World’s Collide

When worlds collide.
Glimpses of gear in the garage.
Passing moments of peace.
Home for only the reminder to leave again.
Hugs and joy of reset days gone.
Tired eyes filled with love.
Children’s giggles at daddy’s feet.
The faint smell of smoke stained clothes.
A smile of knowing.
Grateful hearts that never want to part.
Catch up around the house.
Home cooked meals.
Time is our friend and enemy.
The best kind of sleep.
Naps of decompression.
Wake up daddy as they tickle his feet.
I don’t want you to go back to work tears.
Wake up to shaving in navy blue’s.
Kisses and I love you.
Starts all over until our worlds collide.
Come home safe.
Fire Life.

-Abi Rogers

The Nest

Sometimes things happen in life that make you pause and really admire and reflect on how beautiful life can be. Over the last month or so I have been able to witness nature in such raw and vulnerable state. We’ve had these two house finches scouting the eve of our home. They began shortly after building a nest. When they first began building it I was happy my husband was on shift because I know he wouldn’t be okay with the mess of twigs that showered our front door. When he came home I asked him to leave it for our girls to watch and learn. After all my oldest was learning about birds that week of school (at home of course).

Daddy Bird
Mama Bird

But what I didn’t expect is that it would have the biggest impact in myself. I admired these little house finch birds and how they worked together to build this home. There was even a time when I went out to check the progress and the whole thing was on the ground. But they didn’t miss a beat and picked up and started to rebuild. After the nest was built I let some time pass before climbing a ladder to snap some pics to see what was inside. And sure enough two little eggs sat. Made me think of my two little girls. Over the next couple of weeks I watched the mama bird stay as much as she could with them. Daddy bird was gone a lot and caught a glimpse of him from time to time but I didn’t see much of him, not as nearly as mama bird. But then today as waked by the nest I saw him in the nest but I also heard this faint chirp of new life. I smiled and told my girls that the eggs had hatched. And again climbed up to snap some pics being careful not to touch or disrupt anything. And there these two little baby birds were. And it hit me. I enjoyed watching this little finch family so much because I felt so closely knit to what they were doing.

When the eggs appeared.
Two Baby Birds

My firefighter and I had been doing this all along. Busy making our house a home to help our littles have a safe place. There were times where we completely started over and we did it together. Then watching the mama bird holding down the fort while daddy bird was off working for days on end. To see him come back and love on his family when he could. It spoke volumes to me how just because I didn’t see the daddy bird much he was still very much a part of his family. And showed me how the Fire life is very much the same. Just like my husband and I, we do our part to see our family succeed. So whatever your nest may look like there can be beauty found in the very simple things and a little reminder to stop and be thankful for those little things in life. To learn to work together to make this Fire life successful and meaningful.

Defensible Space

It’s a saying us fire fam folk know all too well. The preparation of the area around us being safe from any possible fire danger. We post it and we preach it because as much as we want the public safe we selfishly want our firefighters even more safe. Your safe clearing around your home means less danger for our loved ones. But what happens when that defensible space goes from 100ft to 6ft? Life gets real. And you’re probably assuming about now that I am not exactly talking fire anymore, but what the world is experiencing. The pandemic of COVID-19.

Looking through old pictures lately has made my mind drift to a future time when I will be looking back on the now. What is going to be the memories that pop up and what will my life have looked like? The present state at which we are in is shaking families and society to its core. Like a rug that was swept from under our feet. The last few weeks have been very trying and exhausting and has me not knowing what to expect. During the first week of having to stay home and also create the new defensible space around us to 6ft started off great! My oldest had to stay home from school which was going to be a few weeks, no big deal. So I set up a schedule trying to keep my sanity and my schedule driven life in check.

