Friday, December 30, 2011

this is it

It's getting close...... I can't believe another year has gone by. It's been quite the year..... crazy, ambitious, exciting, heart wrenching, soul searching, anguished.... and in all sincerity, it's been perfect, well, in a weird existential kind of way.

Somewhere along the way I made Acting Captain, waved a tearful goodbye to my marriage, explored the potential energy of people and their love, and survived the ups and downs of being a single shift-working mother. I am still in a state of complete and utter wonder at where I am at this point in my life. All I can say is that my heart is still full to the brim with love and room to spare and that despite all the bloodshed of heartache and the tsunami of tears, I wouldn't change a single thing. Because through the heartache and the tears, I found happiness and peace and I am free. I am free from the feeling of wanting or yearning. I am free from the desire of wishing my life or others lives were this way or that. I am free from wanting me to be more than or less than anyone else. I am free because I finally understand that I am enough. Right here right now I am enough...... because I realized I don't have to bend over backwards to fit in someone else's life, or to change who I am thinking that in doing so, I will be loved in return in the way that I need to be loved. And I no longer am afraid of what the future might hold. Because what I have is NOW and the next second from here I needn't worry about because the future will arrive and take care of itself. This freedom comes from accepting that life is difficult and full of inherent suffering simply because we are human and we are flawed. And instead of running away or numbing myself from the pain I can accept it, even welcome it, and then say good-bye to it like a bad houseguest when the pain no longer serves me. In understanding that my pain is transient, pain no longer feels, well, painful. This is huge for me because I fought unhappiness for years without realizing the pain was in the fighting. I have stepped out of the ring..... I no longer choose to fight anymore.

For the first time in my life I feel brave.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

coppin' the 'tude (or show me watcha got)

Fuck it. (pardon the language but it just feels soooooo effin good to swear at this time of year)..... So yeah, fuck it. I've been waffling on posting this picture for ages now and decided to just go ahead and take the plunge. Ta da!

Yeah, we had a housefire that got pretty hot so I just took off my clothes....... just kidding. I'm standing on the tailboard of the first truck I drove ten years ago. Photo was taken for a charity calendar and for some crazy reason I decided to volunteer to be Ms. October. I figured at the age of 41 cruel cruel gravity is going to set in soon so I might as well freeze frame a moment in time when good hair and make-up rules the day and my boobs are still firmly planted on my chest instead of dangling somewhere near my navel. And yeah, that is ink on my back. As in my entire back down to the crack of me bum. Aka mid life crisis. But that is a whole other post for another day.

Merry Christmas. (I keep telling myself if I keep saying it I will magically turn into Tinkerbell and spread my pixie dust cheer or at least grow her boobs). So yeah, Merry Christmas. Screw the eggnog. Headed straight for the tequila.

don't make me give you the finger

Lol. I was wondering how long this zen like bliss was going to last. Don't know if I am pms'ing or if it's because I am sick and tired of the way last minute Christmas shoppers drive but I am feeling grumpy.  I mean like seriously, you had 364 days to prepare.... why choose to leave it till the last minute?!  I cannot wait for Christmas to be over when I am back on shift because I really really need to kick a door in or smash some windows or rip apart a car. Love the firehall. It's the only place where my black humour is appreciated and I can speak in my outside voice all the time.   I need to feel the rage of a fire so I don't have to let mine out on some poor soul who has decided to cut me off on the highway.  Those arseholes who can't drive should consider themselves lucky for the simple fact that I have kids and they are the reason I choose to not get arrested for my loud mouthed profanities.   Sigh. Christmas is such a schizo time for me.

Ok. Rant over.

Regardless, Jacob and Maiya are tucked in bed fast asleep without prompting. That is the joy of Christmas. Getting children to bed without bribing, threatening, cajolling, or three glasses of wine (for me... not the kids of course ).

firefighter's prayer

Well it's that time. the eve of Christmas. I'd love to offer some insightful saying or meditative food for thought but I've got nothing really. But I did think of this prayer and can't believe I haven't posted it yet...... I don't know when it was written or who wrote it but it's lovely nonetheless.

So here it is.... Merry Christmas everyone.......

When I am called to duty God...
Wherever flames may rage...
Give me strength to save a life whatever be its age.

Let me embrace a little child...
Before it is too late...
Or save an older person from the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert...
And hear the weakened shout...
And quickly and efficiently...
Put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling...
To give the best in me...
To guard my friend and neighbor...
And protect their property.

And, if...according to Your will...
While on duty I must answer deaths call...
Bless with your protecting hand...
My family, one and all.

Friday, December 23, 2011

on loving....

As you're well aware by now, I've been pondering life and love like never before....... and this is one of the new conclusions I have come to.... I have discovered that my heart and my love for people is a bottomless well. I used to think I had a limited amount that I could put aside for the most very special people in my life. But I found it too painful and exhausting to try and compartmentalize my love into neat little pie shaped pieces. Or to try to turn love on and off as if it were as simple as a bathroom light switch. This doesn't mean that I love recklessly but rather love from an honest heart with pure intention. And like I've mentioned before in other posts, it means loving for the sake of loving without expecting anything in return. I finally understand beyond my children what unconditional love is. And apart from the health and happiness of my family and friends, this feeling of loving without condition is the best Christmas gift I could ever imagine. My life makes perfect sense now.

peace and love..... xo

sweet slumber

Funny how when you let go of feelings of hurt, disappointment and pain, you start sleeping like a baby. I've slept an uninterrupted 8 hours for the past week.... (last night 10 hours!) something I haven't been able to accomplish in years.

