Give Me A Break

Here I am in mid summer and so far it hasn’t been as bad. Regardless of what each shift or season holds there are always going to be those days when I just need a break. A funny side note because the title could kind of sound harsh, the Kit-Kat commercial song is what’s running through my head as I am typing about this. Haha But in all seriousness sometimes I get to these points with my husband gone on shift and the kids are home with me and I just think to myself, “I NEED A BREAK”. And those are some of the moments when I begin to miss my husband. I realize the importance of having those few seconds to take a guiltless shower, workout or run to the store for a quick errand alone. They may not sound like much but they make all the difference.

Over the years I have gotten better about communicating these needs to my husband. Even this last year I started to get my hair done again. Which for me is a big deal and I sometimes will even feel guilty about spending money on that. Taking these little moments have become easier since my kids are a little more independent but when they were babies it was so hard. The constant worrying or feeling like I needed to hurry back home when they were babies was always there in my mind. To make it clear it wasn’t there because of my husband or anyone else, I alone felt that way because of myself. It’s this broad season of life when I believe as moms we’re figuring it out and no one knows the perfect formula. My babies are so dependent upon me and as a fire wife I am a lot of the time their only constant person, so I would get a little stressed leaving them behind to do something for myself.

Let me just say this if it is something you are currently feeling like. IT GETS BETTER. Sure a lot of the time I spend is at home with them and it’s great, but there are the days when it is a struggle. Learning how to communicate with my husband or figuring out friends, family or a babysitter to take care of my kids so I can get a moment of feeling like an adult is okay. And it is okay to want those moments. There have been times when I can go days without talking to another adult and it doesn’t dawn on me until my husband asks if I talked to anyone that day. Sometimes my answer is no. Then there are the times and this is kind of funny but I will be talking to someone and be like hold on I need to use the potty. Ha! And in those moments I am like, I definitely need more adult time and conversations.

There is a whole army of fire wives out there that understand these types of times in our lives. What has helped me through the years are those people who understand. But also more then anything what has helped me is communicating how I am feeling in a respectful way to my husband. That, hey I need to slip away for a moment or I am going to have a girls night next week. He is way more receptive to that then me blowing up on him because I am at my wits end and I waited too long to share my feelings. I also want to say the same in reverse. Speaking for myself in all these things. I also think these things for my husband as well. Sometimes his job can be a lot of expectation and coming home it can be the catch up game and expectations of needing to help out. But, sometimes he needs a break too. He needs some guy time and not the guys he is forced to be on shift with but guys who genuinely care about him as well. And I know he struggles with the whole guilt thing too. Spending time off to go do something for himself. Both of our state of minds are able to reset when we allow ourselves the time to do so.

These days don’t always happen as often as we would like but we (my husband and I) have realized over the years the difference they make. So from time to time we make them a priority. Life can get so hectic and busy that often we forget to take care of ourselves. If you’re in this hard season of life remember you’re not alone. I totally get it. Like I said every season and every shift in the fire life throws new things at me and sharing with you what helps me will hopefully help you too. Because you matter.

Then Comes Baby

Part 3 of 3.

I have shared so much about the subject of motherhood and the emotions of raising kids in the fire life. I wanted to go back and talk about pregnancy to now. What was it like for me then and what is it like for me now. Every stage of it has been a lesson learned. So bare with me this may be a little longer then what I usually write.

DSC_0049.jpg (Newborn Picture of baby number 2)

When my husband and I decided to have kids we did not realize how our lives would change. When I found out I was pregnant the first time around I had this feeling but I wasn’t sure. I was working in banking and I happened to be in the middle of transferring to a new bank. The night I found out was the night of my last day at the old bank. When I took the test my husband and I waited nervously for the lines to appear. When those two pink lines showed up we were a number of things, surprised, nervous, and excited. Ready or not we were pregnant. I went through that weekend a little scared about starting a new job and getting this news at the same time. I had one of those annoying pregnancies that went almost perfectly. No morning sickness, only one small thing made me nauseous and everything was going well. I had work to keep me busy during fire season but it wasn’t until my husband was gone for nineteen days that I started to struggle. I ended up taking a day off work and drove five and a half hours to see my husband on his 48 hours off the fire line. It was worth the drive to see him but I found out fast how you cannot control your emotions when you’re pregnant. I cried when I had to say bye. I tried my hardest to keep it together but I had no control. He ended up coming home later that week and all was good again. Then later in my pregnancy my milk ended up coming early. I know maybe TMI for some but I have a point. My husband was at training week to get a certificate, I cannot remember which. But the night before the test I ended up in the ER. I had a high fever and kept feeling like I was going to faint. My breasts were also in a lot of pain. A girlfriend ended up picking me up and taking me in. My diagnosis was mastitis in both breasts. If you don’t know what it is both of my breasts had major infections. I was hospitalized for three days. My husband missed his test not wanting to leave me and both of us scared about what it all meant for the baby. My white blood cell count was being a pain and wouldn’t go to the number it needed to be at. But finally got everything under control and baby was healthy and doing great. I always felt guilty he missed getting that certificate but thankful he was there beside me. The rest of my pregnancy went a lot smoother and we gave birth to beautiful little girl. My husband was there because he was still a seasonal firefighter and we had baby in the winter.

