I recently traveled through a busy airport and found myself staring at a wall of New York Times Best Seller's. I needed something. Something to keep my mind busy while traveling all night across the Atlantic and across time zones. I was prepared to be tired, almost 20 years in this career have prepared me for this trip. My best friend and I had planned this trip for the past 10 years. When she turned 50 she would start her new life and retire from the career that brought our friendship together. I'm excited for her! She is going to do all the things we've talked about... then why did her exit feel so sad. Change is hard. People moving on is difficult when you love them. When you really want them to stay because of the memories you share.
Anyway, back to the book shelf. My eyes caught a book I've wanted to read for years, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson. It was published in 2016 and as of September 2019 it has sold over 8 million copies. I felt this trip was a pivotal moment and required a pivotal book to snap my head back from being an emotional baby and enjoy the time we have. I needed something to remind me our time is valuable, probably our biggest commodity. We shouldn't waste it. So, I bought the book. It was great. I read it on the flight and finished prior to landing in Madrid. (It's a quick read.) Here are the main take aways...
Summaries by James Clear...
Here's another short video to summerizes some more of the main points. I think this guy says it perfectly. I hope you enjoy and are a little uncomfortable with this post... it means you learned something.
I was standing on the apron at Station 62 watching the ladder retract when Captain Green asked, “You ever been up in that?”
“No.” I answered.
“You wanna?” he asked.
“Um…YEAH!” was my answer.
A 95-foot change in elevation is a change in perspective! North Marysville looks smaller. There are more trees left scattered in neighborhoods than I would have guessed. Traffic doesn’t look as bad as it does from behind the wheel at State and 100th.
A change in perspective can completely alter an experience. It can even change outcomes. As First Responders, you have been trained to understand this. When one approach to a problem isn’t working, you’ve got to change your point of view; look at it from a different angle and that new perspective can be the difference between life and death.
But a new point of view can change other kinds of outcomes too. Like worldview, self-image, personal satisfaction, and longevity.
“You see moments that were never intended to be viewed by strangers…”
You are beckoned into the worst day of someone else’s life on every shift. You see not only physical trauma and chaos but you see emotional, psychological and spiritual crisis…and you see it up close. You don’t step into homes after they have carefully prepared for your arrival, you see lives in candid snap shots, moments of reality that were never intended to be viewed by strangers…even welcome strangers.
You are collecting a series of these snapshots which slowly start form a narrative, a scrapbook of what “life” is like. What “people” are like. What “society” is like, and by extension, what you are like. It becomes your perspective.
Seeing the world (and yourself) from this perspective is an honor and a burden. A terrible burden. Therefore, surviving a 30 year career with a functional body, intact relationships and a non-f**cked-up brain is no easy task. But a regular change in perspective can greatly increase the odds that you succeed.
“Climb a ladder every now and and see the world from a different angle.”
Part of your strategy for staying healthy and effective should include intentionally “climbing a ladder” on a regular basis and looking at the world from a different angle:
- Take in a live theater, dance or music performance. Make it something you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re a country music fan, go to the ballet. If you’re an art snob, check out an open mic night at the local dive.
- Walk to the store, library or kid’s school instead of driving. Do it in different weather, at different times and in different seasons.
- Play the coin flip adventure game: Get in the car and at the end of the driveway, flip a coin. Heads you go right; Tails you go left. Every time you get to an intersection, flip the coin. Do this 20 times and see where you end up.
- Go to a youth sporting event that doesn’t involve your own kids.
- Go to church. You don’t have to commit, convert or continue…just go. If you already go to church, visit a different one.
- Go to a pet store, visit a zoo.
- Get outside…in nature. Not in an RV or on a machine, but on your feet. If you walk past trees, touch them. A river; put your hands in; if you’re at the beach and want to sit on a rock, choose the biggest one.
- On the silly side: sleep with your feet where your head normally rests. Sleep outside on your deck this summer. Rearrange the furniture in your living room. Wear a hat or shoes that will cause people to ask you about them.
