Archive for August, 2016

Lost in the Background

I haven’t written recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve lost focus. Or been stressed out. Or not been in the right frame of mind to put words to paper (or, in this case, to blog). Or maybe I’ve made the choice to keep silent because I know my words would only divide us. Put splinters into fresh wounds that we, as a community, have sustained.

I don’t have a good answer. The simple fact is that I haven’t written. And the words are even more difficult to find. Now more than ever before.

There are so many things that I want to say. But I don’t.

It’s not just here on social media. It’s at work. It’s when I’m surrounded by friends and family. It’s when I feel the safest, surrounded by those I love. Surrounded by my family.

 

Recently, I have been stressed. I have been unfocused. I have been lost. Off balance. Stumbling on unsteady footsteps.

I find it harder and harder to get up and prepare myself to go to work. I walk into the dispatch center and fear putting on the headset because I know what is on the other line. My back tightens up as I walk into the room.

I’ve been told I have too much compassion. That in a couple years, I will burn out and become bitter and heartless like the rest of the people I work with. I have been told countless times that I am too kind. That the dispatch center will change me. And I’ve replied: I refuse.

I’ve found myself distancing myself from some of the people I spend 12 hours with each night. Instead of joining in on negative conversations (or conversations about who and what people did on their days off) I find myself silent.

I don’t say what I want to say. So many times I find myself biting my tongue. Instead of calling them out over what they say about others, about politics, about the world around them, I fade away into the background.

I haven’t spoken out for the same reasons I haven’t written. And I don’t have a good answer.

Last weekend, I got the opportunity to hitch a ride down to Louisiana with my parents and spend some quality time with my Sister, Brother-In-Law, and all my nieces and nephews. Pretty much, I spent a lot of time holding my 7 week old niece.

I just sat there, with her laying on my chest. And it was beautiful. Peaceful.

It wasn’t about me. I didn’t worry about the stress of working. I didn’t have to be there, but I made a choice to get away and reconnect with the things that are important to me. I was able to recenter myself, rediscovering the balance that connects us to one another.

Recently, I’ve dived head-first into my art. It’s my way of escaping. Of silencing the world and conquering my own darkness.

It’s a way to express myself without being loud.

It’s a way to bring to light the silent struggles we all face.

It’s a way to answer the questions you didn’t know you had.

It’s a way to bring balance back into the chaos that surrounds me every day.

Sometimes, in the silence of working late into the morning hours, I wonder if fading into the background is worth it. I constantly question, wondering if I should speak out. Would anyone listen?

Do I speak out against the violence that has swept across our nation? Across our world? Will another voice pave the way towards peace? If I take a stand against the hatred and negativity, will peoples attitudes change? If I speak out during conversations in the workplace, will people realize that their words have created a hostile workplace?

I’ve discovered over the past couple weeks that you can either fade into the background or you can be the agent of change that fights for peace. And sometimes you have to stand up and fight. Sometimes you have to make some noise to be heard.

And for those of us that are more comfortable remaining quiet, not causing ripples over the waters, we must learn to pick and choose our battles. Is the energy worth the fight. Worth the change

Sometimes, the battle can be fought without words. As a silent witness.

Over the past couple days, something beautiful has happened. A simple hashtag that I am proud to be a part of: #IAM911.

The 9-1-1 Call Taker and Dispatch position is currently classified as a clerical position. These members of emergency services that work behind the scene of every single emergency are seen as secretaries. In an effort to reclassify public safety telecommunicators (the official title for all call-takers and dispatchers) to a protective classification, individuals around the nation have taken up the calling to share their stories, proving that they are so much more than a voice on the other end of the phone.

They are the heroes in the night. The unrecognized angels who are the calm voice or reason in an emergency. They are the anchor, the rock in the storm for all responders.

I encourage you to go listen to their stories. Go read their words. And give them the support that they deserve. It’s a battle that we don’t have to face alone.

Sometimes, you find the reason to break away from the background. You find purpose.

Unity, Peace, and a Hope for the Future

Tonight the world watched as the Opening Ceremony for the Rio Olympic Games called for world to come together in unity. The ceremony celebrated the diverse culture of Brazil through music and dance, culture and people. It was a call to come together in competition, but also to change the world.

I saw a country make a stand for individual athletes, for respect, appreciation, and a celebration for cultures other than their own, and for the natural world in which we all inhabit.

The message of unity was echoed though out the entire night as the athletes entered and mingled together as equals, all part of the family of competition. It was a celebration of peace, that no matter our differences, our past, or the nation of our birth, we are all equals. We are all of the same human family.

We heard stories of athletes and teams as they walked into the stadium for the parade of nations, celebrating each nations accomplishments. Over 200 nations marched in and mingled together. But the story that stirred thousands of hearts is the story of the Refugee Olympic Team.

Ten athletes who are competing under the Olympic Flag as refugees. Athletes who will be competing in the context of the worldwide refugee crisis. Five refugees from South Sudan, two from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one from Ethiopia, and two more from Syria, including the 17 year old swimmer Yusra Mardini.

This is the same girl who became a hero a year ago when the inflatable boat she was traveling in from Turkey to Greece lost power to its engine in the middle of the Algerian Sea.  She, her sister, and two others jumped into the waters and pulled and pushed the boat for three hours through the night to safety. Now she is swimming as an Olympic athlete.

We heard the words of Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee

Respect yourselves, respect each other and the values which make the Games unique. We are living in a world where selfishness is gaining ground. Certain people claim to be superior to others. In the spirit of Olympic solidarity and with the greatest respect we welcome the refugee Olympic team.

Dear refugee athletes. You are sending a message of hope to the millions of refugees around the globe. You had to flee your homes because of violence, hunger or just because you were different. In this Olympic world we do not just tolerate diversity, we welcome you as enrichment to our unity and diversity.

There are millions around the world who contribute in different ways to make our world a better place through sport.

Each of the 10,000 athletes competing in the Rio Olympic games was gifted a seed that will be planted in the Olympic Forest, as a reminder that we are all responsible for the world we live in.

The challenge has been issued, and as these athletes come together to compete, we are reminded that if we do not come together to change the world, we will tear ourselves apart.

Our future is through peace. And the spirit of the Olympic values. And acceptance. And love.