(first pregnancy)

The realization of how much things were different came a few days after giving birth. You’re both physically and mentally exhausted. There was this moment though I remember like it was yesterday. I looked at my husband and began to cry. The realization that it wasn’t about me and him anymore hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it before but it was there it’s reality truer then ever. The time and energy we would spend on each other was now dictated by nursing, diapers, and worrying about this little human who fully relied on us to live. But man was she beautiful. She has made every moment to today worth it. When fire season came back and my husband went back to work all the fun of navigating motherhood shifted. He missed her first word, her first steps, the endless blow out diapers. But one thing I never touch on that I want to say is that my husband has never been angry about any of it. Yes, it is sad for him but he never held any of those things against me. I always have kept him in the loop on it all. I sent him pictures of every moment making sure he was a part of it all. In the fire life that is one thing I have had to learn to do when it comes to our children. I asked him one day if it made it harder for him and he said yes but no. It was hard to miss those things for a moment but he wanted to be a part of it in any way he could. My first daughter has taught me the most when thinking back. All of the learning, demands and expectations that are put on fire families is hard. It is one of those things you cannot truly grasp until you go through it.

I went back to work six weeks after to the original bank I was at. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be until I was there. I cried at my teller station feeling the guilt of every hour I was away from my daughter. I only lasted a week before I begged my husband to quit. I needed to be home with my daughter and was not ready to be working again. We made it work. And I have never regretted that decision. But about the time my daughter turned six months the second bank I worked at called me asking me to come back. I was a much more confident mom and my hormones had a time to chill and get back to normal. The part time schedule worked for our life during that time. And when my daughter was a little older then two years we found out we were again pregnant. This time my husband wasn’t home but at an academy. I waited until he was done with his final to tell him the news. I ended up texting him a pic of our oldest daughter saying guess who is going to be a big sister. I felt lame telling him through text but I wasn’t going to see him for another week and couldn’t hold it in. This second pregnancy I wrote about before so I will make it shorter. Around 15 weeks I was on the phone with my husband who was on a fire. It was a good day, I just got back home from work and settling in. He said something that made me laugh and in that moment I felt the gush. At first I thought I peed myself from laughing. I got off the phone and went to the bathroom to realize I was bleeding. I called him back crying and freaking out. When I called the hospital I talked to the on call OB because it was the weekend he said it was fine and just to rest. I didn’t feel like everything was okay though and sure enough in the middle of sleeping that night I felt another gush. More blood. I called again and they told me that it wasn’t enough to really worry. But when it happened a third time I knew something wasn’t right. My husband was ready to come home but I knew if he did I would loose it and thought if he came home it would mean something worse was about to happen. So I told him to stay on the fire. My brother drove me to the ER and after some ultrasounds I found out I had partial placenta abruption. This is when the placenta begins to pull away from the uteran wall. I was put on bed rest for a month. My husband came home for two days of it and was back in time for the follow up ultrasound. It was one of the hardest things I ever went through. Taking care of my toddler while on bed rest and a husband who was gone fighting fires. We recieved a miracle and when our second daughter was born healthy I instantly looked at my husband and said I was done. Everything I read about placenta abruption said the odds were higher in pregnancies after. It usually doesn’t happen in the second trimester but in the third. So, that scared me even more. After my second child we decided that it made the most sense for me to stay at home. After a month my husband went back to work in his new position and the transition of being a mom of two began.