The new schedule. Snacks were definitely necessary to schedule because it was getting a little crazy up in here. Haha

But the weekend came and things got a little scary. My youngest swallowed a coin and we at first thought she would be fine but only 2 hours later realized we were wrong. She was in a lot of pain to the point she couldn’t use her words and could only cry. The ER was the last place I expected to end up at, but we did. After X-rays we then had to be transferred to another hospital to get the coin removed that was lodged in her esophagus. Not one but two hospitals, and an ambulance ride, yikes, it was more stressful then I would like. After getting to the new hospital we were waiting to get a second X-ray. Before we could my daughter started throwing up. After cleaning her and me up, I noticed she seemed a lot happier and I already knew when we went to get the second X-ray what the results were. The coin had moved and we thankfully avoided surgery. We had to wait a week to see if she would pass it or not before a follow up X-ray. A couple side notes: carbonated beverages were used and recommended to help try and dislodge the coin. And during COVID-19 only one parent is allowed to be with their child. So, the fact my husband was actually home for this one made that rule extremely hard. He sat in the car and was updated via phone. After a full 8 days she finally passed the coin. And I felt myself breathing a little easier.

After that week was past my husband went back to work. And then he came home from shift sick. My mind was freaking out and not sure what it meant. Like what the actual heck is all I could think at this point. Luckily we had talked and planned for this possibility. Because as a fire fam we have to be prepared for the hard things. So, we followed our plan. But after a few days he was symptom free and we knew it wasn’t COVID. Thank God! He kept in communication with his boss and was okayed to come back to work. And during all of this going on our non profit had to postpone our event we have been working on for almost a year. My emotions were a little all over the place to say the least and I was grasping on any positivity I could. Knowing full well there were many out there who had it much worse then me. And as far as the nonprofit we are keeping up the positive morale and participating in some positivity online via lives and zoom calls and supporting out direct community. Doing positive things has helped keep my spirit up and encouraged me I am doing what I was called to do.

What life kind of feels like sometimes.
But there’s always that feeling of accomplishment when the big picture comes together.

Juggling the homeschooling life, mom life, COVID-19, and oh yeah the fire life hasn’t been exactly a walk in the park. Pretty much 90% of things have even gone semi ok. Not everything has been bad and there have been several moments where my heart has been full. But thinking of the future when I get to look back at this all I know I will be able to remember it was a time for growth and a time where I had to dig deep to not allow myself to get swallowed up by my circumstances. A time when I stopped to really reflect on things and truly consider myself and my own resiliency. And how to help others in their darkest of times. This pandemic still isn’t over but I wanted to stop and share from a place where I know it is easy to have everything around us seem like it’s falling apart and hopeless. But it is not. We may come out of this bruised and scared and unfortunately some may not come out at all. But I know with all I am there is always hope. And I am going to cling to that hope. And I want to gift that to you too. Whether you’re rocking this time of life or not remember that there is a light at the end and I cannot wait to look back and share stories of remember when. I am not sure what tomorrow or the next day may bring but that’s okay knowing what I have been through in the past gives the strength to endure my today and tomorrow. Until then stay home when possible, stay safe and keep your defensible 6ft space.

And speaking of defensible space…

On a funnier side of things can we all remember to work on our real defensible space? I mean the fire defensible space because that time of year is just around the corner. And I am pretty sure right now we may have some time to get it done. 😉 Us fire families appreciate it.

In My Head

Something I am sure everyone not just fire wives/gf go through is negative self talk. But of course I am going to focus it down to the fire life. We spend all this time whether we are working, at home, have kids or don’t have kids, alone. When our firefighters are gone it is so easy to get into our own minds and fall victim to the vicious cycle of self doubt and self sabotage. This is why communication with our firefighter is so important! And sometimes we just don’t get that. Their shift may take over and keep them busy from any type of communication with us.

It can cause conflicts and disrupts our normal. Getting in my head can cause my emotional side to take residence and give logical thinking the boot. Not all the time but I would be lying to say if it didn’t happen. When the emotions take over it’s easy to be short or annoyed faster. When my firefighter comes home it’s a recipe for conflict. So what can we do to take care of our minds and break those habits of self doubt or sabotage? We practice self care. Taking a moment in your day to realign your thoughts and allow logical thinking to be a part of your thought process. It can be easier said then done.

Every relationship is unique in itself and yet we all have these things in the fire life we relate on. Figuring out how to communicate with your firefighter while they are on or off shift is imperative. When you have a good handle on where they’re at it can help you have deeper understanding and help your mind not get so into itself when they’re not there to communicate with you. But trust me I get it, that loneliness can be hard to escape and like I said kicks out all logic.

