Love Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,ENDURES ALL Things...

Murphy's Law...

I never had a slice of bread,Particularly large and wide,That did not fall upon the floor,And always on the buttered side.[1]

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Your Job to Stand in the Way.

"She looks so beautiful" I thought to myself.  I could tell she was unsure.  I could feel how uncomfortable she was.  I tried to get there on time.  I TRY to get everywhere on time.  I even asked to leave work early after last weeks debacle.

A lot of people would say I brought this on myself.  There are times where I tell myself that.

They are wrong.

So am I.

I didn't picture myself a single mom of four on my wedding day.  I didn't imagine divorce was in the cards for me.  I didn't envision being in some strange town, just me and my babies.  No one asks for that.  It's just where we ended up.

I'm not complaining.  But I do sometimes feel like I'm failing.

I can't be everywhere at once.  I try my hardest.  I'm late everywhere I go.  The doctor's office, work, the dentist, school, class parties, honors day, xfit, dinner...  you name it.

I sat there, in that gym on Chloe's honors day, feeling terrible.  Feeling like I had failed her.  I rushed from work to change (I couldn't wear the clothes I'd spent the night transporting sick people in) and grab her a dress and heels for her awards day.  I don't know why she didn't just wear a dress to school, but she didn't and I was so short on time to begin with.

I made it...  2 minutes late, but luckily, so were the awards.  She grabbed the dresses and shoes out of my hand and rushed to change.  When I saw her walk out of that bathroom in my derby dress and heels, she took my breath away.  She's so tall.  She's so beautiful.  But she felt exposed, unsure, and insecure.  I could tell and as I looked around I could see why.  All her classmates were in pants or long dresses and skirts.  She's so tall, her dress was mid thigh.  People are so judgemental.

Here she was, once again, standing out among the crowd.  I immediately texted her to let her know that she looked beautiful...  and then I sat there, looking around, wondering what all these parents must think of me.

Here I was, late, in the front of the gym, in jeans and a baseball t, with a daughter whose dress was shorter than the rest.

Once it was over, I checked her out for the day and we rushed over to George's class awards.  The school had honors day earlier in the week at the gym, but I was lucky enough today to get to attend George's class awards today.

We were late.  They had just started as we interrupted the class, squeezing through the door so as not to create too much of a stir.  No seat was available, so we stood.

George didn't care.  His eyes lit up bigger than Christmas.  He was so proud his mommy was there.

I watched the video his teacher put together and I listened to his dreams as he spoke them aloud.  I smiled so big listening to his teacher call out all of his awards and I hugged him so tight when it was over.

The other night at dinner my kids opened up about how it felt to be them.  How they were different and how they'd make friends, then lose them, because... well, we just aren't their people here and they aren't ours.

My only advice to them was:  That's ok.  You aren't here for them.  You have a duty to serve them.  To love them.  To not harm them, but you, my beautiful beings, are not here for them.  You are here for all this world has to offer you.  You are here for the sea, for the forest, for Paris, for Rome.  You are here for the rivers and the lakes, the mountains, and the deserts.  You are here to experience all that God has put here on this incredible earth for you.  You are here to love.  You are here to live.  You are not here to please them.  You are here to do God's work by loving and caring for those around us to show gratitude for the opportunity to experience all He has placed here for us to enjoy,

but we are not here for them.

I was late today.  I sat there... tired, drained, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, late to my daughter's Awards ceremony, feeling like a failure.  It wasn't long until it dawned on me, that I was at my daughter's Awards Ceremony.

All four of my children have maintained Honor Roll.  Mitch received the Healthy Award in his class for being the healthiest, his teacher was so proud of his healthy lunches.  George and Chloe received awards in reading.  Abby received and accepted an invitation to Rome to honor her hard work and excellence in academics.

Mitch said he wanted to grow up to be a race car driver.  George said he wanted to be a Priest, so that he could tell people about God.  Abby wants to be a philosopher and a musician...  and she is trying to figure out how.  Her instructor says constantly:  "she's the real deal"...  Chloe wants to go to Juilliard.  She spent her first year in the band as first chair.  She's joined the track team at school.  Abby ran a 5k and received her invitation to study abroad next summer.

