A post-flight fight with my limitations. Guess who is going to win.

“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” 
― Marianne Williamson

After having such a wholly enjoyable flight over the last two weeks, I needed a bit of time to fully acknowledge how I felt about the trip itself. I hesitated to, upon landing, rush to crack open the laptop and start spilling my feelings. (If I wrote right after landing, trust me it would have been all roses and unicorns… sometimes a moment of reflection in the face of reality is more sustainable) I wanted to allow the photographs, feelings, ideas and memories to simmer for a bit before throwing it all out here. It is now Friday, Jan 6th and it is time to write (again. you will see what I mean in a moment)

What I ventured to create when I embarked upon my flight training was an environment of betterment and continually refreshed optimism, in the form of self-improvement. I knew that it was not something I had to do by enforcement of another’s opinion, but rather something that I HAD to do because I was simply happy when I was in the air. What I ended up with at the end is a full-blown, nerve-inducing, how-the-hell-am-I-going-to-pull-this-off kind of CALLING. Since the trip, I can’t seem to sleep, I can’t seem to focus, I am all over the place and people have started to notice. Uh-oh.

“Always seek less turbulent skies. 
Hurt. Fly above it. 
Betrayal. Fly above it. 
Anger. Fly above it. 
You are the one who is flying the plane.” 
― Marianne Williamson

You would think after a trip this amazing, that I would be on top of the world. Here’s the problem… I WAS on top of the world. I tasted greatness in the form of what it feels like to be the most amazing version of myself. Focused, driven, on a mission. Returning to daily life, which cannot always be filled with airplanes, blue skies and tailwinds means that you have to figure out how to translate the feelings of your top-of-the-world moments into your daily life and let them carry you between the high points. Think of it like a zip line between the really exciting “point of interest” moments. 

I have tried to write this blog about eight times now. I seem to have the opposite of writer’s block, where every time I start writing, I go in about 132 different directions. It seems to be some sort of writer’s Niagra Falls and I am the lady going over the edge in a barrel. I tell myself, “Hey Amelia… take your own advice and start rockin’ it. You look pretty pathetic sitting on your kitchen counter, next to countless journals and the computer in your pajamas eating spoonfuls of Nutella”. Because in the beginning I said that this blog would be a fully transparent look at my experiences, I feel like it is okay to admit that I am a little overwhelmed with the possibility and potential of setting and creating a new goal. Of course, the flying will continue, the trips will be made, but how to I take this to the next level of awesome, which is what I tasted when I was in the midst of the transcontinental flight.

I have ideas to get people excited about aviation, I want to help people who can’t afford to pay for flight training, I want to talk to kids about airplanes and how they can be a part of this amazingly joyful world, I want to fly around the world, I want to do it all… and as for right now, it is keeping me from doing much of anything above and beyond my day-to-day, which is exactly what I have been preaching about this whole time!

Don’t get me wrong, I know that my flight was not record or ground breaking. It was simply a way for me to get real life experience in the airplane while doing something that felt exceptional to me. I felt joy, amazement, beauty, power, freedom, intelligence, and respect for what I had created and that, my friend, is pretty damn exceptional! We all deserve to feel that way, as often as possible. It is not selfish, petty, or indulgent. It is what our deepest selves strive for and it feels really good.

When I get to points like this, I ask myself to define the fear that has me in a holding pattern around this situation.

What I realized is that it takes a hell of a lot of energy and gusto to be a passionate person. It can’t be forced and it doesn’t come in the form of a pill or an energy drink. It takes that inner calling and drive to get closer to a life where you have the natural bounce in your step just because you are doing that thing you love. Where is all this confusion, unsettled energy, antsy-ness coming from? My own fear.

My fear is this: there is nothing stopping me from doing these things except my own, self-imposed limitations.

Ding ding ding! **epiphany** Ok, here we go…

It is time to look my self-imposed limitations in the eye, clench my fist and punch them square in the face.

Gotta end it with the only quote that makes sense here:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

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15 thoughts on “A post-flight fight with my limitations. Guess who is going to win.