Things that help with this are distracting yourself. Turn your attention to something else. By doing this you’re training your brain to change its process to something else when that self doubt creeps in. Working out can be a good distraction and give you a much needed endorphins boost. Watching a tv show, listening to a happy playlist of music. Reading a book, art, journaling, calling a family member or friend asking about their day. And the one of my personal favorites start saying or writing down things you’re thankful for. That puts your mind back on the right track. And of course if it is something that is a much deeper issue, not being afraid to reach out to someone to talk to whether it be a family member, friend, fellow fire wife/gf or therapist.

I want to see our relationships survive and sometimes it can be as simple as learning how not to get into our own heads and allowing that self sabotage thing to get the best of us. To practice talking and communicating with our firefighters on and off shift. And to remember when you’re feeling alone in those moments that I can guarantee there’s another fire wife/gf feeling the exact same as you. You are not alone. I obviously wouldn’t be writing about this unless I have felt it and go through it too. And another thing I feel is super important to remember is your firefighter is working hard to support YOU and give YOU a wonderful life. It may not feel like it at times, but if you ask any one of them why they do what they do it most likely will be because it’s for the ones at home who support them. Support each other and communicate.

First Responder Family Psychology

Over the last couple of months I have taken a break from feature blogs. Between the holidays, fire life, mom life, and planning my nonprofits first seminar it has been a little hectic to say the least. Still is a little crazy but I embrace it knowing full well it is all for the better of my brothers and sisters in the fire service. If you’re curious as to what I am talking about go and check out our events tab and see what we have going on there!

But to the feature blog…

I wanted to highlight this next amazing lady and her business but not just that I want to bring you her amazing book too! Rachelle Zemlok is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of California. Since her license is in California that is who she is available to help whether in person or through video chat. She grew up in the first responder world and with different aspects of it. From law enforcement to ER nurses. She is a also a fire wife so trust me when I say she just gets it on the personal level, as well as the professional. Rachelle’s passion is for the family of the first responders and helping them navigate the lifestyle and talk about the things that come along with that. I had the privilege of sitting down with her over coffee and you can just tell she has a genuine and sweet spirit. My four year old daughter was with me and she is always skeptical about new people and usually pretty shy. But she opened right up to Rachelle and they chatted while I ordered my coffee. My point behind that is her demeanor with children is pure and heartfelt. My daughter could instantly tell she was a good person and felt comfortable with me taking 5 steps away to grab coffee. Rachelle is constantly going to different places to learn and become better equipped with bringing education to a group or to one on ones. We will be partnering with her in the future to bring some fun classes so be on the lookout for those!

Can’t wait or make it to one of those no problem! Let me tell you about the book that Rachelle has poured a lot of her experience into. The Firefighter Family Academy is a book you will want to get your hands on. She told me this book was meant for fire couples in the beginning of their relationships or just getting into the fire service. Buuuuttt… I found things in this book that were so relatable and helped me, who has been in the fire life for about 12 years now. She breaks down all the different aspects about how things work with our firefighters from types of vehicles, academies, positions, promotions, station life, PTSD, etc. She then also gives a guides for this part of the fire life and shares some of her own personal experience with it. One of my favorite parts in this book was the section about having quirky rules! Yes, your firefighter will have some rules that don’t make sense to you, but trusting that they have them for a reason and being okay with them is something she talks about. I literally giggled reading this section knowing my husbands and completely relating. There truly is something for everyone in her book.

Rachelle Zemlok’s passion and drive to help others in the first responder world was something we absolutely bonded over during our coffee. And I could see her heart to make a difference. Her social media page is full of relatable content and advice posted weekly on how to deal with certain things only the first responder life might bring to us. I want to encourage you to check out her webpage, book (buy one), and her social media pages. Per the norm I will be adding the link to her website HERE and on the featured links tab. So go check her out and if you’re in California and need someone to talk with give her a call.

Academy Life

One of the board of directors on our nonprofit asked me to write a blog about life when going through the academy. But not just my view but also the view of my husband. The things we both go through during those grueling weeks apart. I have been sitting on this blog for a while now. It’s crazy to me that the academies that we went through averaging about six weeks are now only about a third of the weeks these families go through now. We have, I believe, four different academies under our belt and each came at different points in our lives. I will try to do this blog justice as academies are so different now and the amount of time apart so much longer. At least for my husband’s department.