Change your perspective. You need to be reminded that the world is not just BLS calls, transports, HOD’s and equipment checks. Yes…it is those things. But there’s so much more…
City of Marysville
1635 Grove Street, Marysville, Wa. 98270
I came across a friends post this morning, and while it is a short read I think it is remarkably accurate. We aren't to blame for the traumas that occur in our lives. We did not choose that type of heart ache, however, how we choose to respond is our decision. We have to hold ourselves accountable for OUR recovery and healing. Putting in the work to come out the other side and see your personal growth is truly a gift. The gift of helping someone going through something you can relate to, is YOUR calling.
I hope you enjoy! Happy 2020!
Trauma Is Not Your Fault, But Healing Is Your Responsibility
By Brianna WiestUpdated January 7, 2020
God & Man
"What happened to you was not your fault.
It was not something you asked for, it was not something you deserved.
What happened to you was not fair.
You were merely collateral damage on someone else’s warpath, an innocent bystander who got wrecked out of proximity.
We are all traumatized by life, some of us from egregious wrongdoings, others by unprocessed pain and sidelined emotions. No matter the source, we are all handed a play of cards, and sometimes, they are not a winning hand.
Yet what we cannot forget is that even when we are not at fault, healing in the aftermath will always fall on us — and instead of being burdened by this, we can actually learn to see it as a rare gift.
Healing is our responsibility because if it isn’t, an unfair circumstance becomes an unlived life.
Healing is our responsibility because unprocessed pain gets transferred to everyone around us, and we are not going to allow what someone else did to us to become what we do to those we love.
Healing is our responsibility because we have this one life, this single shot to do something important.
Healing is our responsibility because if we want our lives to be different, sitting and waiting for someone else to make them so will not actually change them. It will only make us dependent and bitter.
Healing is our responsibility because we have the power to heal ourselves, even if we have previously been led to believe we don’t.
Healing is our responsibility because we are uncomfortable, and discomfort almost always signals a place in life in which we are slated to rise up and transform.
Healing is our responsibility because every great person you deeply admire began with every odd against them, and learned their inner power was no match for the worst of what life could offer.
Healing is our responsibility because “healing” is actually not returning to how and who we were before, it is becoming someone we have never been — someone stronger, someone wiser, someone kinder.
When we heal, we step into the people we have always wanted to be. We are not only able to metabolize the pain, we are able to affect real change in our lives, in our families, and in our communities. We are able to pursue our dreams more freely. We are able to handle whatever life throws at us, because we are self-efficient and assured. We are more willing to dare, risk, and dream of broader horizons, ones we never thought we’d reach.
The thing is that when someone else does something wrong and it affects us, we often sit around waiting for them to take the pain away, as though they could come along and undo what has been done.
We fail to realize that in that hurt are the most important lessons of our lives, the fertile breeding ground upon which we can start to build everything we really want.
We are not meant to get through life unscathed.
We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.
Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond — and who we become — that determines whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the victim became the hero."( Wiest, Brianna. 2020.https://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2019/10/trauma-is-not-your-fault-but-healing-is-your-responsibility/)
About the author
Brianna Wiest is the author of I Am The Hero Of My Own Life, Salt Water, and 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think. Follow Brianna on Instagram or read more articles from Brianna on Thought Catalog.
Somewhere along the path of life most adults stop playing. I don't mean sitting on your phone reading Facebook, or scrolling Instagram. I mean PLAYING. Playing basketball, pickle ball, video games, cards, Jenga, frisbee...PLAYING.
I want to make an argument that adults need to play, just like children. Something I have noticed and science backs this up, that when adults play they have an elevated state of joy. This joyous state bonds social groups making cooperation more likely, it heals emotional turmoil, produces vast neurotransmitters, it boosts productivity and innovation. The thing about "PLAY" is it works off. What researchers have found is the cerebellum lights up and the frontal lobe is engaged. The right side of the cerebellum produces a state of connectedness. The right side of the cerebellum, as you might know, is responsible for most creative discovery. The place where artists construct and musicians create. It's interesting that this is where "play" highlights. The frontal lobe also is lit up. The place where decision making, detail orientation and executive function is found.