  1. The enjoyment of your experience gives you direction and drive.
    But for your round-the-world objective, nothing beats methodical preparation until your reactions are automatic even for emergencies. And the best way to prepare for flying emergencies is to under go simulator training covering all imaginable situations.

  2. pretty normal to have a little “post event let down”… enjoy the reflection… celebrate the discomfort that comes with achieving a lofty goal… give yourself permission for this downtime… then dream again… gear up… prepare… and achieve again! congratulations!

  3. Amelia, you really should at least think about doing the Air Race Classic. You will have a ball and be very proud of yourself for completing it. Check it out!!

  4. Amelia, I think any time you acheive something fantastic, there is always going to be a post let down period….you know, what goes up, must come down…law of physics, and in your case…literally! So, what you’re feeling now is totally natural…so take the time that you are doing until you need to gear up for the next flight …..but you’re doing great!

  5. Amelia !

    You are “early” in your flight training. Read a few “I learned about flying from that” stories before you take on any further adventures. You have been LUCKY so far – – nice to have, but NO substitute for EXPERIENCE! Being at the same level as a large model airplane or having a bird crash thru into the cockpit will make you reconsider how “SAFE” you are. We want you to have a wonderful flying experience and don’t want to read an Obit !

  6. Alright Amelia, read your own wiriting, you have a plan, execute the plan. You are young and time is on your side, pace yourself and you will enjoy the ride. Remember I said, you can’t wait to see what’s around that next bend in the trail, road or river. Keeping going, looking for the bend, and all will be great. I had many of the same feelings after we took our RV to Alaska for two months and had to face coming back to work. It seems work get in the way of what we really want to do, but for the majority of us, it pays for the real things we want to in life. Life will be good to you, just keep pup the inspiration for the rest of us.

  7. WOW! That made me CRY! Seriously, Ameilia, I’m sitting here in tears knowing EXACTLY what you feel. I did not grow up around aviation, but ALWAYS wanted to fly. I spent years dreaming about it, and 5 years ago, I realized the dream MYSELF with NO help from outside sources. It was a long, hard, emotional trip that nearly cost me my marriage. BUT the upside of that is how I FELT along the way and it’s how you described it just now. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t THINK beyond anything other than flying. My husband finally saw this as a calling and not some dumb whim or Bucket List item. It solidified my marriage and I couldn’t have a more enthusiastic supporter! I know along the way….I got INTENSELY focused, and I had a hard time telling everyone how I felt, How IT felt. You hit the nail on the head! I was raised in the 70’s where girls didn’t “Do these things” And I’ve lived my entire life proving them wrong! ( I was the first female Tree Trimmer Foreman in the western states in my company years ago. I got my CDL and drove big trucks. I am an artist, and a Veterinary Technician, and did some modeling. Who says you can’t be FABULOUS! I LOVE THAT) You inspired me to do whatever it took, (again) and I saved up enough $$ for an hour flight, finally TODAY! After over 9 months, It felt SO good getting the stick back in my hand! I was a little rusty but I tell you I’ve been on cloud 9 ALL DAY. I don’t know how, but I’ll figure out a way to continue. I owe myself that much! Thank you for being YOU!

  8. Great comments. Amazing insight. Thanks for having the courage to write this. You are a lovely young lady. I’m a 65 year old man who has chafed a dream most of my life. I’ve achieved parts of it only to have it fall apart. I have learned that life is always a challenge so just keep moving forward. There is a rainbow ahead never quit going for it. Thanks for being honest with yourself. Keep flying.

  9. Words cannot explain the feelings you have after flying an approach down to minimums, or seeing how vast the night sky really is from your perch in the flight-levels, or having the smoothest landing with a plane-full of passengers in back, or after a successful flight where everything seemed to just go right. I CAN think of one word that explains how a pilot feels toward aviation….Passion. A pilot doesn’t just hop in a plane, fly around, land and walk away. A pilot learns every aspect of aviation….Meteorology, mechanics, physics, aerodynamics, communications, planning, human physiology, time management, and others. This passion is what separates pilots from others…the never-ending urge to know more, be better, and share their passion with whomever will listen!

