Airplane Etiquette

No, I’m not the Emily Post of air travel, nor am I a disgruntled airline employee. I’m just a woman who gets on a plane several times a month and has learned a thing or two about getting from Point A to Point B without losing her mind or pissing people off.

IMG_5131In my experience, there are 10 simple things that one can do to maintain sanity and foster goodwill on any flight. These are not written in order of importance, but rather as they come to mind, because I’m at 32,000 feet right now, and I’m sadly watching several of these scenarios unfold.

They are as follows:

  1. Refrain from grabbing the headrest in front of you to lift yourself out of your seat. There’s someone attached to that headrest, and you’ve just jarred them out of their comfortable position, or – worse yet – woken them up.
  2. Speaking of sleep, unless you’re fortunate enough to be in first class, a full recline should be avoided. I’ve actually had my laptop jammed between myself and someone’s seat back, unable to pry it loose. Most travelers are professionals with work to do. Be respectful of space.
  3. Speaking of laptops, I recently sat between two guys who decided to share drinks. One of them held his glass over my laptop, while the other reached out to pour whiskey into it. Ah . . . no. DO NOT pour liquids anywhere near the vicinity of someone’s laptop – ever.
  4. Try hard not to lose patience with screaming babies or their mothers. Babies cry, and I sometimes envy the fact that they can do so in public. They’re in unfamiliar environments, they’re being held tight against their will, and moms can’t just say “pop your ears.” There’s a good chance that they’re in pain. Cut them some freakin’ slack.
  5. Speaking of babies, I empathize with the little gaffers, but one thing moms can do for the empathetic among us is keep them from kicking the backs of our seats. Cry, scream, laugh all you want, but a constant battering from behind can make even the kindest of us take a turn.
  6. We’re all going to get to our seats eventually, so chill. If there are seniors boarding in front of you, or someone who is handicapped, do not let out a loud sigh and start rolling your eyes. Give them a hand, instead. There’s a concept.
  7. While boarding a plane, please be aware of the location of your carry-on luggage at all times. If it’s smacking numerous people in the head who are seated in the aisles, it’s in the wrong place.
  8. If you’re seated beside someone who is reading, staring out the window, has their eyes closed or is wearing headphones/earbuds, do not start talking to them. They do not want to engage. A friend recently had his earbuds literally pulled out of his ears by a person beside them so that they could talk for an entire flight. Good karma will never come from this.
  9. Smile. ‘Nuff said.
  10. Be nice to your flight attendants. Dealing with impatient, rude passengers day-in and day-out can really suck. It actually is not all about you. Surprising, I know.

There you have it. Ten simple rules that have potential to make your travels far more enjoyable. If you have additional suggestions, add them to the comments section below. I’d love to hear them.

Feel free to share this information with the road warriors in your life, and if you see me on your next flight, please take the time to say hello. Unless, of course, I’m wearing headphones.

Happy trails!

 

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I Refuse to Hate

I don’t have cable; I have no use for it. My news comes through social media, or it doesn’t come at all. Yesterday Facebook informed me of this: FOX 4

The death toll rose to five officers not long after I read this post, and the announcement of seven other officers and two civilians being injured soon followed – as did the location of the shootings: just a few blocks from my home. According to news sources, these attacks are now, “The worst shootings targeting police officers in our history.”

I moved to the U.S. from Canada in 1997 as an RN. I’ve now spent nineteen years in America – eight of those as an American citizen – and during that time I’ve cared for, grieved over, laughed and cried with and respected every form of American I’ve come in contact with. That’s how I was raised, and I’m grateful for the example set.

You see, color isn’t a major issue where I come from – neither are guns. As a Canadian, it took me several years to really see the reality of prejudice and distrust that exists in America. I simply couldn’t grasp the concept of people hating each other for any reason, let alone race. I still can’t grasp why it continues, but I have certainly witnessed and personally experienced prejudice enough times now to know that it’s alive and thriving. Sadly, it appears to be growing stronger.

Now that violence and death have moved into my neighborhood, I’m more acutely experiencing the anger, disappointment, heartbreak and fear that accompany such senseless acts. What I don’t feel is hatred. I refuse to. Nothing will drive me to that.

