The Push and the Pull

During a skydive, the threshold of an aircraft door is the shortest, yet widest, distance between frozen fear and unbridled flight. Crossing that threshold for the first time is uncomfortable, unnatural, and for most, unnecessary.

Unnecessary? That’s right. You can stay right where you are. You can absolutely stay belted in. 

Often the first leap is the toughest… that comfort zone sure is cozy. Come to think of it, it’s crowded, hot, loud and common. In this blog, I suggest we allow ourselves to ask for a little push, or maybe a little pull to help with kicking that threshold out and really seeing the world for what it really is… a place to be experienced. 

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Standing on the edge of the open door of the Twin Otter aircraft, I stared down 13,000 feet at the Colorado Front Range. Cool air rushed at my face. I couldn’t focus on any one thing in particular because my eyes were teary under my thin plastic goggles. Why tears? I felt a little silly… the airplane was filled with about a dozen men, all of which had jumped before, some multiple times. The pilot yelled, “hurry up- get out quick”. There was no danger, we were just getting close to the clouds, which the aircraft was not planning to fly through. Before I knew it, It was time to jump out of the airplane… my two instructors told me to stand up- my legs wobbled and I hesitated. Guided to the door, they yelled instructions over the sound of flight. Every single thing in my body told me not to go.

Regardless of my fear, we left the airplane. We fell fast. It was happening. I was falling from the sky. 

When we safely returned to the classroom, my instructors sat me down and said to me, “tell us your recollection of the jump- how did it go, from your perspective?” 

Ok, sure, no problem.

*My* recollection was that we stood up on the plane, walked to the door, I went through the planned motions of a four count. “Prop, up, down, arch”… I thought that I focused on the propeller of the aircraft, counted one, two and then pushed out of the airplane and arched into a safe formation for flight. 

Nope, that was actually not the case. In my mind, I had done it… I had made the leap. To my surprise, I found that while I had focused on the prop, and counted one, two, rather than pushing myself out, I actually froze. Rusty pulled my harness and Dave pushed from his holding position and *that* is how I got out of the airplane. It all happened so fast that I didn’t realize that I hadn’t done it myself. Suddenly, I was out of the airplane, falling and my inaction was no longer an option. I was responsible for my choices on the way down and it was up to me to succeed at my first non-tandem jump. 

The moment that I signed up to go through the Accelerated Free Fall program at Mile High Sky Diving, I set the momentum of the jump in action. The first step was to learn, the second was to do, and the third will be to eventually excel. Steps, a process, allowing some to push and others to pull is all a part of trying something that makes you feel alive. You aren’t in these experiences alone if you don’t want to be… you are responsible for creating your team, involving those you trust to encourage you, pushing when you need, pulling when you need. 

Whenever we learn something new, we must first give into the fact that we will not be as fearless as we may like. As long as you put yourself in the environment to learn, to be around what it is you want to be and do, you get the benefit of momentum. Before you know it, you will be pushed, pulled, or maybe just nudged out the door by your love of your project, your ideas and your adrenaline. You will be forced to grow your own wings. 

When Rusty and Dave told me that I hadn’t actually took the initiative to push myself out of the airplane, I felt a little bit, well, lame. Why couldn’t I overpower my fear with rational thought and just take the leap? Because just like everyone else in the world, I wanted to protect myself from the uncertainty of fear and an unknown outcome. Could I pull my parachute, could I arrive safely back down at the landing zone? I had no idea, but it took the help of others who have gone before me to show that it is ok to get the initial push in order to truly face a fear. 

If you are afraid or hesitant to take a leap, surround yourself by those who will push and those who will pull. The fall seems like the most daunting thing you could ever do… but once you are in flight, the view is unmatched. You will have put yourself in a spot that so few dare to arrive at. Seek mentors, seek advice, love the push, love the pull, and allow yourself to learn from those who know the freedom you are seeking. 

After pulling a parachute, the sound you will hear will be one you’ll never forget. It is a triumphant silence- one that speaks to the chest expanding, love of living a life unbound by the resistance of an average life. 

Make the jump, cross the threshold and know that the view is worth the fear. Be pushed, be pulled, then do the same for others who want to cross over the threshold from average to amazing. 

The constant battle to maintain True North

True North has always been a beautiful concept to me. The intention of a compass, a direct line toward the North Star, a steadfast guide that ancient navigators used to determine where they came from and where they were headed. Because True North is a point in space that does not change, that revolution around that point allows for the creation of a center.