I am not failing.

I may not have the opportunity to be the mother I once was.  I work now.  My work is hard.  It's trying work.  It's sometimes dangerous work.  It's often unrewarding work but it's God's work.  Caring for His people.  Sometimes being the last face they see, before they see His.

I am no longer able to kiss their foreheads before they step onto the bus, or bake them cookies when they get off of the bus, but it seems as though, just maybe, even with all the stones thrown...  all the obstacles...  all the heartache...  just maybe...  that's ok.

Because I may be late, and under-dressed, and tired...  but I'm there.

Because as Joe Hill said:

"I mean, when the world comes for your children, with the knives out, it's your job to stand in the way."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

There is only one Winner.

I can't help but sometimes think about how it used to be.  How they used to be.

I can clearly remember moments in time where I typed up specific blog posts or thoughts...  moments where I had conversations with friends, or family, or those I considered friends or family.

It feels like a lifetime ago.

And then I have moments where I come across a picture or a video of times that I should, absolutely should, clearly remember...  and I don't.  It doesn't feel like a lifetime ago...  it feels foreign.  It feels like I'm experiencing it for the first time.  Like I'm watching it happen to someone else.

I look at my children now...  and they feel like my children now.  And I see them as they were, but there are moments where I get the opportunity to actually see them as they were...  and I have sometimes forgotten them...  as they were.

I have these moments where I'm all alone.  It's rare and when I have them I'm not always all alone.  Sometimes I'm driving home from work, just me in my vehicle, or sometimes I'm driving home from crossfit and my daughter is in the seat next to me.  Sometimes I'm in the passenger's seat of the Very Handsome Dale's truck...  and in these moments I see the trees so unique to this small unknown town in Alabama, or the way the road curves around the hills.  I'll see the tiny downtown that requires you to refrain from blinking or you'll miss it.

Sometimes I'll see the run down homes in the city, or the stores that are alive and well, thriving, that long left my home town.  And sometimes I'll even be in my own home.  Completely quiet.  I will have just walked in from a long shift.  The kids at school.  The dogs outside and I'll think...  "How is it possible to feel so very much at home, while simultaneously feeling so very much like you're not."

My surroundings are so familiar, so routine, yet I am a stranger to all of them.  My neighborhood, my co-workers, the city, this town, the people...

I did a lot of growing after my divorce.  My growth demanded growth from my children.

I used to be surrounded by friends.  I guess I should say...  by people.  Now...  not so much.

We did a lot of trimming.  We tightened our circle drastically.  We learned to tune out the opinions and thoughts of those that didn't matter and we learned to lean on each other.  Even when it seemed as though we were all strangers...  or as if we were too close to share.

I don't bake my babies cookies every night anymore.

Truth is, I don't even get to tuck them in every night anymore.

I'm sometimes as foreign to me as my surroundings are.

Not long ago, I was sitting in the passenger's seat of my truck when the tone went out.  I tucked my feet back into my boots and I looked over as my partner grabbed the radio and non-chalantly said: copy, and I thought to myself:  "Jesus Christ.  I'm who you call when you're dying."

When my babies are snug in their beds, I'm driving, lights and sirens in a town I barely recognize, saving people...  or, at least, I'm trying to.

I sometimes look at these people.  Complete strangers, and I wonder...  how is it, that they ended up here.  In their situations.  In this town.  In my view.  And how is it that I am the one that was literally called to try and save them.

It's not always romantic.  More than not the people aren't dying...  except they are.  We all are.

Which brings me back to where I started.  Where I wrote about the blog posts that were so vivid in my mind from what seems like a lifetime ago.  The blog posts regarding time.  How it's so very fleeting.

My God is it fleeting.

To say my life is often surreal is an understatement.  To say that I don't enjoy my co-workers or this town or it's people would be a lie.  It's just that in three short years everything has changed so much... and my babies are becoming adults (however tiny) and every once in a while it dawns on me...  So am I.