Maybe I’m still suffering from naivety, but what I’m seeing is a people issue, not one that’s specifically black or white. “We the people” need to embrace our differences and stop judging entire races or subcultures on the small percentage of radical individuals, in every group, who want to grease the hate machine. We collectively can’t allow these perpetrators to succeed in destroying the very thing that I think we all desire: genuine community.

Matthews & McGuireFor a year now, I’ve been working on “The Matthews & McGuire Show,” a podcast dedicated to diversity and personal growth that I cohost with my
good friend, Mike C. Matthews. On it, we celebrate our differences and the differences of others, trying to help bridge the racial, generational, gender and cultural gaps that threaten our society as a whole. I’m constantly learning from my cohost, and I believe he from me, which speaks volumes on how much richer our lives can become with inclusivity.

I challenge each one of you to take some form of action, large or small, to amplify the voice of acceptance and encourage love where you are.

LoveHate and violence cannot, and will not, solve the issues that we’ve allowed to manifest in this country. The only answer is love and acceptance, something our spiritual leaders, including Christ, I might add, have been telling us for centuries.

I think we all agree that things have gotten out of control. Now let’s try and agree on the most loving way to move forward.

If you’re reading this, I love you. If you’re white, black or brown, I love you. If you’re green, purple or teal, I love you. If you’re gay, lesbian, straight or transgender, I love you. If your blood is red, I love you. If you choose not to love me back, for whatever reason, I’ll love you still.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all families of, friends of, and victims of violent crime tonight. May you find peace and the support of every variety of neighbor.

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Why I Jumped Out Of An Airplane On Friday The 13th

Who jumps out of a plane for the first time in their mid-fifties? On Friday the 13th? Apparently, I do.

You’re probably expecting some lavish tale about a bucket list stenciled on an accent wall in gold leaf – or a vision board plastered with multi-colored parachutes. Nope, neither. Jumping had occasionally whispered to me over the years as something that might be “cool to do,” but a recent series of events upped the volume.

  1. Someone I cared about went from healthy to critically ill in a matter of days, reminding me to cherish life and live it to the fullest.
  2. I’d given up alcohol, because it began to hinder the life I’d envisioned for myself instead of enhance it.
  3. Listeners of The Matthews & McGuire Show, a podcast that I cohost with my friend, Mike C. Matthews, challenged us to risk our lives for the sake of entertainment.

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A potential life altering trifecta, of sorts. One in which a literal leap of faith seemed just the action required to “jump” start conscious living, creativity and, well, possibly a mid-life crisis.

But why Friday the 13th, you ask? Look, if you’re going to stare down fear and let it know that you’ve got a new tribe, why not take on superstition, as well? My new BFF – faith – could take them both on with one miracle tied behind its eternal promise, and I wanted to make that clear. So I strapped myself to a perfect stranger and got hurled out of a plane at 10,000 feet. 

SEVENThe ride up had been relatively smooth, other than the undercurrent of excitement and anxiety that shimmied and shook me more than any actual turbulence. There was still time to back out at that point; still time to ride back to the hangar with the pilot and slink off into defeat. Eventually, however, the houses and vehicles below became minuscule, and my butt was being scooted toward a door, which had opened without ceremony, to reveal nothing between myself and the planet below. Elongated fingers of chaotic wind reached in to pry me away from safety. My instructor was apparently in cahoots.

41“Put your foot on the step beside mine,” he demanded.

I have never moved in a more tentative fashion in my life, but I did as I was told and touched that small, suspended metal platform with the ball of my foot. One second later, we plunged – head first – toward the earth at cannonball-like speed.

skydive 2The noise of that menacing wind rushing past me I can only assume resembled a tornado (not something I’m anxious to clarify), similar to having your ear dangerously close to the track of a high speed train that’s hell bent on destruction. I broke through it, however, with my instructor coaching me all the way. A tap on the shoulder reminded me to stretch out my arms, inspiring a superhuman feeling of invincibility that I’d like to bottle and pitch on Shark Tank

Possibility of death, be damned. I FLEW! Well, I dropped, but it felt like flying, and my imaginary cape fluttered behind me in full view of the enemies I’d set out to defy.

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There really isn’t time to think about fear once you’re out the door and into that initial free-fall, plus you’re still up high enough not to panic about hitting. All that went through my mind for that full 50 seconds or so was a resounding “WOW!”