The most common way we can find True North is by using a compass. No matter where you stand on Earth, the needle of a magnetic compass always points toward North. You could be lost at sea, with only a vast, deep, dark mass of angry water surrounding you and you would always be able to determine direction with that compass. The reason this all works is because of the Earth’s magnetic field. This field is fairly weak on the surface, but is strong at the deepest point, at the center. The Earth is filled with a burning hot, powerfully intense core of molten iron. Alright, enough 7th grade science… let’s get to the good stuff.

While flying, we often use a magnetic compass to determine direction. We know, that even when our fancy glass cockpits show error, the magnetic compass generally tells us where we are headed.

There is, however,one little problem with that wobbly little guy that we have been staring at for years…

Magnetic Deviation

This is the error induced in a compass by local magnetic fields.

There is all sorts of metal in the aircraft that is taking the compass’ eye off the magnetic pull of True North. In comparison to the pull of the magnetic field of the center of the Earth, these attractions are minor. Here’s the issue: these minor pulls are IN VERY CLOSE PROXIMITY to the compass and they seem larger because they are creeping in close to home. 

They throw the direction of the compass off. If we follow the incorrect direction of the compass that is being drawn towards a false North, we can end up in a place we never intended. Our destination will be skewed by *minor attention detractors* that could have and should have been corrected for.

Magnetic Deviation is at work in our brains, our lives, our goals, our relationships all the time.

What we want, hope for, and believe in more than anything else is *our* True North. We are driven, much like a compass’ pull toward the molten center of the Earth, to our most burning, beautiful desires. When we are at our best, we are living and acting in a way that supports us staying on our path toward True North. Unfortunately, just like in the aircraft, we are often times pulled off our course toward True North by magnetic deviation.

Little by little, we start to pull away from True North. A negative comment, a cheap temptation, a too good to be true solution, the easy way out. These pulls to our internal compass can seem stronger than the pull of our inner-most desires and goals because they are SO INCREDIBLY CLOSE. We can give up on our big ideas because we lose sight of True North.

These pulls are only powerful because of their proximity.

Days go by, weeks pass in a blaze and then *wow*… we are so far off track that it feels almost too late to turn around or correct course.

I have been there. Give up, give in, it is too late, I am too old. Whatever the excuse, we are about to throw them out the window of the airplane.

How to eliminate magnetic deviation

In the aircraft, magnetic deviation is eliminated by calculating your accurate bearings. You must eliminate the magnetic attraction from the metal objects in the plane. You must correct your course. You have to separate the compass from all the minor pulls in order to focus on the deep, powerful pull from the center of the Earth. It will not steer you wrong.

In life, we have to get away from the junk that is pulling us of course. You’ve got to move further away from the distractions, the people, the temptations that are doing their best to pull you away from True North. We all know, but sometimes brush off the fact that these distractions are ALL OVER THE PLACE. When you are doing great, big and beautiful things, there will be people who want you to fail. When you are on track and rockin’ your goals, the distractions are going to multiply. Think of these distractions like bait… but you are working toward the big prize here… don’t give into a thousand little easy outs. That’s what average people do. You are anything but average.

When you keep your eye on True North, by eliminating the pull of insignificant distractions, you can stay on your course.

You are much stronger than any form of magnetic deviation because you know the power of True North.

“OMG I am so busy” and why nobody cares, not even your mom.

Sometimes you read something that just plain stops you in your tracks. Consider my e brake officially engaged.

I was cruising my Twitter feed this morning and this little gem popped up:

“Relax. Your ship will only come when the sea is calm” – @liveunbound 

Here’s a link to follow this awesomeness: https://twitter.com/LiveUnbound

At first I thought a simple “yep… usual good stuff from an engaged, alive mind”. So I kept scrolling through a gaggle of political rants, complaints about *everything, and tips on how to get my beach body in 3 hours, thinking of all the things I have to get done, catch up on, plan for, call back, email, fix, and then it suddenly hit me:

RELAX

When we run around, acting like everything we are up to is so important, so busy, so must-get-done-right-this-minute, so all-about-me, so dramatic, so my-life-is-way-harder-than-yours… we are spinning like a tornado, too caught up in our own debris field to witness the opportunities that are headed our way. We are surrounded by calm, inviting skies, but we would never know it… we are ripping a destructive path through the rest of our lives, leaving everyone to wonder, “where the hell did they come from and how soon are they leaving?”

For instance… when we convince ourselves that we will never get everything done that we “need” to accomplish our goals, then we are correct. Some of the most successful people I know are these beautifully calm, laid back, intelligent people that feel no need to tell the world how busy they are.