For all these reasons, firefighters and other high stress, hyper vigilant groups should be encouraged to "play". I want to talk about this because so often the fire service prides it self on traditions in training, policy making, and our obsession with outward perception of what society sees. We care more about looking good then actually going the extra mile. I want to argue that not making time to play, that forcing our people to be sleep deprived and policy following doesn't lead to patient, emotionally stable individuals. We need balance. We need time to blow off stress, connect with our crew, get into that space where we joyously laugh. I want to challenge the traditional thought. I want my crew to go the extra mile. Do the extra work to improve our societies emergencies. If that means more play, I'm in.
Check out the video with PH.D Stuart Brown and the article below.
Here are more reasons why saunas are proving to have wonderful cardiovascular and health/life span effects. Enjoy!!
Regular sauna users may have fewer chronic diseases
Lisa Rapaport5 MIN READ
(Reuters Health) - People who visit the sauna frequently may be less likely to develop heart and lung diseases or to get the flu than those who rarely go, a research review suggests.
FILE PHOTO: A view of a sauna in Gdynia November 27, 2011. REUTERS/Peter Andrews Past studies on the health benefits of saunas have yielded mixed results because they focused on many different types of sauna and were too small or brief to assess long-term health outcomes from routine use, the authors note in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
In the current study, researchers examined only the type of sauna typically used in Finland, where saunas are engrained in daily life for many adults. These saunas usually have temperatures of 80 to 100 degrees Celsius (176 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit) and very dry air, with relative humidity of about 10 to 20 percent.
When they looked at research focused on Finnish saunas, the study team found routine use associated with a lower risk of many common chronic health problems as well as a lower risk of premature death from all causes.
“Beyond pleasure and relaxation, evidence suggests that sauna bathing has several health benefits, which include reduction in the risk of vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke and memory diseases,” said lead author Dr. Jari Laukkanen of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.
“Sauna is also related to a lower risk of pulmonary diseases including asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Laukkanen said by email.
One study in the current analysis, for example, found that going to the sauna at least four times a week was associated with a roughly 50 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease. This study included 2,315 people and also linked regular sauna use to a 40 percent lower risk of premature death from all causes.
Another study in the analysis compared the effects of using the sauna for 19 minutes versus 11 minutes. In this study, longer sauna sessions were linked to a 17 percent lower risk of premature death from all causes, as well as a 36 percent lower chance of death from heart disease.
In a third study in the analysis, with 1,621 participants, using the sauna at least four times weekly was tied to a 47 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than going once weekly.
Yet another study linked at least four weekly sauna visits with about 66 percent lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than going just once a week.
Two other studies found going to the sauna at least four times a week associated with a 41 percent lower risk of respiratory diseases and a 37 percent lower chance of pneumonia than going once weekly.
The review wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how regular sauna visits might directly reduce the risk of developing or dying from common health problems. The researchers also did not pool and analyze data to examine the risk of certain outcomes across multiple smaller studies.
Still, it’s possible that regular sauna bathing helps reduce blood pressure, inflammation, oxidative stress, circulation of bad cholesterol and stiffness in the arteries, the authors note.
“When the body is exposed to the heat, blood vessels in the skin dilate (become wider) to bring blood from the inside of the body to the skin surface where heat can be exchanged with the environment,” said Daniel Gagnon of the University of Montreal, who wasn’t involved in the study.
“This response causes the heart to beat faster which in turn increases the circulation of blood throughout the body,” Gagnon said by email. “Increased blood circulation is generally beneficial for blood vessel health, and this could be one reason why sauna bathing is associated with so many health benefits, especially those related to heart and blood vessel diseases.”
Risks of sauna use include dizziness and dangerously low blood pressure, especially with longer sessions.
SOURCE: bit.ly/2MbKoqe Mayo Clinic Proceedings, online July 31, 2018.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Doctor Beth Murphy said something to this effect last week. She said it differently, but the impact it made was the same. "You guys spend more time taking care of your apparatus's then you do your people." I stopped in my tracks. I think we all did. All ,as in the Marysville peer support team. We spend more time taking care and maintaining our rigs then we do taking care of ourselves. We schedule oil changes, tires rotations. When things aren't working the rigs go immediately into the shop, no questions asked. When was the last time you scheduled a visit with a counselor to just check in? Or a better question, Why don't we treat ourselves better than a piece of machinery?
