Friday, April 22, 2016

Firemen…er, Fire People…er, What Do You Call them Nowadays?

As a woman in the fire service, I heard all sorts of things as people attempted to reconcile the traditional term “fireman” with the female in bunker gear standing before them: Firewoman. Fire girl. Fire person. My mom jokingly referred to me as a “fire chick” and a guy I once worked with tagged me as “fire babe.” (Not quite “politically correct,” but it was always said in friendly jest.)

So what do you call women who fight fires?

Firefighters.

Pretty simple, isn’t it? And yet in the 21st century, when women work as astronauts, surgeons, engineers, police officers, combat soldiers and more, some in our society still feel the need to apply gender labels. This is something that has always baffled me. If two people undergo the same training and are doing the same job, why does it matter if that person is a man or a woman?

In March, a reporter from our local Fox affiliate interviewed Rachael Staebell, who is a firefighter/paramedic with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Staebell hit the nail on the head when she said that the only time gender plays a role in the fire station “is when we’re using the restrooms…Fire certainly doesn’t care if I’m a woman or a man.”


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Overhauling Life

To a firefighter, overhaul is the process of searching for any extension of fire into hidden spaces. It usually involves opening up ceilings and walls, but overhaul can also mean digging through debris to extinguish hot spots. It’s an often demanding, tedious, and unglamorous chore, but one that is important to ensure the fire is completely out and will not reignite.

Lately I’ve found myself in the position of overhauling parts of my life. Similar to fireground operations, I have been seeking out things that hinder or damage my creative process, whether external or internal, and then working to remove or resolve them. It has been a long, tedious, unsettling task that has required some uncomfortable digging into the debris of life. This work will continue for some time to come, but it is something that I feel is crucial to my well-being as a writer and as a human.

(Photo by R. Widmar. Copyright 2015)
At the same time I have been eradicating anything that no longer serves me, I have also been searching for those sparks that fuel creativity – not to extinguish them, but to breathe them back to life. Motivation. Inspiration. Mindfulness.

In the words of Martha Graham:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Heres to keeping the creativity channel open.