Sometimes it doesn't even dawn on me that I ever even knew the people I once knew and sometimes it hits me like a brick that not a one of them could describe to you my living room.  But I have to be honest and tell you that these moments, the ones where I am all alone, almost always end in a smile as I think to myself...

I'm not the person I once was.  How incredible is that.

As Stephen Richards said:

"When you fight yourself to discover the real you, there is only one winner.” 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Just Do it

I have left my marriage of 15 years, watched my family fall apart, and rebuilt myself and my family. Gone to school full time while working full time and raising four kids... And managed to graduate. I have watched helplessly as my daughter self destructed and stared at my son as he seized and lay unconscious/unresponsive for hours. I have heard a truck dispatched to my home while on shift and I have not yet had the opportunity to say goodbye to my grandfather who helped to raise me, since he died over a year ago. I have somehow managed to keep a man who deserves better, and I have walked away from friends when I needed them. I have saved lives and not been able to save lives all in one shift, yet somehow... To this day... Consistently, one of the hardest things I have ever had to do... Is pick my ass up off of the couch and go for a run.

I ALWAYS have to remind myself of the wise words of NIKE:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Decide Where to Go.

I will never understand why I wanted it so bad.

I purchased a study guide by John Purryear and the day that it arrived in the mail I listened to it.  16 hours of review on Emergency Medicine Technician Paramedic skills.  He said:  Don't worry about passing the test.  You're going to pass.  You're going to pass because no one chooses this profession.  This profession is a calling.  The things we see.  The choices we are forced to make.  The hours.  No one chooses this career.  This career chooses you.

Looking back now, during the calm, I can see that.

Just over two years ago I chose to leave a very unhealthy marriage and I was terrified at where I might land.  I had friends tell me that I wasn't praying enough...  and then I had friends disappear.  I was in a foreign state, no family, no degree, just me and my babies and this ridiculous calling.

I sometimes think about what that "friend" said, about how I don't pray enough.  How does one know how much prayer is enough... or not enough?  Do people really think God punishes us for not being formal in our conversations with Him?  I think about that when I look at a patient's loved ones forced to face the fact that there is nothing more we can do to help them, or those who have suffered tremendous abuse.  I look at them and not one time do I think that they didn't pray enough, I just think..  what can I do to help.

It's not only my job to help...  It's my duty.  My human duty.

I graduated this ridiculous course, took my skills test this past week, and then I scheduled my registry.  Scared out of my mind, Saturday morning at 8 am,  I took it... and you can bet your ass I prayed.  I don't know if it was enough, but it was certainly prayer.

I walked out of there, called Dale CariAnn, and my mother, and I informed them that I had just failed my Paramedic Registry.  That was the most challenging thing I have ever done.  Two years of my life wasted.  What would I tell my kids?!

Everyone reminded me that this test was designed to be hard.  To test you above your skill level and that the better you did the harder it was and that I should Calm down until receiving the official results Monday morning.  I had to sit with this doom of being a complete failure, of forcing my kids to sacrifice so much for nothing, for two full days.  And I had to work.

Monday morning came...  and at 7:45 am  I read the following:

Congratulations on successfully passing your NREMT Paramedic Registry.

There it was.  I passed.

This has been, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the most difficult year of my life and this week I will get to lay it to rest.

By the grace of God, I am finally a paramedic.

It was so long.  I wanted to quit so many times.  Heck, I was told to quit.  My kids begged me to quit.  I was so beyond tired that I couldn't hold my head up in class at times.

I have been told time and time again how strong I am.  So many people have said "I don't know how you do it", but the thing is...  I didn't have a choice.  It's always meant as a kindness.  As a gentle reminder of how highly that individual thinks of me and possibly the amount of Grace they believe that I carry.  It's almost always a compliment, but it never feels like it, because the fact is...  I don't get a choice in the matter.  I don't get to be weak.  I don't get to have a melt down.  I can't afford to break.  I'm strong because of the road that was set before me.

Climbing mountains builds endurance, character, and strength.  Occasionally it'd be nice if those mountains leveled off just a bit.

I had one shot at this.  I had no idea if I was going to have a soft place to land or come crashing down, but there is one thing I was certain of:  I had to find out.

