LUGGAGE Lady

Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the category “Life Lessons”

Ode to Cabin Crew

FlightAttBlog

I wanted to be a flight attendant for as long as I can remember. More than twenty years later, I still pinch myself from time to time. Although my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, there’s a dark side no one really discusses. We’re supposed to be social butterflies with contacts spanning the globe and bags expertly packed for our next exotic excursion, after all. Lonely, isolated, and disconnected are probably not terms most would associate with cabin crew. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Maybe part of it is that we’re so busy caring for others that we forget to care for ourselves. Perhaps we bottle up the day’s negative energy, like the mountains of trash we collect but forget to throw away the former. Or maybe because we’re trained to calmly handle countless emergency scenarios, we’re terrified to admit when we need a lifeline of our own. Whatever the reason, we must do our best to look out for our sky family, honoring the fact that we’re forever united by wings…

💗I dedicate this to a dear sky angel who left this world far too soon. Rest in peace, sweet friend.💗

✈🌎 ✈

Hired for our upbeat personas, quick wit, and reassuring smiles

We’re kindred spirits united by similar dispositions

Our aluminum-tubed office affording a collage of continuous change

Crewmates bonding as seamlessly as the airplane generates lift

 

Perhaps it’s the liberation of zipping

Seven peaceful miles aloft across azure skies

Teetering on sparsely padded jump seats

We share stories those closest to us may never hear

 

Whether swapping tales of adventure

Or unfathomable challenges, lessons, and heartache

We inspire and garner fresh perspectives from one another

A myriad of personalities merging at 37,000 feet

 

Not just a career

But a dynamic lifestyle

Cherished wings

Symbolizing fortuitous passage to a boundless world

Thump against my ever-grateful heart

 

And yet – somewhere between the ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’

A sense of impermanence looms

We’re independent souls

Or we wouldn’t have chosen this profession

 

But sometimes

When that hotel room door clicks shut at the end of a grueling day

A lonely heart slips beneath the covers

Brushing away a tear or two

And questioning

“Who’s going to have my back when my smile falters?”

✈ 🌎 ✈

(♥ Photo courtesy of a dear colleague’s friend. Check out her site, featuring the precious model above: http://karlaquiz.com ♥)

🌎 See also: Love Letters to Malaysia Airlines

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A Butterfly’s Rousing Journey

ButterflyBlog

Butterflies know precisely when to leave the safety of their cocoons, gloriously unfurling an exquisite new form and fearlessly trusting those untested appendages. When I sprouted my post-college “wings” and headed starry-eyed to the City of Angels, I did so with slightly less gallantry. My mode of transport was an Olds Cutlass Sierra, and my trailblazer spunk came with a convenient disclaimer: If things didn’t pan out, I could skitter back to my midwestern “cocoon” — no questions asked. How different that departure might have felt had I known there was no return option? And what if my destination required me to abandon my comfort zone completely, trekking to a destination foreign in every way, with little more than the clothes on my back and a hope-laden heart?

How much would you sacrifice to seek freedom and opportunity?

For Shermin Nahid Kruse‘s parents, who emigrated from Iran to Canada in the late 80s, the answer was — everything. Today, their accomplished daughter attributes her success to a baba and maman who gave up livelihood, family, and country so she and her sisters could pursue dreams unencumbered by their homeland’s oppressive regime.

From the tender age of eleven, Shermin embraced her new environment with grit, grace, and adaptability. Now, in addition to a resume that leaves me wishing I could package and sell such ambition, she’s written a compelling book that interlaces mother and daughter perspectives of Iran before, during, and after the Islamic Revolution.

Her novel, Butterfly Stitching, makes one feel like a privileged friend, granted special access down a hidden corridor to a colorfully complex and otherwise inconceivable world. She skillfully drops her readers into tenacious Persian women’s shoes, swaying at once to the tight-knit cultural beat with our senses delightfully piqued. We shop at bustling markets, prepare and savor ethnic meals, host secret parties, dance to illegal music, recite forbidden poetry, paint heartrending emotion, suffer a passionless arranged marriage, find and lose true love — all while somehow maintaining positivity against a backdrop rife with fear, repression, betrayal, and bloodshed.

