Overcoming Challenges

Weight and Balance

How often have you observed an airport baggage handler load luggage/cargo into the cargo hold of a commercial jetliner? Maybe you were in possession of a boarding pass that gave you the distinct honor of a window seat assignment. If so, watching this important phase of preparation for flight departure, is quite intriguing . Each item is strategically placed inside the compartment according to WEIGHT and BALANCE which must be secured properly, to prevent its movement inflight. The correct POSITION of each item is instrumental in determining the influence it may have on the operational efficiency of the aircraft.

According to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), there are specific effects of weight on a jetliner. Excessive weight reduces the flight performance in almost every aspect. For example, the most important PERFORMANCE deficiencies of an overloaded aircraft are: Reduced maneuverability, excessive weight on the nose wheel or tail wheel, and higher/slower takeoff speed, just to name a few. There have several fatal crashes in recent years because of weight distribution errors. The pilot in COMMAND of the aircraft has the responsibility of knowing the maximum allowed weight and its CG (Center of Gravity) limits. The CG is not a fixed point ; its LOCATION depends on the distribution of weight. In other words, the CENTER OF GRAVITY determines the correct BALANCE.

As a new flight attendant, I was very inquisitive about cockpit instruments more than I was about serving coffee, tea or milk. I can remember on one of my flights the captain explained to me that the ATTITUDE gauge displayed the position of the aircraft relative to the horizon. The jetliner’s position determined the ALTITUDE, or how high or low it would fly, taking into consideration weight, balance, traffic or weather conditions.

How does this relate to LIFE’S JOURNEY? So many times we are weighed down with challenges that interfere with the balance we need to continue on our ordained path. The center of our focus is shaken or even destroyed all because we don’t take the right attitude (position) of WHO IS IN CONTROL! We dwell on past hurts and disappointments which can be heavy burdens that will suppress our altitude.

To correct insufficient weight and balance data, the cargo on a jetliner has to be REPOSITIONED for flight safety. As mentioned earlier, too much weight will effect performance. WE must reposition our mindset to allow the One who is in total command to refocus and recenter.

The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: The preceding chapter 11 gives us a history of all the confrontations that God’s people experienced who possessed great faith. Chapter 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every WEIGHT that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us”. NLT

Overcoming Challenges

Jet Lag

I remember my first Transpacific Flight from Atlanta to Narita, Japan which was over 14 hours. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Are we there yet??!! The aircraft flew through approximately five “TIME ZONES”. Merriam Webster defines time zone as , “a geographic region within which the same standard time is used”. Traveling from one time zone to another has distinct affects on the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, these affects are due to exposure to sunlight and fluctuations of our body clock’s rhythm, called the circadian RHYTHM, that can produce symptoms of tiredness, fatigue, irritability, headache, insomnia and lack of concentration. The result of this disruption causes JET LAG. Airspace Magazine puts it this way, “jet lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast through time zones, they leave your body rhythms behind.”

I was a victim of JET LAG for my entire career with Delta. If you’ve never experienced it, I want you to know that it is no picnic! For some crew members that chose to fly internationally, this condition was extremely severe and the recovery process was a matter of TIME. The amount of time for readjusting to normal sleep patterns was different for each individual.

Has it ever seemed as if you were out of RHYTHM or your TIMING was just a little bit misaligned for whatever reason? In your pursuit of PURPOSE, are you are traveling so fast that you get ahead of time or lag behind which causes you to become irritable, out of focus, unable to sleep, and extremely fatigued? Is it difficult for you to distinguish exactly where you are in life? Even after I left my flying career, I recall waking up every night trying to figure out where I was!

Consider this, each TIME ZONE of the earth has different characteristics relative to SEASONS. It’s summer in Georgia where I live, but winter in Rio de Janeiro. In different seasons of our existence, the experiences we encounter should help us locate exactly where we are. On our LIFE’S JOURNEY, we sometimes lose a grip on timing which is key in reaching our true DESTINY. We conclude that we are in the correct time zone or season by gauging external circumstances which often distorts our true perspective of SUCCESS. It becomes incumbent upon us to hurriedly get ahead of God’s TIMING when really we unknowingly LAG behind. This can result in feelings of despair and defeat.

In the RHYTHM of life, SEASONS speak to TIMES. As we constantly pursue PURPOSE without recognizing and embracing the necessary changes of the specific times we encounter, challenges orchestrated by the enemy will pursue us and cause distractions.

We tend to ignore the segmented (zones) assigned to destiny’s pathway. King Solomon explains it this way in Ecclesiastes 3:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Remember that your TIME ZONES are in His hands, as encouraged in Psalms 31:15.