We run ourselves ragged with work, appointments, second and third jobs, college, kids and life. It gets away from us. We are so busy trying to be everything to everyone. We end up hurting ourselves.
I'm not trying to shame anyone, I know all our circumstances are different. What I am posing is a question, When was the last time you treated your body/mind/spirit with the maintenance attitude of that of you vehicle?
Please reach out to myself or any of the peer members if you need help finding a counselor.
We have some resources to help you and your family find someone you enjoy talking to.
It has always amazed me what you can learn from people. If you listen and ask the right questions what you can see in them. What motivates them, what they do. People are more than the exterior they present. The fire service culture has created a carbon copy of what a fire fighter looks like; athletic, clean cut, a "yes, sir" attitude, mechanical aptitude, etc... It's only when you work side by side you learn the layers these people have. It's in their strengths, their passions and their vulnerabilities that you learn what their true WORK is. Their life's work. It's that, "thing" that makes your heart beat a little faster, that gets you up in the morning and keeps you up late. You do the work because you know it matters. It will improve someones life and experiences. You know the work you are doing will help someone else up.
I see the work we all do. I see it in your training, in your coaching, in your beautiful work ethic, and the care you give your families. I hope we all keep doing our lives work, to enrich our families, friends, our departments.
Enjoy this video. It's the difference between your job and your work.
This Ted Talk completely spoke to me. I think in the fire service we put on our armor/ego and pretend that we are invincible. We shut off emotions to deal with catastrophes and sometimes we have a hard time turning those emotions back on. I'm sure I'm not alone, I'll admit that there have been times in my life where that callous feels too thick, too real, and I've felt numb. Numb and guilty for feeling that way. I think this video high lights that sometimes the hardest thing for us to do, show our vulnerability, is the only way to transform OUR lives and the people around us. To love ourselves, our families, and each other in a more genuine and authentic way.
Check out this short video. A friend showed it to me and I have to say, its pretty interesting! Hope you enjoy and spend some time visualizing your happy, your goals, your path.
I truly geek out over gardening. I love the prepping of the dirt, the labor that goes into weeding, raking, roto-tilling. I love the smell of the amended soil. The daily watering, the harvest, the clean up. I seriously love it all. I think the reason I come back to gardening every spring is the way gardening makes me feel. My favorite thing to do when I come home from an all nighter, think mid July, is to go out to my garden, turn on the water and walk around. I observe the changes that took place while I was gone and feel the sense of peace knowing everything is thriving.
Gardening has a way of connecting people back to the earth by lowering our cortisol levels, stress hormones. Check out this article below. Maybe building mini station gardens, (flowers, vegetables, fruit trees) would benefit us more than just our station meals? Maybe they would become our focal point for decompression, relaxation, and a place where we could share our harvest with the community?
Petal Power: Why Is Gardening So Good For Our Mental Health?10 ways horticulture helps us heal, overcome anxiety and lift low mood
Posted May 13, 2015
By: Sarah Rayner
"Time and again research reveals that gardening has a positive effect on our mental health, so let's explore what it is that seems to make horticulture so healing.
Source: Sarah Rayner1. Looking after plants gives us a sense of responsibility.
I remember when my mother gave me a little spot in our garden to tend. I must have been about five. I demarcated it with stones and planted forget-me-nots and ‘poached eggs' flowers that still make me smile.
Source: Eric Rayner, used with permissionHaving to care for plants is a good way to learn to look after and respect other living things and when we are small it helps develop an appreciation of the magic of nature.
2. Gardening allows us all to be nurturers.
It doesn’t matter if we are seven or seventy, male, female or transgender, gardening underlines that we are all nurturers. Horticulture is a great equalizer: plants don’t give a fig who is tending them and for those with mental health problems to be able to contribute to such a transformative activity can help boost self-esteem.
3. Gardening keeps us connected to other living things.
Gardening can act as a gentle reminder to us that we are not the centre of the universe. Self-absorption can contribute to depression, and focusing on the great outdoors – even in the pared-down form of a patio – can encourage us to be less insular.
