Wednesday, October 27, 2021

What does FAMILY mean?


Family is more than just a biological connection. It's love and friendship, it's being there when you are needed… and sometimes when the other person doesn't even realize how much they need your comfort and support.

There's the nuclear family, the one you are born into, usually parents and children. Sometimes you are born into the hearts of your parents (adoption). When you are little, this family seems to be your whole world. If you are lucky there are aunts and uncles, cousins, maybe grandparents… As you grow your family takes on other forms, a marriage, your own children, in-laws, and sometimes close friends.

So how do you cope when the people you count on to be there for you as family turn their backs? How far do you push when the other person has no interest in BEING family? It's never easy to close the door on someone you called family, sometimes though they leave you no other options.

I have friends who have been abandoned by those they thought would be there for them in times of turmoil and it's sad. They've told me stories of being excluded from these people's lives and sometimes even getting arguments because they didn't acknowledge an event that they were never even told about.

Sometimes a person whom you accepted as family (maybe they married in) and continued to think of them that way even after the actual blood connection has been lost, may feel the need to "divorce" themselves from that side of the family. It's heartbreaking to lose yet another family member, but there is really nothing you can do about it.

Cling to those who hold you dear and don't waste time on those who seem to have simply forgotten you. Focus on the people who surround you with love and caring, and who allow you in when they need some love and caring as well. THAT is your family.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dealing With Critical People


Let's face it, we all know someone like this, someone who seems to find something wrong with everyone around you and often questions why you even bother with "your friends"… sometimes they might even criticize you.


Why do they do that? Some of these critics are really very nice and intelligent people so is it really their own low self-esteem that makes them this way as was suggested by a few mental health reporters. How do you deal with their constant barrage of insults and complaints?


First LISTEN to what they are saying. I am not saying take it to heart, as a matter of fact you shouldn't take any of their words personally. Some of these people are actually well meaning and seeing the world only they way the want to see it — so they are trying to help, maybe even teach. This doesn't mean you should stay quiet and let their barbs land on you, but don't argue. Tell them calmly that it doesn't make you feel very good when they always criticize you and ask them if they would take the time to explain what they see. Especially if hey are professional in some field that they are referring to  they might actually be helpful.


If however the individual takes this as an invitation to berate you even more, then you know they are just "happier" being miserable. And you don't have to put up with that. Tell them firmly, still not angrily, that you will not accept their insults or condemnations. There is a story about Buddha that you might even take to heart:


Buddha was well known for his ability to respond to evil with good.  There was a man who knew about his reputation, and he traveled miles and miles and miles to test Buddha. When he arrived and stood before Buddha, he verbally abused him constantly; he insulted him; he challenged him; he did everything he could to offend Buddha.

Buddha was unmoved, he simply turned to the man and said, “May I ask you a question?”

The man responded with, “Well, what?”

Buddha said, “If someone offers you a gift and you decline to accept it, to whom then does it belong?”

The man said, “Then it belongs to the person who offered it.”

Buddha smiled, “That is correct.  So if I decline to accept your abuse, does it not then still belong to you?”

The man was speechless and walked away.

If this person is simply being critical with no attempt at helping or teaching you, or if they are generally critical about everyone they speak about, be kind. Yes it sounds more like they are sensitive about their own performance, or the way they are seen be others. Without being effusive or phony, find something encouraging to say about them… admire an achievement, sincerely ask for their help on something, thank them for their suggestion. It's quite possible you might even see a change in their manner of speaking to you. Still though, if you need to, gently remind them that they may have hurt you with the way they've said something.


In the long run you might find even more of a friend than you thought you had before. And, if it doesn't work, then minimize the time you spend alone with this person. It's worth a try.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Giving the World Just a Bit of Yourself

I'm a former (volunteer) EMT and, at least in the state I was certified in, the training for volunteer and career was the same (although the hours were, of course, far different). This was a time of my life that I still take a lot of pride in, almost 30-years' worth of pride. Actually, there were several members of my immediate family who either volunteered or worked in the EMS field. I stopped riding several years before the COVID nightmare and I can't even imagine the stress of the past year-and-a-half; still have active EMS family who did see COVID and its devastation.