During the refresher, John Purryear says:  "I'm going to kill someone if I pass this test,"

I'm sure that thought has crossed all of our minds.

I don't know why I was called to this profession, but it is my hope that God will continue to guide me.  I can't think of a greater responsibility than to have the fate of that of another human being in your hands.

Yes, I passed registry, but I'm certainly no Doctor.  That being said:  I can do a damn fine job of quoting one.  For as Dr. Suess says:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Favorite Part.

I was going to update the blog two days ago.  I haven't wanted to write in so long.  Then, out of nowhere, I had this sudden urge to write again.  It wasn't fleeting, time just never really permitted.  If I was going to update the blog, I needed to update it before I failed my exit exam at school.  I needed to so that people could understand my position on passing versus failing, because if I were to update it after I failed, no one would believe me.  They would merely pity me and pity is something I don't deal with well.

Just a couple of weeks ago my instructor pulled me aside to tell me his thoughts on where I stood with the class and with the program.  He sat me down and explained that it was his opinion that I should drop.  He sincerely hoped I would come back to finish up the last class the following semester, but it was his opinion that I just was simply not ready. 
In his defense, as if he needed any, I had just completely and totally embarrassed him and myself by thoroughly bombing my oral check-off with the doctor.  I mean, if it could go wrong it did.  If there was a drug you shouldn't push, I mentioned it.  If there was a treatment necessary to prevent cardiac arrest, well don't look at me, I'm not doing it.  Only problem is...  I was doing it.  I was shocking, I was pushing meds, I was titrating fluids...  I was saving this make believe scenario patient's ass...  except nobody knew it, because I wasn't communicating it.

The details as to how I got to be in that chair, looking that man in the face, kept circling in my mind.
  Here I was...  in this chair nearly two years after the first time I sat in that same chair.  Both just as life altering.  I knew he likely didn't remember registering me for the program, but I did.  I remember sitting there, newly separated with 4 kids, no career, no job, no degree, absolutely nothing to my name.  The only thing I actually owned was this vision and I have no idea how this vision even got there, but it did and I remember his words to me, they were:  Good luck.  This profession isn't for everyone.  It's unrewarding and the pay is terrible, but for some reason, those of us who do it,we love it. 

Those words made no sense to me.  I remember the paramedics that loaded my sweet George into the back of the ambulance.  I remember them pushing valium.  I remember them bagging my son.  I remember the gratitude in my heart the exact moment I saw them.  The relief that thank GOD, the outcome as to whether or not my son was going to live was not going to be in whether or not I could save him, it was now in whether or not they could and I knew that if they couldn't, then no one could.  The moment I saw them I felt that relief and I don't even remember what they looked like.  I don't even know if they knew how grateful
I was to them.  How grateful I am to them to this day.  How very much they mean to me.  He couldn't be right then, so he couldn't be right now.  Except...  he was right.  This profession is likely the most thankless on the planet.  Here I was spending countless hours working, clinicalling, studying emergency medicine and the amount of thank yous I have ever actually received could be counted on one hand.  The people whose lives I actually helped to save would never even know my name and the ones that were lost...  I was the last person they saw.  I mean, c'mon...  we all know these people didn't live their lives hoping to stare down some girl's Jew nose prior to their last final agonal breath.  He was right, and in that moment, I was terrified that he was right about my need to drop.  He could tell, I'm sure of it, because he then asked:  If you drop, will you come back next semester? My response was:  no.  He looked at me and said:  That is very sad.

This journey has been terribly long.  Terribly.  I was room
mom, tuck in at night and read bed time stories mom.  I changed diapers and wiped tears.  I rocked my babies to sleep and baked them cookies after school.  I helped them with their homework and took them to church and choir, track and soccer.  I was only ever a mom and now, here I was...  a failure.  I haven't tucked my babies in since this journey began.  Chloe hasn't ran consistently and the boys haven't even heard the word soccer since this began.  I divorced, moved, started a new job in a new career, I went to school full time and when I had the energy, I did my best to maintain my fitness.  I had no one. I lost the majority of my friends and I hadn't slept since I graduated EMT.  My daughter suffered greatly, battling issues of her own...  and I was there for her in every single way that I could be, knowing that it wasn't enough.  I promised them, PROMISED them that this summer when they came back from Grandmas that mommy would be done with school.  Completely finished.  I meant that.  I didn't have an option.  Next semester wasn't going to happen for me and I had to face that fact.  I had to be okay with it.  I had to come to terms with the fact that this last year may have all been for nothing.  I may never actually finish this program and I may never actually be a paramedic.

