For the first time in months, I really feel like I can write an actual blog of Positive CJ Thoughts (PCT's) and I'm raring to go but first things first.
Let's start with something extremely near and dear to my heart. CHANGE YOUR CLOCK, CHANGE YOUR BATTERY.
My chosen career is my passion and over the last several years, public safety education has been a huge part of it. In the United States, we change our clocks this weekend so, you all know what I need you to do, what I BEG you to do. IF you have smoke alarms that have disposable batteries, I want- NO, strike that- NEED you to change them. Yes, it's that important to me- (Treasure #1) YOU are that important to me.
Take your smoke alarms off the wall, check to see if they are less than TEN years old, run the vacuum hose over it, change the batteries, test it, and put it back up! THIS is the positive thought I want you to take away, WORKING SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES!! No joke, last year there were almost 3000 people in the United States killed in residential fires. This year, only THREE MONTHS INTO 2018 and we are at 660 fatalities.
In a 2015 report, the statistics tell the sad story. According to article Report: NFPA's "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" authored by Marty Ahrens, "Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%)."
Using that 58 percentage to apply to 2017's numbers means that 1329 people died last year, in a home that had NO WORKING SMOKE ALARM. Early notification is critical because the reality is, most of the time you will have about THREE MINUTES- one hundred and eighty SECONDS to get out before toxic smoke begins to reach you in some instances.
Once it does, it can render you unconscious and UNABLE to get yourself out. The following YouTube video's bear out this point. One is a Christmas Tree starting a fire.
This one is a small fire starting in a living room.
NOW, that might not seem like a very positive thought, and to some it won't be. BUT if you have working smoke alarms in your home, your chances of getting out VASTLY improve. PLEASE!!! When you change your clock, change the batteries out in your smoke alarms. It's more important to me than if you ever buy one book of mine.
I had the privilege of participating in a career day at an alternate learning academy. It's a more structured education where the kids live on the campus because they teeter on the edge of being in major trouble. The facility has been around a long time and has helped thousands of kids straighten up. They don't save every one of them and some will go on to commit crimes or to become less than productive members of society. BUT!!! Some will! Some will take the opportunity and see it as a second chance. These are kids who likely will never go to college but could become involved with a trade career. (Treasure #2) The next generation is our most valuable resource, if we fail to nourish and cultivate good citizens, then how can we expect the future to be bright?
I think college is an amazing opportunity for many. The problem is, not everyone is college material, I certainly wasn't. I took some college courses but my true passion was in a service based career. Next month, it will be twenty five years since I took my oath to protect and serve. It was satisfying to look at those kids, excited to see the tools of my trade, and to have them listen to me tell them I have the best and worse job in the world. On someone's worse day, I get to try and make it a little better. I showed them the variety of my job from medical calls, to hazardous materials, to car wrecks, and yes to fighting fires.
This world still needs plumbers, electricians, carpenters, beauticians, auto mechanics, police, emergency medical personnel and yes..firefighters. It was an awesome morning and I was grateful the kids gave me back the interest and attention I showed to them.
A positive update on my next book to send your way. I completed the first draft of my work in progress. The story line is based on a quest that has an agricultural professor from Cornell, decoding clues from a so called "Bucket List" to find a retired biology chair, who disappeared ten years ago. The "clues" are in various forms of code, think Tomb Raider- Lora Croft , meets Claire Smith/Sophie Hall -Letters to Juliet- assisted by Da Vinci Code cryptologist, Sophie Neveu , (well without all the cool motorcycles, fight scenes, wine and Italian food, murder, bloodlines of Jesus Christ, or creepy masochist)
My main protagonist is involved in a research project to create a super food grafted onto the root ball of a weed- that can grow anywhere- without water. (NO not that kind of weed.) Yeah, that's how my brain works- or doesn't in some cases.
Please forgive my ramblings because I am into cut and delete, shorten and slash, commas and periods, this-is-crap-mode.