Bracing Position

Life’s Adversities

Even though I’ve been silent for a while, rest assured, I am still navigating through my LIFE’S JOURNEY, and staying focused to continue with you.

I’ve begun to seriously recognize that God uses my Flight Attendant training to speak to every situation I’ve encountered to deliver CLARITY and PURPOSE at my doorstep disguised as ADVERSITY.

The training that Flight Attendants receive consists of more than just “coffee, tea, and milk.” It involves a broad spectrum of RULES AND REGULATIONS, mandated by the FAA, COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS, CONFLICT RESOLUTION, EMERGENCY PROCEDURES, EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP and rendering FIRST AID, just to name a few.

These are all needed for successful flight operations and there are instances when that training is put to the TEST with the development of any of the aforementioned adverse situations.

I want to focus on BRACING POSITION and its relevance to our LIFE’S JOURNEY.

When faced with not so favorable landings, such as a main gear collapse which produces a belly landing, or a water landing, crew members must make certain that the correct bracing position is assumed to prevent the body from being tossed about on impact. This avoids any type of bodily injury to all passengers on board.

In any one of these scenarios, the CAPTAIN would have already briefed the cabin crew and passengers on what to expect and when to assume the bracing position. The Flight Attendant’s job is to instruct passengers on how to carry out these bracing positions and to secure any objects that could become projectiles upon impact. At the critical moment the CAPTAIN will give the command over the PA system, “BRACE, BRACE!” or “BRACE FOR IMPACT!”. Everything and everyone must be SECURED to minimize loss of life and serious injuries. In other words the crew members must prepare in advance to deal with the issue.

As you and I carry on with LIFE’S JOURNEY, there will always be adversities that we must contend with. God has given us RULES AND REGULATIONS and instructions to live by. It is called the Bible, or Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. By EMBRACING His holy word, we can learn to BRACE ourselves when the enemy hurls those “fiery darts,” Ephesians 6:16, into our lives that are meant to distract us from destiny.

As flight crews prepare for emergency landings, we must also BRACE ourselves by communicating with God (praying daily) , resolving conflicts with others and ourselves by studying His word, doing His commands and receiving first aid for the healing of our souls by applying His word to our lives . So to put it plainly we BRACE OURSELVES BY EMBRACING HIM. This prepares us for the challenges ahead, seen and unseen.

Jesus tell us in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you that you might have peace. In the world you have have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Emergencies (trails and tribulations), are common in this life but our security comes from knowing that even though we encounter many adversities, they too have encased within themselves learning more about God, an opportunity for growth as well as a testimony of how our testing times are not in vain.

When it comes to LEADERSHIP, always know and believe that God is the Captain of Our Souls. He is SOVERIEGN RULER and in any crisis, He is always with us.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Purpose Stimulus

Tailwinds/Headwinds/Crosswinds

I am certain most of us have been passengers on a commercial airline flight and have heard the pilot announce, “Due to TAILWINDS we will arrive at our destination 30 minutes early”, or “Due to HEADWINDS we will arrive 30 minutes late.”

Just for clarification, I’ll take a minute to define TAILWINDS and HEADWINDS.

A TAILWIND is a wind that blows in the direction of a travel of an object, while a HEADWIND blows against the direction of travel. They both have varying degrees of intensity.

Airline pilots do not turn the aircraft around and go back to the original takeoff city because it is too difficult to navigate when these atmospheric conditions exist. They simply make the necessary adjustments in order to attain the intended destination. On the other hand, they take advantage of the substantial TAILWINDS pushing the jet at a greater speed, which guarantees an EXCEPTIONAL, GREATER THAN EXPECTED, on time arrival! We can also label it as AHEAD OF SCHEDULE!

As we pursue purpose there are many opposing forces designed to hinder us and nonresistant forces that propel us. Surprisingly, both of these influences allow perfect timing to achieve destiny. Some flights do arrive AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, but in our LIFE’S JOURNEY, the PROCESS OF TIME, delivers us to our DIVINE APPOINTMENT according to the timetable which has already been prearranged or PREDESTINED. Woven within each situation there is a stimulation to PERSIST DETERMINEDLY.

Did I forget to mention CROSSWINDS? Let’s address these as well. Crosswinds are winds that blow across ones direction of travel. These winds are very dangerous in aviation because they have the capability of disrupting landings and takeoffs altogether. Mind you I said DISRUPT! Airline pilots must have total control of the aircraft to handle this type of interception.

When we encounter these winds in life, all of our plans can come a halt! We can get knocked off course for sure, but rest assured (God) the Captain of Our Souls, takes command!

When all of these winds present themselves as doubt, discouragement, unforgiveness, fear and temptation, we must be inspired (stimulated) to persist amid the opposing forces, and focus on those things that propel us to arrive to our preordained destiny at the appointed time, regardless of the circumstances.