My "other" career, far longer than my EMS involvement, has been that of a writer. In part a novelist (spicy romantic suspense) and in part a journalist. I enjoy the times I get to write about EMS and especially when I must learn something new about the field in order to properly present it. I write a monthly column in an EMS trade paper and occasionally get to cover, or report on, education and events in emergency response. I enjoy those times I get to immerse myself in a class or discussion, I love hearing about new techniques, protocols, findings and more. I guess Emergency Medical Services has remained a part of me and something that I will never emotionally leave.


Both by ZOOM (mostly due to the pandemic), I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on two different and comprehensive EMS Conferences. It was thrilling for me to listen to the newest advancements and to understand the EMS community a little bit more. I loved hearing about Community Paramedicine, record keeping, stress of the job, and even newer equipment to help make the job "easier". It's true that this time in my life has completely changed me forever — I feel pride, accomplishment, understanding, what it means to be a part of a team, and especially about human emotions from birth to death, quite literally.


EMS was not the first community organization that I ever volunteered for, as a young adult I devoted four-and-a-half years with the Auxiliary Police in the city I grew up in. I felt a lot of pride there too, and again I wasn't the only member of my family; I had followed my dad's lead… and as a bonus, that's where my husband and I found each other! Although in this case the training was nowhere as comprehensive and disciplined as the employed law enforcement, it was still pretty thorough for the duties we were trained to assume. It was a very rewarding experience to give back to the community where I grew up.


While I certainly don't expect everyone else to have had the same passions as I did, I do respect EVERYONE who have given, and possibly still do, of themselves and their time to better their communities and help their neighbors. Can you imagine a world where everyone took a part in making it better, safer, happier? Can you imagine the fulfillment those people feel when they see a child that they tutored make Communion or their Bat Mitzvah? Imagine the happiness of seeing a family hug each other after a daring rescue? Or imagine seeing hope on an old woman's face as you take the time to sit with her as she eats her very welcomed dinner?


Everything someone can do for their neighbors, their country, and their world makes such a difference for both the recipients of their kindness and for the giver himself or herself. If we all found SOMETHING to do, to contribute and to feel pride in doing, it is worth more than any dollar figure or bronze statue. Sometimes it doesn't take a whole lot of effort, an extra grocery bag dropped off at a food pantry, a committee member who makes sure that shut-ins know about useful programs, an interested adult who coaches children in softball… so many things we can do for others and, in the long run, for ourselves.


Kudos to ALL the volunteers. THANK YOU!


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Writing Your Story

You live as long as you are remembered.
~ Russian proverb


My mind has "run the gamut" of emotions these past years. With some (extended) family illnesses, and then with my sister (only sibling) passing away, it is hard NOT to think of mortality. What struck me very deeply was that when my sister passed, I became painfully aware that I was the last one left of my nuclear family (our parents died in 1977 and 1979 respectively); every family story, our very own history, it's only mine to tell anymore.


There are so many little snippets of my life, some funny, some sad, that I want to live on even past my own life's run. So, I began to write "The story of Chelle". This is not a memoir, certainly not one meant for public consumption, however it's my sincere hope that each one of my FUTURE family will get to cherish some of these stories and perhaps pass them along to their descendants. It's mere snippets, little memories, that have given me moments to chuckle, to remember, to know how many of these memories have made me who I am today.


It's been said that, just like DNA, all our ancestors live on inside us. I believe that is so true even when we haven't really known the folks who passed some traits down to us. Ironically, I met a distant cousin from a branch of my family I never even knew existed. It all started with a bit of (excuse me) spit… and the results of my DNA turned up a long list of potential relatives. Surely, I wasn't going to explore each one, but one profile popped up that intrigued me.


Turns out this gentleman and I are distant cousins on my paternal grandmother's side of the family. He connected me with another relative (unfortunately the DNA services do NOT share with each other so we may only find relatives through others). My new-found relative, and at this point a very dear friend, is a second cousin. We are quite close in age, and if you didn't know differently you might think that we grew up together because we share so many similar values and traits.


I am not looking for immortality, or maybe in a way I am? I just want some of my memories to live on for my children. As a writer maybe it is not unusual for me to take to writing these thoughts and memories down but considering my ego, I am just recording these memories for my family. When I recently told my daughter about my project, her loving quip was that I had an advantage… I could tell everything from MY personal standpoint since there was no one left to counter. Yep, she's got a point, LOL.