The very first academy my husband and I went through is a blur for me. And to be completely honest I don’t remember it much and did not comprehend as much as I do now. We were engaged at the time and I was a full time student and working a part time job. My schedule kept me busy and allowed me to be distracted enough to not be phased too much with him gone. We didn’t live together so I also didn’t rely on him the way I did when he went through the other academies. But what I probably didn’t realize was the extreme pressure he was going through. Not just in this first academy but in every single one after. The pressure to perform and be able to do this job weighed heavily on him. He wanted to be able to support us and provide before we were to get married. Even more so in the later academies.

Happy he was home even if he was studying. (Before kids)

The second, third, and forth academies brought their own challenges with us being parents. In the second academy our first daughter was two and I also was barely pregnant with our second. I had been working part time too. So you could say my plate was full. There were some hard nights where I sat with my daughter and consoled or even shared in her tears. She was too young to understand it all but she had all these emotions that were hard to navigate through because I had my own struggles with my husband gone. It is so easy to get caught up in those struggles at home because our lives don’t stop when they’re gone. The bills still need to be paid, kids fed, appliances fixed, vehicles maintained. The list could go on and the same applies for their normal shifts. We are balancing holding down the home and work life without the one we promised to do life with there. The arguments and frustrations are magnified and harder to deal with because academies only allow them to be home so little. Even phone calls home limited because of needing to practice or study. The academies my husband went through allowed him to go home on the weekends but it didn’t always happen because the need to study and practice sometimes took precedence. This particular second academy I think my husband came home one maybe two weekends out of the six weeks.

5 weeks pregnant and our daughter standing with me pinning his badge.
She just wanted to be next to him.

The third academy same scenario but instead I had two kids and just transitioned to a stay at home mom. That transition was really hard for me because I had never not worked. I was in the midst of rediscovering who I was as a fire wife, mom of multiples, and as my own person. When my husband went through this academy our second daughter was a few months old and our house was on the market because we were planning on moving to the new place he was stationed at. Which if you have read prior blogs was almost seven hours away. Figuring out house showings with a nursing baby was not at times an easy task. So, needless to say everything yet again was all new and a test on how much I could handle on my own. Going into this one though I understood a little more about the importance of him studying and when he came home on those weekends I helped him study. He had all new co-workers and a need to prove himself more then before. His career hung in the balance of having to pass these tests because this time around our finances relied on him.

New mom again, house on the market, academy, and onto what would become the hardest two years of our fire life.

The fourth academy was the shortest of them all. It was a four week academy for a position we didn’t know 100% if he was going to get yet. But we were hopeful. He has the position now. I remember being over going through academies at this point and our oldest daughter was in her first year of school. This academy was a little over a year ago and I remember phone calls being short and that dang studying had to be done. This one however didn’t really have a ceremony so no picture. Through all these academies though I realized something important, the amount of pressure on both ends can really make you or break you. My husband made it through this academy and hopefully we are good for a while.

The things I didn’t know though, going through all these academies was the amount of pressure my husband put on himself. The struggle of bettering his career at a cost of leaving his family for weeks couldn’t have been easy. He missed weeks of our lives that he will never get back. If he didn’t pass or score just right he could fail and then what? I could only imagine how this may have haunted him. Sometimes and not all the time I got caught up in my own struggles to see and understand the weight of the academies my husband had to carry. The fear of failing not only himself but his family, the fear of failing his brothers, sisters and his superiors. When they’re at these academies it’s not just sitting in a classroom and taking a little test it’s days and weeks of physically and mentally draining courses with their careers hanging in the balance. It’s the demands at home in the back of their mind. It’s that if we can just get through this it will be better. Our firefighters know us and who they chose to marry and be with. They know we are strong and can handle this life better then the average. And they know it is by no means easy on us at home either. Because we as fire wives aren’t average we’re amazingly strong and these academies are our test. There’s no guidelines or instructions how to get through these, sometimes we just do.