Anxiety has disappeared. And hopefully will remain a distant memory. xo

Thursday, December 22, 2011

just happy to breathe

I realized whoever I do end up with in the future, it will be with someone who is strong...... Strong enough to love me, my children and be comfortable that my ex will be in our lives because he is the father of our children. And also be ok with what I do for a living and the shiftwork and commitment my profession entails. It will be someone who can love me for my 41 years of baggage, or rather let me rephrase that, my 41 years of wisdom.  This is not to say that the man of my life will be less of a priority than myself, my children and my job, but will become part of our lives like a glorious melting pot in which we can fulfill everyone's dreams and desires, through teamwork and understanding.  I have no doubt when the right person comes along we will rock this world. Having said all this, I am just happy to breathe right now. My life is perfectly happy and full. Anything else that comes my way will be the cherry on top. ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

new rookies

I just wanted to welcome our two new rookies at the firehall. We're a family of 10 again! :) The more the merrier as they say.

They came in all shiny new, boots polished, shirts pressed, bunker gear crisp with nary a speck of soot to be seen........... waiting with baited breath for their first call, drunk on love for this job.

Welcome boys. I wish you nothing but health and happiness for the years to come as you serve this profession. It's my honour and privilege to have you on my crew. Be safe and God bless.

there is a god

Found a last minute 9 foot Fraser fir Christmas tree for $22. The loft smells amazing..... nothing like the smell of pine... reminds me of the Muskokas in the summertime. :)

Can't wait to see the look on the children's faces when they get home from school today.

Happy days........... xo

Monday, December 19, 2011


I want to believe in God. But I have a hard time getting my head wrapped around a bearded dude sitting somewhere in the sky.

But I want to believe in God, and have the calming faith and devotion that some people have. I don't want to go to a church to pray because frankly I find churches a bit creepy. But I want to believe in something. I usually ponder these thoughts around Christmas time and for those of you who know me, you understand why I have a hard time with this holiday on so many levels. But at least it has me thinking about faith which is a good thing.

I've decided (with no disrespect to those who see God otherwise) that God is not a person but really the moments in which we find gratitude and love for the sake of loving without expecting anything in return. It's those moments when we are truly doing what we are born to do, using our talents and gifts as selfless offerings. I've seen God through my job, helping those find peace with the loss of their loved ones or simply when i am happy and just grateful to roll up hose when the fire is out. I've seen God look right at me through my son's eyes the moment he was born...., and feel His love through my daughter's kisses. I know this all sounds spacey, especially for someone as pragmatic as myself but I just finished listening to Leonard Cohen's Hallellujah and it always strikes a chord in me. Or maybe this is all residual stuff from my trip. Who knows? Regardless, I hope I can continue feeling this centred and carry this peace about me for a long time to come.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

home is where the heart is

Back from my trip. And something shifted in me. A subtle shift that crept up in me but a powerful one just the same....

The trip had a rough start but a strong finish. I learned a lot about myself.  It was like a detox where the first few days I felt like an addict, unable to let go of the distractions of the daily routines of my life, unable to get the gears to stop whirring in my head, unable to stop spinning in overdrive. It was like I was stuck in the mud, or quicksand.

But like anything, the faster you hit bottom the faster you bounce back and while I do wear a few emotional scars, I feel like I can function again. 

This trip was an opportunity to discover the things and ideas I want to hold onto, and the things and ideas I want to let go. 

For the first time in half a dozen months, and perhaps maybe even a year or longer, I feel at peace and truly worthy of love. Even though there is no guarantee in anything when it comes to matters of romance, I am going to trust in love and all it has to offer. Moreso, I am going to trust in MY love and what I have to offer.

For the first time in my life I am going to be still and let go of trying to control and form my life into what I think it should be and enjoy my life for exactly what it is right in the present moment. I easily love people for who they are without trying to change them, so it's about time I treat myself the same way and love myself for exactly who and what I am... warts and all. I am letting go of my knee-jerk reactions to pain and anger, hurt and disappointment. Instead I choose to become a master of my mind, and a believer in my heart.

I will say it again. I will be still. I am not going to react to the emotional madness around me. Because true love is quiet. And this silence comforts me because I know I no longer have to go searching. Like I said, home is where the heart is and now, when I shut my eyes and sit in solitude, I know I will never feel alone again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the cure

I've discovered the answer to world peace. A bottle of tequila in Cozumel today with a bunch of locals on a white sand beach and all is right as rain again. :)


Funny how after the fifth shot I started seeing oh-so-clearly and realized that I lead a pretty sweet life.  I created a dream home with joyful children and I have a profession that is indescribably fulfilling. Partly due to the fact that I am always surrounded by crewmates and friends who support me through thick and thin and the past few days they have inundated me with emails of encouragement and love. They are selfless and have circled the wagons from across the ocean and I feel safe and cherished again. I'm only repeating some of the things emailed to me here to remind me to stay grounded and not let other people's shit drag me down. Thanks again boys for these kind words of love. You are my brothers at heart. 

"you have a lot of amazing things going for you. 2 amazing children that are unbelievable, an amazing job, great health, you are absolutely beautiful and smart as a whip. "

'You will find someone and u will find them when u aren't even looking. U need to take this time to rediscover urself as a single parent. U r one of the most independent people i know so u will bounce back better and far quickier then anyone out there. Just keep ur chin up. Be proud of who u r and how many amazing things u accomplished. U will amaze urself as time goes on st how many more amazing things will happen to u in ur life because u deserve them to happen and u work hard to achieve them. '

'Don't let anyone bring u down!!  Walk proud!! Smile even when life seems it sucks. Looks at something beautiful. Take a deep breath of air, listen to the sounds we constantly ignore and enjoy being alive. '

It will work out. U r such a strong woman nothing can beat u. This may be winning the current battle on u right this moment but it won't win the war. Say to urself screw this I'm not gonna let this bring me down I deserve more!! Put ur chin up and walk with pride.  know u did everything u could and some. It will all work out. Trust me!! '

"It is very healthy for u to cry it out so let it happen ok. Don't hold it in. I'm here for u and always will be"

"You are a very special, beautiful, funny outgoing lady with so much to offer 
Move on and count your blessings."

"I am here to talk or write with you  - please hold on -   YOU are not seeing
the whole picture of who YOU are and what YOU have to offer !!!"

