of people I've admired for YEARS. More framily.
- CERT class, state VOAD involvement
- Ride along #1 for my EMT class. I was nervous until I set foot on that rig. Then I knew I was home.

- Chainsaw training. Sawyer 1 certification was on my 'to do' list and I 'to DID' it. Now I work on building my skills and my strength.
- Regional Planning Conference. Laid out the training calendar and plans for 2017 and OH, am I excited. 2017 is going to rock 2016's socks off. Lots of changes coming for our leadership team but change equals growth so let's do this! Can't think of better people with whom to take on this challenge.
- Thanksgiving. Incredible time with family and friends. The opportunity to catch my breath and surround myself with these people I love was amazing.

- Another Veterans Community Project work day. More time with this amazing organization only this time I was able to sling a chainsaw!
- Wrapping up EMT-B class with straight As. I'm going to miss these people!
- Christmas. A little tough to get in to the holiday spirit this year but we are all healthy, the roof is still over our head, there was food on the table. Everything else is gravy and no one was shooting at me ;) Along with what Christmas signifies, all wonderful reasons to celebrate.

All of this is intermixed with swim meets, birthdays, Scouts, MacGyver's flight school achievements, panic attacks (hey...it's the good, the bad, and the ugly...), stumbling across letters from my dad, some brutal losses, reading some amazing books, meeting some incredible people through my involvement with the Emergency Management world, hiking like a maniac and getting to the point I can pass the Wildland Firefighter 1 pack test, passing my EMT practical and getting ready to pass my EMT written. (Hopefully), I'll start 2017 by becoming a nationally registered EMT!

And as I look back, I am overwhelmed with one realization:

So very blessed.

I say, "Bring it!"



I passed. I passed! I PASSED!

Made it through my practical exam. I have about two weeks until my written, and assuming I pass that, I will be a Nationally Registered EMT-B. Only took me 23 years but who's counting? Right? And now it's on to (hopefully) the EMT-Advanced course, paramedic school, and life in the EMS world.

The test went pretty well today. The first station was a 2-part station: patient assessment (either medical or trauma) plus bleeding and shock management. I kicked ass on the bleeding/shock exercise. That one was easy. The patient assessment was where my biggest concerns were. 25 year old male presented with sudden onset severe low back pain. Primary assessment went well but I forgot to assess skin condition and I verbalized applying a cervical collar without assessing PMS (pulses, motor, and sensory function) in the extremities. Technically, they could have said that the failure to assess skin condition was a critical fail because I wasn’t assessing for shock, but the patient was not a trauma patient and no other vitals indicated shock so I would have fought that one. 

The second station was a 4-part station: oxygen tank & non-rebreather mask assembly, treatment of an unresponsive, non-breathing patient, CPR/AED, and long spine board. All of those went well and I had no concerns. 

Then I just had to wait for the results - each of our score sheets had to be verified by 2 other people besides the proctor. I was called in for my results and I think they derive some humor from drawing this part out. She had a dramatic pause before telling me that I had passed the patient assessment portion (after already having told me I had passed everything else). But I was so relieved to have passed everything that I just shook her hand and skipped out of the room.

So now I have two weeks to review all of the academic material before the written exam. I have a really good study guide that came with text and a bunch of online resources as well. One of the cooler things about Team Rubicon is that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an EMT or Paramedic so I've had dozens of offers of help and I'm so grateful. I don't know what I would do without these people.

Sidenote: when I posted on Facebook or mentioned to friends and family that I passed, the response was usually something along the lines of 'Congratulations! I knew you could do it!'.

I didn't. Not completely. We are all usually our own worst critics and I am no exception here. I have my own personal doubts as to my capabilities. I also have my concerns about getting TOO cocky and that coming back to bite me in the butt. I had a few things I missed in this practical - I am human and this is still new to me (well, the details are). So I didn't necessarily know I could do this. I'm not being falsely modest or employing fake humility. I know my own weaknesses.

All of the above leads me to some stuff that's on my heart. This year...has been so indescribably amazing on a personal level. Brutal in some ways, beautiful in others. This year has stretched me to the point of tearing me wide open in so many ways and, while painful, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Growing up, my family was pretty small - just me and my parents. My brothers (half-brothers) are older and were already out of the house and on to their own lives by the time I came along. Our extended family lived in other states. So it was just the 3 of us; often just me and my mom since my dad traveled a lot for work. I moved out at 18, moved away from the town I grew up in at 22, and became a military spouse at 26. None of that played into being surrounded by family. In some ways, the military compensated for that, but even those people came and went.

But this TR family, this 'TRibe'... they are 45,000 brothers and sisters I didn't count on, didn't expect, and can no longer live without. Good thing they are everywhere.

I've been blessed with wonderful friends throughout my life - people that have not necessarily stood in for family, but have augmented and filled holes as needed. I can look back through each part of my life and find those gems - those people that really bring out the beauty in it all. To be able to do that even once in a lifetime is a blessing. I don't know what you call it when you can do it more than once - abundance? What do you call it when you can do it dozens of times? Or when life hands you the most amazing people that just take your breath away?