Do you have that friend (or mirror) that is always running around with an armload of paperwork, a drippy, sloshing sugary latte from Starbucks, a pen behind their ear and a iPhone with 3% battery power? When they run up to you, usually the first thing out of their mouth is “Oh my god I am SO busy”. Well, obviously.

If you were a big opportunity, offer, idea, helping hand, would you want to get close to that mess? Not a chance.

RELAX 

In flight, we plan our routes to places that have weather and conditions that we can handle. For a pilot, calm winds, great visibility, a smooth ride are all things that make flying fun, effortless and beautiful. I am talking about the kind of romantic flight that we day dream about on stormy days.

Of course, we plan for the weather, we become instrument pilots that can fly in low visibility, and we absolutely know that the dangers exist. However, there comes a time when the winds are too crazy, the ceilings are too low and the ice is too thick. We have to make a choice to go somewhere else, choose another option to avoid the drama and danger of getting involved with that mess.

That’s when we use our alternate airport. We simply have to find a smarter place to land. 

As you look at your current state, are you a calm, organized, relaxed, blue skies kind of day or are you an ice storm with a 40 kt tail wind and a 50 ft. ceiling that sends everyone running?

Like the @liveunbound quote eluded to, ships only come in during calm seas. You may be keeping people, opportunities and new good things in your life away because you have convinced yourself that you need to continually run around “busy”.

Yes, yes, I know… we all get busy, but cut the drama and just get what needs to be done, done. Be that graceful, well put together chap that makes other’s wonder… “How the hell did they pull that off? They always seem so calm”.

Less tornado, more blue skies. Less crazy waves, more glassy ocean. 

The tornado, the huge waves, they are both amazing (and scary) to watch and the fact is, we all pretty much want to maintain our distance for safety. That’s why storm chasers and pro surfers are so rare.

-Amelia

May 19th, 1pm: Alive Decisions Discussion

The very first Fly With Amelia Foundation event is now on the calendar and I am excited to have you join us. On May 19th, 2013 at 1pm, I will lead an interactive discussion for adults, kids, teens… anyone who makes daily choices and wants to lead an engaged, focused life. The discussion will be based around flight metaphors and will be an open interaction between all who want to participate. The day includes FREE admission, a short film in the Harrison Ford Theatre, and a museum tour with me, after the live talk.

The Fly With Amelia Foundation will also give away a flight lesson during the event. All who arrive will be entered to win. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, please send me an email at ameliaroseearhart@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Amelia

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Subtle weenie or bolt of lightning? Both are within your reach.

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
-Frederick Douglass

In a matter of 24 hours, our moods and emotions can fly all across the spectrum… from pure and unadulterated love and affection, to deep sadness and loss of hope, to apathy and aloof nonchalance. We are logical, smart human beings… so where does this fluctuation come from? There aren’t usually that many changes taking place in the real world. Most of these changes come from our reaction and feelings that we place on external factors. We all know that, but how do we conquer these sometimes dampening emotions and keep on our inspired track where progress, happiness and encouraging others is the rule rather than the exception? Don’t get me wrong, I am a feel your emotions deeply kind of girl… but it is the tricky little, inspiration crushing moments that can mean the difference between rockin’ a goal and rockin’ your sweat pants.

Time for some transparency… I am afraid of losing my ability to find inspiration. So what do you do when you can’t find the thing you need? You make it yourself.

My biggest, scariest, most smile killing, couch and cupcake inducing emotion, used to be the feeling that inspiration was rare and hard to come by and that it simply flew in and out of our minds and hearts on a whim. For a long time I convinced myself that inspiration was like lightning. I knew that, in order to find it, I needed to locate a thunderstorm… but even when I found the source of this awesome power, seeing the lightning was random and out of my control. Sitting on a hillside, hoping to see a bolt, much like waiting for someone, something, some place or idea to inspire me, left me feeling like my life’s accomplishments were based on some spark of outside influence. It became a wandering, seeking feeling that I needed to be perpetually staring at the sky, paranoid I would miss the view. In the mean time, I found myself missing out on exciting, creative, real-life opportunities because I was waiting for a flash of lightning-like inspiration to spur me on to do all the things that I knew, deep down, I could be capable of.

When I realized that I was the thunderstorm, I began to understand that I had the option to create my own lightning. 

Winston Churchill said, “You create your universe as you go along.” This type of mindset can sound a little narcissistic. Stay with me here… you can’t be of any use to anyone else, unless you are living and breathing the highest form of who you believe you are capable of becoming. Create, seek, love and nurture all the moments that make you feel alive. Seal them up and store them in your freezer for future use.

