LUGGAGE Lady

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

Archive for the category “Relationships”

Broken Girl Behind the Airbrushed Smile

UofIDreamgirls-Cover5

“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

💔

I buried this calendar in a storage box long ago, too ashamed to share the truth behind its airbrushed illusion. But, more and more, I’m reminded how swiftly attacks on one’s character can escalate to levels that elicit rash, unthinkable decisions. If revealing my public humiliation and personal meltdown could help even one person — I’d be a petty coward not to do so…

💔 💔 💔

In the spring of 1987, I was honored to represent my sorority competing in Pi Kappa Alpha’s annual calendar contest to raise money for United Way. What should have been a highlight of my college days would soon turn my little world upside-down.

The contest was at the end of my junior year, and this photograph was taken shortly thereafter. The photographer creatively captured various settings and wardrobe swaps. Perusing the proofs, we agreed the best shot was one of me leaning against a white picket fence, long dress billowing in the breeze. But the ultimate selection was not ours to make.

I returned senior year to this surprise cover. Not my choice — but I was proud to be part of such a great cause. I attended all the PR events, signing calendars and whatever else I could do to support the PIKE’s wonderful philanthropy.

And then it happened: I became the poster child for the date rape problem we were having at the university. Our campus newspaper featured my “suggestive pose” above a female journalist’s scathing article. This quickly morphed into a free-for-all forum, prompting a seemingly inexhaustible rant from those who disliked the Greek System. Their harsh criticisms grew more derogatory with each passing week.

Making matters worse, I’d been elected pledge trainer that year, which meant promoting academics, philanthropy, and — yes — code of conduct to our newest sorority members. As my good reputation was being ambushed, I stood week after week in front of girls who must have wondered who the hell I was to lecture them on morals. Walking around campus, I’d hear snickers and see people point and whisper. Suffice to say, I became quite crafty at fabricating excuses to hide in my room.

Stress ravaged my exterior to match the ugliness brewing within. My hair fell out, and my face erupted. People I’d never met had decided I was a promiscuous tramp perpetrating a deplorable issue — and in my silent suffering I relinquished the keys to my soul. I felt irrevocably tarnished, sinking into a pit so vast the surface was no longer visible. I deferred final exams, returning to my parent’s house prematurely for Christmas break.

But how did the girl who appeared to “have-it-all” explain my torment to anyone?? I was surely a trite fool with zero excuse for being depressed. Shame engulfed me. This girl was down for the count but mortified to ask for help, fearful of disappointing those who believed I had my act together. Stubborn pride made escape seem the only viable option.

Fortunately, a force more powerful than my ego swooped in that dark day — something I still struggle to  adequately verbalize  — and saved me from my utter hopelessness…

💔

In hindsight, I have nothing but gratitude for those who drop-kicked me out of my superficial existence. Because of them, I boldly reject careless judgments, unfair generalizations, negativity, and hearsay. Because of them, my life has been enriched by countless genuine, upbeat, supportive, humble, loving souls I may have otherwise failed to fully appreciate. Because of them, I can spot pain behind the cheeriest smile. And I will forever defend the downtrodden and voiceless, breaking my arm if that’s what it takes to hoist another upward.

So, for those convinced you’ve fallen so low you’ll never claw your way out, I say this: Get help now!!! Talk to someone — anyone! There’s absolutely no shame in admitting your load is too darn heavy, and so many of us are right here, eager to help. But don’t you dare allow a misguided few to define you. You’re far too powerful and wise to be caged in their pathetic traps.

The good and decent people in this world love you!

💞I love you!!!💞

And the story of your irreplaceable soul has untold chapters remaining…

 

“Place your hand over your heart

Can you feel it?

That is called purpose

You’re alive for a reason

So don’t ever give up”

~ Unknown

Love Always Wins

rainbow love (1)

“If love is universal, no one can be left out.” ~ Deepak Chopra

💕

Celebrating sixteen years of perfectly imperfect marriage this week, conflicted feelings wash over me. While I’m thrilled for my gay friends who finally share the right to marry in this country, the disrespectful dialogue generated by the ruling has been bewildering. Although derogatory commentary is sadly the norm these days, hearing the hypocritical roar from the so-called “religious” sector hollowed my soul.

Shouldn’t we be focusing on treating one another with dignity rather than groveling over marital definitions? After all, we’re an extremely diverse nation with a myriad of beliefs. Can’t we simply agree to disagree and respectfully move forward? Maybe even celebrate our differences and learn a wee bit along the way??