I am blessed. Beyond measure. Beyond words. Beyond comprehension. I did nothing to deserve these blessings. What a wonderful way to wrap up the year...my family is together and healthy and amazing; the roof is still over our heads and there is food on the table. We have all that we need and more. And while not with me in the literal sense over the holidays, there are these people I love that I hold in my heart so tightly that I sometimes can't breathe.

I could not ask for more. Not one drop more.

Merry Christmas.



So we're quickly wrapping up 2016 and I'm sitting here, trying to figure out where the hell it went. But when I force myself to stop and think back over the past 12 months (an effort for someone that is always antsy for the NEXT thing), I realize how incredible and FULL this year has been. I posted back in April about not being dead yet and my goals for 2016. And as I read back through that, I can say that, as of 4JAN2017, when I take AND PASS the written portion of my NREMT exam, I will have nailed 2 of those 3 goals I set for myself. Three of four, if you count getting back on deck to coach swimming. The only one I've not yet nailed was the blue belt in jiu-jitsu. But I have my 4th stripe and plan to get back on the mat as soon as my schedule will allow.

In addition to nailing those goals, I'm close to hitting another one that I set but didn't write about. Team Rubicon has a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and TR members can become Wildland Firefighters with the BLM. I heard today that TR members make up 25% of BLM's wildland firefighters. I'm not sure if that's true but it doesn't surprise me. To become WWF1 qualified, you have to be able to ruck 3 miles with a 45# pack in under 45 minutes. No running. No incline. We have a great trail just outside of town and I love to hike there. The Nature Trail is about 3 miles so I started timing myself - no pack, just hiking. It has a good solid hill at the beginning of the trail and once I was able to consistently finish the loop in under 45 minutes, I started adding weight. By the end of the summer, I could do 3.1 miles with 38# of weight in 44 minutes. I have no doubt that, should I choose to go test for WWF1 with BLM, I could handle the pack test.

In all of my adult life, I don't think I've ever owned a scale. I've never cared what my weight was. I know when I am out of shape and when I am in shape and it has nothing to do with a number on a machine. But MacGyver came home with one a while ago and, in weighing myself, I've put on somewhere between 3 and 5 pounds of muscle. I'm leaner in some areas, more muscular in others. And I feel GOOD. Or I did until winter hit. Need more vitamin D and some of those full-spectrum light bulbs we used in Alaska! I'm hoping to keep hitting the trail when the weather isn't awful. In the meantime, I have some upper body work I want to do so that I can fully operate a chainsaw for TR. Right now, I have trouble cold-starting the saw and need to build more power in my upper body. Time to start doing some rows and deltoid lifts and bicep curls.

On the Team Rubicon front, we are in the process of adjusting to a new leadership structure and I've moved from State Administrator to Program Manager over the western half of our region - kind of like a State Administrator on crack, covering two states instead of just one. Because, you know, I didn't have enough to do. The reality is that I am loving it. I get to help build our our leadership in some key cities throughout the region as well as help with training events, service projects, social activities, etc. We hashed out our 2017 training calendar and to say that I am excited about all that we have on tap would be quite an understatement. Sawyer classes, Heavy Equipment Operator courses, Chainsaw Train the Trainer courses, ASIST classes, cut days (YAY! More sawyer time for me!), and much more. My hope is that our region doesn't have too many natural disasters to respond to - that's always the hope - but if we do, we'll do it well!

I'm still working on my goals for 2017 but I will say they include the leftover blue belt goal from 2016 in addition to participating in Tough Mudder (and possibly working it as an EMT!), nailing my PM goals for TR, getting ASIST certified and attending the ASIST Train the Trainer course, being able to cold start a Stihl 261 chainsaw, getting my EMT-I (or EMT-A) certification, getting accepted in to Paramedic school...the list goes on and on!

I would write about all of the wonderful people in my life this year, but I can't do so without getting all blubbery and emotional so I'll save it for another day. We'll just leave it at the fact that I am blessed beyond measure.

Right now, I need to go study. I have my practical exam for my EMT-B in less than 12 hours. Whee!


Stepping into the color

Did you ever watch Wizard of Oz? You know how the movie goes from black and white (well, sepia, really) to color when Dorothy opens the door of the cabin? How she steps out into a vivid new world? That's pretty much what 2016 has felt like for me. None of it happened overnight - not like Dorothy opening that door - my life isn't that exciting. It was more of a gradual onset of vividness; incremental in nature. By the time I realized what had happened, I was eyeball deep in the color of this year and loving every minute of it.

Thanksgiving gave me some time to slow down and really take in all of the blessings of my life. Slowing down is not something I've been able (or willing) to do much of lately. With my state boards and my NREMT exam coming up in less than a month, there is much to do and not much time in which to do it. Recently, we had the Regional Planning Conference for my Team Rubicon region and I came off of that into the holiday weekend, which allowed (ok, forced) me to stop and breathe for a moment. And I realized a few things...

