Saturday, September 30, 2017

To the Atmosphere and Beyond

A quote from Socrates,

"Man must rise above the Earth — to the top of the atmosphere and beyond — for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives." 

The photo was taken above the Chesapeake Bay.

I am not a man, nor have I made it to the atmosphere and beyond. I have however gone up far enough in a plane to fully understand the world in which I live in.

We are mere droplets of color on a charted map that does not judge us by who we are. Towns, cities, lakes, streams, and railroad tracks may separate us but they do not confine us. At 3,000 feet in the sky, the world below me shines with beauty. My charts used for navigation guide me along a path of wonders. A bit lower and I can see women hanging clothes out to dry in their yard. A boy riding his bicycle down a rural road. A farmer tending to his fields. A kayaker taking on one of the finger lakes. Factories with smoke billowing out of the tall exhaust pipes. Solar farms larger than life out in the middle of nowhere.

When I see this world through my eyes as a pilot, the world does not speak back to me. It does not tell me, that farmer was a Republican or that lady was a Jew or this town is filled with racists, or that river is polluted by that factory, or that college has sexual assault cases pending against it or that town is an LBGT community. My navigation charts do not label the world we live in, in such a way that we as humans label ourselves and the things around us. We judge we persecute, we hate, we disrespect, we show no discipline, and we allow for the violation of our own space to occur.

Why have we lost sight of the beauty around us? Is it an attempt to just lash out at everything that has ever undermined our well-being. For every time you never got to go to the movies, or spend the night at a friends house, or missed out on a party or lost a job to perhaps a better candidate. or heartbroken by those we thought we loved the most.

While many do not have an opportunity to sit as a pilot in a cockpit and view the world below them. Many do have the capacity to open their eyes and hearts to see and feel what is right there in front of them and surrounding them daily. We become blinded by the mundane human daily rituals of life itself. We no longer take the time to appreciate the beautiful, the ugly, the delicious or the distasteful. We have almost stopped learning.

I think Socrates had it right. We need to seek a path so far beyond our reach in order to truly understand what is going on around us. How will you make that happen in your life? Let's start a conversation. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

My Cat Sunny

Pets are something else. For those of us that do not have kids, they are our children. We care for them, love them, feed them and spend money on them. Some people go as far as buying clothes, fancy beds and making fresh food. Sunny came with the husband. It was a package deal. Sunny is a male cat and is about 12 years old now. He has only in the last year really begun to get close to me. The same sort of connection he has with my husband. I mean not as deal and unconditional, but I will take what I can get. Usually, I am the third wheel in this family. Since Sunny has come into my life every day has been an adventure with him. I decided to share his greatest moments since I joined the family. 

Tucked under the warm covers.

He will stare at our wedding photos for minutes at a time.
Showing daddy some love.

Showing mommy some love.
He loves to go for walks and lay in the grass.

He has his GQ moments. Watch out lady cats!

Helping me complete a puzzle. Well, he thought he was helping.

His first Christmas with us in our new home in a new state.

He loves his new bed.

He loves to lounge and watch TV with us.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Who are you?

Who are we? Are we defined by our hobbies or interests? Our political views or religious background? What makes you, you? I can't be the only person out there that questions these sort of things in life. The other day I read a quote that went something like this, "We show our family one side of ourselves, our friends another side, and our true self no one sees". That really sort of spoke to me. Do we unintentionally do this or is it something that we just aren't even aware of?

For many of us, we probably are aware of it. Especially if your family is extremely conservative, while your friends maybe more liberal in their thinking, politics aside. The sad part of the quote is that we never show our "true self" to anyone. I find this hard to believe, but there must be some truth to it.

I guess a good example might be that all your friends love outdoor activities, like hiking for example, but your really don't. However, you never say anything because being with your friends is more important to you than saying you don't like to go hiking. A lifetime could go by and yet that friend or friends think you've always enjoyed hiking with them. When in fact is was just the company that meant something to you. You could have cared less about climbing Everest or hiking the Appalachian trail.

That said, is that really what the quote means about our true self? Or does it go deeper than that to how we love, laugh and cry. Is it our art or creative side that speaks to who we really are. Sort of like a silent friend or family member. Think about it, if you turned the clocks back to a time where there really wasn't a 8-5 or a 5 day work week. A time when your skill defined you, your knowledge made you who you are. Perhaps your discovery brought you the attention you desired. Where people then showing their true self more often than we do now? Probably not.
Photo taken in Centrailia, PA
I mean, we as humans have always done things to impress others. The "keeping up with the Joneses", is not really an exaggerated statement. Perhaps this is the reason we never show our true self.