As long ago as 2003, research concluded that for those in mental health units and prison, the social nature of group gardening is beneficial because it centers on collective skills and aspirations rather than individual symptoms and deficits. Yet to dig and delve in a walled or fenced garden also helps to keep vulnerable people within boundaries both literally and metaphorically, allowing them to feel safe at the same time as they expand their horizons.
article continues after advertisement4. Gardening helps us relax and let go.
For many the peacefulness associated with gardening comes not from its social aspect however, but the opposite. It enables us to escape from other people. ‘Flowers are restful to look at. They have no emotions or conflict,’ said Freud. Tending to plants allows us to tap into the carefree part of ourselves with no deadlines, mortgage or annoying colleagues to worry about.
Source: Sarah RaynerMoreover, the rhythmic nature of many tasks associated with horticulture – weeding, trimming, sowing, sweeping – allows thoughts to ebb and flow along with our movements. I often take to watering the plants in my patio when trying to untangle the knots in plots or characterization that can arise when writing a novel, and all too often the solution comes to me far more easily there than if I sit staring and despairing at my screen. The competing thoughts inside my head somehow clear and settle, and ideas that are barely formed take shape.
5. Working in nature releases happy hormones.
To say that gardening encourages us to exercise and spend time outdoors might seem a statement of the obvious, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that what’s good for the body is also good for the mind. When I’m deeply immersed in writing it can be all too easy to forget this, but when we exercise levels of serotonin and dopamine (hormones that make us feel good) rise and the level of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress), is lowered. It’s true that a session in the garden can be tiring, but it can also get rid of excess energy so you sleep better and ultimately feel renewed inside.
article continues after advertisementSource: Sarah Rayner6. Being amongst plants and flowers reminds us to live in the present moment.
As I explain in my little book on anxiety, 'when we let go of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future and instead focus on the here and now, anxiety lessens’. So one of the best ways to calm the anxious mind and lift mood is to become more ‘present’. Next time you’re in a garden, pause for a few moments and allow yourself to be aware of your senses.
Listen. Touch. Smell. See.
Just a short time experiencing the fullness of nature like this can be very restorative.
7. Gardening reminds us of the cycle of life, and thus come to terms with that most universal of anxieties: death.
Source: Sarah RaynerRituals can help us work through difficult emotions, including grief, and gardening is a form of ritual involving both the giving of life and acknowledgement of its end; it's symbolic of regeneration. It’s no coincidence we create gardens of remembrance and mark the scattered ashes and graves of our loved ones with roses, shrubs and trees; by doing so we’re acknowledging that from dust we all come and to dust we return.
article continues after advertisement8. Some aspects of gardening allow us to vent anger and aggression...
Clearly then, horticulture is not all sweetness and light: nature has its dark side too. In a similar vein, some of the therapeutic power of gardening is that it allows us to unleash our anger and aggression as well as providing an opportunity to nurture. Why beat pillows with a baseball bat or yell at the cat when you have a hedge to hack? I confess there are times when I enjoy cutting and chopping and yanking and binding as much, if not more, than sowing and feeding and watering, and the great thing about destructiveness in the garden is that it's also connected to renewal and growth – if you don't cut back the plants, your space will be swamped by them.
9. ...whilst others allow us to feel in control.
In a similar vein, anxious people often feel overwhelmed, and gardening can be a good way of gaining a sense of control. Moreover, whereas trying to control other people is invariably a fruitless exercise, you’re more likely to succeed in controlling your beds and borders, which can make gardening a particularly satisfying experience.
10. Last but not least, gardening is easy.
When it comes to growing things, for all its power of healing, the world of plants can feel intimidating to an outsider. If you’re new to gardening you may well be anxious you won’t have ‘green fingers’ and here, as with all new ventures: starting small is key."
Rayner, Sarah. 2015. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/worry-and-panic/201505/petal-power-why-is-gardening-so-good-our-mental-health
Beyond the Gear is a informational place where firefighters and their families can read and take steps at living a healthier life. Healthy body starts with a healthy mind. I hope you enjoy.