"I feel bad you are feeling this pain - I know how it feels, believe me"

"Give yourself  some time to heal and find out what you want. Don`t go looking and it may crash right into you.

 Oh yah, you`re pretty sexy too."

The last comment made me laugh out loud in a way i havent laughed in a long time.  And it warmed my heart because it was from my very favourite retired captain in the world. 
I love, love, love these people  And I just realized I have been loved in the truest sense all along.  I don't lack a single thing.  I will remind myself to never doubt  my strength again nor let other people's shit affect my self esteem. This love that I was so desperately yearning was  right under my nose the whole time.   Thank you boys for always being there for me. 

I'm back again with my two feet planted firmly on the ground and I cannot tell you how great it feels. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

random thoughts while on a trip to nowhere really

I am  embarking on a week's vacation with the children and use this time to try and mend my soul. 

So far it's not working. 

There are a million other places I'd rather be right now. The first place is wrapped in the strong safe arms of the man who broke my heart.  I play over the words and all the things he told me in the deep steady murmur of his voice and it pains me. Because I wanted to believe everything he said. I dove off this cliff into this thing called 'love' and I think I went splat. I feel so lost as I stare out of the window of this airplane. I need someone to catch my emotions as they tumble down full tilt from the sky. I have saved a few lives doing my job. Who  can save mine now?  


Dark heavy clouds loom over my heart like the plague.  Not even my children's exuberance can pull me out of this funk.   Rather, I feel impatient and curt with them because I am lost and consumed by my thoughts.  I feel like the worst mother and person in the world. I don't want to hold it together anymore.  What is wrong with me? I am in another country by the beauty of the ocean and all I want to do is wail.  


I do not want to be around strangers, buffet lines and least of all tourists in their loud mumuus and hairy banana hammocks smelling of coconut oil and cheap rum.  I swear I will smack the next person who tries to grab me by the hand to do the cha-cha or two step or whatever the fuck the dance of the moment is on the Lido deck.  I need to be alone with my thoughts. But it only magnifies how lonely I am now that I am away from my daily distractions that allow me to escape on a certain level. Here, in the middle of the ocean, I feel like I can't run from myself because wherever I go there I am which goes to show that I am stuck with me whether I'm at home or on a rocket to the moon so I better figure out something pretty darn quick.   

Aha. Maybe i have figured out why I am feeling so cuckoo.  Sex. Or rather lack thereof. A giant roll in the hay would be a great salve. But lovemaking, sweet sweet lovemaking would be a cure for my soul. Can you tell it's been much too long since I've been laid? Ugh. I am going to die an old maid. Ugh.

Ironic and funny and kind of sad and pathetic that while  married I made a thousand excuses to get out of sex. And now that is all I can think about. 


You'd think with having worked with nothing but men for the past 10 years that I would have them figured out now. 


I feel somewhat better this morning. Sleeping with the  lull of the ship, being rocked gently back and forth among the waves reminds me of once upon a time being cradled in someone's safe arms. 


I see octogenarians walking hand in hand along the beach without speaking, yet somehow I am sure they have been together for so long they speak telepathically. They seem to carry the quiet certainty of love that is forever and a day. And I am extremely jealous. 


I stare out into the ocean and somehow feel tiny and insignificant. But being so small compared to the sea heals me because I see how my problems are just a flash in the universe. Still, they are MY problems. And they swallow me whole. 


Once again I stare out into the ocean and  I pray for a sign that I will be ok:  A dolphin? A rainbow maybe? A volcanic eruption? Sigh. Nothing. 


This is crazy. I am yet again suffering from insomnia so I am hunkered down in the 4x4 foot cabin bathroom writing this so my kids can sleep in the dark. And also so that they can't hear me cry.  I stare at the mirror under the harsh fluorescent lights and wonder, who is this woman who looks back at me. I look deep into her tired eyes in search for a friendly smile or a glimmer of hope.  None. 


Maybe I need to get plastered. As in rip roaring drunk. But then again, I hate drinking alone.  Besides, I say stupid, stupid things when I am drunk, which is why I don't drink much in the first place. 


Maybe I am a massachist  (sp?) in that I choose to be in pain. After all, pain can be exquisite. But I've decided pain of the heart is not


Maiya asked me what I wanted Santa to bring me. To which I replied: 'Tall, dark and handsome'. She just looked at me quizzically and scampered off to get another helping of ice cream. 


Life is looking up. Now I'd love to say I met the man of my dreams but nope, found a chin up bar at the very top front (forward?) of the ship in such a secluded place I finally felt like I could breathe. I didn't shout 'I'm the King of the World' or anything stupid or cheesy like that. But rather, I did one hundred burpee pull ups like a badass GI Jane. Did my first 3 finger pull up. Ok six if counting both hands. Hey, gotta find happiness where it comes. 


Just realized that maybe this yet again painful period in my life is my Phoenix rising. Maybe I am being transformed!  Hopefully whatever I am in the middle of right now passes quickly because this clenched fist over my heart blows big time. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

thank you

I wanted to give a shout out to all my local friends and distant (yet close in my heart) friends from all over the world for sending their collective love and energy keeping in touch with me despite the busy lives we all lead. Means more to me than I can put into words. Door is always open along with a bottle of wine and some great conversation................. and a box of tissue to wipe the tears of laughter or sadness away. Whatever it may be, I'm always here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

playing hooky

I pulled Jake out of school today and we went to the mall! We filled a shopping cart to the brim with toys for some favourite charities. I love how Jacob understands. He is my old soul and I need to savour these moments........


All is right in the world again today.

Thank God.

Nothing like a good night's sleep and healthy children to make it all better.

And having shift to look forward to first thing tomorrow morning. Nothing like having brothers for life to support me in a way that sometimes I can't even understand but certainly do appreciate.

