But lately I am beginning to find
That when I drive myself my light is found

My father was a Safety Engineer. He spent decades working in both the international construction industry as well as the public utility industry, trying to keep people from killing themselves at work and investigating when they did. Growing up, the best way to irritate him was run with a lollipop in my mouth or hand him back the scissors, blades first.

I took my first CPR and First Aid courses when I was 16 and was hooked. Became a lifeguard at 17 and have been ever since. When I was in college, I signed up for the EMT course at the local junior college and fell in love. I loved everything about it - the anatomy, the physiology, the pressure, the details, all of it. My clinical hours at the hospital weren't anything remarkable but my ride-along in the ambulance was.

We had transported a lady from the nursing home to the hospital. I had been instructed not to touch anything or do anything - I was simply there to observe. No problem. I sat in the jump seat between the Paramedic and the EMT, asked a ton of questions, tried my best not to be in the way or annoying, and tried to absorb everything. Well, everything except bodily fluids. Those are gross.

We dropped off the patient and we're on the 405 in the middle of midday traffic, heading back to the station. It was busy but not gridlocked. All of a sudden, the Paramedic says, "Oh, shit" and BAM. We had been rear-ended. Some guy in a Geo Metro (go Google it...) had careened across 4 lanes of traffic - from the fast lane to the slow lane - and tagged the back end of the rig. Hard. 16,000-pound ambulance versus 2,000 Geo Metro. It didn't end well for him.

The Paramedic throws the rig in park and starts to get out, telling the EMT in the passenger seat to get on the radio, call dispatch, tell them what's going on, and request assistance. The EMT freezes.

He just sat there.

The Paramedic looks at me and tells me to do what he just told the EMT to do and then come find him outside. I reminded him I had been told not to touch anything or DO anything. He told me to ignore that. So I radioed dispatch, told them what was going on, requested assistance, and grabbed gloves. Found the Paramedic with a very combative and VERY drunk unrestrained and bloody driver in what was left of the Metro.

The EMT was still sitting in the rig.

The Paramedic had me go get a C-collar and a K.E.D. so I grabbed those and brought them back to him. He transferred control of the patient's head to me, as I sat in the backseat behind the driver's seat. Thankfully the seat separated us because Mr. Combative was swinging. I'm not sure if it was because he was drunk or because his face had met the windshield at 55 mph. Or both. Regardless, he was unhappy about his current situation and was trying to take it out on me. Thankfully he *was* drunk and not very accurate in his swings. The Paramedic managed to get him collared and calmed down without getting punched and we started to get his bleeding under control.

By the time the next rig, fire engine, and highway patrol officers made it to us, we had him collared, bandaged, and assessed. Meanwhile, the EMT remained sitting in the passenger seat of the rig. I was able to help with the extrication as well. Lousy day for the EMT but a great day for me!

I went on to finish the class and had planned to take the NREMT, but we moved to Colorado right after I finished the course and they were paying EMTs about $6.50/hour, whereas I could make $10/hour as a swim coach. Money talks so I walked away from the EMT world.

And I've regretted it ever since.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE coaching and I can't wait to get back on deck. But I've spent every year since I walked away from my EMT certification trying to get it back. When we were in Alaska, I found a course I could take in the summer, between school years. But then I found out I couldn't take it while pregnant and I was pregnant with my first child.

I found a class in Hawaii but MacGyver's crazy deployment/training schedule made it impossible with littles at home. I found a class here in Oz but see above. And there were no classes in Korea.

Go figure.

But now we're back. And my littles aren't little anymore. And life has eased up a bit. And I have access to the GI Bill. And...it might just work. Our lead pastor is a Paramedic and (former?) Flight Medic. He has connections in this local world and, during our 'on-boarding' session, he sat there and texted the EMT instructor to verify that he'd be teaching the class again in the fall. He will.

This may actually happen. There are some logistics to work out but I'm doing my best not to sweat details that are 9 months out. I don't know what my life is going to look like much beyond tomorrow so I see no sense in expending precious energy stressing over something months away. Or so I keep telling myself.

