10.21.2017

This Lousy World



I'm currently reading Brené Brown's new book, "Braving the Wilderness" and have come to the conclusion that she is my spirit animal. It's like having a therapist in a convenient carrying package, bound between the covers of the pages. Lately, I've been struggling to articulate why I am so enmeshed in my work - why it is so important to me - and then I pick this book up and I'm blown away. She nails it.

Brown writes, "So if we love the idea of humankind but people in general are constantly on our nerves, and we can't cover everything we don't like in leather, how do we cultivate and grow our belief in inextricable human connection internally?  The answer that emerged from my research shocked me. Show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can actually bear witness to inextricable human connection. 
...
In simpler terms, we have to catch some of that lightning in a bottle. We have to catch enough glimpses of people connecting to one another and having fun together that we believe it's true and possible for all of us.
...
I always knew these moments were important to me. I knew they were connected to my spiritual well-being and allowed me to stay in love with humanity while doing research that can be devastating and hard. I just didn't know why. Now I do."


YESYESYESYESYES.

Oh, my heart. Yes.


This is why I love what I do. I don't love the admin side of things (I don't dislike it. I just don't love it) - the conference calls and the endless onslaught of emails and being a punching bag for people's frustrations when things don't go the way they are expected or desired to. That's the JOB part of my work. But the reason BEHIND why those things need to get done, the people we serve on the disaster ground and the volunteers whose lives are impacted by that service...that is what I love. And I couldn't explain to people WHY I love it so much until Brené Brown put it to words.

This work is the epitome of showing up for the collective moments of joy and pain. It is evidence of the inextricable human connection, day in and day out. And it's not just during a disaster; these moments play out during our training events, our social events, and in the middle of Facebook chats every single day.

It is this...




People can get on our nerves. We can get to the point where all we want to do is blanket the world in leather so we don't have to put up with those things that annoy us and I find myself there more often than I care to admit. The one thing that recalibrates my perspective on people, on humanity, is getting up off my ass and showing up for those moments. And let me tell you, rarely do those moments happen while sitting in front of my computer or in my own house.

Matthew 22:36-40
36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."


This.


9.18.2017

Changed

Coming off of my deployment with Team Rubicon to Rockport as part of the response to Hurricane Harvey and stepping right into the craziness that is Trigger 2 hasn't allowed me much time to process and I've barely scratched the surface. What I keep coming back to are the gifts afforded me through my week in Rockport. 






1. Friendship.
Not only was I able to spend a week doing the things I love with some of the people I love, I was able to meet even more incredible people from outside my region. The Command & General Staff (C&G) was comprised of some of the most professional, capable, kick-ass people I've had the pleasure to work within TR. The strike teams were also of the same caliber and it was an incredible pleasure getting to know them. And the people we were blessed to help...I don't have words for that part.

2. Learning.
I had the immense pleasure of not only being ON a sawyer strike team that week, but I was also afforded the privilege of leading that strike team the last two days that I was in Texas. It was intimidating but I have been fortunate to be taught and led by some amazing sawyers over the course of the past year and I was able to fall back on that training in addition to the fact that the sawyers and swampers on the team were incredibly skilled and capable. I learned more about felling trees, bucking and limbing, and maintaining saws in this one week than in the entire time I've been running a saw.

3. Challenge.
It was hot and humid and exhausting. But none of that compared with the challenges the residents of Rockport and Aransas Pass had faced and were facing. It was humbling to be there. It was a blessing to not only be able to support the residents of south Texas, but my teammates as well.

4. Connection.
NOTHING brings people together like shared challenge. There is a depth of connection forged through hours of sweat and effort and work that is tough to find elsewhere.

5. Service.
The sense of self-worth, of purpose garnered through serving others and expecting NOTHING in return is indescribable. It's invigorating. It's fulfilling. It's addictive.

6. Frustration.
The operation itself is huge. There are many moving parts. Things get lost or broken and failures happen. But there is no malice in any of it and remembering that keeps everything else in perspective. This has been helpful as our regional team works to make Trigger 2 successful. What would have seemed like monumental frustrations without Harvey in the mix are now put firmly into perspective.

7. Perspective.
Funny...I was just talking about this. All of the small, annoying, petty issues fade away when you drive through a town that was hit with the eye of a hurricane and set out to help people that have lost pretty much everything they own. There is a perspective gained when clearing debris from the front yard of a home while looking for a glass Japanese float that the homeowner asked you to keep an eye out for. And when you find it and you hand it to him and his face lights up like it's the most precious thing he's seen in a week, nothing else really matters at that point.

8. Exhaustion.
There is a clarity that comes from being bone-tired; a purity of thoughts, of feelings, of emotions. It strips away our defenses, our distractions, our petty worries and leaves us raw and open.






I'm not sure I've recovered from any of it, nor am I sure I want to. I want to stay changed.

5.30.2017

Two months in - a review

Coming up on my two-month anniversary working for Team Rubicon, and to say it's been a whirlwind would be quite the understatement. In those two months, I've been to Los Angeles as part of our 'National Sync', I've managed to knock out the requirements necessary to complete my Regional Chainsaw Instructor certification, deployed on an operation in Missouri in response to flooding, tackled the challenges of learning the ins and outs of our volunteer tracking database, tried to teach myself the difference between facilitating and doing (sometimes failing miserably), been a part of more conference calls than I can count, and had the privilege to work with some of the most incredible people I've met in my life.

It's been a blast. I'm loving it. It's a daily challenge: How do we better engage our current members? How do we reach the military veteran population and offer up to them the amazing opportunities TR offers in terms of this incredible sense of purpose and community? How do we best shepherd our assets - those donor dollars that are so very precious? How do we increase the impact we have as an organization both to the affected communities and to TR's volunteers, particularly this amazing regional leadership that turns itself inside out to help at every opportunity? How do we honor and reward their commitment? These are the thoughts and questions that run through my mind all day, every day.

And in addition to all of this, MacGyver has a JOB!! He started flying with a local medevac company at the beginning of May and is enjoying it immensely. His schedule is kind of...fluid as he settles in, which makes for some challenging coordination when it comes to my crazy schedule and his, but things should settle down soon and we'll find a rhythm. Thankfully, with school out now, things get a little easier in terms of who needs to be where and when.

Oh, and did I mention I'm still in school full-time? Somehow I have to figure out how to get my required rig/clinical time in before the end of the class. Not sure how or if that's going to work but we'll see.

I wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe the ability to teleport...

4.04.2017

Binary

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.

3.18.2017

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.


2.23.2017

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!


1.07.2017

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...

This Lousy World

I'm currently reading Brené Brown's new book, "Braving the Wilderness" and have come to the conclusion that she is my...