Dark clouds have lifted and today I can smile..........

peace and love.

rambling thoughts

As I watch over my son as he tosses and turns through feverish nightmares, I wonder if he or his sister sense the massive changes in my life during this past year, months, and even days. Do children have this remarkable ability to filter out grown up problems and only see the beautiful and the good? Do they sense my feelings of disappoinent, hurt, unrequited passion? I write this journal, partly to remind me where I came from, who I am, and where I hope to be. I also write so that my children one day can read this and know that I am doing the best I can to live my truth and find love and happiness not as just a mother or a firefighter but as a woman. I write so that they see I am hopelessly human and flawed in so many ways. So that they are never too disappointed in the choices I might have made in my life. I have suffered losses and had great gains. And some days I have a hard time because instead of feeling grateful, I feel selfish, petulant, and self-absorbed. And these feelings frighten me. But perhaps this is the balance necessary that tips the scales over to the dark side because it reminds me that I can't always be sunshine and light or be everything to everyone. Because that super hero image is impossible to keep up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

trusting the universe

Where do I go from here?

God only knows..........

Trying to live my life one millisecond at a time.


....... in a big, big way. Thought I was ok but I guess I am not. I suppose I was being A-type thinking I could be fine already. Funny how the world perceives me as strong, together, competent. Yet on days like today I see myself unravelling at the seams... too tired to cry. Too numb to eat. Too exhausted to sleep. I should win an Academy for the great act I've been putting on because truth be told, I'm an not ok in this moment. On days like today I question the choices I have made, all in the quest to find myself, and to love and be loved.... to be cherished exactly for who I am in the moment, to be loved for all my mistakes and confusion of my past. To be loved and forgiven for any mistakes I will make in the future. Deep down I think there is a part of me that believes that I am unworthy of love and somehow I must figure out how to change this negative tape that plays in my head. I feel vulnerable, raw, flawed, and untrusting of this word called love. How will I ever learn to feel it with another being again without being scared to the bone that I will get crushed again? My heart doesn't feel resilient and strong...rather it is something that I hold cautiously in my chest to the point where I am terrified if I take a breath too deeply it will shatter like glass again. Normal feelings I suppose. Horribly painful nonetheless. I look forward to being on shift again so I can get out of my head and help people in any way I can. Besides, the guys never let me get away for feeling sorry for myself for long. And that is a good thing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

my children

I know I haven't posted any pics of my children recently. I think this is due to me going into mama bear mode with all the changes that have been happening the past few months. And I just want to keep them close. But trust me. They are the most beautiful things in the world, growing like weeds, loving and laughing with the joyful abandonment that children have that we, as adults somehow seem to lose along the way. Sometimes I want to keep them small, to savour their deliciousness, but then again, I am so excited for a peek into their future. In the meantime, I am just enjoying them, minute by minute... every kiss, giggle, hug and tear I can wipe away.

They keep me sane. And whole. They make everything in my life ok again.

better to have loved?

I woke up from shift grumpy as all heck and on the commute back home I was racking my brain as to why I felt out of my skin. Was it the rain? Fatigue? Hunger? The desperate need for a shower? I kept questioning myself how I could feel so sad when I had finished a great shift and was ready to enjoy my week off.

Then it dawned on me why I was out of sorts and ran into my home for a good cry.

We had a call around dinnertime and without getting into any gruesome details a woman is now a widow after witnessing her husband of many decades die in front of her. I worked on her husband for what felt like an eternity, strong and sure of every movement, action and decision made at that call. But it was his time. Simple as that. And nothing we could have done would have made a difference. We went back to the hall, had chicken caesar salad and apple pie for dinner (funny how prevalent meals are in our firehall lives) ran a few more calls and bunked down. And while I figured out why I felt sad, is it selfish that the reason I felt sad had not so much to do with the death of this man but more to do with this bringing up feelings of my own loss?

Like right now, as tears fill my eyes, partially blinding me from seeing the keyboard, I question if it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before? I am single now, and as much I am enjoying the peacefulness, stability, and freedom that I have, I wonder if as humans, we are supposed to be without partners...... this is not to say I would settle for anyone, but still...........

I wonder if I would be as stoic and strong and a bit angry like the wife was yesterday. Or if I would wail and weep. It just made me realize that as powerful as we like to think we are, we never have the true choice in when we get to say goodbye. Hopefully when we do say goodbye to a loved one it is with grace and no regret. So in answer to my own question, with a resounding yes, it IS better to have loved and lost. Hopefully I will be able to love again. Maybe not now. But one day soon.

These are the calls that humble me to the core.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I love, love, love the quiet that descends upon the firetruck when we are on the way to a call. Sure the sirens and air horns are blaring and the radio chatter goes nonstop but there is this silence, this hush, this ritual that occurs in the back of the truck. We double check our airpacks, put on our hoods, strap on our flashlights and sit ready with our helmets on our laps. We are listening to the updates on the radio and mentally preparing for what might be coming next. It's a powerful, concentrated thing to watch and my favourite part of the call until the good shit hits the fan and we jump off the truck and go off and running to do what we need to do.......

Thursday, October 20, 2011

trouble in paradise

It's not always as rosy as it seems at the firehouse. I have witnessed firefighters in screaming matches, things getting thrown around. It can get pretty dramatic. We are, after all, pretty intense people. Being cooped up with the same people you haven't necessarily chosen to be with often does not help. With this damp, cold and rainy weather we have all been pretty miserable and it feels like house arrest hanging out in the fire house itching for the alarm to go so we have an excuse to get out and feel useful. Bickering starts over nothing: who cleans more, who ate the last of the peanut butter, what channel to watch on tv. Asinine problems I know but in the heat of the moment they can be real issues.

I am not immune.

Yesterday was my first shift as Acting Captain but there were some problems off the bat before I even set foot into the station:
1- I had a torn bicep muscle and my arm was in excruciating pain.
2- my children were up the past two nights with fevers and tummy aches and I was exhausted and overwhelmed
3-Aunt Flo decided to pay me an early visit.

So although I was confident and capable and sure footed as I ran the calls, I felt out of sorts and insecure fitting in with this new group of fellas that I have only been with for two weeks. I still haven't learned their working styles, their strengths, their weaknesses and they certainly didn't know mine. And even though I am senior to them, they run the show because it is their station, and they know the neighborhood and the surroundings like the back of their hand.