When I was driving out to Centennial Airport, heading to one of my last IFR flight lessons before my check ride  (I passed my IFR written exam!!) I was filled with lightning. Bright and bold, ready to strike and light up the sky, I easily learned and sought more understanding during my lesson.

This is in contrast to a few days back when I was a big ole lame mess. Tired and apathetic, I procrastinated and gave in to the negative feedback and pessimistic outlook of others. One of those influences was a negative note here on the blog. I was a little sullen and lacking that lustrous glow of potential and I was waiting on someone else to light me up. Anyone who has the time and need to send negative feedback should get the whole story first, rather than toss out random and hurtful words… Like Taylor Swift said, “why ya gotta be so mean?” ;) When I realized how silly this was, I had to pull up my boot straps and motivate myself.

Kind of vague, right? Vague sucks. Let’s get specific.

Here’s what I did to get out of my funk:

1) Went to the gym. Physical activity will almost instantly get you out of a bad mood.

2) Worked on the Fly With Amelia Foundation board of directors plan and created an outline for the May 19th event at Wings Over the Rockies.

3) Read a few pages from my oral prep book and realized how much I enjoy precision flight

4) Called a friend to talk about what was new in her life. Turns out she is really happy and that was instant smiles on my part.

5) Took a hot bath and went to bed on time… which meant 9pm. I get up at 3am so it takes an effort to be done with everything that early!

The point is this…when it comes to inspiration, no one is going to inspire you on a consistent basis except for yourself. You’ve got to have a plan for being that charge of energy that ignites the storm, that lifts clouds, crackles and pops with excitement and *change*.

I got an amazing facebook message from my friend Jessie yesterday…

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  • Jessie Louise

    “Miss Amelia. I don’t know when you’ll get this message– but my goodness. I have so few chic friends who have any idea how amazing what we do is. I spent the morning/afternoon flying around Eagle/Leadville/Rifle/Vail– landing on pinnacles, inside bowls, on shoulders and all above 10,000 (highest was 11,400). We landed and had lunch in Leadville– then flew some more– no rushing, just practice, practice– got to fly to several crash sites, the old Camp Hale (10th Mtn division did extreme cold wx training there during WWII), abandoned mines/ghosttowns– an A-10 crash site (on a pinnacle)– Amelia it was just the most brilliant day of my career so far. (I’m at the High Altitude School the CO national guard has in Eagle btw– its a train up for deployment, but I got lucky to come here to learn– otherwise I’d be doing all this training in a combat zone in August! We are so frikkin blessed girl!!!!!”

Here’s a link to her photos from that day: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.947501243203.1073741825.45200821&type=1

Moments like Jessie had yesterday don’t just fall into her lap. They happen because she creates her own storm, day after day. This girl is a ball of fire and feisty amazement and she is a role model to me. She is lightning and thunder and she isn’t waiting around for someone else to hand her inspiration on a silver platter. She’s in the kitchen, making a big ole batch of it right now.

If you want inspiration, don’t sit around and wait for it to pop up on your newsfeed, a pretty sunset view, or a bolt of lightning in a storm, go out and seek it like a thirsty dude looking for gatorade in the desert. Think of how incredibly turned on your life becomes when you know what you want… life comes alive and decisions can then be made to get yourself closer to where you want to be.

Being subtle is for weenies. Go get what you want and encourage others to engage in what they love.

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work. -Mark Twain

Baseball and alchemy: Why everyday can feel like Opening Day

It’s a Spring day, still dark, the city is waking. Like any other Thursday, most have a little Friday itch coming on… but on this one in particular, the city is buzzing with the anticipation of baseball season. This week, a lot of folks spent their moments charging through their Mondays and Tuesdays, dreaming of a Friday filled with laughter, friends, sports and sunshine. I’ll be the first to tell ya, there ain’t nothin’ wrong with all of that. Get your chores done so you can go have some fun, we’ve all been there.

However, I will tell you that each day, each moment, each second can feel like Opening Day at the baseball stadium if you choose it to be.

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When I am at work, between traffic and weather reports, making coffee and building graphics for our morning news show, I like to think about how many alarm clocks are simultaneously going off at any particular moment. A night of sleep, restful or spent tossing and turning, eventually comes to an end and you’ve got a choice to make. Will today be like yesterday? Was yesterday like the day before? Patterns and ruts can be nasty little devils and our days are certainly filled with things we just simply have to do. My challenge in all of this obligation is this: within all the have tos, the get tos, the want tos and the hope tos, it is time to throw in some alchemy.

Alchemy is a power or process of transforming something common into something special. 