This year has been FIERCE. Intense, powerful, fierce. For some people, that might bother them. Me? I find that I need it; I crave it. That fierceness brings out the color in my life - color that had been lacking in me in so many ways: in my thought life, in my home life, in my relationships, in just about every aspect of my life. It has been, as Glennon Doyle Melton would call it, 'brutiful': brutal in some ways and beautiful in so many others. And I wouldn't change a single, solitary moment. The people this year has brought into my life are in my blood and in my bones - I'd have to tear myself apart to let them go. The experiences of this year have changed me fundamentally and I will never be the same. Nor do I want to.

At church this past weekend, Pastor Eric read through a book, 'A Walk One Winter Night' and it tells the story of a man who goes for a walk to clear his head one winter night, coming across a Nativity scene. It leads to the rediscovery of the joys and wonder of the Christmas seasons. I feel like I'm living that rediscovery of life and of Christmas right now, and part of me is hesitant for the holiday season for a few reasons:

- I don't like to slow down. Slowing down means I wind up inside my own head far too often and that's not a good place for me to be. Staying busy keeps me out of there.

- Everything feels overwhelming at the moment...even the good stuff. And while that sounds like a good thing, I'm finding that's relative. Ever get the spins? Maybe after having had too much alcohol? When I overindulge, I get the spins. The room spins and I feel like I'm going to be flung off, like being on a merry-go-round. I usually wind up with a hand or a foot on a wall to help steady myself. Physical contact does the same for me - grounds me and keeps me from feeling like I'm going to be flung off. That's how I feel when things get overwhelming - like I'm going to be overtaken and flung off. The challenge during the holiday season is to be around people I trust enough that I can stay grounded.

- my people (family, friends) are spread out all over the country and the world and I can't have them all over for dinner. This makes me sad.

But there is SO much to be thankful for and SO much to look forward to in 2017 so that is where my focus will remain. I'm all over the place in this blog post - forgive me. You're getting a glimpse into my brain. Scary place sometimes!

I'll leave you with a book suggestion. If you have a few hours, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Absolutely incredible, transformative, insightful book. A little more than 120 pages and worth every minute spent reading it. It was a gift during our Regional Planning Conference and probably one of the most valuable books anyone has ever given me.

Go do good $#!t!



Note: I wrote this back in MAR2011, briefly after Lex died. I can count on two hands the number of dreams I remember beyond the first few hours of being awake. Far fewer remain with me beyond that. This is one of them. I still remember it, 7+ years later.

Happy birthday, my friend. I do so miss you. 


I don't believe in coincidences. And rarely do I dream about things that are impacting my life in the immediate time frame. But every once in a while, I'll have a dream that does - one that speaks to a situation I am facing, a heavy heart, what have you. As I did last night.

My friend Lex died last week (MAR2011) and it shook me to my core. I've spent the week remembering all of the conversations we had had about things mundane and monumental, political and humorous. And I spent it crying. Crying for my loss, but crying more for the loss his family and close friends faced. He and I were not close friends and yet his loss hit me hard, therefore I cannot begin to imagine how hard it hit those that loved him and cherished him all their lives.

The first night I managed to get to bed without tear-swollen eyes, I had a dream about Lex. Rarely do I remember the full details of a dream, the emotions that go along with it. But this one has hung on even into mid-morning, even after having fallen back asleep. In my dream, it was evening and I was at my house (I didn't recognize the house but I knew it was my house regardless). I was sad in my dream - having lost my friend - and was coming home from somewhere. My phone rang and it was Lex. I was walking up the back steps to the door when he called and so I stopped and talked to him.

He and I talked for a bit - about things mostly mundane...what have you been up to and how's the weather? And then I told him that we (his friends) had been really worried about him. He explained that he was just fine - wonderful, in fact - and that he was with "his family". I distinctly remember him saying just that - with a slight chuckle and a smile in his voice, as though he was still getting used to the idea. He was with his family. And I remember just feeling so relieved at the fact that he was ok. We talked some more about all of his friends that were missing him and he kind of paused, seeming almost embarrassed that so many people were so wrapped around the axle over him. But he recovered quickly and graciously thanked us for our love and concern.

And then he had to go. He apologized for the conversation being short - said he'd love to talk longer next time. I told him that we all loved him and missed him and were were glad that he was ok. He paused again and then said thank you - that he was speechless over it all. I just remembering feeling so RELIEVED to talk to him again. He said he'd see me again soon and then, he was gone.

I woke up with a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart that hasn't been there since the day I learned my friend had died. Like I said, I don't believe in coincidences. I do believe in God and Heaven and I do believe that the good Captain is there with his parents that he lost at such a young age, with his sister whose loss was more recent and closer to the surface, and with his friend Terry who was lost on that very bad day. And my hope is that they serve Guinness in Heaven.


- hfs