My brain sees most things in very black and white perspectives. In Team Rubicon, volunteers wear grey shirts on operations and during training. Those that are in leadership - volunteer or paid positions - have black polos that are worn at conferences, speaking engagements, and academic exercises. Recently, I've seen a lot of half-hearted back-and-forth about 'greyshirt versus blackshirt' and it started me thinking.

Go figure.

Black shirt is what I do. It's a role; a job that allows me to serve the volunteers in my region and in the organization. It's a way for me to give back if and when I can't go on a deployment. I'm blessed to have this role and this job.

Grey shirt is what I AM. I was a volunteer with TR long before I ever stepped into any kind of leadership role. Even if my job were to disappear tomorrow or if I had to step away for some reason, I will remain a grey shirt.


What a difference a year makes

About a year ago, I was fighting nerves and getting ready to head out to my very first Team Rubicon training event. Even though I've been a TR member since 2010, that was my first foray out into the real TR world.

NOTHING in my life has been the same since.

1APR will mark the one year anniversary of my active involvement with this organization that means so much to me. It will also mark the one year anniversary of a day when I found pieces of myself that I didn't know were missing. Granted, a calendar year in TR is akin to 7 years in real life. And that is so true. It feels like it's been 7 years since I met these people.

And 3APR will mark the start to a new chapter in my life - I've been hired (an honest to goodness paid position) on as the Regional Readiness Associate for Region VII in Team Rubicon. What does a 'Regional Readiness Associate' actually do, you ask? Good question! I'll be figuring that out with the help and guidance of my boss and the rest of the wonderful leadership team I work with. I am so excited that I can't form words to describe it all at the moment.

Oh, and as icing on the cake, last weekend I went to Saint Louis to help facilitate the Chainsaw Train the Trainer course (training existing TR sawyers to become Regional Chainsaw Instructors, or RCIs). I was only supposed to be site coordinator, but there was room in the course so I was able to tuck in and take the course! I came away with an action plan that lines out what I need to do in order to be a fully-functioning RCI: I need to co-teach 2 Sawyer 1 courses with a qualified RCI and I need more trigger time (service projects, cut days, and deployments).

Honestly, I'm not sure what I'm more excited about: the job or the RCI certification. Oh, who am I kidding? Totally the job. I'm over-the-moon thrilled that they chose to hire me. Never in a million years did I ever believe I would be anything other than a volunteer. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the idea of even being on the leadership team as the Deputy Regional Membership Manager, let alone drawing a paycheck from this organization.

And the idea that I get to work even MORE with these people I love, doing these things that I love, and that I'm able to help support my family while doing so...this is a dream come true.

I am humbled beyond words.


It's been a while...

Didn't realize it had been so long since I last posted. I don't have an excuse other than the fact that life has been full, but nothing remarkable.

I started the Advanced EMT course at the beginning of the year and it's just further reinforcing that I am on the right path. I'm thoroughly enjoying the class and everything I'm learning, to include IV sticks. We had our first day of live IV sticks this past week and I am 2/2!

So I have 2 successful sticks and only 28 more to go! I'm still not sure how I'm going to fit 240 hours of rig time and 80 hours of clinical time in my life between now and the end of July but it will happen. Sleep is over-rated, right? 

Team Rubicon is plugging along. It's been relatively quiet since before the holidays. We had a great chainsaw class that I had the privilege to the site coordinator. In addition to that, I was able to help coach when the students headed out to pt their new-found knowledge to use. It was fantastic to be back in something that resembles a teaching role. On my 'bucket list' for TR is to become instructor certified in *something* (and eventually multiple somethings) but right now, none of the opportunities line up with my schedule or qualifications. But that's ok - it will happen when it's supposed to happen.

Family life is going well too. The Girl is wrapping up championship short course swim season. She qualified for the championship meet which surprised all of us. She's slowly coming to the realization that she might be a distance swimmer. Poor kid. The Boy wrapped up basketball season and is looking to do track to tide him over until baseball season starts. Then he wants to swim this summer. Seven sports this year plus weight training. The kid is nuts! MacGyver is *this* close to being done with his courses and flight hours and should be picking up a job soon.

MacGyver and I don't normally do Valentine's Day but I came home to find a gift...or two...waiting for me. It's like he loves me or something.

They need some work but they run and they are Stihls. I can't wait to get out and use them - the north access road to our property has some downed trees and a lot of honeysuckle growth that needs trimmed back. So I'll put the 180 to use, hopefully this weekend!

That's really about all I have. Waiting patiently for storm season to come upon us. I cannot wait for winter to be over. I've been able to hit the trails and hike a few times but nowhere near as often as I'd like. Soon, though. Soon.

But now it's time for bed. Goodnight!


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.