Heck, my husband and I said our vows on a beach and chose not to have children. In the eyes of some, we’re not “truly” married. Thankfully, we never had to go to court to argue whether our love was worthy of the marriage label.

With negativity dampening spirits aplenty, I keep returning to what I believe is a universal covenant:

I am a mere human, placed upon this earth to judge no one!

As a flight attendant, privileged to interact with hundreds of amazingly unique humanoids on a daily basis, I know how rapidly my day deteriorates when I fail to honor this fundamental principle.

Will I open my mind or open my mouth?

Endear or alienate?

Leave a peaceful trail or one of dissension?

Spread love or animosity?

Despite routine stumbles, whenever I don my compassionate heart, joy colorizes my life beautifully…

Because

💕LOVE💕

Always

Wins

open-minds-marky-love

Harmony Begins With Me

Travel-wormhole“Peace begins not with countries, not with nations, and not with governments. Peace begins with you. Peace begins with me. Peace begins with each of us. It is within us.” ~ Prem Rawat

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Wandering foreign back roads

Sans news bombarding me from every angle

Away from depressing snippets and soundbites

Construed to perpetuate division and unrest

I’m blissfully off the grid

Society’s maladies forgotten

Replaced by a celebration of shared commonalities

Soaking up universal love

Strangers morphing into new friends

Eager to share stories of their homelands

Time condenses

A single afternoon reshaping my heart

Strolling enchanting cobblestone streets

Swapping mutually respectful gazes

Studying exotic features

Stunningly unique

Appreciating cultural nuances

Savoring the international pulse

Rather than having it interpreted for me

I’m reminded

Peace is not something wished for from a distance

But rather an empowering choice made with each encounter

Whether thousands of miles from home

Or in my own backyard

I must give my best

While seeking the same in others

Or risk living a sad life

Where I’m continuously offended

Immediately jumping to conclusions

Making examples out of every deemed wrongdoer

Leaving a dense cloud of negativity in my wake

Dearest Universe

Please draw me upward

Whenever I’m tempted to fly so low

Please open my eyes to just how rewarding life can be

When I remember

I’m obligated to find peace within my own heart

Because harmony begins with me…

💞

💖Dear Treasured Readers, I sincerely apologize for my perpetual absence here. I’m having trouble “returning” from my travels — I promise to catch up with you lovely souls very soon!!

**photo from our recent Balkans adventure: Sibiu, Romania

My ‘Just in Case’ Letter

flight-attendant-blogger-just-in-case-letter-luggage-lady

💔Every day someone kisses a loved one goodbye and doesn’t make it home💔

If only I were a perfect wife…I wouldn’t dare part ways with even an ounce of hostility lingering. I’d honor, cherish, and pour my heart out like there was no tomorrow — never, ever taking love for granted. So, when I read Marie Tillman’s heartrending book, The Letter (and finished mopping my tear-soaked face), the little writer in me had an aha moment: What if I penned my own letter and tucked it inside a crisp white envelope, ensuring my husband never doubted for a single second just how much he meant? You know — just in case…

💞

My Dearest MTD,

When we first met, I knew my soul had arrived home at long last. But never in my wildest dreams could I have written the story I had the privilege of living. You loved with such constancy and patience. Even when I struggled to find my greater purpose you endured my frustrations in your upbeat stride. You were always my first choice. Although we both carted our own bit of baggage into the fray, I loved you as I had never loved before.

From renovating homes to flying airplanes, sailing, and your extraordinary culinary talents — I can’t recall much of anything you couldn’t do. Oh, how I adored watching you prepare your magical meals. You’d go to such lengths to procure the precise ingredients, coming home with an armload of your favorite sunflowers and a huge grin because you’d found the ideal wine to pair with dinner. I’d light the candles and queue Linda Ronstadt or James Taylor on your meticulously installed and perfectly tweaked sound system. We’d talk and laugh — and talk some more.

And all those adventures you so tediously planned??

Jumping out of airplanes, scuba-diving, sailing around the world, hiking Machu Picchu, kayaking the open seas, zip-lining, bike riding to the top of Delphi — seriously?! Sure, I’d traveled a tad before you, but these activities were spectator sports, things I’d nestle on the couch and read about. You nudged me outside my comfort zone and produced brilliant travel videos so I had proof! Without you, I’d have remained as flat as a paper doll.