I can honestly say I learned more about myself as a firefighter during these past 24 hours than I have this past year. It was crazy. It was amazing. And without getting into the gory details, it is why I love this job so much because it pushes me to those mental limits that make me just want to be a better person and a contributer to this profession I love.

I have never been so exhausted in my life. But every bag under my eye and grey hair on top of my head I have proudly earned. Keep bringing it... the learning never stops and I want to continue to learn like I've never learned before. xo

Sunday, October 16, 2011

rules of the road

I am not sure what was in the air last shift but it was a day of collisions: cars, pedestrians, cyclists, you name it.
If it's one thing that I learned from observations and simple probable rules of physics, it is that the biggest vehicle wins.
Which is why I drive an F350. A bit too much truck in the city but hey, like I said, biggest car wins. And my precious children sitting in the backseat make the $140 tank fill up worth it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

bad bad day at the firehouse

We had an incident at work that was so traumatic that it was the first time I saw our senior Captain with tears in his eyes. It was a fire call and the outcome was tragic. Brace yourself animal lovers, this picture is not kind:

Yup. Those were eight beautiful half chickens that were lovingly marinated only to be taken down in flames. Seems my crewmate tending the bbq forgot to turn the heat down. I am just glad it wasn't me. There's nothing worse than 7 hungry firefighters ready to lynch you as they try to figure out how to eat this.

It was hopeless. It was like trying to eat vaporized charcoal.

So, like all good firefighters, the poor bastard who was responsible for this mess did some quick thinking and whipped up a batch of this:

Dinner ice cream sandwiches.

There are worse things I suppose. ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the dance

We had a call last shift where the patient suddenly became combative with the paramedic on scene. With unspoken choreography, my crew stepped forward in perfect unison and circled around protectively. I love when we are in sync together like that, doing what we just need to do. Swan Lake couldn't have looked as good as that very moment. This is when I already know that my new crew and I are a true team. Love it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

so far so good

Well, 7 hours into my first shift and so far so good. The guys here are super and made me feel completely welcome. The Platoon Chief and District Chief came down and handed me my stripes, new helmet plaques, and notebook:
I was mildly mortified at all the attention. One of my new crewmates said 'Drink it up girl. You earned and deserve this moment'. I didn't realize how big a step in my career this was until other crews we bumped into at calls started giving me handshakes, hi fives and hugs. I can't tell you how special these small gestures have made me feel. Well, I can I suppose. These small gestures made me feel like one of the boys and I think being a woman in a man's world, this means more to me than you can possibly imagine. :) I couldn't have done it without some really great leadership and people backing me.

No one pinch me.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

butterflies and more new beginnings

I start at my new station tomorrow. As an Acting Captain. I am mildly freaking out, in a good way of course. I have big boots to fill. The previous Acting at the station was amazingly capable and respected. I feel like a bit of a rookie again. Like it's my first day at school. There was some smack talk from another shift that got back to me saying although I kicked ass in the exam I won't be able to handle the pressure at a bad call. Guy who said that of course doesn't have the balls to say it to my face though. And interestingly enough, he scored lower than me on the exam. If it's one thing I've learned after all these years on the job, is that I don't have to smack back. I'm just gonna keep doing what I have always done, put my head down and dig deep and work ten times harder than everyone else. The proof is in the pudding. And baby, this girl can bake. xo


Last shift was crazy. You know when you take in a bit too much smoke at a call when you blow your nose and everything that comes out is all black.
Too much information, I know, but hey, just wanted to share. Lol. ;)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

new beginnings

Well, it's all good.

I am finally in a place where I can speak of things without feeling like I am shattering into shards of glass. It's taken me a long time to get here. Although it was a journey that started with a heavy heart, it was a road I had to travel to get to a place that spoke of truth, yearning, and in some ways (much to the horror of what some might think), a road to freedom and self-discovery.

I am a single mother now.

I had a really hard time coming to grips with that term. I hate those two words put together... s.i.n.g.l.e.m.o.t.h.e.r. They sound so broken, as if being a single mother is something 'less than' like a misfit in society. It's as if being a single mom is worse or less worthy than being a mom with a husband or that she is less valuable to society without a man by her side. It is a term that seems to infer a stigma of pity, and not strength. I hate that term and the idiot who coined it. I don't want the pity, to see those ' I-am-so-sorry-what-the-heck-happened-looks' Or have people see my children as products of a 'broken home'. I hate, hate, hate that term too. As if children of separated parents are somehow damaged goods or less perfect than other children who come from intact families. It infuriates me when people can be so judgemental. So dear friends and neighbours, if you see my little family walking around, please don't offer condolences or give us glances of sympathy or sorrow. We are still whole people.

So instead of being a single mom, I prefer to call myself a co-parent. Because although I no longer play the role of a wife, I am still a partner in life with a man who continues to be involved and an amazing father to our children on a daily basis. He lives close by, the children seem happy to have an additional home to stash their treasures and I feel like I can breathe again. I was worried about how the children would adapt but they didn't even bat an eye for a second. Perhaps they are too young to understand. But I think they just see parents who love them and parents who are much happier and relaxed because that is all that matters to children. I think the key in all of this is that their father and I continue to care for each other even though we choose not to be together anymore. I know now, it is for the best. I think the hardest part for me was letting go of the image of that perfect marriage I so desperately wanted. I realize now, there is perfection in what has happened to the both of us. For the first time in many years, we are supporting each other to grow in our own directions instead of pulling each other down with our needs.

Sometimes the best way to love someone is to let them go.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Instead of trying to be happy, I look for moments of happiness throughout the day. Today my children and I found a lavendar bush in the heart of downtown so that was something to smile about. Some days the moments linger longer than others. Other days I have to dig really deep. I will dig all the way to China if I have to, anything to stop me from falling into the abyss of depression. I keep telling myself that I am in a tunnel, not a hole. And at some point I will make my way through to see daylight on the other side. And although I give in to the tears, I refuse to become bitter. There is no room in my heart for that.

