Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hard Things

This picture from firefighter training last night.  Only one more class to go and firefighter training will be over! Complete! Fin! 

It was hard.  This 86 hours of training over 9 weeks was the hardest thing I've done in years.  I'll remember it as harder than getting my college degrees because it was SO far outside of where I'm comfortable (is this a theme with me?  I'm beginning to think so. I have this idea that I should be able to do anything I put my mind to, and off I go, comfort zone be damned.)

Here are some examples of why I thought this training was hard.

- Class started at 7 (be there 10 minutes early please!), so it was drive 45 minutes home, feed the dogs, stuff a few things down my throat and drive 30 minutes back into class.  Every time I had a big dinner, it seemed, we'd get suited up in our turnout gear, SCBA mask on, and do something REALLY exerting and scary, like a claustrophobic obstacle course in the dark, or crawl at full speed dragging a charged hose, or run up 3 flights of stairs dragging a hose.  I always felt like I was going to throw up after stuff like that.  So it got to where I was wary of eating much before class.

- standing for 3 hours with full gear on, plus SCBA, in dinky rubber boots that provided NO support added about 50 pounds to my weight and aggravated my plantar fasciitis.  Anyone that's had this will know that it's an inflammation of stuff in the foot making it painful to walk.  It takes several days for it to un-inflame, but since we were doing this standing for 3 hours thing several times a week, I've been walking like an old lady for a month now.

- class goes to 10 pm, which would normally be my bedtime.  Then it's drive home, have the rest of dinner and try to come down enough to go to sleep so I could get 5-1/2 hours of sleep.  I *lurve* my sleep (!), so this one hurt.

- The ONE time I came to class without the requisite 2 full air tanks (I brought my 2 partially full tanks from the prior class) was the day we did vehicle fires.  First I used up one tank and then I used up the other one.  The sound the air tank system makes when it's approaching empty is a scary sound. I've got a better feel for how much on-air time I really have after it starts making that sound.  But it's still scary in an elemental way.  Breathing is elemental. I appreciate that now.

- I am the oldest person in the class by 5 years, and out of shape to boot.  I struggled with some basic things like climbing up the ladder in full gear plus SCBA.  Things that the 16-19-year-old rest of the class had no (overt) problem with.  My team compensated, but I was a drag on team performance.

Anyway - it's almost over, and I've been thinking about comfort zones.  I think the last time I was in one (comfort zone, that is) was when I lived in Washington DC, before I went overseas for a nonstop year of out-of-the-comfort-zone living all over the world.  That was three years ago and I'm ready to go back there (to my comfort zone).  They say that you need to push yourself out of your zone, but I think that's for people who don't leave it.  For me - I want in!

I FB-status-ed about firefighter training last night and got a chorus of "awesome," "admirable," etc, from my FB friends to whom I hadn't previously mentioned firefighter training.  That's what people think about people who do hard things, like firefighter training or solo homesteading in the wilderness.  That's the land I'm leaving, at least for a while.  The land of hard things.  The land of out-of-my-comfort zone.  I may come back to these hard things, but next time I'm going to have more backing me up than optimism and hard work.  More planning.  More practice.  More support.

I've decided what I'm going to do with the extra hour every day that I'll have because my commute will be so much shorter than now.  I'm going to take care of myself better.  Spend time on better food, on moving my body, on feeling better.  I'm looking forward to it in a way that feels like coming home.  I think it's my comfort zone calling.


  1. Congrats on completing your fire fighter training. I'm betting they are going to miss you.

    Ah, yes, the elusive Comfort Zone. Keep blogging about your quest to find yours. I think I'll go Google mine to see if someone can tell me where to find it. ;o)

  2. Yeah, where IS that thing? "Oh comfort zooone, where are youu?" My old dept was/is hurting for peeps, but I'm going to see if my new dept can use me. The bonus - my new dept actually gets more than one call a month!

  3. Comfort zone, comfort zone, wherefore art thou, Comfort Zone? It's good to have one; it's good to step away from one now and then so you know you are alive; it's good to come back to one.. We all need a breather now and then or maybe it's just that we need to step away from the zone to realize, reflect on, and appreciate what we have/do. What's that saying: The only thing constant is death and taxes! Change is ever present. So glad you are working on some "comfort zone" time. You are due!