If you’re like me and routinely invent excuses for postponing goals, her rousing journey will replenish your soul’s gusto, transforming yesterday’s paper-thin excuses into possibilities. Thanks to this inspiring author and dear friend, I shall never utter the words “I can’t” again!

♥♥♥

What leap of faith have you taken to achieve your dreams? Tell me about it and possibly win a signed copy of Butterfly Stitching!

♥ LL

(Photo from our latest travels: The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland)

Perspective is — Everything

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Docking in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, I peered out at the torrential downpour. Gusty wind blew rain in every direction. A lone guitarist huddled in a wooden crate, crooning “Sloop John B”  to welcome us. The zip-line operator canceled our tour, and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed with a hot toddy and the book I’d brought.

My husband wouldn’t hear of it, having already revised our plans to hike along the river. And so, I retrieved every piece of waterproof gear I’d thought to pack and trudged toward the ship’s gangplank. As we neared, commotion ensued. We watched an elderly gentleman being hoisted onto a stretcher and whisked away via ambulance.

I ventured into Mother Nature’s wrath, swirling air immediately snapping my umbrella inside-out. I slipped on waterlogged tree roots, my new shoes squished, and I worried that the camera in our drenched backpack was being destroyed. But, oh how vibrant the autumn foliage adorning the forest trail appeared dripping wet, and how serendipitous that a cluster of trees should materialize just as the heavens unleashed buckets, and how satisfying to hear an abundant river gush…

Five miles later, my umbrella had been reduced to metal carnage, mud clung to my backside, and water dripped from my eyelashes — but I couldn’t stop smiling. Accustomed to my prissiness, my husband thanked me for maintaining such a chipper attitude. I just shook my head and said, “I bet that gentleman would give a million bucks to be hiking in the rain right now.”

Sweet Wanderlust

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The world enraptures

With spellbinding possibility

Spontaneous adventure ever-beckoning

Enchanting souls await your acquaintance

Charming with their

Inspiring architecture

Mesmerizing art

And impromptu street music

Rousing senses

Revitalizing spirits

An open invitation:

Come this way, dear friend

Devour uncharted terrain, cultures, and cuisine

With boundless intrigue

Savoring how each new experience

Kindles personal reinvention

Whether distant or near

May sweet wanderlust spark

Every footfall of your journey…

 

🌎 🌎 🌎

As I pack for a whirlwind tour of Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Québec City, & Montreal, I leave you with Khalil Gibran’s lovely words:

“For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind…Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ♥ LL

 

 

 

Timeless Souls Plucked from the Spring of Our Days

Classof1984

💞 💞 💞

A high school friend recently asked me to write something for our upcoming reunion. I struggled for weeks. Then, I thought about the plans being made to honor those classmates who’d left our world far too soon. Several of these losses occurred while we were still teenagers. The impact on our young minds was profound.

As I began writing, however, I realized this wasn’t just for the Class of ’84. This was for every courageous spirit who has endured unimaginable tragedy and found the strength to move forward, anchoring families, friendships, and communities with awe-inspiring perseverance.

I dedicate this to you with Love and Admiration.

