Monday, August 22, 2011

Update on My Life

Have you ever gotten up one morning and felt like your life has slipped away from you in the blink of an eye? Such is the story of my life these days. Perhaps it's because I have severely altered my life-style due to a new job that I took just a few months ago. At any rate, this is my attempt to recap the past two months and see if I can catch myself up!

Most of you know that I have a background in the aviation industry. This is an industry rife with change, adventure, exhaustion, exhilaration but mostly inconsistencies. I used to love to say, "The only consistency in the airline industry is IN consistency"...and that's the absolute truth! Having said that, let me attempt to bring you up-to-date on a few things.
  1. I am now flying for SkyWest Airlines which is a large commuter airline with contractual agreements with Delta, United, Alaska and soon, US Airways. Bottom-line, we fly their "puddle jumpers" to their smaller routes.
  2. I am based in Portland, OR (PDX is their city code).
  3. I live in a hoarder house with I-don't-know-how-many-other-commuters, but the important thing is that I share a CLEAN and ORDERLY room/bathroom with two other women whom I have grown to love adore.
  4. My family is still in Utah...away from me:'(
  5. I love my job, HATE the commute.
OK, now you are up-to-date.

Living in Portland has been an adventure in and of itself. I have become a master at navigating train routes around this beautiful city. The people are...well, let's just say, diverse (to say the least). The geographical terrain is spectacular and overall, the people are very nice and accommodating...but it's not home...

The base itself is fine. I am now trained to fly on the jets as well as our beloved prop plane (Brasillia EMB-120 turbo prop) whom we affectionately call, "The Bro". The Bro is the smallest plane in our fleet and by far the loudest, bumpiest aircraft I have ever flown on...having said that, I ADORE this plane! Crazy?? probably, but I feel in total command and every flight is an adventure. This little workhorse is amazing. Apparently it is very fuel efficient and highly effective on our smallest routes of around 250 miles or less. It's a funny little guy with it's very own personality. When we take off, the aft of the aircraft seems to rebel a bit and sway back and forth until it eventually gives in to the fact that it MUST follow the forward of the aircraft. It is fact, it's so loud that I wear earplugs while working it.

Just the other day, I was boarding in Klamath Falls, OR (yes, we fly to ALL of the hotspots in the world with this little guy...) anyway, I was boarding when a gentleman walked onboard with his head completely down...I'm talking his chin was almost touching his belly button...not because of shame or embarassment, it was out of necessity. This man was 6' 8" tall and he was entering a metal tube of about 5' 9" in height for a fun 1 hour experience. I promptly moved him to the exit row (where there was extra leg room for his giraffe-like legs) to which he was extremely grateful.

But here's one of my favorite features of The Bro that I just had to share:

It's true, there's a window in the lav!! Awesome?? Yes, when you're in the air, but when you're on the ground...not so much!

Why?? No one knows unless it was engineered by someone with a sick sense of humor and somehow slipped through the Brazillian gaps of design. It's a great conversation piece and seriously, there's no other feeling like when you're peeing at 28,000 ft...try it sometime...!!

In all seriousness, I love, even adore my job. My co-workers are great, the company is great and my passengers are great, but there's no place like home. I have had my transfer in to SLC since the nano-second after we graduated training. Who know when it will actually happen, but it will and when it does, I will be jumping up-and-down like no the meantime, I will continue to ride the MAX (PDX rapid transit system) live in my clean room in the hoarder house and love my sweet roomies to death. Life is too short to worry about the details of the things that we have no control over. My family is fine, my *Littles* are thriving and life is great!

Friday, August 12, 2011

You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important

It's not often that I recommend a fact, I try to avoid doing so because I am all too keenly aware that tastes vastly vary and, quite honestly, there really haven't been that many movies lately that I have really liked. With that being said, I do want to talk about a new film that was released this past Wednesday called, "The Help".

You have probably seen the book around. As a Flight Attendant, I see numerous passengers perusing the pages of this Best Seller and decided to pick up a copy after several glowing reviews. Boy oh boy am I glad I did! I am only half way through the book, but have devoured every word as I read.

This past Wed. was my 7th wedding anniversary and since I was stuck in Portland without my beloved Hubs, some of my sweet housemates and I ventured downtown for lunch and a movie. We had all been excited about seeing The Help (well, not so sure that Ryan the 26 year old hottie pilot was excited, but he was a good sport!) so that's exactly what we did. We all LOVED the show. I adore this movie.

I took my Hubs today to see it (yep, that's twice for me) and it was even better the second time! Without giving too much away (I HATE when people do that...just sayin') I wanted to share a few things that touched me.