Well whatever the answer might be, a sip more of my coffee and the topic no longer matters.

Have a great day folks!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Our lives tend to get so busy that we forget to stop and smell the flowers. When was the last time you went to a park or a cafe with the intention of just sitting there and relaxing, maybe even playing a game of chess?  

Days, weeks, months go by and the cycle of life, or daily routine, tend to cause us more harm than good. As of late, I have found myself falling into a new routine in life revolved around marriage and caring for my family. My husband recently had a knee surgery which has literally put a hold on pretty much any outdoor activity he and I use to enjoy. Things like hiking, biking and just simply taking a walk. One day I had an idea to break the norm. 

Do you want to go and play a game chess at the cafe on the trail, I asked my husband. I could tell he began thinking of ideas to get out of such a suggestion. I continued to sell the idea by suggesting we get protein drinks and just enjoy the sunshine. Finally, I got a look of agreeance. 

We went and had a great time. So much so, that we ended up going back there two days later and to play some Scrabble. This time we got green tea shakes while creating a new friendship with the staff. We stopped and smelled flowers when was the last time you did the same? 

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Learning to fly has actually begun to translate in my life outside of flying. As a pilot, you are taught to "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate". Basically, control the airplane, get it to where you need it to go, and then tell communicate where you are. We are taught that doing anyone of these out of sequence may lead to a deadly outcome. In life, we aren't really given rules of survival at such a basic level as this. As a pilot, it's these three words that define your survival. They are so key that I literally make notes of these words all over the place; my kneeboard, the corner of my computer screen, on the first page of my flying books.  

When in the cockpit we as pilots are always faced with constant changes. The wind, for example, it never stays the same. You could have started out your flight on a calm day and finishing your flight with wind gusts while landing. Very nerve reckoning! All the flight planning in the world can still leave us in an outcome we weren't ready for. That said, the other part of this "three word" survival checklist, if you will, is risk management. 

It's summed up by the acronym P.A.V.E. A set of words that allow you to really dig deep into decision making. P.A.V.E. stands for "Personal, Aircraft, Environment, and External pressures". Seems to make sense if you are reading this for the first time as a student pilot or perhaps you are reading it for the first time here on this blog. Nonetheless, these words are designed to be implemented before, during and even after you "Aviate, Navigate and Communicate". Seems simple! Follow these rules and you will likely stay out of trouble.  

Landing a 172 at KBGM, with Joseph Rizzo as PIC.

So what does any of this have to do with anything else in life, other than flying? Well, a lot actually. Think about it for a second. A s a child we are taught right and wrong. Depending on our parents and their discipline techniques, those rights and wrongs are either distilled in us or words and behaviors forgotten. If you were raised around religion, then you may have had your faith to guide you through life. Often times many of us that follow a religion end up losing our faith only to later regain it and this cycle may continue throughout your whole life. Furthermore, everything we do is governed by law. 

Whether in our own home, at school or work, in our communities, states or country. All of these act as institutions of learning behaviors for life's' survival. At home, we learn manners. At school, we begin to learn about the world and our community. Our community teaches us social norms or behaviors acceptable in society. Our government reminds us of our freedoms or lack there of, depending on your perspective. 

My point is, why are we, as the people of this world, not given the most basic of survival training as pilots are given. A set of three words expanded with an acronym. Perhaps practicing them in our daily lives could yield a better way of life for us all. "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate". Is it really that simple? Perhaps that has been the answer we have all been seeking in life. Three words with the most basic of definitions, to guide us to salvation. 

Imagine yourself as a child. Imagine your parents kneeled down and explaining to you the rules of life. The conversation may even go something like this: 

Son/Daughter, in life you will learn you have control of your well being. 
You must set a plan to follow. 
Never forget to share your ideas or plan with others. 
Now keep in mind that while you are in control of making your plan and sharing your own ideas, that there are words to help you PAVE the way. 
You will need to evaluate yourself. Are you mentally, physically able and educated enough to survive your plan.
The method or means to getting your plan accomplished would need you to be efficient in the things you need to do to achieve your goals.
All this, while keeping into consideration your environment and any external pressures that will keep you for succeeding. 
These words we utter are the basic steps to life's survival. If you ever forget or lose sight of your way, just remember "Aviate, Navigate, Communicate" and you will P.A.V.E. the way to successful life.

Now you understand the connection the way I do. We all interpret things differently and therefore, my views are my own and yours are yours. Flying has changed my life. I feel that life itself should be taught to us in a way flying is taught to us. Never take anything for granted. Something so minute and overlooked, could be something that changes you and who you are forever. 

No one else walks in your shoes, but you.