DSC_0136.jpg(Second pregnancy photo shoot)

There are days that are harder then others but my girls do not know any other life. To them it’s normal to not expect dad to be home for days on end. It is normal to them that their dad might miss things that are important, and it is absolutely normal and definitely okay to cry and struggle with each of those realizations. When they’re having hard days I have learned to be more aware and to stop what I am doing and let their feelings and emotions be heard. It is not easy and there are days when I fail miserably at this mom life thing but it is all part of it. If we didn’t mess up at times we wouldnt know how to make the next time even better. Every stage of life is different. I no longer fear the “it’ll never just be us” I feared before with my husband, but have embraced and love that it will always be ALL of us. It will always be us, firefighter, fire wife, and fire daughters. It will always be us working to live out this fire life one season and sometimes one shift at a time. They make this fire life worth it.


Then Comes Marriage

Growing up all I ever knew that I wanted was to find that great love and raise a family. After that first fire season together in part I knew what my idea of being married had shifted. Leading up to the day that my husband proposed we had talked about what we wanted our life to look like. For both of us it was about having the other there through it all. We didn’t see our future without each other in it. Looking back I see how young we were but it wasn’t about that for us. We knew what we had was something special and something that would last. It has proven as much true today. After my husband proposed that same year maybe a month or two after he started his first academy. During this academy I had found out that I had a lump in one of my breasts. All I wanted was for him to be there with me when I found out the results but it was not possible. A girlfriend went with me to my mammogram and my mom to my result appointment. I remember the doctor reading my results using only medical terminology and I looked at her like just tell me straight. She must’ve understood the panic in my eye when she finally said “It’s benign.” Little did I know this was one of my first indications of what life was going to be like moving forward. I still did not truly understand. My husband graduated his academy, I was working part time and going to school. In January that following year we would begin our journey of marriage and the fire life.

(his first academy graduation)

Going into our first year of marriage and our third fire season together I remember spending a lot of time doing my own thing. I worked full time and did online classes so that helped kill the time. But it was a truly lonely time. Being married so young we didn’t exactly have a lot of other married couples who we hung out with. So, it was all up to me to find friends who I could relate to and form meaningful conversations. But with my own work and schooling it proved to be hard. Along the way the friends I made that have stuck around are mostly the ones who share the fire life. Those friends have made the biggest difference in my life. So for all the newly weds out there find those friends. Don’t get me wrong though I had some friends who were not involved in the fire life who cared just as much. I learned a lot about myself in those seasons.

For us in the first few years of our marriage there was such thing as seasonal not this year round crazy super seasons. I miss the days when I could count on my husband home during the winter months. We had the time to really reconnect. During the fire season months he never took his vacation or sick days. So getting those months of having him back was like having the best of both worlds. It was like proof to the world I was married and he did exist. I know a lot of you probably feel me on that. Not to mention that off season beard. When we became married I think some of the most valuable things we learned along the way were to put each other first, not let the opinions of others dictate anything, we grew up learning the important things of life together and with every passing year we’ve only grown in learning. So many different things go into what it takes to make our marriage work. If you ask him it’s all about compromise which is true but for me it has been communication. This fire life limits the amount of communication we get but learning to trust is another huge thing. Trust your husbands intentions are true and that he has the best for you even if it doesn’t get communicated in the way you would like. That is where my husband is absolutely right, compromise. Let things go as quickly as you can because time is precious when you’re married to a firefighter. We are now in the seasons of him working year round and those things still hold true.

After the second year of marriage we decided we wanted to try for kids and that in itself brought a whole other aspect of being married in the fire life. Stay tuned for that blog coming in the next week.

First Comes Love

On this blog I talk a lot about the now and my life as a fire wife. There’s been a lot of phases of life that my husband and I have lived through together. I wanted to break it down and focus on three parts of our life. I only found it fitting to name this three part blog that I will be posting over the next 3 weeks: First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes Baby. Each one of these events in life can effect and impact life and how we view and handle the fire life. So, let’s dive in!

My husband and I grew up together in the same small town. I had a crush on him, no lie, since I was in sixth grade. I remember at my first sixth grade dance I walked up to him and asked him to dance. When I know what I want I can be fearless. Ha! But guess what he declined! And he still hates to dance by the way. So, time went in and I was a sophomore in high school and he was a senior at different schools. We had been talking a while and wanted to date. I grew up in a stricter home and am the “baby” so my dad refused. So, it was my time to tell him no. We kept in touch but went our separate ways for a while. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that we really started to talk again. With my eighteenth birthday approaching I knew I had more of a chance to date him. And sure enough shortly after my birthday we started dating. At the time my husband was working for a tile company. When I brought him home to officially meet my parents, they loved him. I think they saw what I saw. A good man, someone who would love and support their daughter. So, our dating journey began. Looking back I believe with all my heart it was about the timing. It did not take long for us to fall in love. But then the Fire life happened.