The story is about the lives of black maids, circa the early 1960's, in Jackson, Mississippi and how they raise numerous white children while someone else has to raise their children while they work. Abileen is one of the main characters. In the show, she is the maid for a young mother who has very little attachment to her pudgy yet adorable and sweet toddler named Mae Mobley (such a darling name, in my opinion). As oppressed and overworked as Abileen is, she is totally resigned to her position in life. She knows that this is all she can really hope to be and she takes her job very seriously.

But most of all, she LOVES and adores Mae Mobley and is genuinely concerned that the little one grows up to be a good girl and NOT become emotionally detached, even devoid like her mother. Several times throughout the movie, Abileen gets right on down to Mae Mobley's level, takes her pudgy little cheeks in her hands and tells her the following (as the little girl repeates her words): "You is kind, You is smart, You is important".

I was absolutely touched at the simplicity of those words and how important they had become to this innocent little girl. I got teary when she repeated them back. It melted my heart.

After the credits, those words played over and over in my mind. I thought of the sheer power a mantra like that can have in someone's life if they truly believe and trust in the words. We live in a world rife with so much negativity and I truly believe that the majority of problems with people are the result of a low self-esteem. I have suffered with that very issue throughout my life and battle esteem issues regularly.

Don't get me wrong, I have wonderful, amazing parents who did their best and instilled in us values, morals and helped us with our self-esteem, but I can't help but wonder how much I would have benefited and how different my life would have been if I had had someone look me in the eye and have me repeat, "I is kind, I is smart, I is important" everyday of my early childhood.

I see a huge lack of good self esteem in so  many teens. Many are searching for their "identies" and most rebel against any kind of authority. Many hate themselves and many hate the world. It's so sad as I see many who are "bought" by their parents when all the kids really and truly want is time and even discipline with their parents (though they would never admit it). They have all the latest electronic gadgets, the hottest designer jeans, shoes and whatever else, but they have very little on the inside reminding them of their innate goodness. It breaks my heart.

So now I have a new resolve to really remind all of my *Littles* how special they really are. They are and will be facing challenges that I never could have imagined at their tender ages and the better they think of themselves, the stronger they will be. And like my *Littles*, I need to be reminded that I too is kind, smart and important...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Opposition In All Things

**I apologize in advance for the disjointed nature of this post...but it is from the heart.

In Asian philosophy, the concept of Yin Yang is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world and how they give rise to each other. There are many nautral dualities that we witness everyday: light and dark, black and white, male and female, hot and cold and on and on. In the western world, we have a much less eloquent term of simply, "Opposites" or "Opposition".

Whatever you want to call it, it's the very same concept which simply stated, is that Yin Yang are complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole as part of a dynamic system. Basically, everything has an opposite! Most opposites represent a positive and a negative and whatever the case, they ebb and flow at their own pace over time.

Recently, I embarked on a new journey during what are supposed to be my "Golden Years". I went back to the world of aviation and began flying again as a Flight Attendant for a large Regional Carrier. The aircraft are completely different from the huge "Jumbo Jets" (Wow, that term is a blast from the they even use that term anymore??) that I used to work for. I work jets with 70 or less passengers each. I even work a Brasilia EMB120 Turbo Prop that is noisy and naturally bumpy even during the calmest of air patterns. At any rate, I love it! I have embraced the job. I know that time is a benefit and am waiting for the day when I can transfer back to the base that is only 45 min from my home and actually sleep in my own bed when I'm not working. But for now, I am in beautiful Portland, OR sharing a house with about 15 people!

So what does this have to do with opposites? Just about everything!
  1. I am living about 780 miles from where I WANT to live.
  2. I am working during what should have been my retirement years.
  3. I am NOT with the most important people in my life aka, my family.
  4. I have had to relinquish my seats on several committees (temporarily) that I simply LOVE serving on.
BUT, there are countless blessings and "positives" (or....wait for it...OPPOSITES) that make things bearable.
  1. I live with some amazing women who have become life-long, even eternal friends.
  2. I appreciate my husband and children SO much more.
  3. I am doing what I love, and since I need to work at this juncture in my life, who could ask for anything more?
  4. I am providing medical/dental benefits for my family that have been extremely costly up to this point.
  5. I am providing amazing travel benefits for my family and I am able to see parts of the country that I have never even thought of visiting before!
  6. I am safe, healthy and happy.
Life throws opposition at us each and every day. I was on a flight today commuting back to my base city. During the flight, the Flight Attendant made an announcement and asked the entire plane to give a round of applause to the men and women serving in our armed forces. I was reading my book and felt kind of bugged that they disturbed me with any kind of announcement during a most intense and gripping part of my book! I obliged and added my applause to the rest of the crowd.

