Friday, April 24, 2015

Feeling Left Out? Try Getting in the River...

I am about to decide that choosing be inclusive is like swimming upstream.  The choice to exclude is made with relative ease.  But it takes a conscious choice to be inclusive. I have been reminded of this reality in the past few weeks, as the coordinators of my 35 year high school reunions continue to work diligently finding and communicating with ALL classmates.  I should explain…

I went to school through the 7th grade in Racine, Wisconsin. My classmates that went on to graduate there have adopted me like a child that was separated from his siblings at age 13.  And then there is my 1980 Monterey High School class in Lubbock.  I actually DID graduate from Monterey. (A few were surprised at the time.)

Tracking classmates down after 35 years is no easy undertaking.  Communicating with each person entails a major time commitment. And then persuading them to attend a reunion is another challenge. It’s swimming upstream, because it would be much easier to throw a party for the friends we have stayed connected with over the years. It would be a great time and much easier!  But my peers  are choosing to get in the river and fight the current.

They have inspired me to stay in the river as well.  Even when the current is flowing in the opposite direction.  Being exclusive is no trouble at all.  Family members can plan a gathering or getaway to the mountains and conveniently leave out the siblings or cousins they don’t want to include. They don’t feel as close to that person, so someone fails to receive a call. It is easy.  It is less trouble.  And it’s hurtful.

Friends can to do the same thing. I think with friends it is more likely to occur because of carelessness.  It takes time and effort to think about each person that should be invited or called. And sometimes we are just hurried.  I know I have been guilty of such flippant behavior. But I know it’s hurtful. 

Throw me in the river. I am ready to swim upstream. Quite frankly I can’t stand seeing those I love left out.  I am committed to inclusive behavior.  My classmates have inspired me these past few weeks.  I have a lot to learn, but the only way to do better is get in the river and swim upstream.  Feeling left out? Try getting in the river. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tipping Words for People About to Tip

I heard a story about a man that left our church many years ago.  I asked a simple question. Why did he leave?  I was told something was said to him that was very offensive. What was said?  I inquired.  When I was told what was actually said, it did not sound very offensive.  It was probably in poor taste, but it seemed like a comment that was by no means intentionally hurtful.  But the comment caused the man to leave our church.  That is not necessarily true…

As it turns out, the gentleman that left had a lot going on his life during that time period.  A number of unpleasant experiences at church had not helped anything.  The offensive comment was comprised of tipping words.  They were tipping words for a man that was about to tip. 

What is a good definition of tipping words?  Tipping words make up conversations that send people over the edge. They are the final straw for someone that is already struggling. They can be brief.  And there may not be any intent to offend, but they do.  It does not take much to push someone off a ledge when they are already leaning in that direction.

What are supposed to do? Walk on eggshells all of the time?  No!  But there are three things can we can do.  We can purposely be kind and encouraging in everything that we communicate whenever possible. (Even when the topic of discussion is unpleasant.)  We can be quick to listen and slow to speak. We can think about what the person is going through before speaking.

Tipping words can take another direction too. Sometimes when we are really discouraged all that it takes is a kind word from someone else to lift us up and tip us in a better direction.  Tipping word for people about to tip…

Thursday, April 9, 2015

It Takes a LOT of Patients....A Tribute to Georgetta Hudson

It takes a lot of patients to make a career in emergency medical services meaningful.  In the case of Georgetta Hudson, she has indeed seen a lot of patients since 1990.  Today marked her final shift with Texas EMS.  She started working on the ambulance when it was still Hood County EMS.  And so much has happened since then.  She has also served as a volunteer firefighter for some of that time period in Hood County as well.

Her colleagues are quick to note that “everyone knows Georgetta.”  She got in the field years ago because she wanted to serve her neighbors.  She thought to herself: “these people need me.”  That was accurate an observation.  Hood County would provide no shortage of patients that needed the compassionate care that Georgetta could provide. Of course they needed her.

I spent a few moments chatting with Georgetta today at Texas EMS.  What is striking to me is that she still cares about people.  The concern she has for her neighbors has remain unchanged.  In all disciplines of emergency services, it is very difficult not to become cynical.  Dealing with people in crisis can be draining as well as fulfilling. I heard no hint of cynicism in her comments today.

Georgetta described what it is like to go into people’s homes to care for them in a medical emergency.  There are pictures on the walls. There are family members standing around in a state of anxiety.  Serving them at such a vulnerable time in their lives became personal to her.

I was not surprised when she said quietly:  “You come back from some calls and fall apart.”  There were days when babies died….There were car crashes with several victims and not enough resources.   And there were calls to homes that were barely inhabitable.   I heard about blankets being anonymously left for people in need on their front porch.  And I heard about the calls that will stay with her the rest of her life.

            In June of 2013, Georgetta and her partner Sonya, were dispatched to a shots fired call.  Sgt. Lance McLean with the Hood County Sheriff’s office had been shot in the head by an offender that had already been charged with criminal offenses in a neighboring county.  
Lance passed away the next day on June 29th, 2013.  She describes that as the most difficult moment in her 25 year career.  It is an event that will continue to impact many of us for the rest of our lives.

            But there were the good times as well.  Georgetta is not one to speak negatively about the younger generation of medics.   She said: “You see the spark in their eyes and it inspires you.”  One of her young colleagues said in reference to Georgetta: “Every life I have touched is because of her.”  And she talked of seeing family members of a patient she took care of at the hospital.  Their words of appreciation were indeed meaningful.  And of course she took care of generations of family members in this county.

            It takes a lot of patients to make a 25 year career in emergency medical services meaningful.  There are 5 people of various ages running around today, because Georgetta Hudson brought them into this world.  She remembers all 5 of her baby deliveries!  They were among those patients.  And those that have served with Georgetta are equally grateful for her patience too, because it takes a lot of patience to stay in this field for 25 years and still love people!   

Today I am thanking Georgetta on behalf of all the people whose lives were saved. And I am also thanking her for the families that lost loved ones on calls she was running.  Her kindness carried them in the darkest minutes of their lives.  And finally, I am thanking her on behalf of all of us that serve in any facet of emergency services.  She is a rare gem.  And we are grateful.