A Day Off

Today was a rarity - an actual day off. The Girl wasn't feeling well so she didn't go to before-the-crack-of-dawn swim practice and I have the start of a cold brewing so I opted to sleep in as well. rather than go to morning jiu-jitsu class. We have a big swim meet this weekend and I have a stupid packed week next week so I can't afford to be sick. Rest is my biggest (and most underutilized/poorly use) weapon so it was incredible to be able to do so today. As I am typing this, I've not left the property yet today and, if it weren't for my people demanding to be fed, thereby necessitating a run to the grocery store, I wouldn't do so until tomorrow.

I've spent the day catching up on some household chores, watching all six episodes of Mob City (which starred my current obsession, Jon Bernthal), chatting with friends online, keeping tabs on another friend whose close family members were killed and injured in a horrific car crash earlier this week, and reading. If it weren't ridiculously hot outside and if the rope holding my hammock to the tree hadn't broken (with me IN it!), I'd be out in the backyard reading a book. Need to pick up some more rope so I can set the hammock back up.

Now that my resume has been sent in, I can let the cat completely out of the bag with regard to Team Rubicon. I've been approached to be the State Membership Manager! I will be in charge of mobilizing our state members for operations as well as enhancing the membership experience through orientation, engagement, and administrative actions. I have no idea what all that encompasses but I'll learn. They are standing up MMs in each state within the region and, I'm assuming, in each of the 50 states if they don't already have one. I'll be working in conjunction with the Regional Membership Manager as well as the rest of the state and regional leadership teams.

I'm so freaking excited that I can barely contain myself! My family is SO tired of hearing the words Team Rubicon come out of my mouth :) It's not going to get any better. Sorry, peeps.

Time to go enjoy the fireflies in the backyard.

- hfs


Over the moon

When I finally got my act together and found room in my life for time to volunteer with Team Rubicon, I only ever envisioned doing ground-level work: what they call 'Strike Team' work. Mucking, clearing debris, hauling trash, throwing the occasional sledgehammer at a wall. I got a small taste of that up in Omaha at MOBEX Trigger a few months back and I loved it. I learned a ton and was able to work with some pretty awesome people.

I never envisioned anything beyond that level of engagement other than being the perpetual Team Rubicon cheerleader (seriously, TR, when are y'all going to stock a cheerleader's outfit in your store?) in real life and on social media. I mean, what more could a girl ask for? Hanging out with some incredible people while helping out those dealing with natural disasters - it doesn't really get any better than that, right?

Until yesterday when an email landed in my inbox that had me squealing and startling the people I work with. Parts of it read:

My name is XXXXX XXXXXXX and I am the Membership Manger for Region XXX. 
I would love to see you in leadership with Team Rubicon. 
I am telling you all of this, because I would love to have you on my team.  I would love to have you helping me engage our members, and help our members. 
Would you please consider applying for the XXXXXXXXX? 
To apply, send me your resume and cover letter.  Thank you for your consideration!! 

I about came unglued right there at work. They want me? To work at the state level for TR? Combining two things I am passionate about: military veterans and helping others? Hell yes! Sign me up! 

But I needed to take some time to talk about it with MacGyver and think it over. Summer time is ridiculously hectic in our family: early morning swim practice, jiu jitsu class for me, baseball, hitting the pool, work, work, swim meets, tackling our 'not bummer summer' TO DO list, etc. I can half-ass a lot of things in life but working with and for Team Rubicon is NOT one of those things. The time commitment isn't huge but it's still hours in the week I have to find somewhere. 

I sent my resume in this afternoon. I will sacrifice sleep or time at the pool or something in order to make this happen. 

I am over the freaking moon and thrilled to be considered for this. I've not done a single thing to deserve it but I will do my best to prove I am worthy.

- hfs


Memorial Day 2016

Each year I try to come up with something to say about Memorial Day and each year I can't. The words won't come.

This is an edited repost from years past and is, in no way, comprehensive.