‘Without you’ was the one journey I never wanted to embark upon.

I’m not exactly sure where I am, but you know from our countless late-night “what’s-it-all-mean” conversations that I’ll always be with you. Just promise you won’t curl your pillow over your ears and assume for even a solitary moment that the squawking crow interrupting your slumber is me!

For an orphan boy, you certainly had a knack for family and gave so much to mine. My relatives and friends adored you. Your enthusiasm for life’s smallest pleasures was contagious. I’ve never been so delightfully infected by anything in my life. I beg you — don’t ever stop spreading your boundless spirit!

You’ll find love again. And when this happens, don’t look back. View this next phase as you would a new country — different, yes, but an exploration to savor.

You were my best friend. Every moment shared with you was a gift, but if you don’t get out there and keep living to the fullest, I’ll be forced to send in the crows — a murder of them! 😉

Eternally Yours,

Nani Kat

💞

(*photo: Saint-Malo, France)

You Are My Other Self

YouAreMyOtherSelf

“You are my other self” ~ traditional Toltec greeting

💕

What if

Before each encounter

I paused?

Allowing Toltec wisdom to wash away

Insecurity

Negative energy

Fears of being rebuffed or of overwhelming?

Might everyday interactions become valued affairs

Rather than ordeals to endure?

What if

I envisioned hearts sharing the same tender beat?

Might compassion and patience take precedence when going about my daily tasks

Unveiling another’s brightness by honoring them with my best?

💕

Dear Universe,

When self-absorption engulfs

And I fail to acknowledge those around me

Please jar my senses

Guiding me back to what matters most

Initiating connectivity

Generating goodness

Be it a smile, helping hand, or chipper word

Never alienating

Bridging spirits

Thereby enriching my own

Imparting sunshine

Ever cognizant:

You are my other self

💕

Dedicated to my treasured readers.

Thanks for your vitalizing support — my heart is full because of YOU! 😘

(💗Post inspired by M.J. Ryan’s life-enhancing book, 365 Health and Happiness Boosters💗)

*Photo: Temple of Zeus — Athens, Greece

To My Cherished Airline Passengers,

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First of all, I want to thank you for making my job so rewarding. Many of you have visited my galley to share tales of love, loss, hope, heroism, military sacrifice, business innovations, health hurdles, medical miracles, travel recommendations, and lifelong dreams. I treasure every inspiring conversation, laugh, and occasional tear we’ve shared. I strive to ensure your journey is enjoyable and stress-free. So, when you leave my airplane smiling, it warms the cockles of my heart.

Aviators tend to be perfectionists, and my husband is no exception. He prides himself on thorough communication, comfortable cabin conditions, and flying finesse. If he can grease his landing for you, it makes his day. He wants you to walk off his aircraft relaxed, knowing your safety and well-being will always be paramount.

We’re a seamless team, looking out for you and each other on every single flight. When emergencies arise, we have each other’s backs more than ever. I may work with different crewmates each week — but the paradigm never changes.

Add to this synergy, the way you selflessly volunteer when we need medical assistance or respond in some other gallant manner — like the time two of you saved me from hitting the ceiling during clear air turbulence — and you can understand why it’s devastating to have the trust between us compromised.

I don’t wish to marginalize disturbing incidents that capture the headlines. I just want to assure you that, as perplexing as these stories are, it only reinforces our bond. We’re truly in this together. Which is why every time my colleagues and I welcome you aboard, we seek to honor your loyalty by providing the same caliber of service we’d hope to receive when sitting in your seat.

Love,

Luggage Lady

* * *

Dedicated to the beautiful souls of Germanwings flight #9525 — we carry 💗you💗 in our hearts, always…

Yin and Yang — Love’s Intricate Dance

Love'sDance

How strong our relationships would be if we could see and respect that we are all perfectly imperfect for our journey.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

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Ideal Partners

struggling lovers

Purposefully Connected

preoccupied

Spurred to Be Your Best

letting yourself go

Compassionate Confidantes

secrets exploited

Fearlessly Vulnerable

skeptically withdrawn

Gracious Compromiser

dying to be right

Respectfully Interacting

insatiable ego

Gallivanting Atop Cloud Nine

ricocheted back to earth

Surprises

ruts

Gratitude

attitude

Appreciation

pettiness

Passion

indifference

Forgiveness

resentment

Trusting

second-guessing

                                                                                  Perfectly

                                                                                       imperfect

💞 💞 💞

May we honor one another with the best of our selves

Sharing our hearts as deeply as we can reach

Demonstrating humility when we stumble

Evoking more laughter than tears

 Sashaying harmoniously closer with each challenge overcome

Choosing serenity over drama

Mindful our journeys around the sun are limited

Celebrating 💘LOVE💘 in all its fabulously flawed glory

(photo: Seville, Spain — May 2014)

Somehow… I’m Enough

Wedding fif

Celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary recently, someone asked, “Did you guys ever think you’d make it this far?”