Back to the moment when the alarm clock goes off… If we could listen in to all the sounds of the collective waking moment, would you be contributing to the grumbling, cranky groan or a light sigh of taking in engaged responsibility for a new day? Without alchemy, the common response to the alarm is a scowl, an immediate jump into all the things you don’t want to do. With alchemy, the alarm clock is simply a reminder that you get yet another chance to reinvent, perfect, rock, edge closer to whomever it is you have in your mind to become.

An alchemist of one’s day wakes with the realization that the world was made to experience. Here and now, without delay, jumping in… forget that separation and the false idea that some things are special and some things are not. Do you ever find yourself getting tasks done, over with and out of the way, just to get on to the “fun” stuff. Get work done, get the grocery shopping done, go to the gym, homework, housework… all done in order to have more time to watch Desperate Housewives? I hope not.

When we categorize our day in to things we don’t want to do and things we do want to do, we are automatically allowing our minds to slip into the mode of “right now in this moment, I am common and normal”. When we do the fun stuff, our minds lean towards, “This is what I want, finally I finished the common stuff and now I am living”.

With the alchemist’s perspective, there is a heightened awareness of each correspondence, interaction, movement, and task. It is something my yoga instructors refer to often… conscious awareness of breath to draw your focus back to the here and now. When you are asked to focus on something as common as breath, you realize just how complex, beautiful and important it can be. The alchemist sees nothing as common, nothing as more or less “fun” than the rest, everything is an opportunity to be your most alive, creative, alert, engaged, feeling self.

It is easier to be your own alchemist when things are going your way… good moods allow you to jump in and rock those rose colored glasses, but it is the down times when you need the alchemist’s keen eye the most. I recently had a family emergency that made me feel like I was going to lose the most important person in my life. The why and the how doesn’t matter right now, but the heightened level of “this moment really matters” was brought to the forefront of my mind. Would I break down and mope and sulk over what may or may not happen, no. You do what you need to do when the moment is critical. In my case, I made the call to that person and had a real, gritty, somewhat angry talk about things that needed to change and improve. When you transform the common into something special, you carry more potential, opportunity and accessibility than you ever knew you could have.

When I hear the word alchemist, I, like many others immediately think of the awesome Paulo Coelho book by the same name. While that book was life shaping for me and its level of beauty truly unmatched, today’s comparison is slightly different.

Paulo Coelho wrote The Alchemist in only two weeks.

When asked how he was able to do it he answered, “because the story was already written in his soul”.

When you decide to exude your story of who and what you want to represent, your morning alarm will no longer be a cue to avoid the inevitable, it will be a call to action. The common day is yours for the rocking, if you decide to be the alchemist of your own day.

Back to baseball… An entire season of around 162 games starts with an Opening Day. If a team was only enthusiastic that first day out of the gate, they would fail miserably, and some certainly do. The teams that seize EVERY SINGLE opportunity to be excellent at their craft are the ones that come out on top. Opening Day will get your heart racing because of the feelings associated with that day, a way we all want to collectively feel.

The alchemist in us knows that turning the common in to the extra ordinary is as simple as deciding to see and feel the way we choose. How do you want to feel? Excited? Seek it. Mindful? It doesn’t cost you a thing. Successful? Work your tail off. Truly… we decide what happens and we decide our “luck”.

Here’s to hearing that alarm clock go off in the morning and treating it as an opportunity for the extraordinary to come alive. Opening Day is a new start. So is right now.

The Fly With Amelia Foundation

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It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce the creation of the Fly With Amelia Foundation, a Colorado non-profit organization providing aviation opportunities to all, free aviation based educational curriculum to grades K-12, and scholarship funding of flight training to young women. In partnership with Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, the Fly With Amelia Foundation will work to engage our community in flight based educational activities and promote the future of general aviation through the recreation and symbolic completion of Amelia Earhart’s 1937 flight around the world. 

The first Amelia Earhart said, “my ambition is to have this wonderful gift produce practical results for the future of flying and for the women who want to fly tomorrow’s planes.” The first time I flew in an airplane, I felt like Amelia was there with me, encouraging me to become an inspired aviatrix. It is now my turn to pass on this same inspiration to the future of female pilots and to those they, in turn, will inspire. 

It will take a team of mentors, educators, pilots, donors and inspired young women to pull all of this off and I would love for you to get involved. If you are interested in learning more, please send me an email at ameliaroseearhart@gmail.com. As the foundation grows and develops, I will provide more information about how to nominate a future aviatrix and how to keep updated on events! 

 
Blue skies, 
 
Amelia Earhart
President of the Fly With Amelia Foundation
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