Kayla Cross began her career as a volunteer firefighter. She spoke with Ladyboss about the role firefighting plays in sustainability, and why she loves connecting to the Earth by hitting the ground running.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
First Responder, Wife, Wedding Coordinator, Auntie to 5, Planner, Runner. That should about cover it. Most of my life centers around the fire service. I serve on the Mapleton Volunteer Fire Department, the Moorhead Fire Department, and the Mapleton Quick Response Unit. My amazing husband does the same (guess where we met!). My free time is spent training for the next half marathon, attending a niece or nephew’s birthday party, or assisting in wedding planning for my church, Prairie Heights. My husband is a member on all the same fire/medical departments and also leads our rental property business. As such, I try to handle the day-to-day activities of running our house and planning our weeks. My husband and I both thoroughly enjoy being busy and actively involved in our community. We do occasionally take a break and enjoy vacationing to the tropics!
How did you get involved in your work?
My start with the fire service began through assisting with fundraising opportunities. Seeing how much fun it was to be a part of a close-knit team, I officially joined Mapleton Volunteer Fire as a firefighter in November of 2010. I am happy to have served as the Fire Chief for Mapleton Volunteer Fire since November of 2012. I was asked many times why I didn’t make something I enjoyed so much my career. In April of 2016 I finally took the leap of faith and joined the Moorhead Fire Department. My only regret is not joining sooner! I am currently transitioning out of my role as the Assistant Fire Marshal for Moorhead Fire and learning my new role as a Battalion Chief.
Our April theme is sustainability. Is sustainability something that you think about, or that affects your work?
Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. Life Safety. Incident Stabilization. Property Conservation. These three tenets speak to our mission of purpose in firefighting. Without the fire service, lives would be lost and property destroyed. It is up to us to sustain what our community has to offer through educating the public on fire prevention and providing effective emergency response. It is paramount we work with all community partners to accomplish this.
Who inspires you?
People who go the extra mile. It has been uplifting to be a part of various situations when people have put others first. This may be someone simply holding a door for another while they are carrying a load of groceries or sending a text when your day could use a little cheer. Instead of looking for role models, I try to become one. I would love to be an inspiration for people around me. How do I want to do this? I want to try my best each day, be attentive to the needs of others, enjoy my time at work, and bring some positive energy. I look forward to developing my skills, learning new things and exceeding well-defined criteria.
What is your favorite form of self-care?
Aside from date nights that typically include a great meal and a movie, running has been a favorite form of self-care. I truthfully have not enjoyed each of my runs, but greatly appreciate the time to process various things and reflect on jumbled thoughts in my head. While I carefully structure my days to get my work done, there are times when I see grants that need writing, the laundry piling up, a lawn that needs mowing, and a fire certification test to take. In those moments, I question what can reasonably be done and what’s the priority. My brain is filled with deadlines and to-do lists and my phone keeps buzzing with alerts. To gain clarity, I lace up my running shoes, grab a water from the fridge, and head outside for a run (unless it’s twenty below, I have my limits). I bring my phone because running without music isn’t fun for me. It’s just me, my music play list, and the open road.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently?
Mind over matter. It’s quite simple, but a powerful motto. We truthfully can accomplish anything if we have the right attitude and willingness to do so. For myself as a planner, I find checklists and to-do lists as essential for me to accomplish what I have on my plate. We are all capable of achieving the impossible, but often, our mindset is the one thing standing in our way. Defeat is not inevitable; our mindset is something we have the power to change. Obstacles and challenges will happen and they are out of our control. What we can control is the way we think and approach each situation.
What do you think women need right now?
Confidence! We got this! I am a firm believer that it truly doesn’t matter what your gender is on what you can do. We should all follow our passions. It is up to us to make the most out of each day. Confidence is what turns thoughts into action; without it, we hold ourselves back. We must believe we are not just good enough, but we are great. Everyone has a unique skill set and different passions, so go ahead and dream big! What you have to offer is exclusive to you. Know yourself and where you want to be. Make a plan. Get it done. Smile. : )