It's a very strange time we are all in at present with the World being affected.
Incredibly sad and my heart goes out to so many. To the deceased, the families of deceased and the wonderful Doctors, nurses and care staff that are on the front line. Not to forget everyone else who is doing their part in keeping things ticking over, caring for others and ensuring food supplies are stocked.
But it's the loss of life and for those trying to save so many more lives, that my heart is heavy.
It just isn't right for so many to shoulder such horrendous burdens.
All of us are unique and will react differently.
We need to be here for each other if and when needed.
Is this my deep thoughts and service career conditioning making it worse because I am no longer part of a team and actively doing something trying to help?
We are here in Southern France in pretty much isolation anyway as it's so rural. We haven't really seen anyone for so many weeks as of today date whilst writing this. For those in complete isolation and already struggling, pick up a phone and call mates, family. It's a voice and a conversation, we are a species that needs companionship and social contact.
Remember to laugh at some point, this free action does physically change our body chemistry and feelings.
It's important to keep our sense of humour.
Remember there are many good people and things happening in the world too.
I've had over 2 years away from Fire Service life and starting to adjust to not dropping everything and running off to helps others in an instant.
Here's the difficult part, I've now got time to start looking after myself.
I've been conditioned for many years to just go and help. The station bells ring, we respond.
This alone has been a journey and as any person recently retired you realise you are no longer on a schedule. Takes some adjusting, but here we are and everyone is adjusting to this World crisis.
So with this now very long lock-down, (we have continued to stay cautious,) we were allowed out once a day for a short walk or run, with a written permit, so there has been ample time to sit and be quiet. We now have a luxury of not needing a permit and can now cycle.
I spent a few times on the turbo (static bike)in the garden, but not very comfortable and tad boring being stationary.
Fortunately, I have reconnected to training in Karate and have given myself a mindset and body kick start, in being active and healthy. So I've been progressing for several weeks now, and yes the hips were screaming at me to start with, but with regular ( every other day,) stretching and workouts I think it's got easier and I now feel more grounded.
I am also getting used to just sitting and resting.
Doing nothing. A luxury so many haven't got, as they are working so hard for us all.
I even did a 4 minute kneeling in silence (meditation if you like,) and just sat concentrating on my breathing and listening to nature in the garden.
So, fortunately, I pretty much think I'm in a good place, yet I continue to be humble as think of so many others and their roles.
With such poor internet, we are watching DVD's every night and getting through our collection.
Last night we selected Ladder 49, great film.
I've watched it several times and although thought-provoking and sad, I've been ok.
And it's just a film right?
But, it's always with us, it's how we deal with it when it arises.
The film had only really just started, we got to the point, near the beginning, where he had fallen through the building and laid out with ADSU sounding................I felt several waves of emotion, don't know what emotion as such, come rising up. It wasn't sadness, fear or anger, but it felt very real and wrong. I just had to stop it. Can't say exactly, but just not comfortable with it.
Why would I want to put myself through it? But I am now recognising signs and triggers.
There is no shame in admitting this.
Whatever the traumatic event you've encountered, remember it's not normal.
I was a BAI (Breathing Apparatus Instructor for 20 years,) and confident in my own and teaching abilities.
I've followed crews around Fire House buildings and they didn't even know I was with them. We train to work in pairs or more. As a BAI you kneel quietly on your own waiting for your team to enter.
This photo (taken by me,) is my mate. It's a huge derelict place and second floor. We are in clean air on the stairs. Any further in and it's thick smoke, flames and holes in the floor. You then use your hearing for feedback from the jet and reaction of the fire. The light is his torch bouncing back off the smoke.
No life risk inside so why take any risks?
Back to BAI, you're inside hearing the fire crackling away and smoke getting thicker, being on your own is a strange experience as you've been trained to find it as a team and extinguish it. Now, you just wait and let it grow in intensity and heat. When they come into the firehouse you follow them around observing. You are there as a safety officer to get them out if they have problems or if they get lost and need help. If your air runs out, well we aren't superhuman. Who hasn't as a BAI, stood on the second or third tread at the top with 1 arm held out to stop them falling because they aren't doing correct self-protection. When you enter a burning building it's just you and your mate, training and experience that gets you back out safely.
But here I am sat comfortably in my own living room, just wanting to get away from this situation.
Reached out and grabbed the remote and turned it off, looked at my wife and apologised. She totally gets me so no problem, if she hadn't we would have talked about it.
Luckily this was an easy fix, turned it off, put an upbeat comedy on instead. Simples as they say.
My point is, we are consciously or sub-consciously absorbing so much these days, taking in the news, media feeds and radio. Some scientists are saying we are over-saturated with information.
We have to sleep and discharge our energy and then recharge to maintain a healthy body.
We have a choice of what we absorb sometimes, so be in control when you can.
Maybe we should be regularly spending a few moments every day doing nothing and just sitting quietly and listening to our inner self or our favourite song.
Music can play a huge part in uplifting the mood. Notice how upbeat music makes you feel.
As the phrase has it, dance like no-one is watching you.
Get outdoors and into nature and feel connected and grounded.
For me, at the moment it's in the form of my Karate and out cycling on my bike.
Do what makes you feel good
Keep safe and in touch with your muckers.
Until next time