firefighter

Firefighter Fail – Lesson in Detachment

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My intention was to become a firefighter.  Come March I’d walk with my academy mates to shake the hand of the fire chief moving from firefighter recruit to full fledged firefighter.  Alas…that’s not what will happen.  Firefighter will not be part of my resume.

CrossFit, strongman and weightlifting prepared me physically for the academy.  Upon entering the academy I felt physically strong and ready to put my body through the demands of training to become a firefighter.  The physical aspect of the academy was definitely a challenge and my body took a beating to say the least.  However, feeling like I was doing something physically was quite rewarding at the end of the day.  Looking back at what was accomplished in such a short amount of time – running 2.5miles as a warm-up (who does that?!), for example, was a win in my book.

Yoga prepared me for the mental challenge of the academy, sort of.  I have never been in the military, nor do I ever want to be.  Imagine my surprise when faced with the militaristic style of the academy!  To say I hated it would be an understatement.  It was a complete shock to the system to also find out how intensely phobic I  initially was of the SCBA.  This all boils down to some fairly deep rooted patterns within me, namely the fear of loosing control or letting go.  My very basic breath practice helped to get me through most of this, while the awareness of this pattern has pushed me to work with it so that I can hopefully one day move beyond the fear.  Interestingly enough, I learned the power of meditation during this time as well.  I used to be of the “this is too woo-woo” camp and was resistant to the idea.  When faced with the challenges I encountered the week+ I was in the academy, meditation became a necessity to maintain presence.

The combination of all the above gave me the confidence to quit the academy.  Crawling through the maze in full turnout gear on day 6 of the academy I realized that had that been an actual burning building I would’ve wanted no part in that whatsoever.  When I exited the structure I pulled of my mask and told my instructor and Lieutenant that I was done and would not be continuing.  That was the last moment I would be a firefighter.

  

How do you identify?

 

Basically, this sums it up.

Basically, this sums it up.

How do you introduce yourself?  Hi, I’m Anne-Marie.

Then what…do you go in to what you do for a paycheck?  What you do for fun?  Where you’re from?  It could go something like this….I am a paramedic at the local childrens’ hospital.  My wife and I live near the water with our four (yes, I said four) dogs and one cat.  I have a younger sister that is mother to my two awesome nephews.  My parents are still happily married going on 40 years!  I teach a Sunday Funday multi-level yoga class on Sundays at my wife’s yoga studio, The Space Above.  Occasionally I can be found at the local strongman/powerlifting gym, Brute Strength coaching a CrossFit class or working out with my wife and friends. I graduated with my bachelors in Philosophy and Film (photography) from Hollins University almost 15 years ago (good lord, really?), but love school so much that I went back to school for post baccalaureate studies because I thought I was going to medical school and decided to become a paramedic instead.  I’ve had various jobs – outdoor education, server at a few restaurants, even a stint as a valet, a lifeguard, a dog trainer, retail sales, etc.  When I was in junior high I met the girl who would become my first girlfriend.  I played a ton of sports and was a collegiate equestrian (on the national team, thank you very much), and found the barbell in 2009 while going through a huge life transition and haven’t turned back (lifting weights is awesome)…………………………………

It looks like a resumé, right?  That paragraph could go on for endless words, sentences, thoughts, ideas, but it doesn’t really tell you who I am – it tells you what I’ve done, what I’m doing, what I like, some of my experiences.  Who I am, who you are, is a bit harder to answer, don’t you think?  All of these details give the reader an idea of what I like to do as a person, what I enjoy and how I like to spend my time.  You likely enjoy some of those things too, or know me from some of these experiences and that’s what has drawn you to my blog.

Who are you?  No, really.  Think about it.  Without the things, without the clothing, without the hobbies, without the jobs, without the hashtags…who are you?  Strip down to the barebones of your existence and see if you can discover who you are.  We’re just the same, you and I…and the person next to you, across the street, two states away.  All of these identities that we carry are just a mask making it easier to distinguish me from the person next to me in the coffee shop.

Baby Firefighter!  If you’ve made it this far, then you now know what prompted me to jot this deep thought down.  I’ve identified many different ways in my almost 37 years, and starting December 1st I’ll add the role of Firefighter to the Who am I? resumé.  You know that phrase, the only thing that is constant is change?  This sums up this whole bit of identification, it’s always in flux.  What’s important in that moment is what you’ll share with the people you meet.  Tomorrow that first paragraph above will sound and look entirely different.  Which also means this blog may look completely different as my experience as a firefighter paramedic emerges.  How does this new role look for me?  I don’t know.  There are so many unknown variables that I’m preparing to encounter on this new journey.

Go with the flow, and embrace nakedness.  Ok, so be naked when it’s appropriate, but don’t be afraid to share YOU with the world.  Embrace the change that you experience on a daily basis.  Just because you think you are who you are today, tomorrow, hell even an hour from now, you may believe you’re something entirely different.  Go with it.

Introduce yourself to me…who are you?

Be YOU! (This is the beautiful Tara, one of the teachers at The Space Above.)

Be YOU! (This is the beautiful Tara, one of the teachers at The Space Above.)