♥, LL

(Photo from our journey to De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, 2009)

Interacting Impeccably

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With every word spoken

Opportunity unfolds

A magical mechanism

Weaving the story of our days

Intent

Feelings

Dreams

Who we truly are

An unparalleled energy force

Powerful seeds planted in fertile minds

Yet, a profound choice exists:

Engage the world with integrity

or

Dampen the spirits of each soul we encounter

♥ ♥ ♥

Imagine the exhilarating, cumulative impact

If we chose to:

Vanquish negativity

Shun gossip

Eliminate needless emotional poison

Harnessing this uniquely human gift

By honoring our word

Sharing only truth and love

Leaving hearts full

And smiles wide

Infusing glee

Interacting Impeccably…

 

♥ ♥ ♥

Inspired by Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements — an absolutely brilliant read I cannot recommend highly enough! 💞

Redefining Happy

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The greatest privilege of being a flight attendant is crossing paths with passengers who completely transform your day life…

🌻🌻🌻

Born three months early and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Jon’s future appeared hopeless. The doctors told his parents that his brain’s frontal lobe deformation was such that he’d likely never be more than a vegetable.

They were wrong.

Jon rolled down the jetway in a motorized wheelchair, which allowed him to stand upright, looking like Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man movie. His megawatt smile and larger-than-life personality swiftly amplified my superhero impression. When I asked where he was headed, he proudly informed me that he’d been selected as one of only seventy college students nationwide to participate in a five-day leadership conference. He’d be giving several motivational speeches.

“I love talking. Put a tree in front of me, and I’ll talk to it.” He laughed. “My plan, once I get my master’s, is to be a motivational speaker. I’ve already produced a few short films, and I’m writing a book.”

“What’s it about?” I asked, thinking I had a fairly good idea.

“It’s about how the definition of happy is completely inaccurate,” he said, upending my presumption. “Happiness isn’t a single emotion. It’s the ability to appreciate all emotional states, learning and growing from both positive and negative experiences. People buy all these self-help books on how to be happy when they really just need to constructively connect with the world around them. Happiness isn’t an adjective — it’s a verb.”

“Impressive wisdom coming from a college kid.” I winked.

“Well, I wasn’t always so smart.” He fidgeted with his cell phone. “In high school I got a little depressed, focusing on all the stuff I couldn’t do. Fortunately, my mom is a very smart lady. She let me wallow in self-pity exactly three days before dragging me out to visit a kid born with my same condition. There I was, staring into the eyes of a boy roughly my age, except he can’t move, can’t speak, can’t feed himself — nothing. He wasn’t as lucky as me!”

I nodded, fingernails sinking into my palms to keep the tears at bay.

“Anyway, like I was saying,” he continued, “happiness boils down to how you choose to interact with the world. A perfect example occurred just this morning coming through security. When the TSA spoke to my travel assistant, their tone was totally normal. But when they turned to me, their voices slowed and shot up several decibels, as if they were speaking to a kindergartener. Was I going to let that ruin my day? No way, Jose! I started joking around with them until they were clutching their bellies. By the time they finished scanning all my metal parts, I’m pretty sure they saw me as someone not all that different from themselves.”

He shrugged. “And that’s my secret to happiness. When others treat me with indifference or disrespect, I surprise them with a story, a joke — whatever I think is going to dispel the negative cloud the quickest. Most people are so accustomed to confrontation, they don’t even know how to process this. Then, something shifts, and their entire disposition changes. That’s super cool to watch.” His smile illuminated the cabin.

“You’d make a great flight attendant.”

His eyes lit up. “I’d even sing!”

Elevating Tomorrow by Eclipsing Yesterday

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The only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday.”

🌟

Gracefully intent

You tango

Enviable posture

Unflinching

On life’s populous dance floor

Melody and motion seamlessly unite

Snappy maneuvers building momentum

Heightening experience

Crescendo nearing

Until…

Scheming arms stealthily encircle

Partnering you with self-defeat

Incessant comparisons truncating potential

A plethora of privileged souls sashay along the promenade

Born inanely gifted

Bearing silver-spooned advantage

Society’s favorites

Slated for success

Gobbling all the prizes

Why bother?

Apathetic legs lock

Rhythm

Lost

🌟

But the stars wait…

Yearning for the brush of your fingertips

As you reach skyward

Remembering

To foster your own dreams

Rather than covet another’s

Chance after gutsy chance

Digging deep

Summoning your song

Mastering its unique beat

Toppling your best

And still

Ascending…

🌟

Elevating Tomorrow by Eclipsing Yesterday

How Lucky Am I to Call You Dad?!