We landed in Boise. For those of us continuing on to Portland, we were asked to stay on the plane but told that we could spread out and get a more comfortable seat if we wanted to. I moved from the center to an aisle seat, started up with my book again, and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the undeniable fatigues of a young soldier who moved up to a seat just in front of me. I felt humbled.

I started thinking of how blessed I am to be able to "hop" on a plane every 4 or 5 days and within two hours, be home with my sweet family. How flying into the Salt Lake valley and seeing the majestic Wasatch Range of mountains causes my heart to leap and immediately, the comfort of "home" engulfs me.

Opposites are abundant everywhere. They serve their purpose and they help us remember how incredibly blessed we are. Seeing that stoic young man in his desert fatigues anxious to see his precious family for just a short leave, reminded me of all that I have.

So as I live in a new place which seems to be opposite of what I love and know, in many ways, I am thankful for the opposites that give my life meaning and color it with purpose and inspiration.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Painful Lessons

When I was 8 years old, I had a shiny pink stingray bike sporting a groovy banana seat, white basket with several mod colorful flowers and tassels streaming from the handlebars. I loved this bike! I rode it in the sun or the rain, it didn't matter, I was an 8 year old kid.

As is typical with kids of this age group, we had the brilliant idea to make a bicycle jump in the only vacant lot in the entire neighborhood which happened to be across the street from my house. We all contributed to the construction of our latest entertainment of the day and then took turns trying it out. Now I'm sure it was only about a foot off the ground even though it seemed to be five feet high in our young idealistic minds. But either way, we were thrilled and ready to try it out.

We all lined up and waited with eager anticipation. One after another...each excited neighborhood kid conquered the "daring" jump followed by squeals of delight and success. My turn finally came and I remember the excitement coursing through my petite body as I walked my precious bike into position and waited for the "all clear" sign. It came...I was on my way.

As I rolled down the slight hill gaining the necessary momentum for catching "big air", I saw the coveted platform getting closer and as I carefully lined up for the jump, at the last possible moment, my little sister stepped in the path. In a split second, all of my reflexes jumped into action and I veered off course, steered my stingray handlebars to the right and missed the "sweet spot" causing me to hit the edge of the jump, fly over my handle bars and skid on the pavement chin first.

I clearly remember the searing pain that immediately shot through my head. I had laid out my face on the asphalt leaving a trail of blood in my wake. Everyone ran to my side. Kids fled to find an available parent and I lay there bleeding, holding the side of my head as my chin pain immediately transferred to severe ear pain.

The rest is a bit of a blur, but I do remember being in the doctor's office getting stitched up and remember hearing him tell my mother that my wound was clear to the bone requiring internal as well as external stitches. I remember crying and I remember hurting. AND, I remember the sheer thrill of the ride!

Thirty six stitches later, I walked out of the office with a brand new scar that would last for the remainder of my life. It's a jagged, somewhat faded scar that has sparked many conversations over the years and each time I re-tell the story, the intensity of the pain returns, if only for a fleeting few moments.

Just like my accident, life is just like going off a bike jump. No matter how well you plan, things come up at the last moment that can cause us to veer off course and end up with results that are the polar opposite of our best laid plans. In a split second, things can happen and produce a completely different outcome.

Not always is the end result "painful" but it is usually unexpected and it always throws us off course. In my life, I have come to see that the majority of my best laid plans have ended up not as I had originally anticipated. Most of the time it's OK and I have learned to adapt. I have, many times, even ended up happier with the "new " result in many cases. The trick is, to hang on to the handle bars until you come to a complete stop, take the lumps and remember the consequences of the outcome so as to never repeat or endure it again.

I love the movie "The Lion King". There is a great scene where the wise shaministic baboon Rafiki is walking along with the young Simba. Suddenly Rafiki wacks Simba over the head with his walking stick to which Simba cries outs, "Ow, why did you do that?" Rafiki responds with, "Get over it, it's in the past." As they continue to walk, Rafiki takes yet another swing at Simba to which this time, Simba cleaverly ducks out of the way. Rafiki proudly tells him, "See, you've already learned!"

Like my 8 year old bicycle accident, I learned that day that life is full of unanticipated obstacles. Things come up at the last possible moment and if we aren't prepared, we will hurt. But we get over it, the pains and scars fade, but the lessons will remain and life moves on.