When Your Kid Chooses a Dangerous Career

As I’m sure many of you are aware, yesterday, an air tanker fighting the fires in Australia, crashed, killing the crew.

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Fly firefighting air tankers is my 16 year old son’s singular goal in life.

I’ve had a lot of family and friends tell me this is a dangerous career.  Yes, I know.  They ask how I feel about his career choice.  I say I’m supportive of it.  They kind of look at me in wonder.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still supportive of his career goals.

But the crash gave me pause.   It hit closer to home for some reason.

Evan has always been interested in aviation.  My Dad is a private pilot and has a plane, so he was exposed to it early.  One late afternoon several years ago, we were on our way to a Scout meeting.  A large fire was raging in neighboring Mendocino County and air tankers were flying in and out of our local Cal Fire Air Attack base.  As we were driving, a huge (and I mean . . . huge) air tanker roared over our head so low, it startled me and I was like, “what the heck was that??” as I stared through my sun roof.

That, Evan said, is what I want to do.  He was hooked.  And has remained so since that day.

So, eventually, he started flying lessons.  In late March, he will finish up his private pilot licenses in both fixed wing (airplanes) and rotary (helicopters).  You think its hard to watch your kid drive off in a car for the first time by themselves?  Yeah, try watching them fly away in an airplane and then a helicopter by themselves for the first time.  He completed his solo flights in both airplanes and helicopters on his 16th birthday, before he got his driver’s license.

The other day I heard a helicopter.  I went outside . . . yep, it was Evan, circling the house.

When Air Tanker 134 crashed yesterday, Evan got a text from a friend, letting him know about the accident.  He’s made a lot of contacts in the industry.  Maybe that’s why it hit close . . . it was clear to me that he’s IN this, he knows people in the industry, he’s already a part of that community.

It was quiet in the car as he texted back, “Any survivors?”.

“No.”

I asked Evan if he was sure that’s what he wanted to do.  Maybe he’d like to find a less dangerous pilot job.  “No way.” he said.  And we talked about it.  “There are many, many air tanker pilots who go their entire careers without crashing or even having some sort of incident” he argued.  I acknowledged that he was correct in that statement.

Aahhhh . . . to be 16 and invincible.

When I tucked him into bed (yep, I still tuck him in most nights), I asked if he was upset about the crash.  “No.  You seem to be way, way more upset about it than I am.” he told me.

Well, he’s certainly right about that.

 

 

How I Found Positive

As I said in my last post, I stopped writing for so long because I was tired of hearing myself whine.  I was in such a negative place – lots of negative self-talk, negative thinking, judgement, and criticism.

No more!

How did I turn things around?  Honestly, I had a good friend send me a very strongly worded email that kicked me in the butt.  And, through her example, I found my faith again.  (Don’t worry . . . not going to get all religious on you here.)

My good friend is VERY strong in her faith.  And me?  I grew up Catholic (Catholic school, mass every Sunday, etc.) but have not gone to church in ummmm . . . forever, and haven’t really thought much about it.  My kids are not baptized, which upset my mother greatly and, on some level, upsets me too.  I’m straying from my point . . .

(Wow, and I do seem to be fond of these three little dots . . . in my writing!)

So my friend writes me this email which basically says, “Suck it up, Buttercup.  God has a plan for you, God loves you and all this negativity is the devil talking.”  Really, that’s what it said in multiple paragraphs.  I was sort of stunned when I read it.  Had to read it a couple of times.  But it struck a chord for me.

I have other friends who are strong in their faith.  I’ve noticed over the years that there’s a serenity about them.  I’ve wished for the same.

So, I set out to change my mindset.  Whenever I felt my stress and / or anxiety rising, I found a quiet spot, took a deep breath, said a Hail Mary and asked for the strength to get through whatever I was facing.  Whenever I started being critical, I stopped and consciously made a decision to look for the good.  Every morning when I walk down my driveway in the near-dark from feeding the horses, I look up at the sky and thank God for the day we’re about to have, the opportunities it will bring us, the strength to face the difficult parts and for His protection.  It starts my day off in a positive mindset.

I settled on four words / intentions to focus on:

Gratitude:  I have A LOT to be thankful for but I’ve spent years only thinking about what I didn’t have.  I’m now stopping to be grateful for what I have.

Patience:  This is a super hard one for me.  I’m not patient with myself or others.  Now I remember to be kind to myself, that I’m doing a lot and that I can give myself some slack.  With others, I remember that they’re not being slow just to bother me; maybe they have an unseen reason for not being as quick as I want them to.

