By Anne Gagliano
Leaving FDIC is always bittersweet. It’s sweet because you’re exhausted and it’s nice to collapse into your own bed at the end of your long journey and sweet because your voice and feet are plum worn out. But it’s bitter, oh so bitter, as you say goodbye yet again to the coolest people on earth; bitter because you might not see them for an entire year or longer; and bitter as the atmosphere is not duplicated anywhere else–an atmosphere where dreams for the fire service can and do come true.
This FDIC was especially magical for me as I got to see and hold my book for the very first time. Like a baby, it’s arrival has been highly anticipated. Painful as labor, the editing/writing/creative process is a tiresome, grueling one but so very worth it as you finally see it in the flesh. As I gazed at it on the shelf (which happened to be right next to my husband Mike’s book), I was overwhelmed and overjoyed and incredulous. I did it! I actually did it! Wahoo! The rest of FDIC was a whirlwind after that, but by week’s end, I realized three really cool things about our time in Indy:
Spousal support is paramount in making your personal dreams come true. I could not have written this book without Mike’s help and support. Period. And he could not have written his without mine either. We’re a team. Writing a book or pursuing other personal goals takes incredible patience and self-sacrifice on the part of a spouse, as it directly impacts them. Time and attention are often diverted away from household needs, relational needs, even sometimes financial needs. If this is begrudged, the dream may not only be diminished but completely abandoned. And it should be; marriage and family must always come first. But if it is instead pursued as a team, with both parties fully on board, the dream and the marriage can succeed and flourish.
When Mike first began his Air Management classes with the other Seattle Guys (Phil Jose, Steve Bernocco, and Casey Phillips), he had to devote long hours to the development of this material as well as time away teaching it on the road. I was onboard the minute I first heard Captain Abbt (Houston FD) in the video of his running out of air in a fire. I never wanted to hear anything like that ever again. In those early days, they didn’t have much money, so I used to drive them to the airport to save on parking charges. I also edited their book. And then Mike’s teaching career took off–with my help, of course.
Ten years later, Mike not only endorsed my book, he helped write it and get sidebars from the awesome cronies he’s gotten to know over the years. Plus, he’s encouraged my teaching career, so we can do this together. I wouldn’t be holding my book in my hands if it wasn’t for him. Dreams that are a joint venture are the very best kind. Firefighter couples, pursue yours together.
The supportive atmosphere of FDIC is paramount in making your professional dreams come true. Teaching at FDIC is terrifying, to say the least. Instructors there are the best of the best. And so are their books. To have my stuff among theirs is not only daunting but humbling beyond words. I’m not worthy, my soul cries as I walk the halls of the conference center in their mighty presence. And I’m not worthy, plain and simple. Yet here I am, nonetheless, trembling in my pathetic inadequacy as I teach for the first time. But what gives this mere mortal courage to perform among the giants? Their generous, gracious encouragement, which spurs me on and raises me up. It is an atmosphere of praise and support like no other.
Instead of competing or squelching, the instructors at FDIC welcome the “newbies” and cheer them on as teammates all working on the same side. Nowhere else in professional arenas is there such an utter lack of jealous rivalry. The belief that “You’ve got this” and “You can do this” is not only felt but realized because this is what the iconic instructors actually say to the fledgling ones. And so do the attendees. Generous and kind in their praise, they stick around and speak warmly to the instructors both after class and later in the halls. Encouragement is everywhere, contagious as it flourishes, and this makes everyone believe in their own ability to contribute to the fire service, both at FDIC and at home.
A deep love of the fire service is paramount to succeeding at FDIC. The only real requirement to teaching or writing for FDIC is a genuine love of firefighters. If this is absent, no matter the talent, the message simply will not resonate. And firefighters can spot a phony. Those who simply wish to exploit or profit from the service of our noble heroes will ultimately fail to do so. We encourage our own, but we quickly abandon the hangers-on.
If you wish to save the savers with all your heart; if you love the firefighters and desire to protect them in their life-saving endeavors, FDIC is for you. With even just a modicum of talent (like me) but a sincere heart, you can bring your message to FDIC and it will be well received.
With the support of your spouse, in the atmosphere of encouragement, submit a passionate contribution to FDIC next year and see what happens! If Mike and I can do it, so can you. No, really, you’ve got this!
If you’re interested in my new book, check it out here: http://www.pennwellbooks.com/shop-fire-books-videos/new-products/challenges-of-the-firefighter-marriage.
Anne Gagliano has been married to Captain Mike Gagliano of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department for 32 years. She and her husband lecture together on building and maintaining a strong marriage.