After a year of being together my husband became a firefighter. And as I have mentioned in previous blogs it was the one single time, we almost ended our relationship. I didn’t want to live the fire life but I also didn’t want to live life without him. We chose to stick it out and see wha happened. Our first season was baptism by fire. (See what I did there) But seriously Check out my blog Season Past for more details about that. But learning how to navigate the fire life as a girlfriend was difficult. No one took the feelings I was going through seriously. I was introduced to weeks of him being gone and trying to learn why things worked the way they worked. I didn’t know any other fire girlfriends to relate to and so it made it harder to know if what I was going through was normal. Or have someone to just say “Yes, I feel the same way!” It truly was going through the process of learning alone. We went from spending every second together to, I have no clue where he was for weeks. And when he would come home he was exhausted and not really up to doing much. I tried to take advantage of every minute together. It was also a huge learning curve on how to handle his mental exhaustion. That first season was a crazy busy season. There were times when we would be watching a movie in the theatre and had to leave because he had to go on a strike team. Another time when he was at the station I remember they had a family bbq and felt so awkward going since I was a girlfriend and we didn’t have kids or a ring on my hand. I put on a brave face and went. I was let into his fire world and it was like having lunch with this family he was part of and I had never met before. But going helped. I was able to put faces to names and understand more of what things looked like. Then there were the things such as, if he got hurt. How would I know? Would someone tell me? And I struggled with the feeling of being insignificant. It was all a huge learning curve and a huge change in the life we began together.

So, girlfriends I get it and I see you. Dating a firefighter is brave and definitely not a glamorous life. There were plenty of arguments out of misunderstandings and lack of communication. My honest advice is if you know you have a good guy, trust that, communicate, and learn all you can. It doesn’t matter the career and what others may think. Allow yourself to trust and learn and be a part of his lifestyle. And be honest with yourself if it is something you truly believe you can handle. Being a part of the fire life is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of courage, trust and willingness to go the extra mile. I believe it takes a strong woman to handle this life but, I also believe this life makes you stronger then you ever thought you could be. You are a support system for him and that is huge.

I know on here I talk about being the fire wife and a mom because it’s where I am. But once upon a time I was in your shoes. And that can be lonely and scary. I am here for you just as much as I am here for the fire wives. You’re living through an important part of your life and his. I am glad I stuck it through with my husband and didn’t give up. The fire life only makes you stronger and closer. Embrace that. And remember you’re stronger then you know and you’re definitely not alone.

(A fun little picture of us when we were dating before we were in the fire life. Pictures have come a long way since then so excuse the graininess. Haha)

Are You Ready

If you’re involved in the fire life, you most likely have heard about mental health and PTSD. The talk is growing louder and the stigma slowly is breaking. Think about some of the hardest things you have gone through or have seen. Did you have to brush it under the rug and pretend nothing happened and possibly keep going to scene after scene? Or were you able to talk to someone and talk through those moments. Doing so may help you gain a healthy perspective and allow yourself be okay. Some of the images and calls our firefighters have come across aren’t given the proper time or attention to be dealt with. These calls, these horrific scenes can take a toll on ones mental state. The strain and struggles are brought home to the family stuck with the stigma that no one should talk about it. So, what happens? The family life can pay for it as well. Misunderstandings happen.

This is what was brought to light when I had the privilege to do an Instagram LIVE with John from Are You Ready. (Check it out here ) John who was a chief and now a firefighter in NJ shared his own experiences that cost him his mental state. The drinking went from controlled to controlling him. And all it took to help was someone to take the time and point out the change to him, to realize he needed help. John’s experiences sparked a passion to help others around him who may be going through the same things. He started doing seminars on the subject. Pointing out that you don’t have to be clinically diagnosed with PTSD to experience the repercussions of what the Fire life can do to ones mental state. By talking about his experiences through his seminars he is able to reach more firefighters on a different level. He has lived through it and knows first hand the overwhelming feelings that come along with the hard calls.