Ironically, I wanted to quit.  I wanted to quit so many times it wasn't funny.  There were days I could barely keep my eyes open and there were days I didn't even know how the hell I ended up in Montgomery Alabama.  There were days I couldn't even answer myself as to why I was there, in that program, in that profession.  It was so hard, juggling so much, and it became very clear, long before he ever sat me down, that my inability to juggle was causing things around me to come crashing down.

I went home and did the only thing I knew to do... drink.

I poured myself a glass of wine, formulated a game plan, and prepared myself for failure.

I re-did my checkoff.  I passed it.  My English teacher posted my grade.  I got a 92 on my essay and a 96 on my midterm.

I told my instructor that I was going to finish and hopefully pass the course.  I didn't drop.  I spent the next week with my nose in the books and then, two days ago I walked into that classroom for my final class and exit exam...  and two and a half hours later I walked out...  with a passing score.

I wish I could say I was relieved.  Truth is, I'm still not even sure that I believe it.  Not only that, but I still have to pass registry and that's a toss up.

So I'll write what I had planned to write prior to my test.  I'll tell you what I told myself after two weeks of reflection.  Two weeks of asking myself if I believed my instructor.  After two weeks of flashing  back to every single teacher I've ever had.

It's ok if I fail.  It's ok if the course I chose doesn't choose me.  I have told every single one of my children that they can be absolutely anything they want to be they simply have to be prepared to work for it.  I teach them to put their heads down, not in shame, but rather, so they are able to push forward and if they come up short, it's ok, because they showed up.  Showing up isn't easy.  Showing up is the hard part.

Occasionally I fall short.  We all do.  Occasionally I allow other people's opinions of me to become my own and more often than not, I fail to listen to the words I speak to my children.  I sometime forget that God doesn't have favorites.  I sometimes forget that I too am capable.  I sometimes forget that I know me better than anyone and that's a valuable tool.

My kids came home that night and I immediately felt complete.  Here I was, two years after I started this journey and it was finally over.  I did it.  I completed the course and we all survived.

It wasn't all bad.  My kids started a new school where Abby is flourishing.  Chloe found a new friend through a YMCA program that she couldn't possible imagine life without.  My boys are excelling in their new school and I found Dale (a blog all his own).

I don't know if I'll pass registry.  I'll study and I'll do my best and I'll repeat the following as I did in every single marathon I ever ran (and it will be enough):

"The Quitter"
When you're lost on the trail with the speed of a snail And defeat looks you straight in the eye
and you're needing to sit, your whole being says quit You're certain it's your time to die. But the code
of the trail is "move forward don't fail" Though your knees and ego are scarred. All the swelling and
pain is just part of the game In the long run it's quitting that's hard! "I'm sick of the pain!" Well, now,
that's a shame But you're strong, you're healthy, and bright. So you've had a bad stretch and you're
ready to retch, Shoulders back, move forward, and fight. It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
Now don't be a loser my friend! So the goal isn't near, why advance to the rear. All struggles eventually end.

It's simple to cry that you?re finished; and die. It's easy to whimper and whine. Move forward and fight, though there's no help in sight You'll soon cross the lost finish line. You'll come out of the black, with the
wind at your back, As the clouds start to part; there's the sun. Then you'll know in your heart, as you did
at the start. You're not a quitter. You've Won!!    - Gene Thibeault

Lord knows I'd rather fail than quit.  To anyone else school may have been a breeze, or doable, or a nuisance.  For me it was a challenge.  It happened at a time in my life when so many other life altering things were happening.  My passing may have actually been a miracle.  Regardless...  I kept my promise to my kids.  After all that we have been through...  that's my favorite part.