Time marches on.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

baby steps

Feeling better today. Instead of this constant dark cloud over my head, I feel like I have moments of brightness and respite from sadness. I almost feel as if I can come out with it, speak about it without my eyes welling up with tears. Almost.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

life as I don't know it

For the first time in my life I have no clue about what the future holds for me. And for the first time in this A-type personality's life, I am completely ok with it. Normally I live my life based on a spread sheet of data and goals and timelines but life has thrown a huge curve-ball at me as you know and I am still reeling from its effects. I am still processing all that's happened over the past few months and still feeling really raw and vulnerable but for the first time in as long as I can remember I am feeling hopeful and trusting in whatever the future may hold for me. For the first time I am living in the moment unable and unwilling to predict what might happen to my future. I am no longer afraid of my feelings and am able to move through the pain to feel the joy on the other side, realizing that I am in a tunnel, not a hole. I move through moments of extreme self-doubt to moments where I know I am more than ok because there is something bigger than all of us here to teach me to learn and love on an even deeper level than I have ever known.

My commitment now is to be true to myself, to be vulnerable, to give myself permission to be authentically me. This is he scariest thing I have ever had to do.... to face myself and hold myself accountable to the truth.

Still, I am not quite ready to reveal what has been going on. Because i still cant form the words to make any sense of it. To some, it might not seem to be a big deal, but for me, it's been monumental and the most pain I have ever experienced. But at the end of the day, in spite of, or despite the pain, I feel tremendous love and gratitude and consider myself the luckiest woman on this planet. It is the best feeling in the world when you can let go of the anger that has held me captive for so long.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

enough with the spray tan

Last night I plunked down in front of the tv to do some mindless channel surfing. I ended up watching two hours worth of back to back Toddlers and Tiaras. Nothing better than that show to remind me that I am a good (and normal!) mother. And waaaaay cheaper than therapy. ;)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

hangin in

Still on this roller coaster ride of emotions. And I want to kick them out of my body like a bad houseguest who has overstayed their welcome. Not sure when I will ever feel normal again. And I hate feeling fragile, vulnerable, and raw. What happened to this tough gal I once knew? Some moments are filled with extreme clarity and other moments I am numb to the bone. I hold on to my children and breathe in their sweetness and it calms me for the moment until they wriggle out of my arms and they scamper off to play. I try to seek solace at the gym, thinking that if I am breathless with exhaustion I won't be able to feel pain. But I guess pain reminds me that I am alive. And that I am living, and therefore going to survive this confusion and heartache. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I wake up and feel that the sun shines again. But then again I worry 'maybe not'.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

grief part deux

Tears won't stop and they are making me feel angry that I don't have the control over them. This lack of control is a tremendously odd feeling since control is the zone I like to live in, like the way I can control my breathing inside my mask when I am fighting a fire in the bowels of a building. I can't tame these emotions the way we try to tame a fire. I can't water my feelings down, or compartmentalize them into neat tiny packages to put away on a shelf or crush them in the garbage compactor. Even a vicious workout doesn't soothe me. My crewmate texts me words of encouragement and I am so grateful because it reminds me that someone is thinking of me. I battle between moments of a flood of tears and sparks of rage. And between the two, I suddenly feel alive, and hopeful, and trust that everything is going to be fine. And that it's ok to allow myself to feel the depths of sadness and anger and that I won't disintegrate like a wet Kleenex lying in the bottom of a puddle.

At least for the next 24 hours I can put my gameface on and be 100% secure in knowing that I can handle whatever call is thrown my way.
I am headed into shift. Time to wipe my eyes and take a deep breath.

It's showtime.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Grief. It's a loaded word. On the job, I have witnessed its many forms. Sometimes grief is the blood-curdling wail of a son who just lost his mother, or grief can be that blank thousand-yard stare of shock. I have seen people wander around in circles at calls, I have seen people curse, break things or just sit down and cry. And I feel helpless that there is nothing I can do to alleviate their pain except to offer my hand to hold, hand over a tissue, or give them a gentle nod of understanding, even though I will never completely understand what they are going through, simply because I am not them.

But in a way, I do know because I have been grieving the loss of something that I once so deeply believed in and now my world has gone upside down that there are moments I am not sure of anything, but then again this uncertainty has grounded me in living my life millisecond by millisecond, trusting and embracing whatever the future might hold for me.

I wish I could go into detail but the feelings are too sharp, too muddled and raw to explain. But in my grief, there is that ray of hopefulness that my life can only move forward in a positive way like it always has. Since my childhood, my father has told me I was born under a lucky star and I believe this. I do not believe in God, but I know there is a greater power and His/It/Her energy bathes me with a calming force.

I think the key to grief is to not fight it. To accept it for what it is and what it has to teach you, to feel it, bathe in it. And to let it give you strength. I cried for the first time in a decade in front of one of my crewmates. Not a huge cry, but the two tears that rolled down my face were enough to rattle me and my crewmate just a little bit but like every great firefighter, my colleague gave me that look of knowing and understanding. And in that look he gave me, I knew I had it in me to handle whatever comes my way.

So as I lie awake here tossing and turning mere hours before I start my next shift, I am saying a silent prayer of thanks to my crew, my beautiful children, and to all the people I have the privilege of helping every time the alarm sounds. In grief, there is that huge possibility of joy, and this is what I hold onto. xo

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I am still in that post-exam haze where I am finally able to allow myself to feel the myriad of emotions that I have been suppressing for a long time. Funny how the distraction of an exam can make you push thoughts and feelings away. Right now, I am still on cloud nine, enjoying my beautiful children who I have neglected somewhat with my head up in the fire department policy and procedure clouds. Anxiety is starting to hit me as well knowing that I will probably be leaving my crew within the next month or two. Although I feel happy about the promotion, I feel this like I am forced to break up with these people I have grown to know and love, who have become such a part of my life. A part of my life I never want to let go. And I feel like a baby bird being kicked out the nest even though I am not sure I know how to fly. This melancholy, mixed with the spring rain, makes me feel like I've aged a billion years, making me ponder and feel much more poetic than I could possibly imagine myself to be.