Love:  Often it seems like the world is a pretty angry place these days.  I do my best to not contribute to the anger and to, instead, spread some joy.  Smile at folks, give compliments, offer to help.

Faith:  I have to believe there’s a plan.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not using all of this as an excuse.  I’m not saying, “Oh well, I’m not being successful in my new private practice.  God must not want me to be an attorney.”  (I wish!)  I have to work to make positive things happen in my life.  Returning to my faith has just given me a framework for that and a method for staying focused and positive.

Honestly, this switch from negative to positive has been easier than I anticipated.  I think its because, when I feel myself drifting back towards the dark side, I have a set of tools I can use to immediately stop the negativity.

So, that’s what’s worked for me.  Mind you, I’ve only been at this a few weeks.  So far, its working.  And I have faith that its going to continue to work.

I’m Back! And Why I Left

So . . . its been a super, super long time since I’ve written anything.  Why?  Basically because I was tired of listening to myself whine about the same things.  (And I thought the few of you who were kind enough to read my blog might be tired of listening to my whining as well.)

But I’m back with a new, positive, attitude.  And, since I’ve managed to maintain my positive outlook for nearly a couple of weeks now, I felt ok about writing here again.  My challenge to myself going forward though, is to, well, basically NOT WHINE.  And to write regularly.  But, to only write from a positive frame of mind.  So, if I want to write like two or three days a week, and it has to be from a positive place, then that should help maintain my positive outlook.

Does that all make sense?

Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to write about my challenges . . . I am . . . I just am trying really, really hard to face challenges and obstacles from a mindset of positive problem-solving.  We’ll see how this goes.

A lot has happened since I last wrote and we have a few changes coming up.  I lost my great job that I loved back in March.  Since then, I’ve seriously struggled to find something new.  I “failed” out of a couple of jobs and so finally, around October, I declared myself in private practice (I’m an attorney).  That hasn’t gone particularly well.  Need to work on it some more.  I’m sure that will be the subject of some future posts.

Our son is looking at colleges.  He’s a junior in high school.  We’ve settled on three colleges to go visit.  That makes him leaving for college suddenly very real.  I’m not super happy about that.  Again . . . future posts.

Our daughter, who is a high school freshman, is looking at switching high schools next year, from public high school to private, Catholic, high school.  Another big change.

We added a new horse to the barn family.  A happy change!!  I’ll introduce him eventually.

And I’m sure there are other things . . . anyway, I feel good about writing again.  I am confident that it will help me maintain my positive mindset and that will help everything else in my life in turn.

And, for those of you who actually read this . . . thanks for the support!!!

Need a Summer Re-Start

My kids have been out of school for less than a week.  Wait, is that really possible??  (Consulting calendar)  Yes . . . the youngest “graduated” from 8th grade a week ago today and the oldest finished up 10th grade last Thursday.  So we’re just one week into summer break.

And it hasn’t been an easy week.  I’d like to re-wind and start over.

The first weekend of summer (last weekend), we scheduled to have a few of my Scouts “camp” here so they could knock out a bunch of their cooking requirements.  By Saturday afternoon everyone was tired, crabby, hot, and definitely didn’t want to do their required cooking.  By 9:30 Saturday night, we had slogged through the cooking and a few other requirements and kids went home early.  But not before we had tears and me swearing I was done with Scoutmaster-ing.

However, it wound up being a great thing that kids went home early because Sunday morning, we were awoken by our beloved 6 year old, yellow Lab having a full-blown grand mal seizure.  It was terrible.  Absolutely awful and terrifying.  We were all hysterical.  Then, it got worse.  When he stopped seizing, he was completely disoriented, didn’t recognize any of us and became extremely aggressive.  He was snarling, growling, barking and definitely would have bitten.  We finally got him outside without anyone being bitten.  But having their best friend lunge at them sent my kids over the edge.  And left me wondering how on earth I was going to get my snarling dog in a crate and to the vet.

Thankfully, he returned to himself within about 15 minutes, let me put a leash on him, got in a crate (which he never, ever goes in) and off to the emergency vet we went.  Since then, he hasn’t had any more seizures.  We followed up with our regular vet yesterday and started medication, which he’ll have to have twice a day for the rest of his life.

The vet said that, should he have another seizure, the extreme aggressiveness will likely be his pattern.  So  now we have a “dog seizure protocol”.  Its been traumatic.