We need the winds to help us grow and take us on our JOURNEY!

Sojourning

Reflections Part 2

I want to pause again to share another segment of my Life’s Journey that includes the first job I received before being employed by Delta Airlines.

The desire to travel increased with each passing day of my life and any indication of the idea, was constantly with me. While browsing through a magazine one day, I came across an ad that read,”Be A Stewardess or Look Like One.” I thought, this is my opportunity! The advertisement was from Atlantic Airline School and when I observed it a little closer it really had nothing to do with flying! What was interesting though was that, I could use this as a stepping stone to where I eventually wanted to be.

Atlantic Airline School offered training in Airline Reservations, Vacation Planning, Ticketing and Fare Construction. The training consisted of a six week home study course and after that, graduates were placed in selected cities across the country for in person training. The cost for this program was $800.00.

My father was not to thrilled about giving up that amount of money for something he wasn’t to certain of, but because he usually gave into my passions, I was enrolled right after High School with the condition of, “you’d better get a job after you finish.”

The three cities listed to attend training were Inglewood, California, Kansas City Missouri and Atlanta Georgia. My first thought was, California here I come! Not so fast missy-California was booked solid, so I tried for Kansas City. No openings were available there. The last place I wanted to be was in Georgia. The racial tensions were quite high in Georgia during the 70’s and I was gripped with fear at the thought of being in that state. Nevertheless, I would go anywhere to be in a totally different environment.

My application was submitted and in the year of 1972 I was notified of my acceptance. Placement for training was in Atlanta, Georgia. The very first thing that captured my attention, was the Hyatt Regency Hotel that could be seen from I-75 traveling North. It was referred to as, “the blue glass bubble in the sky.” All of the tall buildings were so amazing because of course I’d NEVER seen anything like them in Belhaven! What’s so hilarious is that, the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta is now obscured by many skyscrapers overwhelmingly many stories high.

My place of abode for an additional six weeks of training was the Georgian Terrace Hotel on Peachtree Street. An allotment of rooms were purchased by Atlantic Airline Schools as dormitories. It too has undergone some massive reconstruction since the 70’s. I think it is referred to as, “The Luxurious Georgian Terrace Hotel.”

The training course was very detailed and challenging, but because I was so eager to learn, I excelled in all areas. I graduated with honors and was hired by one of the most prestigious Travel Agencies in the country, Henderson Travel Service. This company specialized, and still does, in Travel Tours of the African continent and has received many awards for distinguished service. When I arrived on the scene, there was a dire need for an expert in Domestic Travel. Yours truly fit the bill! I was in charge of front office operations and formulated travel arrangements for professors of Atlanta University, i.e. Dr. Benjamin Mays, local politicians such as Mayor Maynard Jackson, Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. CT Vivian, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., Mrs. Coretta Scott King and Mrs. Christine Farris, sister to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My interaction with these wonderful people is something I will always cherish. As a side note, I was thrilled to have Mayor Jackson as a passenger on flights several times to Washington D.C. during my career at Delta!

There were many others that I had the privilege of meeting as well. Marketing Representatives frequented the office with travel updates and I befriended several of them. One in particular was with Delta and I was always inquiring about working with Delta as a Stewardess, as they were called at that time. He kept urging me to apply. The only problem was I seventeen and I had to wait until I was eighteen years old. That my friends was about eight months away! I applied any way and I was invited for an interview a short time after my birthday.

Guess what happened? They did not hire me! That did not deter me because I know my destiny had been sealed. I contacted the office of another person I’d met who worked directly with hiring. I asked him why would I not be hired with my knowledge of travel and customer service. He put me on hold for about three minutes and returned to inform me that one more could be added to the next class for training.

My training with Delta Airlines began in September of 1974, two years after I first stepped foot on Georgian soil. This was a dream come true! This dream fueled my passion with determination that still views every experience as adding substance and value to the essence of who I am.

A final thought: NEVER LET GO OF YOUR DREAM!!!!!

Emergency Exits/Evacuation Slides

Equipping for Success

In our previous post (Emergency Equipment), we discovered there was an eminent danger on board the flight to Lagos, Nigeria. The Captain informed me that if we could not extinguish the threat of a catastrophic event, an emergency landing would be unavoidable. This meant that all passengers and crew members would immediately LEAVE THE DANGER BEHIND by the way of EMERGENCY EXITS and EVACUATION SLIDES. This required us to move as far away from the possibility of the development of hazardous elements, such as toxic smoke and intense fire. The EMERGENCY EXITS provided our WAY OF ESCAPE!