I think people for the most part might think I am a bit crazy. I am intense and can't shut it off. My sister always accuses me of this but I can't help it. I have deep burning questions on what makes people tick, why we do things to each other, why it is so much easier for mankind to gravitate towards hate instead of love. Why we are so hell bent on destroying the planet and each other. But in all this I am hopeful. I believe in old souls and a power that is bigger than all of us. I believe in chaos theory. I believe in reality i believe in dreams. I believe in you. I believe in me. And I believe in all of us. More than anything I believe in all of us. And the basic human need for love and self worth and happiness and validation, and just plain old fitting in.

And I pray that I fit in with the next crew I am assigned to. Thank goodness I have my children to keep my feet planted on the ground and keep me sane. Without them i would be nothing. I don't think I felt unconditional love before in my life until I birthed my son from my body. I don't think I grew up and became a woman until I had them. As their hearts grew in me and beat in rhythm beneath mine, they became a part of me and it's the closest I have come to feeling peace in my tumultuous mind.

But firefighting brings me peace too. Amidst the sirens, and the smoke and the screams, it gives me a framework of who I am. I do wish I could turn back the clock in so many ways. I do wish I had the chance to taste this thing called fire when I was twenty instead of thirty. And now, here I am at just over 40. I do wish I could be so much more to this profession. I think in so many ways firefighters around the world have a connection that is deep and so profound because we are on the exact same journey with almost the exact same stories to tell. There is this connection that hits me in the core of my soul.

It has made me believe in possibility.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Results of the exam were released yesterday and I am still in a state of shock.

I placed first.

I do not take credit for it because it was all due to the amazing collective energy of the people around me. There is no way I could have done it without them.

I am still in disbelief. And so very relieved I could cry. Looking back I don't know where I found the strength, the time, or the energy. I think it was my sheer stubbornness, fear of failing, pragmatism, and pure old fashioned adrenaline that got me through. Oh.... and a lot of ice cream. Post exam, there was a feeling of elation.... but now I feel a bit lost..... as I am trying to reconnect with all the things that I have put on the backburner. It's like this huuuuuge whoosh of concentrated energy that I am finally allowing to leave my body. I can breathe again. And look at my family with clear and present eyes instead of running through hundreds of pages of notes through my head simultaneously. There's a lot more levity at work now since I can focus on the learning through experience and application now. Before it was just learning through study. Now it's time to cement everything I have learned into my body. It's one thing to read about command presence, and another thing to embody it. This will come with time I hope.

So I get my promotion. :) Exactly when, I don't know. I am hoping it won't be until Christmas because I am not quite ready to leave the nest and the comfort that my crew gives me. I want to spend the summer with them, and gain the experience and the confidence so that when the time comes for me to move on up to the front seat and switch stations, I will be ready.

I look back at how terrified I was of everyone and everything when I was a rookie. The trucks seemed too big and I seemed so small and naive in comparison. And now, ten years later I have grown up in this fire family and have found my place.... as both a woman on the job, and most of all as a plain old firefighter. I could have not done this without all the encouragement, love and support of the boys and girls in blue, and my immediate family who gave me my space when I was in the middle of my studying 'crazies'.

I think my proudest moment was when the most alpha of alpha males congratulated me yesterday. I was a pipsqueak compared to his large and looming shadow. Now, I might just allow myself to turn my squeak into a a little bit of a roar.

To the firemen at my station, thank you for taking over the majority of chores and cooking while I've been holed up in the back room swallowed in a sea of books and paper. To the senior mates who passed on their years of knowledge and wisdom. To my husband who gave me my space, to my kids for watching mommy become the best she can be. To my girlfriends who have been the best shoulders to cry on and laugh with....... I give you my love and blessings. I am so grateful for everyone's support. xoxoxox

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

close that chapter


It's done.

I cannot believe that my exam and simulator is over. I feel happy, giddy, exhausted, shell-shocked. I had to take a week to unwind and get used to what it feels like again not to feel under pressure. I didn't realize the toll it was taking on my mind. The past six months of intense studying for hours a day is a blur yet the hundreds of pages read remain amazingly clear. As much as I felt I was bleeding blood from a stone, I am glad I went through the process. It is a right of passage that firefighters must take if they want to become officers. Most importantly, the process, promotion or not, makes you a better, more disciplined and knowledgeable firefighter. All of us who wrote expected to feel this elation upon completion but now we're all in a waiting game, a holding pattern until they release the results next month. I think I did well and the only thing that might hold me back is my seniority... I am somewhere in the middle of the pack and the mark is based on a combination of percentage achieved on the exam and years of service. So we shall see.

So now I am back to the land of the living and feel like I suddenly have time on my hands again. I am less snippy with the children and my husband. And it feels so good to just be present with my family. My mind isn't cluttered trying to hold all the information in. Spring is here. I have the fever.

First shift back after my exam I was greeted with a second alarm housefire. Happened right at shift change. And I broke one of the rules.... not a huge deal but after learning every single policy and procedure out there it felt good to be a rebel. You see, I was walking into the station at shift change and the trucks were starting up. So I literally grabbed my gear, and pulled it on over my jeans and tank top and drove the ladder to the call. And when we arrived there were flames shooting through the roof. I hesitate to say that it was a beautiful thing to see because, after all, someone's home was burning down and that is never a good thing. But the this is what we live for as firefighters....... flame. And although you can't hold it, you can see it, taste it and smell it. And hopefully consume it before it consumes you.

Yes. This is why I wrote the exam. To be able to stand in the middle of burning chaos, hopefully calm and cool as a cucumber and get things back under control.

Thanks y'all for being patient with me while I was in absentia. Lots and lots to catch up on. I will be posting pictures soon of the children. Amazing how much they can grow in six months.