    Each pilot has dealt with this fear you speak of, whether it’s training for their first solo, or making a move to their instrument rating, or even accepting a flying job doing something outside of their “comfort zone”. If the passion is there, it’s as simple as taking off a band-aid, only instead of inch by painful inch, you gotta do it in 1 motion…RIGHT OFF!

    Good luck in your future endeavors.

    “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”
    Leonardo da Vinci

  10. Amelia,

    Congrats on your self-accomplishment! After reading your blog it seems to me the flying bug has bit ya! This bug has its good and what may feel like bad ‘symptoms’, it’s just part of becoming an experienced, accomplished pilot. As you’ve mentioned, commanding an aircraft is pure joy, amazement, beauty, and power (oh yeah!). However, the most rewarding part, for me, is the challenges and the feelings when you rise above them. Flying is not all peaches and cream. It is intricately complex, combining many sciences, physics, mechanics, meteorology, technology, and phycology and oh, did I mention bureaucracy? It can put you in life threatening situations, very quickly. It’s your inner calling, knowledge, courage and experience that will get you out of a bind when these situations arise. After you’ve had your first few close calls, you will continuously replay those mistakes and figure how to correct yourself, burning them into the extra-high importance portion of your cranium! This is a great way to strive for self-improvement, motivation and self-gratification. Stick to it, because nothing will make you feel better!

    There are many ways to take your passion to the next level. Just keep in mind bigger might not necessarily mean better. I wanted to be a fighter pilot growing up and then it was a commercial pilot. I finally found my calling in Experimental Aviation, building my own Van’s RV-10. In addition, someday I would love to return to my local flight school (also at KBJC) as an instructor and give back to aviation community that has been such a wonderful part of my life. There is a simplistic romance with “keeping it simple” to keep your inner aviation flame burning. I know plenty of commercial pilots that want to take a break from the heavy iron and ride with me so they can see what it is like to really fly again.

    Getting people interested in aviation is difficult and the industry has been on a steady decline since the 70s. Mostly I think the general public just needs more positive exposure and knowledge on how to get started, perhaps you could help in that regard. One way to talk with the kids is to join our local Denver EAA chapter (http://eaa43.org). We hold Young Eagles events where we give the kiddos free rides to get them interested.

    Check out the construction of my RV-10 (which is similar to the SR-22 you flew) on my blog http://aviatorgeek.wordpress.com/ Let me know if you’d like to come check it out!

    Keep those flames burning!

  11. You rock girl! Keep going, keep pushing, keep dreaming! Flying is so magical, and those of us who get to experience it have a hard time expressing that feeling (effectively) to those who do not love what we love.

  12. Wow…just found your story via AOPA. Congrats on hitting a new high. I think the trick is continuing to seek out the next new experience. I’m 57 years old and started flight training 2 years ago with my 18 year old daughter. I’d wanted to do it since I was 13 but always had an excuse (time/money/safety). I soloed a year ago but needed to take a pause to deal with health issues of my mother, wife, and daughter. I think you just inspired me to get going again and make the push. I’ve had a great high tech career and what I learned there is that pushing to the next level of innovation (risk) is not always rewarded….but when it is – the pay off psychologically is huge. Makes you want to do it again. So my advice – keep pushing the envelope whether in aviation or whatever you otherwise choose.

  13. Amelia,
    A role model you are, your energy and motivation is catching. I’ve watch you here in DEN when you were reporting traffic from the helicopter. So excited to have you back in DEN in whatever role you choose. I will be following your journey and sharing every step with fellow Flight Crews at Frontier Airlines. Keep up the good work and FLY SAFE.

  14. Relish what you’ve done, and now set your mind to your plan. I check in on your blog regularly, and will be thrilled to follow you on your flight path, regardless of how “exciting” each post is. I share your same struggle — to want to do a great deal right now — and sometimes, it helps to take the long view. I have every confidence that you will soar high. Just seeing someone else out there persuing goals and passion, is encouraging to me, so you are already achieving part of your goals (to inspire and educate).

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