Meaning, my brain is completely jumbled 75% of the time. Every time I look at the story, it's like someone turned the end on a kaleidoscope. I have no idea when it will be coming out. It needs a lot more editing and more of a plethora of trusted advice from Beta's and my Yoda with her 20 pound sledgehammer wielded in hands clad in velvet gloves. Come to think of it, THAT might be a whole other kind of story. (snicker snort)
A few other positives from my beloved West Virginia- no not "Western Virginia. A completely different state established in 1863. Just recently, my beloved home was the attention of state and even NATIONAL news for something good! An entire state, well at least it's (Treasure #3) 22,000 + West Virginia teachers went on strike for nine days to fight for reasonable healthcare rates, and against rising premiums were driving them into poverty. They were frequently faced with having to find a second job or make a decision to leave my home state for higher wages in surrounding states.
Nine days, No arrests and No disturbances that required the police to fire teargas or come in armed like soldiers in battle. They fought together, 55 counties strong, for themselves, for their families, and in the end, their students, to have better paid teachers with affordable healthcare. I'm proud of my friends who are the teachers that stood in the WV Capitol Rotunda and packed the gallery while they stood their ground when legislatures said "You just go back to work and we'll fix this…..we promise." They didn't buy the bullshit and they stood strong together. Now other states teachers groups are looking at what they were able to accomplish here. Incredible what can get done when we all WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GREATER GOOD!
Video of the struggle is documented in the YouTube video below.
If you read my debut novel, 'frame by frame' I hope you could tell how much I love the state I was born in. Many make fun of my heritage and more than once when I've told someone I'm from West By God Virginia, they look at my feet and joke about me wearing shoes. I come from a long line of proud (Treasure #4) Scots- Irish immigrants who likely moved here to escape conflict across the pond and some from prohibition in the large cities.
They worked in the coal mines, the forests, and the fields, scratching out a meager existence for themselves and their families. Our education is always questioned and we usually rank very low when it comes to polls about things like highest incomes and on the flip side, we rank near the top when it comes to poverty levels, high school drop outs, and opioid addiction.
Recently, a woman that I call, my twin and my hero, (TREASURE # 5!!!!) Chief Jan Rader, walked the red carpet at the 90th Oscar awards as a nominee in the Netflix original short documentary entitled, Heroin(E).
The link below is for the trailer for Heroin(E).
My twin, Jan, is the first career fire chief in the state of West Virginia. Her city has a crushing opioid addiction and overdose rate. She, along with a drug court judge and a faith based brown bag ministry, work tirelessly to combat a tsunami of crisis. Unfortunately the documentary didn't win, but its amazing in it's own right and I am so proud of her and her efforts with her fellow combatants. She truly is my hero and an amazing human being for women everywhere to look up to.
What many fail to see about my beloved home, (Treasure #6) The Mountain State, is a resilient population who's ancestors cut out what was once the Allegheny Mountain Frontier. A population that's lived through flood and fire, wind and rain, snow and ice. A population that gets to experience the wonder of all four seasons. Spring is beautifully green, full of colorful flowers and budding trees.
In summer, we bask in bright in a brilliant blue sky with sunshine warming our face and backs as we swim in lakes and rivers, fish in crystal mountain streams, and hike through lush forest land with tall oaks, maples and pines.
After that comes the most glorious season of all, the pageantry of fall, when all the trees bring forth colorful, majestic leaves in brilliant oranges, yellows and reds. Scarlet and golden leaves cover the mountains and when they drop from their branches, a beautiful carpet covers the land.
Lastly, Mother Nature rushes in with the cold winds of winter and a deep blanket of white snow. Our water falls freeze to create a cascade of ice. The air in the mountains becomes so crisp and clean, it stings your nose when you take in a deep breath.
THIS is my home, the one many can never picture as they see the images of the desperate poverty that exists.
I do know this, I can find that same population in every state. I can find that same lack of education and social services, lack of decent living conditions and high unemployment. BUT what I can't find in every other state, is my heart.
These are all of my personal favorite National Treasures. I hope you can look around and find a few of your own.
I am a proud West Virginia native, humbled by my ancestor's desire to find a better life than they had in the Scottish Highlands and peat moss bogs of Ireland. I am a proud West Virginian who wears my blue and gold to cheer my WVU Mountaineers, and is grateful every day that I can proudly say the only Latin I may ever know- Montani Semper Liberi -Mountaineers are Always Free.
The youtube link here is to a version of "My Home Among the Hills" preformed by the West Virginia Wesleyan College Choir. Beautiful imagery and lyrics. Enjoy!
If you are so inclined, my debut novel, 'frame by frame', is still available at all your favorite outlets while you wait for my new work in Progress.