I don't know that I even want to go work as an EMT - mainly I want to get my certification so I can put it to use with Team Rubicon (still working on that post...), but I suspect I will need to work as an EMT in order to gain the experience necessary to help with TR. So there's that.

I don't 'do' resolutions each year. Not my thing. But I always have goals - things I want to accomplish, complete, learn, do. Getting back on deck, regaining my EMT certification, and working with TR are my top 3 right now and they are all kind of lining up. I'm almost afraid to hope.

But I will anyway.

- hfs


I suck at sleeping

So I suck at sleeping. I've never really been good at it. I can remember being put down for a nap as a child and just...lying there. Forever. Staring at the ceiling. Staring out the window. Flopping from end to end of the bed. But rarely sleeping. It's not that I *don't* sleep. I'm just not very good at it.

It takes me easily 30 minutes - but sometimes up to 2 hours - to get TO sleep. MacGyver must have a button in his butt somewhere that switches him to sleep mode as soon as he passes 45 degrees as he is on his way to putting his head on his pillow. I've always envied that. Then again, he's rarely able to sleep past 0530 so I suspect it's a 'pick your poison' situation. I seem to do my 'best' sleeping between the hours of 0200 and 0600. Before and after that, it's a crap shoot.

I've tried meds. Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata...all of them do weird things to my brain (which is already weird enough, thankyouverymuch) and leave me feeling hung over for days. Ditto for Unisom, NyQuil/ZQuil, etc. And we won't even discuss the havoc that Benadryl wreaks on my brain. Have you ever read about the weird things people do on Ambien? I do them on Benadryl. I am a lightweight. My body seems to hyper metabolize medications. I've tried dietary modifications - cutting out caffeine, cutting out carbs, increasing my water intake, increasing my exercise and rarely do I see any effects. I came to the conclusion a long while ago that this is just how I'm wired.

Someone turned me on to melatonin a while back and I gave it a try. Knowing that I am a lightweight, I started with 1mg. And it worked! It's just enough to get me TO sleep without leaving me feeling like I am trying to surface after being 20,000 leagues under the sea the next day. It has literally been a lifesaver. I tried the higher dosages but I'm left feeling groggy the next day. The way my life is right now, I cannot afford to be groggy. So 1mg works pretty well.

There are some nights where my body and my brain rebel, even against the melatonin. Those are the nights I just gut it out (yay caffeine!) and hope the next night is better. Most of the time, it is but there are some nights/weeks that it is relentless. Those are tough. I'm hoping that an increase in my intake of magnesium might show some promise. We'll see. In the meantime, I'll cling to the knowledge that Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein were quite successful even though they didn't need much sleep. 

- hfs

P.S. Apparently, insomnia has been a topic here before. And also before.



I've been swimming longer than I've been walking.

My mom had me in the water long before I ever took my first steps. I took swimming lessons every summer and was one of the "Pool Rats" that practically lived at the pool in the summers. I sweated chlorine. But there were no club teams near us and, even if there were, that was beyond our budget. So I didn't start swimming competitively until I was in high school.

My coaches in high school definitely favored yardage over technique so my stroke never improved. If anything, it suffered because I was putting in 7,000 to 10,000 yards per day doing the wrong things. Needless to say, I was an adequate swimmer. My best time in the 200FR was something around a 2:30. I busted my ass but I busted it with crappy technique. It wasn't until I went through WSI training and learned the proper stroke mechanics that I was able to finally improve my own stroke. (it's still mediocre but at least now it's technically correct)

I've been struggling lately. Before we left for Korea, I was itching to get back on deck. It hadn't been possible in Hawaii, primarily because I had two littles at home that I was homeschooling and a husband that worked crazy hours. And my kids didn't swim. Then we came here and they started swimming, so I mentioned to the head coach that I had coached in the past and was willing to help - volunteer, even.

And I was turned down.

No worries. They had enough coaches and I wasn't needed. Then summer rolled around and they were short on coaches so I offered to help out again. And again, I was turned down.

That hurt. I was never given a reason - just told no. So I licked my wounds and moved on. I started officiating and found I enjoyed it - not as much as coaching, but it helped dull the sting.