Staff Sgt. Charles Sanders and the crew of Big Windy 25

CW2 Theodore U. "Tuc" Church and 1st Lt. Keith Heidtman

CW2 S. Blane Hepfner and CW2 J. Bryce Millward

CW2 Earl R. Scott III and CW2 Mathew C. Heffelfinger

CW3 Phillip E. Windorski

CW3 Corey J. Goodnature and the crew of Turbine 33 as well as the SEAL team they were heading to assist

Extortion 17

SPC Thomas Allison and the crew of "Wild 42"

Chief Warrant Officer Alan W. Gunn - for whom I wear a bracelet

Clay Hunt


CW3 Frank Buoniconti

My God, I miss my friends. For the ones I didn't know well or personally, my heart aches for their families - today and always.

Feel free to leave the names of those you are remembering in the comments below.

- hfs


Home is where you can smell the chlorine

There are very few places on this earth I truly feel at home. I've lived in dozens of places - different states, different countries, different houses. I've had dozens of jobs. In all of that, most of the time I feel like a foreigner. It takes me months to settle in to a new home or job. I usually function at a level of awkward discomfort that I suspect most people do not experience, and I long for the comfort of home at the end of each day in a way that settles into my bones.

In all of my life, there have only been a handful of places that I have felt immediately at ease. The pool deck is that place for me. No matter where I am, no matter what I'm doing, I am at home on a pool deck.

I realized that this past week, as I set foot as a coach on a deck that I have previously stood as both a swim parent and an official. The energetic calm (how's that for a contradiction?) that washes over me when I walk on deck is something I crave. The end of this swim season leaves me feeling like I have misplaced a part of myself. I'd say 'lost' but I know I'll be back - I know I'll find it again.

But here it is Monday - the first Monday in months that I've not been on deck - and I am lost. A new routine will soon take over and summer will settle in but I will still be left feeling like I am missing something.

And I am.

- hfs


Veterans do not need Sally Struthers

Nolan Peterson wrote an incredible article the other day, titled "Why Soldiers Miss War". Take a moment or two and go read it. It will be worth your time. 

Back? Good. Thank you for reading that. That article is probably the most important article you'll read all year. The paradigm shift it puts forth is priceless. The money quote(s) as I see it are:

"Contrary to the steady stream of Wounded Warrior Foundation commercials on TV, combat veterans are not broken, and they are not victims.
They should not be pitied or looked at with a sad shaking of the head or some reflexive “Geez, what a shame.” Pitying them belittles their experiences and misrepresents the challenges they face after military life."


And for those who ultimately descend into a darkness from which they cannot save themselves, it was not war that broke them.
It was the peace to which they returned, but never found."

I have never been comfortable with the widely-accepted perception that veterans are victims. It has never sat well with me. This article articulates that feeling for me.

I've never really experienced the full power of the bonds formed during a shared experience such as a wartime deployment, but I've glimpsed it and it's...powerful. It's awe-inspiring. It's intoxicating. And it's worthy of envy. It makes most day-to-day, civilian relationships seem mundane and one dimensional (obviously there are experiences in civilian life that are similar and create similar bonds). It shines a light on what are often superficial connections back home.

And the fact that a veteran was privileged to experience that - voluntarily - makes them not a victim but...something else. I've never met a veteran who was comfortable with the term 'hero' and I don't want to use it here, but I'm having trouble coming up with a term that will suffice. 

These men and women *willingly* walked away from their families, their friends, their lives, and walked *into* the chaos. While it may not have been for some big ideal, it was ultimately for the biggest ideal - to serve their fellow man. Most often, 'their fellow man' was the person next to them in the Humvee, or the helicopter, or on patrol, or in the CHU with them. Or it was in service to the friends and family they left behind. But it was in service to their fellow man. 

Jesus gave us two commandments:
1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. 
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Our veterans are living, breathing testimonies to the second commandment, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, agnostic Wiccan, atheist...you name it. They embody it. Even the ones that joined simply for the college money. Even the ones booted out for their drinking problem or failing a PT test or whatever other trouble they landed themselves in. And yet our veterans are often portrayed as victims. 

They most certainly are not.