In the LIVE we also talked about being on the home end of things and what it’s like. What helps him decompress and when to talk or just silently sit. We went back and forth on the things we both had a hard time with. We were able to talk about the real and raw things of the fire life that both the firefighter and the home front face. As I have talked about through many blogs on here some of the struggles as a fire wife I face, I was able to share a little about that as well. Both sides have a hard job to do and both sides can have their moments where mental health should be made the priority.

There are still a lot of things that will take time to get answers on but the awareness is the goal. It was really amazing to sit down and talk about both sides of the Fire life together and merge the conversations. Before the LIVE we had never had a conversation and live on opposite sides of the U.S. It confirmed for me that there is a move to break the stigma and that we as the ones at home and the ones who are working the fire matter. When we start realizing that it is okay to talk about mental health, PTSD, decompression after a call and at home, then we can start helping our firefighters succeed. Please check out more of John’s story and what he is doing to help break and end the stigma on mental health. The link for Are You Ready will be posted here and under my links tab. He is always available to talk if you feel that you need someone to talk to. Look him up on Facebook and Instagram. @ryou_ready Please take a moment to watch and consider the things we all can be doing to help each other and ourselves.

Choose Your Battles

This blog has been buzzing around in my head but it wasn’t until I was having a conversation with a fellow fire wife that I realized it was something that I needed to write down. In life I feel we are all faced with these moments that when we are stretched and to our max we can let the little things bother us more then we should. And let me just say off the bat this is something I work on for myself and some days I fail miserably while others I pass the test. Some of us when we are long stretches of days, feeling like we can’t take much more on our own, we fall victim to the short fused reactions. I know I have been there.

We as fire girlfriends and wives spend a lot of the time holding the home together. For me this means mostly my children. They can be best friends and worst enemies at times. And it can be tiring. There are moments I just want one second to get something done, or hey even use the bathroom alone. I mean it’s the number one time when my kids want to know the most irrelevant things. They seem like they’re making up things to ask just to ask. Let’s not forget the days when I am so excited that I managed to get a house project done to turn around and find every toy on the living room floor. It’s these moments and these days I have to work hard and remind myself to choose my battles. To stop and ask myself is this worth getting frustrated over? Is it worth loosing my cool? No, it probably isn’t. But let’s make clear that there are those times when the answer may be yes, maybe not on loosing my cool but teaching my children they need to stop, listen and remember to be responsible and respectful. I have made leaps and bounds personally with this. I am with my children more then anyone else so have had the time to really let myself remember my own advice. And to put it to practice.

Which brings me to the next part. My firefighter. This “choose your battles” applies so much here too. When I have had a hard mom week or just a hard week in general, then he come home to my short fuse. Poor guy. But this area I have learned and grown a lot in as well. It wasn’t too long ago when I would get so frustrated at him when he would come home off of his shift and I would want him to be here and let me vent and talk. I would get upset that he didn’t have much of a response or seem to be engaged. But I began to understand the importance of decompression. I began to choose my battles. It wasn’t something I was told to try but something I learned how to get through experience. Was him coming home needing time to transition from his shift to home life more important then my need to vent. Could my emotions and the need to have a moment alone wait. The answer was yes. I felt like I had learned to cope enough without him and in my mind what was one more day. What would ultimately benefit my marriage? I have wrote more about this in My 24 Hour Rule blog. But it made all the difference. Choosing that time to let him get to the point where he was ready to engage and was fully decompressed. Am I saying my feelings and needs are less important then his? No, they are important especially if I am stretched thin and to the point of needing a break. What I am saying is my family and my marriage as a whole is more important. And getting upset didn’t get us anywhere. But that wasn’t the case every time he came home. Sometimes he was ready to dive in and be involved 100% and that also took some learning and choosing. Choosing the moments while he was gone and choosing them when he was home. I learned to choose my battles with my kids and also my marriage. It has helped me and my family.

(Rings compliments of groove life)

Choosing my battles has been a little drum I have been trying to march to in every situation in life right now and even in the past. This choosing has helped not only with my family and kids but with things that happen in everyday life. In the world of social media there is always something out there that we wont agree with. Most of it is not worth the sweat. We come across different personalities we may clash with, people who upset us. And In those times also remember to choose your battles. Is this a solution for every person who reads this? Probably not. My husband isn’t your husband, you are not me, and my kids are not your kids. The things that helped me in this fire life are simply that, “things that have helped ME.” But since it has helped me I am sharing it with you. So, I do not expect you to read this and understand or agree. But wherever you are at in this fire life, choosing your battles can be applied. Taking those simple moments of stopping and asking is this worth my anger or stress, can result in a healthier outcome. The season is on it’s way and I just want to encourage you to remember to the simple message to “choose your battles.”