When a situation occurs such as this, there are commands and procedures flight crews must implement to initiate the EVACUATION PROCESS. Some examples of these commands are, “RELEASE SEATBELTS!, LEAVE EVERYTHING!, COME THIS WAY!, KEEP MOVING!”. It is so very important not to LOOK BACK or to GO BACK for any reason. Whether any passenger lives or dies in an attempt to seek safety, depends on LETTING GO of What was LEFT BEHIND inside the aircraft!

How is this analogy relative to our LIFE’S JOURNEY? Consider the process of forgiveness and how it speaks to holding on to past hurts and disappointments. Passengers would not be instructed to LEAVE without following several other directives. We’ve heard it said many times, “LET THE PAST GO”. However, what I’ve learned is that the undertaking of RELEASING negative circumstances we encounter requires a purposeful timing which produces a change of heart and mind.

Notice the succession of the EVACUATION COMMANDS: RELEASING >MOVEMENT > DIRECTION. As I previously stated, EMERGENCY EXITS are OUR WAY OF ESCAPE. They direct us to the EVACUATION SLIDES that MOVE us away from danger.

Forgiving is the forging ahead to a destined place by being liberated from the captivity of what poses a danger to our very existence, so we may experience safety and blessing.

God sent Jesus as our EVACUATION SLIDE to deliver us from sin to life everlasting! He frees us from our old sinful lives through the plan (process) of salvation, which is our WAY OF ESCAPE, when there are life threatening emergencies vying for our destiny.

LET GO and LEAVE BEHIND those things you try to hold onto, for they only hold you back!

MOVE far away from the past to a secure place, so that you may be able to serve the world with the greatness that has been bestowed upon you by the God of all creation!

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of ESCAPE, that you may be able to bear it”. (NKJ)

Philippians 3:12-13, “By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us toward Jesus. I’m off running, and I’m not turning back.” (MSG)

Welcome Aboard

Greetings everyone!

I pray the Holiday Celebrations were filled with peace for you and your family. I particularly hope that, you have taken time to recommit to being “YOU”.

Before I continue with the usual comparisons for my blog, I would like to share a writing, author unknown, that was sent to me by a dear friend. You may or may not have heard this before, but it speaks greatly to direction and purpose. Enjoy!

Welcome to flight #2021. We are prepared to take off in to New Year! Please make sure your ATTITUDE and BLESSINGS are secured and locked in an upright position. All self destructive devices should be turned off at this time. All negativity, hurt and discouragement should be put away. Should we lose ALTITUDE, under pressure during the flight, reach up and pull down a PRAYER. Prayers will automatically be activated by FAITH. Once your faith is activated, you can assist other passengers. There will be NO BAGGAGE allowed on this flight! The CAPTAIN (GOD), has cleared us for takeoff. DESTINATION-GREATNESS!

This is indeed an excellent view of how to DEPART and ARRIVE !

Let me know how this speaks to you. I welcome your comments!

Embracing Change

Reroute

I can remember many times during my airline career as a Flight Attendant, being sent to an unintended destination due to severe storms or some type of aircraft mechanical problem.

A ten hour work day would quickly become sixteen hours on duty! Then came the most dreaded assignment relayed to crew members from Flight Crew Scheduling- “You have been rerouted to another city.” Our expectations were shattered, especially if we had plans for enjoying a great escape to a favored metropolitan destination.

For example, my flight crew was prepared to land in a more desirable city, but realizing we had to accept the alternate assignment, led us to seize this opportunity by utilizing some hidden treasures in ourselves that had never been exposed. Some by products that came into view were patience, creativity, gratitude and determination.

We used our tools of annual training to navigate the challenges of those changes that necessitated employing a different operation. Highly effective interpersonal skills were very important to help passengers deal with missed flights, lost baggage, etc. We had the opportunity to apply the knowledge we had accumulated from our experiences throughout our tenure of service.

The entire process of a reroute demanded that we adapted to each stage using a different approach. The adaptation process would consist of downgrading or upgrading to a different aircraft, which in some instances an aircraft no one had ever even set foot in. Additionally, we’d switch airport terminals/gates sporadically, two to three times within a matter of minutes, or just sat on the tarmac with passengers for six hours or more.

I’ve come to understand that in my life’s journey, humans adapt to almost anything, but what became essentially clear, is that everything in life must change – often times for a greater purpose.

Changes are REROUTES in our journey to help us discover and rediscover, our strengths, frailties, and capabilities. This is why we must embrace change and grasp the notion that we are transformed by how we adapt. In most circumstances, our minds must be retrained to center on how each experience qualifies us to be productive at any stage of our lives.

Author, Pastor and motivational speaker John Maxwell says, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”

You and I can choose to embrace change and not neglect its true value. If the seasons of our lives do not encounter change, we could not appreciate the blessings in each season as an opportunity to impact the world, with our mission, assigned by God.