And finally, my oldest has decided to change Scout troops.  This decision has been building for a few weeks and it hasn’t been easy.  We’ve had a lot of conversations about it and last night, there were a lot of tears over it.

So, that’s been our first week of summer.  Fabulous, right?  I suppose it can only get better from here!

How Am I Going To Get Through This?

“This” is being unemployed.  And don’t read too much into the title of this post.  Its not a “How on earth am I going to get through this???” in a hysterical or depressed way.  Its more of a “Huh . . . what exactly am I going to do???”

Because, let’s face it, being unemployed with teenagers leaves a person with a whole lot of free time.  I have the sneaking suspicion that I need to structure my time and activities somehow.

My “Plan for the Day” spreadsheet is working to a point.  But since, for example, I just canceled my house cleaners, I need some scheduled housecleaning time.  My horses aren’t getting worked (again) so I need to schedule that.  I need to get my kids to do something productive this summer.  And, of course, I need to look for a job, which, according to my husband, should take up at least 4 hours of my day.

But how do you make these decisions in a vacuum?  Obviously, it doesn’t matter what day I clean the bathroom.  Looking for a job should likely take priority.  So that needs to be in the morning because otherwise, I promise you, my day will just roll on by and I’ll get involved in other, far more interesting, things.

This is hard!!!  And I don’t like it.  Not one little bit.

And what time do I get up in the morning??  During the school year, which ended yesterday, I have to roll out of bed by 6:30 at the latest to get my high schooler to school by 7:30.  I kind of loathe getting up early.  But now, the idea of having some quiet time to myself in the morning to get a few things done, is sort of appealing.  I could get up, have coffee, and do a good chunk of my 4 hours of job searching before the kids get up.  That would give me most of the day left for fun things.

Hmmm . . . that’s something to consider.

Scouts is on Wednesday, which makes the whole day feel compressed.  So maybe that’s a good day for housecleaning and not worry about getting other stuff done (besides the necessary job searching, of course).

But otherwise . . . well, I just don’t know.  I just know that I’d better come up with a plan.

Don’t Have Experience . . . Can’t Get Experience

I’ve been looking for a new job for 3 months now.  I’m finding it incredibly frustrating.  For the past 12 years, I was a court-appointed defense attorney in juvenile criminal court.  I’ve spent 12 years in front of judges, defending minors.  I’ve spent 12 years analyzing evidence.  12 years negotiating good outcomes for my clients and going to trial when necessary.  12 years dealing with difficult kids and their (sometimes) difficult families.

Apparently, all of this counts for nothing.

Why?  Because I don’t have experience in any other type of law.

So the fact that the past 12 years have given me the skills to do, admittedly, with a learning curve, other types of law, that doesn’t seem to matter.  I can’t even get an interview.

Are there just too many attorneys out there?

I’m in the midst of doing the training to be a court-appointed attorney for minors in family court.  I just learned today that there’s an experience requirement – having represented minors in six contested custody cases.  I don’t have that experience so how am I supposed to obtain it??

Sorry . . . I know I’m venting here but I’m incredibly frustrated.  I’m smart, organized, professional, good interpersonal skills, good written and verbal skills.  And I can’t find a job.

Trying to Get My Week Together

Yep, its Friday and I’m still feeling like I’m just trying to get my week together.  Its been a week with a lot of interruptions . . . Mom-type things like orthodontic wires stabbing cheeks, sore teeth from braces tightening, “Mom, can my friend spend the night?”,  “Wait, no, I don’t want her to spend the night.”,  teenager studying for finals, blow-ups in my son’s Scout troop (for which I, happily, am not the Scoutmaster), and so on and so on.

On top of all this, we have our (last) annual swim party tomorrow, daughter’s 8th grade “promotion”, friend’s son’s high school graduation, Scout events at my house . . . it just seems to go on.

Sound familiar?

I’ve tried my best to get a few things done.  I signed up a new Scout for my troop of girls (Yay!!!).  I’ve written a few blog posts.  Mostly, I’m being gentle with  myself.  Not beating myself up for not getting more done.  Focusing on what I have accomplished versus what I have not.  Because, realistically, its all stuff that can be done next week (not that I’m advocating procrastination).  Everyone is healthy, clothed, fed, and gets to where they need to be mostly on time.  And that’s what’s important.

Its ok for me to take the time to write blog posts, sit here with my coffee and watch birds out the window and spend a few minutes too long scrolling through Facebook and looking for a horse to buy my daughter.

Yep, its ok.

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