You Are Protected

Some time ago probably around the time I had my first daughter who is now six, I battled with the fear of being alone and at home by myself. It is something as fire wives or those that live with their firefighter can relate to. Those times can be rough. The learning process of having confidence and knowing we are capable even when the night comes can be tested. It was a true struggle of mine for a while. I stressed about how I would protect me and my child. I had a hundred different plans of what I would do if I was faced with something. These plans are not a bad idea don’t get me wrong but the difference between a fear driven plan and a plan made with confidence and logic is huge. I would allow myself to create these fictional stories, that let’s face it, had a much higher chance of not happening then actually happening. I allowed the worry and fear to cloud my judgment. These times can be hard especially when our firefighters are gone for long stents of time.

So, while I was fine during the day and hardly thought about the night or all these unrealistic plans. I was going on living my day to day life. Part of my daily life was attending bible studies. It was during one of these times that my heart and mindset changed. I believe it was a day where at the Bible study they were pampering the moms. One of the first things they had us do was pick a rose and on each rose was a message. I was worried I was going to get something that I had no idea what the meaning was about. So, I prayed God would give me something I needed to hear. I quickly picked the rose without pre-reading it. And right then and there I almost cried. The message I read on my rose was “You Are Protected.” In the middle of the struggling at night all that fear began to lift and I knew in my heart that I was in fact “protected”. Although the rose eventually died I have this little message written on a brown paper with it’s string still. It has always sat on my kitchen window where I spend a lot of time. It still remains there giving me that sweet reminder when it is needed.

You may be thinking that is great but not really helpful. I understand it was something that happened to me and may have been something that was meant just for me. But I don’t think that’s true. I take it as a lesson that anyone can learn from. I was so wrapped up in fear it took a simple little message to make me realize I needed to let that fear go. I needed to make that mental choice to say it is all going to be okay. And none of these crazy fears were something I should allow to run my life. We have the normal precautions in place, the alarm system, two giant dogs, smoke detectors in ever room, etc. They help give a peace of mind. But so does choosing the mind set of, if something is going to happen to my firefighter or my family then we will deal with it when it comes. Not allowing myself to dwell on or worry about it obsessively. Many times when something has happened that I have had to face I can see how small that problem was in hind site. I can look back now and think, “I made it through that,” and a lot of times I will follow up with the thought “why was I so worried?” It gives me confidence for the future that when things such as fear present themselves before me I can dismiss it because I have the confidence I didn’t have before. That shift and change in mind set is so huge. Why worry about something that hasn’t happened and let it steal the enjoyment of my life now. So, I pass this little brown message on to you, take it for yourself if it applies. But I truly believe it was meant to be shared and imparted to someone else. YOU ARE PROTECTED. You are stronger and smarter then you know. Don’t allow fear to cloud that and worry to steal your joy. Hold onto the confidence that YOU GOT THIS and leave everything else to worry about itself.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

The Faithful Brother

Recently, I was asked for my husband and I to be on The Faithful Brother podcast. I am pretty sure my jaw dropped, but tried to hide the nerves and excitement I felt. Knowing my husband, I knew it was going to take some talking into to get him to join me. He hates to have any spotlight, no matter the subject or context of what it is. So, I was sure he would say no way. I was surprised I got him to agree. But, the funnier thing was, when we were recording, and even though you cannot tell, I was the more nervous one. We knew it wasn’t about us and it is not every day you get asked to talk about your faith. We have always let our actions speak louder then our words, and never felt the need to push our faith. There was a church we used to attend and their mission statement is something I have always carried with me. It is a way to best explain my faith. The mission statement is this, “Meeting people where they are, and loving them to where Christ wants them to be.” There’s something to be said when you learn to fully accept someone and stand along side them in their journey of life and say, “I am here.” As I have promoted and talked about mental health this month in the fire service I feel I would also be doing you an injustice to not bring up my faith. And say that our faith and the power of prayer has gotten us through the hardest of times. My relationship with God is what keeps me grounded and my own mental health in check.