I have never been that fully present in my life. I have never felt that alive.

skydive 6Once the parachute opened, I was able to float to safety in a state of fearless awe, taking in the beauty of the earth below. Our home, where all things are possible.

Facing adversity, making changes, taking chances; all of these can be terrifying, but we don’t get over the fear of jumping before our planes take off. We get over the fear of jumping . . . well . . . by jumping.

My biggest take-away from this adventure, other than my now proudly displayed tandem certificate? Not that I did something outside of the box (or plane, as the case may be) and lived to tell about it. It’s that I can now trust myself as much – if not more – than a perfect stranger with a harness to get me safely to the other side of terrifying decisions regardless of all the scary outcomes that I imagine at the outset.

Now when I feel fear trying to feed me a line of self-defeating bullshit, I can close my eyes and go back to that place; back to 9,500 feet with the plane disappearing behind me and my imaginary cape glistening in the sun.

“Back off,” I’ll say, to fear and superstition, alike. “You have no place here. I’ve got this.”

skydive 3

Photos, and mind blowing experience, courtesy of Dallas Skydive Center. Check these guys out. They rock!

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“But I Don’t Have A Direction!”

Over the years I’ve blogged about, talked about and even sang about doing that thing in life that calls your name. Some folks know what that “thing” is right away, while others just don’t, in which case the conversation goes something like this:

“If you had all the time, money and resources to do whatever you wanted with your life, what would it be?”

“I honestly have no idea.”

I’ve become less and less of a fan of the resources question and now tend to lean more toward something like this:

“What do you enjoy doing?”

“Basket weaving.”

“Then do that.”

“But I’ll never get rich basket weaving.”

“Who cares?!”

I think what happens when we talk about our passion – or the thing that we enjoy doing the most – is that there’s this huge expectation attached to it. If it doesn’t pay the bills, or put us in some kind of lucrative position, there’s no point. Actually, there’s one huge point: JOY!

I-don-t-know-where-i-m-going-but-i-m-on-my-way-Carl-SaganI bought a poster as a kid that read, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.” I joke now that I didn’t know it would become my life’s motto (I have no physical sense of direction, whatsoever, and I thank God for my GPS), but the key here is to not do nothing.

Everyone talks about having a clear vision and staying the course, but for those who don’t hear anything specific calling their name, just be on your way, despite that. Just do, or photograph, or write, or paint, or color – whatever makes you feel good. Filling our lives with passion doesn’t have to be a full-on, all or nothing pursuit.

Sometimes I still get lost on where it is I’m going – I’ll admit it – but I try to never stop being on my way, regardless. I think forks in the road can, and should, be expected and that only by moving forward can we truly discover possibility.

Are you on your way?

 

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LOL4EVR

I’m traveling (when am I not traveling), and one of the fun parts of being on the road, besides traffic – insert a strong tone of sarcasm here – is enjoying random acts of creativity from others. Case in point, the license plate I passed this evening that read “LOL4EVR.”

I think it’s safe to share this driver’s license plate number as long as I don’t mention which state I’m in. Just assume I’m permanently in the state of confusion, and we’ll always be on the same page.

Who was driving this license plate down the interstate? Nope, not a millennial or any other semblance of a regular social acronym/emoticon user. It was a man in his late 60s. And what sage advice!

For those who aren’t aware, or may literally live under a rock, “LOL” means “laugh out loud.” Ironically, when I Google it, I get a page full of options for “league of legends,” but don’t let that confuse you. Unless you’re in the same state that I am, in which case, welcome home.

Laughter is my all time favorite sound, second only to a warm summer breeze tickling the leaves of a deciduous tree, but I digress. On the flight that came before tonight’s car rental, I actually removed my noise canceling earphones to listen to a child in the seat behind me. Trust me, I’m usually using them because of a child in the seat behind me, but this one was laughing hysterically, and I could not  help but to absorb the full breadth of her joy and swim in it.

I love to hear laughter, I love to laugh and I love to laugh at myself. I also love reminders to do so, like from messages on random license plates and in text messages that feel compelled to end with something other than a simple period or exclamation mark. If we really did LOL every time we typed it, the world would be one hell of a great place to live in, wouldn’t it?

Here’s hoping you’re LOLing wherever you are – or at least chuckling. Maybe snickering. Or letting out a much needed guffaw. Chortling, perhaps? I know, snorting!

Spread the joy, my friends!! LOL

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