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To Male Role Models Everywhere: What YOU Do Makes a Lifelong Difference

***

Exemplifying strength, security, and wisdom

Your jovial ambition buoyed all who gazed into those steel-blue eyes

A man with boundless know-how

You were educator, innovator, mentor, entrepreneur, comedian, athlete, handyman, storyteller — and moral beacon

I believed in you

And you instilled tenacious courage in me

Exhibiting integrity in every facet of your life

You demonstrated the importance of preparation, sacrifice, faith, and hard work

Cushioned by your tireless guidance

I stumbled

I blossomed

I made choices that surely left you wincing

Still, my gallant cornerstone remained in the wings

At-the-ready

Yet intervening only if solicited

A consistent male presence enhances the well-being of every child

But paternal dependability fortifies a little girl’s heart beyond measure

Shielding her from pathetic sorts who prey upon the vulnerable

A flourishing confidence that protects her long after she grows up and moves away…

♥♡♥

Thank YOU for

Bestowing a love I never doubted

Safeguarding my reputation by imparting self-worth

Anchoring our family in your committed embrace

Being the first to volunteer and the last to quit — bettering every community you touch

My heart swelling with pride at the mere mention of your name

For loving my mommy over fifty years and counting

Towering valiantly as the grandest role model I’ve ever known

How lucky Am I to Call You Dad?!

Mind Over Mountain

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The mountain looms. Ignoring the “I can’ts” lobbing across my mind. Altitude accentuating the agony. Hammering heartbeat. Inferior lungs. Exhaling in a humiliating whoosh. The peak well above my comfort zone. Weighted legs. Stalling. A gulp of metallic water from my canteen. Sun and wind chaffing. A flicker of reverence launching untapped stamina — I’m traversing a portion of the intricate 25,000-mile Inca road system!

Santos, our Inca Shaman darts by. He’s hiking in sandals (!), playing a wooden flute-like instrument. I wonder what he thinks of this out-of-shape gringo gasping for air? He pauses in the distance. Incapable of speaking his native tongue, I ask for a picture in Spanish. He smiles, waving me over.

Later, he leads our group of twelve in a ceremony at the edge of a luminous glacier lake. He distributes symbolic coca leaves and we cling to their divinity as he begins chanting in hushed Quechua. Our Peruvian guide translates:

Release your negativity. Leave it here in the wide embrace of the Andes. Be free of debilitating thoughts. Let them go. They drag you under. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Disappointment, grudges, and bitterness destroy. Know in this moment, you have all you need: the sustaining sun, soothing air, purifying water, guiding stars, protective mountains, and exalting skies. The moon’s pull to keep you centered, the soil to nourish. Mother Earth always provides, ready with healing hand. Use this restorative energy. Envision family, friends, those suffering you’ve never met. Lift them up with your compassion. We have nothing more valuable to give the world — or each other.

We clutch hands, stitching our circle tighter. Snow loses its grip on a nearby cliff, triggering a small avalanche amidst our tranquility. A Condor swoops gracefully. Both men intensely engaged in their sacred ritual. Who am I to be standing in such a surreal natural sanctuary? I close moist eyes and picture the Southern Cross dancing in last night’s sky, wondering how I’ll ever translate such marvel to another. I tuck the memory into a deep pocket of my brain, hoping I’ll find a way.

Back home, I study our photographs, trying to recapture the rush of accomplishment, to harness the spirited Inca drive. I mean — who possesses such moxy as to erect cities and trails upon alarmingly precarious territory? I observe people all around me facing everyday mountains, trouncing obstacles with unparalleled grit, and I ask:

What’s the magic ingredient that propels an individual to exceed mediocrity — striving for excellence in every pursuit?
 



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