Last Thursday I arrived at the stadium at Windham High School moments before the varsity boys soccer team started their game. I was still walking to the bleachers when everyone stood for the National Anthem. I always like to see what happens when the music begins to play. Would the people walking in front of me stop, would people take off their hats and put their hands over their hearts?
On that day there were many teams practicing on the fields around the stadium. The football teams were loud as they ran their drills. The night was full of fall excitement, the smells from the snack bar made my mouth water and I was excited to watch the game.
What happened next would make my friend Fred Collins very proud.
I stopped in my spot as the patriotic music played. I faced the flag and put my hand over my heart. I glanced around and everyone had stopped. The music echoed across the fields and then I realized that the football players had all stopped. I lifted my sunglasses with my free hand to get a better look.
The entire football practice had stopped what they were doing and turned to face the flag. The birds chirped in time with the music and I got goosebumps.
This is the America I love, the one worth fighting for. This is where we come together as a nation, republican, democrat, black, white, gay, straight, we all stand and salute the flag of our country together.
When an entire town within hearing distance of that song stops to show respect, that is not a night I will soon forget. The team may have lost, but in the end the memory of that game will be more about the minutes before the game, then the actual game.
The playing of the National Anthem isn’t required as far as I know, but it’s an amazing tradition that I’m glad Windham participates in. It says to anyone visiting our town that “We are Windham, but most importantly, we are Americans.”
I spent the day on Tuesday with my husband and 170 others listening to Dr. Kevin Gilmartin discuss emotional survival for law enforcement and first responders, which are your fire fighters, dispatchers, correction officers and the spouses of these people. Dr. Gilmartin was funny, poignant and hit a lot of nails on the head.
He was a police officer and retired from a department out west. He then went on to become an expert on psychological issues relating to police officers. From the 80 percent of police officers who develop Type 2 diabetes, to those who don’t sleep more than four hours a night, officers need an intervention.
It was interesting to see how the officers reacted because if you know anything about police officers, they don’t normally like psychologists or anyone who might psychoanalyze them. But when Gilmartin reeled them in with jokes about new officers versus seasoned officers versus firefighters, laughter eased the tension. The more Gilmartin spoke the more I was able to see some of his teaching in the people around me on a daily basis.
He talked about people who are hypervigilant or people who see themselves as victims in their every day life. Those are the people who find something wrong, it might not be anything important in the grand scheme of things, but it to them, it’s do or die. The color of the table cloth in the lunch room has always been red and someone changes it to be green and they freak out and they continue to freak out over and over again.
These are people who are too close to what they do for their job. They need more perspective and more activities that get them into a different frame of mind. Then the table cloth color won’t matter, because really, it doesn’t.
Not having control makes people feel like they are victims. At work, the boss controls your time, your job description and pretty much everything about your day. To make people feel less like victims, they need to get involved in things were there is more perceived control. Where what they do is completely their decision.
Did you know that high demand plus low control equals stress? Think about what you do. If you have a high demand job with low control, don’t you feel stress, like the rug could be pulled out from under you at any moment?
To have a better life, engage and invest in thing that you can control. Redecorate, join a sports team, learn a trade. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Be happy and healthy. For more on Dr. Gilmartin, visit www.emotionalsurvival.com.