Derek Weida put up a video the other day that, coupled with this article, really started me thinking on all of this. His organization, The Next Objective, is a combat veteran-run initiative committed to empowering our returning service members to overcome obstacles and achieve post-military success. He is the example to follow. He articulates the paradigm shift that needs to happen. (I'd mention Team Rubicon here but all 3 of my readers already know that I am their unoffical cheerleader)

The thing is that it's not going to come from the government. It never does. It will have to come from within. Who better to address the needs of veterans than people who have walked in those boots and understand the complexities and layered needs of the veteran community? I can see the grass-roots movement starting and it's electrifying. 

- hfs


Third stripe

"Why do we even try when the barriers are so high and the odds are so low? Why don’t we just pack it in and go home? It’d be so, so much easier. It's because, in the end, there’s no glory in easy. No one remembers easy. They remember the blood and the bones and the long agonizing fight to the top. And that is how you become legendary."

For most people who train through Gracie jiu jitsu, it takes about 6-12 months to earn a blue belt. The blue belt is the first belt above the introductory white belt and is earned when you've mastered the 36 basic and most commonly used techniques (out of 600). Being the red head that I am, I rarely do things the easy way so it has taken me more than 18 months (including 3 moves and 9 months in Korea...in my defense) to get to my 3rd stripe on my white belt. Once I earn my 4th stripe, I will be eligible to test for my blue belt. My goal is to have it by the end of the summer.

Between having to get The Boy to school in the morning and my coaching job in the afternoon/evening, it's been next to impossible to get in to train during the school year. On occasion, MacGyver is able to take The Boy to school and I can go roll but that is sporadic at best. Once summer starts and school is out, I will be able to hit the morning sessions and make good progress toward my blue belt. I'm also hoping to be able to at least make the R&D sessions (reflex and development) in the evenings as well. I need to really work on cementing the moves into my brain and building up the muscle memory so I don't have to think to do them. 

I try not to get frustrated with the snail's pace at which I feel I'm progressing. For me, I want everything to happen RIGHT. NOW. Not 2 years down the road. Patience is not a virtue with which I have been blessed. I blame the red hair. And I try not to compare myself with others I roll with - others who have the privilege of time that I do not - who have progressed much further much faster. My journey is mine and mine alone and comparison sucks the joy out of life, right? 


- hfs


Not done yet

I don't make New Year's resolutions, as I've discussed before. But I do make goals and I had three biggies walking in to 2016: 

1. Get involved properly with Team Rubicon (as opposed to just being the annoying cheerleader).
2. Successfully test for my blue belt in jiu-jitsu.
3. Retake the EMT-B course and pass the NREMT exam.

Two weeks ago, I was able to participate in the largest training event in TR history so #1 on my list gets crossed off. Last week, I applied to the local community college in order to register for their EMT-B course in the fall. And Friday, I earned my third stripe on my white belt. This summer I will earn my fourth stripe and test for my blue belt in jiu-jitsu. Looks like I might actually nail all of my goals this year. I don't remember the last time that happened.

I'm not sure what the difference between this year and previous years is but I do feel a difference in my mindset. I feel like I've been holding my breath for SO LONG, waiting for life's kinks to work themselves out and for things to return to 'normal'. And it's not going to. It's taken me almost 7 years to figure this out (I'm a slow learner in some capacities...) and I'm hoping the lesson sticks.

I still have no idea what I want to BE when I grow up but sitting around waiting for life to get its act together isn't doing me any good. And, since I'm not dead yet, it's best to get on with living.

I have a bunch of other stuff on my list of goals for the year, and as I achieve them and cross them off, I add more. Right now the rest of my list looks something like this:

4. Finish up all of the ICS classes that Team Rubicon offers 
5. Attain my ASCA Level 2 swim coaching certification
6. Become sawyer certified with TR
7. Get my Heavy Equipment Operator certification with TR
8. Begin relearning Korean
9. Work my way through the rest of the Audio Essentials training guide
10. Read 150 books by year's end (I'm on book #31 right now)

I'm sure there's more but those are the top 10. I would add to that 'deploy with Team Rubicon' but I don't want to tie one of my goals to someone else's pain in the face of a natural disaster.

Then there are the smaller goals such as declutter the basement, spend more time at the range, clear the brush on a few parts of our land that I want cleared, repaint my bedroom, install shelves in the laundry room, etc. But those are more of a 'to do' list than a list of goals.

And now I'm rambling. Time to go walk the dogs. 

- hfs