So, who is The Faithful Brother? We met through social media. Instagram to be exact. Their posts have always stayed to scripture and have encouraged me. They run a faith based podcast focusing on what the Bible says. It is truly inspiring and has spurred me to want to be in my bible more. Each podcast has had a first responder on it, allowing you to hear from people who like me, who live this life and have different levels of faith and with different walks of life. One of my main worries when my husband and I were asked to be on there was, “I am not a theology major or bible scholar.” I know my husband felt the same. But, the realization that there is something everyone carries that can touch someone else no matter where they are in life. Despite the nerves of going on and speaking, I felt very welcomed and invited into a non-judgmental environment. Dean and Tim were very warm hearted and didn’t in the least bit make you feel like you didn’t belong. And disclaimer… my goodness…I am not perfect! So that was so refreshing. Their hope for the podcast is the same as this blog. If it reaches and touches one person’s life or helps just that one person that our purpose is being fulfilled. Their mission statement taken directly from scripture truly says it all…

“As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

It is so true when you have someone by your side driving you to be better and helping you to stand and do your best it also helps the helper. And that is what The Faithful Brother is about. Standing along side their brother and sisters living in this first responder life and encouraging them to keep going and to not loose faith. I will be adding their podcast website under my links tab and if this is something that interest you go take a look around. Listen to some of the podcasts. They also have Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, look for them there too. I have said it a hundred times before and I will say it a hundred times more. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And there are those people out there like The Faithful Brother and I who are there to remind you of that very same thing.

Mental Health and Fire Life

As some of you may know, May is a month of many things. One of these things being Mental Health Awareness month. It brings a lot of thoughts to my head. Thinking about if any one person can say that they are always mentally healthy or have it altogether, all the time. I would be pretty certain the answer would most likely be no. Every person has their days, their months, their years and so on. What I would like to touch on more today is the ability to know when that mental state of mind needs some intervention. And not being afraid to raise your hand to talk.

If you are part of the fire life, it is very likely you have heard talk about mental health in the fire service. To me it is a hot topic, getting more attention and hopefully one day fully accepted. In my first feature blog I brought on here I talked about Next Rung. They are making some huge waves on this subject. First responders and their families are offered someone to talk to at any time for any reason big or small. What firefighters see on the daily or sometimes occasionally can be taxing on their health. If they are not given the tools and means to deal with the emotions from those calls, it can be detrimental. For me in my life as a fire wife I feel like I know my husband enough to know when something isn’t right. Simply asking and giving him the room to talk or not talk is about all I know what to do. I will pray over and for him and always keep an open mind and heart for when he does need to talk. There has not been any red flags to me as his wife as to needing to worry about anything. But there are those times when I need to make sure that everything is okay. How do I know when something is off? For us I know my husband very well. I know that when he gets quiet something is bugging him. He is already a quiet person so I emphasize he gets REALLY QUIET. Haha But for him I know its never been anything big. But what if it gets big? Other signs that I know of for others and what research says is, lashing out, irritability, isolation, and self- destruction like addictions to name a few. With proper research I know you would be able to find out more.

I also want to bring up mental health and fire wives. How are we at home dealing with the ups and downs of living in the fire life? Some may be more equipped and deal well while others may need someone to talk with and sort through their overwhelmed and overflowing plate. BOTH are OKAY! For me I know having a husband that I can really sit down and talk with helps tremendously. He always knows when something is off with me even if I try my hardest to not let it show. For the most part it is something I truly love about him. Sometimes though I need to work through some things on my own. Knowing he is always there for me and vise versa gives us the ability to work through the hard days. And knowing we both have incredibly important roles to play to make our life work.

But back to the overwhelming things as a fire wife. We carry a lot of the home life whether we are stay at home moms, working moms, etc. There is a lot on our plate. A hidden society of wives supporting those hero’s on the fire line. We are care takers, counselors, mentors, and strength givers. It can sometimes take all we have especially during those days of endless over time. The times when we are at the end of our rope. Looking back it is amazing what I can say I have been through with and without my husband.

So, I would like to challenge those wives, or girlfriends, to really know where you’re at mentally. Know where you’re at before the peek fire season hits. Have a plan. If things get too much what is your next move? Find a community of fellow fire wives whether or not they live close by. One thing for sure I know is that no one gets it more like a fellow fire wife. That may be all you need is to know that there is someone out there who genuinely understands. It can give you the strength you need to endure. I literally just did a mental health check on my Instagram page to see what other wives were going through. I was so humbled and shocked by how many responses there was. And the one thing I realized was we ALL were or have gone through something similar. I realized we were not alone. This community of fire families has more in common with each other then we know. If we would be so bold and courageous to let another wife in and help us on our individual journeys. It could move mountains. Especially if that mountain is the struggle of LONELINESS. Because my goodness I could not emphasize this enough. You my ladies ARE NOT ALONE.