We often as fire wives and firefighters put so much pressure on ourselves to be doing the best we possibly can. In the end we need to remember to take each day at a time and learn from the day before. To support each other and build that trust that says I know you’re capable and are doing the best you can for our family. Because looking back now I can take pride in each of those academies that not only he made it through, but I did too. His accomplishments are just as much yours. Don’t let the pressure win. Strive to help each other out and understand what each other is going through. None of it is easy on either end. Find the balance to help get you through. Academies are freaking tough but so are you.

Fire Wife Christmas

Fire Wife Christmas

Every year is no guarantee,

That my firefighter will come home to me.

While others are filled with joy and merry,

My biggest wish is he won’t witness something scary.

December 25th lands on the day we choose,

Because in this fire life sometimes you loose.

We make the most in every season,

Because in our hearts we know the reason.

We hold our heads with strength and pride,

Try not to let our children see the tears we cry.

As another holiday comes and goes,

It’s another night we’ve slept alone.

Some years it works out just fine,

A Christmas miracle just in time.

With arms outstretched and hearts light,

We’ll hold our firefighters with all our might.

So while you celebrate the magic of the day,

Remember your fellow fire wife and pray.

For strength, for peace, goodwill for all,

And for all the firefighters who are on call.

May they return home safe and sound,

And may their families gather round.

This is my Christmas wish for you,

That we’ll remember each other the whole year through.

That you won’t feel alone,

And your firefighter always makes it home.

Wildbud Co.

This month’s feature blog brings me a lot of joy to introduce. A couple of ladies with wildly beautiful talent! They are two local gals to me and have the cutest and my personal favorite little store in our downtown area of Sonora. But what is extra special and what I would like to highlight a little, is one of the owners Cheyenne. She is a fellow fire wife and our lives intertwine in the most splendid of ways because she also happens to be on CFFW Foundation inc. board of directors. Her husband and my husband went through their first academy together and were roommates. But let me tell you a little about her and Lisa’s biz called Wildbud Co.

Lisa and Cheyenne, best friends, that have grown up together, sharing a passion for all things wild and creative. I have always been a major fan of Lisa’s stunning ability at the violin and art and Cheyenne’s gorgeous singing voice. Their creative talents compliment each other so well. After being in each others weddings and becoming mom’s they chose to start another adventure in creating Wildbud Co. They started from making their creations in their living rooms and it has blossomed into a beautiful floral design studio. Their creativity soaring through the beautiful bouquets and arrangements of flowers I have personally ever seen before. Their floral arrangements are wild, simple, and absolutely breath taking. The boutique is full of a lot of gorgeous finds for your home and every day life. And if you’re lucky enough you can see them in their creative element putting, one of a kind pieces together. They have and amazing portfolio of weddings and events they have brought to life with their artistry of florals. You will definitely want to check it out. They host fun workshops teaching and sharing their knowledge.

But wait there’s more! The fire boot prints we sell on here to raise funds for our nonprofit have flowers that all come from their beautiful shop. Cheyenne has such a big heart for the fire family life and wanting to be able to give back. Another way they do this and something that is extremely important to Cheyenne is creating bouquets for first responders and delivering them for free. She is willing to put in extra work for that perfect bouquet and make it just right. She also understands how hard to call from the fire line can be so, is happy to take requests through text. We all know how the fire life is when our firefighter’s are gone for days, weeks and yes sometimes months. And when those stretches get a little long there’s nothing like receiving a bouquet of flowers from our firefighters that connects them back to us.  Especially, on those darn missed anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. So, if you’re local take advantage of that because I can tell you it will be a bouquet filled with love and intention in every hand that touches it.

So, whether you’re planning a wedding, an event, need some flowers just because, or a bouquet for that special person, make sure to check these ladies out. Locals let your firefighters know about their free delivery. If you’re planning a wedding and need your florals they’re willing and happy to travel. You will want to use them because their eye for beauty is something special. Follow them on social media, and watch for their workshops and learn to create pieces to inspire!

I See You

I see you though sometimes I don’t relate.