We moved to Korea and the team there needed help so I was able to get back on deck and it was glorious. I was in my element. I've been coaching since I turned 18 and I truly enjoy it. I've coached multiple levels - stroke development/swim lessons, age-group, and high school. I'm ASCA certified - working on Level 2 - and have a B.S. in Kinesiology. I'm not just some swimmer-turned-coach because those who can't do, teach. It's a passion and I love it. It's a part of who I am. But then we left Korea and, in leaving, my coaching job. I left a piece of myself behind.

I don't miss teaching in a classroom. With No Child Left Behind and Common Core and the advent of every student with a cell phone, the idea of stepping back into a classroom gives me hives.

But I miss coaching. Desperately.

In Korea, I was blessed to have another coach working alongside me (I can't call her an assistant coach because she wasn't an assistant.) who swam at the collegiate level - something I never did. She brought with her an amazing knowledge base and expertise, and it was a joy to learn from her. It was a privilege to work with her and I'm still nursing the disappointment of having to leave sooner than I expected. She took the Korea team and has grown it immensely. I love watching their progress and seeing the program grow, but I miss being a part of it. I miss being a part of a team.

That being said, I get to start a new chapter next week. The local high school had an opening for an assistant coach so I put in for it and was hired. I am almost giddy at the thought of setting foot back on deck in a capacity other than that of official. Logistically it's going to be a struggle. MacGyver is still in school and not able to help out much so I'm going to have to jump through my butt to get people to the places they need to be while meeting all of my other obligations (did I mention I'm still working 20-25 hours per week at my 'regular' job and thankfully they are letting me duck out early 3x/week to go coach? And did I mention that I'm also juggling 2, possibly 3, other side jobs, volunteering to officiate, and trying to ramp up my Team Rubicon involvement? Yeah...I need a freaking cape.).

But I'll be coaching. It will all be worth it.

I can't freaking wait.

- hfs

P.S. More coaching adventures can be found HERE and HERE.


Getting my feet back under me

Lately, I've been obsessed with finding new music to listen to. Here's the thing...I'm not musically inclined in terms of playing instruments or being able to sing. I don't make people next to me cringe when I sing but my voice is not worthy of being on stage. I can carry a tune in a bucket but that's about it. I played violin from 4th through 8th grade but never learned to read music and dropped it the moment swim team came into my life.

Recently, I started learning to play bass. A friend asked me why I chose bass and my reasoning is that, compared to guitar/piano/etc., it's relatively easy - not as many notes to play in any given song. And there aren't that many female bassists so there's that niche. I'm learning and doing my best to also learn to read music as I go. Thankfully MacGyver is a great sound guy and has set me up with a mini sound board, amp, etc. at home and my friend that is teaching me to play loaned me a 4-string to practice on at home.

Getting back to music...I'm not a musician. But I have loved music all my life. My first memories from childhood involve music. It has surrounded me all my life. My tastes in music are about as varied as anyone I've ever met. I don't discriminate between genres...or languages. A friend mentioned he was listening to Ukranian pop the other day so off I went to find some to listen to. My 80gb iPod is almost full and 75% of it is music. The rest is language lessons. That's a good 60gb of music and that's not everything I own. It's how I relate to people, it's how I connect spiritually, it's as if my life has an ongoing soundtrack.

The other day, someone pointed me in the direction of Marcus Foster and I found this song. It fit.

I remember hearing a long time ago that our bodies often function in 7-year cycles. I have no idea if that's true, but my life - and my body - have been a bit derailed for the past seven years or so. I've spent the past seven years feeling like Bambi on the icy pond, unable to get my feet back under me. Every time I feel like I've found my feet, they splay back out from underneath me and I'm back to being face down on the ice. I'm still not on solid ground just yet but I can feel myself inching back toward dry ground.

To that end, I'm trying to get back into writing. I finally feel like the log jam in my head is starting to clear and that I can finally start processing things verbally instead of just rolling with the punches. We'll see.

We'll see...

- hfs


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...