I also would like to challenge you to be really in tune with your firefighter. Check on them let them know you’re there for them and then show up and truly be there. Be okay with him needing time to talk. Be okay with him not being perfect for you because if its one thing I have learned perfection is a lie. But always striving to better ourselves and those we were put on this earth to love is something quite beautiful. Be aware this month about your mental health and that of your firefighters. If you believe you need help or your firefighter needs help, don’t be afraid to reach out to any resource you know. I am happy to help in any way I can. We are in this together.

Responder Wipes

Fire season is getting ever so close and if it was anything like last year you’re going to want to be ready. Ready to help your family get through the struggles of the fire life and for me that includes helping my husband be ready. This brings me to the next feature blog: Responder Wipes. I have talked a lot on here about cancer in the fire service and how important I feel it is to educate and help our firefighter’s and fire wives know of products and things out there to help them. Responder wipes is one of those products. I have mentioned them before but for the last few months have been trying them out so you know that I am not just talking about a product I have seen but have used, touched, smelt and have had many conversations with the owner. This is a product that I would trust to help my husband as well as be used in the home.

A little background to how Responder Wipes came about all of this taken from what the co founder and owner talked to me about through email. Tonya the Co Founder was working for an architectural firm that specialized in designing fire stations. During this time she was asked about trying to control contaminants in the firehouses. While researching this she discovered that fire cancer was more then just a thought but a true epidemic. She found that there was not much out there for on-scene decontamination. She partnered with a fire chief and they talked about different ideas and came up with the concept of Responder Wipes. Something firefighters could use on scene. At first Tonya wasn’t sold on the idea but it wasn’t until she had a dream that her mind changed. So, they began their journey researching products and coming up with what firefighter’s liked and what would work the best in helping fight against toxins and carcinogens. In 2016 they launched their product. The next year Tonya ended up buying out the other co-founder because of his fire career and concerns of it being a conflict of interest for him. She still consults with him and both are very supportive of each other. Responder Wipes are an on scene decontamination wipe. Helping first responders wipe down after and during emergency calls. The biggest use would be during fires such as structural or wildland.

So, what makes these Responder Wipes different? Something I hope that is obvious with the previous paragraph and also something that if you get to know them is the passion behind the product. They are passionate about what they do and truly care for the cause they are doing it for. As a fire wife this helps me feel at ease knowing that there are companies who care about our firemen and their well being. Responder Wipes also partners with Carney Strong Initiative who is dedicated to bringing awareness and supplying rural stations with decon education and products. Most of these companies are listed in the Fire Cancer blog. Check them out! But besides all that one thing that they do different is they use micellar water. The use for this helps draw out and dissolve dirt helping decontamination be more successful. Another thing that they do is offer different sizes of wipes. The sizes they offer are the Chief’s Wipe which is X-Large 12×24 that can come in individual packs for easy grab and go, a 20 resealable pack of Lieutenant Wipes in 8×8 size, and a NEW third size just released in individual packs the Captain’s Wipe in 8×12 size. The variety of sizes makes it great for options whether more or less decon is needed. These wipes smell amazing and are super soft on the skin. They do not make you feel greasy but leave a clean and soft feel to your skin.

There is also something else you can find on Responder Wipes website. This is the DOT System. These are Encapsulation bags that help further getting the decontamination off of firefighters and concealing it to a confined small area before getting back in their rig. They are easy to use and easy to clean. The idea is that the faster our firefighters can get carcinogens off their skin the better chance they have of fighting their risk of contracting firefighter cancer. I encourage you to check out the video on their website on the DOT System because it is just one of those things that is better to see then to read about. But totally worth the watch! It is amazing! You can find the link to responder wipes under the “link” tab option.

So, as fire season vastly approaches I encourage you to have those tough conversations with your firefighter about what they are doing and what their stations are doing to help them beat their odds. Research and check out all these companies who are working so hard to make the difference and give them a try! Responder Wipes is one of many companies but they are definitely ones worth trying and using! Praying for a safe season for your families this year!