As a flight attendant/pilot couple, we’re well aware our odds of marital success are lower than the dismal average. So we take pride rather than offense when such questions arise. But my lungs deflated when my husband replied, “Personally, I can’t believe she didn’t bail the second I started flapping my jaws about my past.”

I forced a smile. But for someone from a cohesive family, including parents who will celebrate their 52nd anniversary next month, enduring a childhood rooted in abandonment and abuse is anguish I will forever struggle to comprehend.

* * *

Mothers are supposed to hurl themselves in front of speeding trains if it means saving their children — right??? But what if you’re a mistake, whisked from your birth mother to an adoptive mother who subsequently opts for “children of her own,” leaving you in the hands of a broken man when you’re just seven? And what if this sole parent turns to the bottle to satiate his anger and to you with raging fists when liquor fails?

My husband needn’t ponder — this was his childhood. And the hardship didn’t end there.

As is frequently the case, the booze triumphed and rendered him an orphan at twenty-three. He pursued his flying dream relentlessly, but the major airlines required a medical history he lacked. In searching for this, he discovered a clerical error: His birth name had been left visible in the adoption records — a unique one, courtesy of his Czechoslovakian mother.

He was twenty-six when he found her. Living with a man in his early thirties, she was terrified that the sudden appearance of her secret son might result in yet another failed romance. After meeting him, she interacted sporadically before vanishing again. As a parting gift, however, she shared his father’s identity —  and the uncanny addendum: He was also an airline pilot!

Optimism skyrocketing, he couldn’t wait to meet his genetic blueprint. Unfortunately, their relationship was doomed from the git-go. Dad was married to a younger woman who couldn’t stomach my husband’s existence — forget subjecting her pre-teen children to such a scandal.

* * *

I’m ashamed to admit, the first time he told me his (less cheeky) version of the story, I quickly located my nearest exit. Don’t get me wrong, I was smitten from the start. He was (and is) my bona fide flyboy in shining armor — and yet?? Even now, in those unguarded moments when I spy a darkness in his eyes I can’t seem to brighten, inadequacy looms:

What if I make a mess of the love he’s gone a lifetime without

Letting him down like countless others?

What if I inadvertently poke holes in an already battered soul

Because my heart is too small?

What if I’m not worthy of the gem that he is?

💞

Then he pulls me into his resilient embrace

Eclipsing words

Halting time

Heartbeats melding

Thumping a tune of

Perpetual devotion

And I know

Somehow… 

I’m enough

* * *

♥ I dedicate this to every person struggling with family or abandonment issuesparticularly during the Holiday Season. I know how hard it is to open your hearts and let another in, but please know that what you’ve endured doesn’t define you. You prove this time and again with your steadfast attitudes and successes. YOU are precious gifts, inspiring others to overcome obstacles while finding the courage to forgive and trust again. And I, for one, am oh-so-grateful for your presence on this earth! xoxo ♥

Compassionately Converging

SoulfulConvergence

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” ~ Maya Angelou

♥ ♥ ♥

In my dreams

Humanity doesn’t just bustle by one another

We initiate inspiriting impressions

Sans preoccupation or fear of repudiation

Greeting one another joyfully

Sharing a smile

A funny tale

Or maybe even swapping life stories

Commonalities dissolving differences

Respectful minds OPEN

Listening

Broadening

Approachable hearts expanding

Celebrating varying viewpoints and insightful interpretations

No matter how contrasting

Laughter and tears uniting

Difficult situations drawing us closer

Providing opportunity to stand in each other’s shoes

Appreciating the pain

While boldly rebuffing the destructive “us versus them” mentality

Bridging every gap in our power

Mindful we’re in this together

Spreading kindness rather than antagonism

Compassionately converging

♥ ♥ ♥

(Photo from my latest travels: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland)

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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