To the mama, I see the moments of hiding in the closet to get 2 sec of peace, the feelings of panic and frustration as your kid throws yet another tantrum. The loss of an unborn child, and the lonely nights of wishing you could conceive. I see you mama when you wish you didn’t have to make dinner, do the dishes, or the laundry one more time. I see you attempting the yard work, the home repairs, the things most wives never have to face. I see you the moment your head hits the pillow realizing you’re spending yet another night in your big bed alone. I see when your effort of getting out of the house goes unnoticed because dang it, it can be hard. I see the friends and family who ask yet again where your husband is even though you’ve explained his shift for the hundredth time. I see you trying to make every holiday memorable even if you’re celebrating it on another day. I see the days where you realized you haven’t showered or spoken to another adult. I see the losses, the ER visits, the wiping of sick kids noses. I see you pushing your limits to get your kids to their practice, their game, their recital or school function. And even though there may be the days where you question your marriage and your life please understand you are seen.

I see the girlfriend whose feelings are swept under the rug because their commitment doesn’t seem as valued because of a lack of paper. I see the loneliness and longing for being included in the fire wife life. I see your effort to belong. I see the family and friends nod their heads or tell you you’re overreacting. I see the uncertainty that this life is or isn’t what you want. I see it and I have been there.

I see the widow. I see the pain of trying to make light of a dark situation. I see the disbelief that this is your life and where do you fit in. I see the awkward moments where people don’t know what to say. I see you navigate this new life and not letting it be lived in vain. I see your strength whether you may not. I see you take on judgment from every choice and action. I see you explain over and over the events. I see the healing that may never feel complete. I see the time spent sobbing. I see you build up your fellow widow and bring a community where no one wants to be a part of. I may not understand or want to but I see you too.

Though we may all not share our struggles and life together know you’re seen and you are loved. You are the glue and every hard day and every struggle leads the way. Because you who are reading this and drawing strength, or crying because someone else understands, you can also be that for someone else too. We are fire family in one form or another. And through the years I have cried many times for you although you may never have known. I pray for you and my hope is to encourage you and tell you, I see you. To help you for a second feel that someone else knows and is routing for you. Because I am. I see you, I see you, I see you.

Plateful

The life as a fire wife comes with a lot of things that can be extremely stressful within itself. Balancing schedules when our firefighter is on and off shift. For me I have written before how being extremely routine centered helps us but also knowing that routines can change or get out of balance sometimes. Always making sure to never fill my plate more then I can handle. But it isn’t always the case sometimes managing time and routines gets out of hand. Figuring out how to handle a full plate especially when the fire life comes into play.

Station Visits

It’s been about a year now since I have started my online classes and trying to figure out the direction I wanted to take my education. It has been manageable adding on this extra thing to the mom life/fire life but took a little adjusting at first. Then this year we added on the nonprofit and my husband promoted. It’s changed the schedule and it has changed my routine. My daughter finished her first year of school and started her second. My youngest has been stuck with the task of always being along for the ride. People have mentioned how they don’t know how I do it. And honestly it hasn’t been easy but it is getting easier. For probably the first month of my online school, weekly, I would tell my husband “I can’t do this! What do you think I should do? I really just want to focus on the nonprofit.” And every time I traveled down that rabbit hole he would tell me, “I think you would regret it, and to finish this semester and go from there.” If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t have handled the same. But still the weeks went on and it was still hard.

So, I made a choice. I chose to start weekly changing my number one priorities. It has been something new for me but it has helped me manage my full plate. I would take Sunday to sit and think what is my priority this week? Is it giving 100% to my class, the nonprofit, my marriage, and my kids, friends, oh myself haha….whatever the case. And then I would know without being stressed where my priority was for that week. It took a lot of pressure off of my shoulders. And it has helped me ease into this new routine. I still have my days and weeks where sometimes everything demands my attention and I have learned to take it as it comes.

Plateful

I feel like this was something to talk about because it relates no matter what your schedule or life looks like. In this fire life we have these extra stressors and extra things we have to learn how to do and sometimes we think “how in the heck am I going to do this.” But, we do it and we get through sometimes alone and sometimes with someone like my husband who doesn’t let me give up. Whatever the case may be for you I wanted to give you that same encouragement back. Take it day by day, week by week, don’t let yourself doubt your abilities and even when that dang plate is full don’t give up. In the end it’s only making you stronger to add the next thing to it.

 

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