In the meantime.....

buh-bye study notes... lol

hugs and love.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Still here.

I cannot believe how much I have missed posting but in my quest and journey towards being a fire captain I have had to make some tough choices on how to manage my time. In addition to life as a mom, and a full time firefighter, I have had to study 3 to 8 hours a day. Weekends I might catch an hour here or there when the kids are down for a nap. I study standing in line at the grocery store, run through the command functions in my head at the gym, and wake up muttering initial fire reports. I don't get to banter as much with the guys at work anymore because my head is buried in books, books, books. They make fun of me of course, but they understand. And they have been so supportive in helping me out anyway they can. I cannot believe how intense the past 6 months have been and how few meltdowns I have actually had considering the pace I have been running. Since mid- October, I have managed to cram over three thousand pages of information between my ears. In less than two weeks I write my exam and in three I do the fire simulator in front of a panel of district chiefs. I've decided that the way I am going to keep myself calm is to picture them in black socks and underwear. My District Chief laughs at me when I tell him how crazy it has gotten, how I can remember the most minute of details buried in a policy or bylaw. He relates. He feels my pain. He's been there. It is a right of passage. Out of the 90 candidates that originally chose to participate in the promotional process, 70 remain. Some have dropped out because of the pressure, some because of time constraints, and others because they realize that it's not a position they want. It's a position that I want though. But with only 10 positions open at this time, the competition is going to be fierce. Surprisingly I feel pretty calm about it all. I have studied all that I can study, and have given it all that I can. I am fortunate that my husband has been so supportive, along with my fire crew. My Captain lets me ride in his position and take all the calls as Incident Commander so that I can take what I've learned in theory and solidify it in my body as I do it for real. If I thought firefighting on the physical level was tough, firefighting as a Captain, is so much harder. There is more pressure, more work on the cerebral level, being the eyes and ears at a call, and completely responsible for the health and safety for each and every person at that incident who has put their trust in you to make the right call.

Promotion or no promotion, it's been a win win situation. The worst that happens is that I am exactly where I am... with a crew that I love and respect. But really, I am not exactly where I am, I am so much more enriched than before I started this process. I cannot tell you how happy I have been the past six months preparing for this exam. My confidence as a firefighter has grown as well as my respect and appreciation for those who surround me. I never understood until now how finely tuned and orchestrated an emergency scene is. It's not a bunch of guys running around with axes and hoses. There is a method and procedure that is like a dance. And to me, the power of a fire scene will always remain pure magic.

Wish me luck! xo I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Not sure how to even begin this post. It's one of those days where I struggle to find words that fit the feelings that I am experiencing or any emergency services worker might experience. You can run fifty calls that won't phase you and all of a sudden one type of call might haunt you for days and when you are alone and shut your eyes at night all you can see are the bad images that have been permanently etched into your brain. And this image remains sharp and as fresh as the first time until you find a way to bury it deep in the back of your head, hoping it won't resurface anytime soon. For me, the albatross I carry around my neck are the calls where people have chosen to take their own life. The other night we had such a call. And as tough as I'd like to think I am, this call was hard for me. I found myself carying the burden of the dead, getting too close emotionally trying to piece the puzzle of this person's life together and the circumstances which led to his choice and the way in which he was found was horrific. And it haunts me still. This is the type of call where in the middle of the night, when I have been tossing and turning and thinking too much, I tiptoe into my childrens' room and crawl into bed to sleep next to them. Because the only thing that can console me in those moments is having my children remind me of the most beautiful things in life. And I silently promise them that I will do everything within my power to give them a life full of joy, comfort and security so that they may never feel alone. And pray that no one ever has to feel the kind of pain that young man must have been experiencing the night we found him.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

the last pound

I find it somewhat ironic that I cannot break the 150 mark. 150 pound mark that is.

You see, for some reason I have it in my head that 150 pounds is the perfect weight for me. The guys at work watch me eat with astonishment at how much I can throw back in my gullet. I have won the title as the official ice cream moocher because any leftover ice cream in the freezer from other shifts is fair game at snack time in my books. I gorged during the holiday season on blue cheese, and fruitcake and wine oh my, and could only tip the scales at 149. Not bad considering when I was nursing a ravenous Maiya I was a mere 136. That dear child sucked the life out of me. People think I am nuts for wanting to put on weight when at this time of year everyone is trying to shed it. Not me. I want to look like an amazon. I want that extra sinewy heft behind me.... the extra weight and muscle serves me well when it comes to hauling around equipment and I don't fly around like a rag doll at the end of a charged hose line. If only I could pick where the pounds went on my body. Like my boobs and bottom for instance would be nice. But alas, beggars can't be choosers. On that note.... I'm gonna find me a bedtime snack.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Someone in my city just recently won 50 million dollars. As much as I think it would be neat to win the lottery, I find it hard to wrap my head around that enormous amount of cash. My husband thinks it would be amazing to win. But me, I'm not so sure. I think that amount would change who we are and the relationship we have with each other. Even though my husband loves his job, he would quit for sure. Me? I couldn't fathom quitting my job because it would be like cutting off an arm. The work I do as a firefighter is so fulfilling that I think I would feel lost without this purpose and drive. I love being a working person, making a life and living for my little family. It would certainly change the relationship with people around us. I can't imagine the people who would come out of the woodwork to get a piece of the pie. And at work, I think I would definitely be treated differently. And why would I want that when I've worked all these years to fit in?

I would worry that my children would turn into self-entitled Paris Hiltons. I shudder at the thought. But honestly, our lives are pretty happy and comfortable just as things are right now.

That being said, I do get in with the guys at work to buy tickets. 50 million divided by 10 crew mates would be fun, and still keep us all honest. The guys close enough to retirement could do so early, and people like me, well, sure a bigger home would be nice or a no-holds barred vacation once a year. And a bit of money to put aside for the kids' college fund. Oh, and a pair of Prada shoes might be nice as well. ;)