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.

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Inertia: Why your next 5 decisions matter more than all the rest

Think back to being 9 years old. You’re running down a hill, chasing a friend, you’re neck and neck. The trees, the grass, the sky it’s all a blur of summertime warmth and glee. You didn’t know your legs could go this fast… you pull ahead. Your legs pump in Olympic fashion, and suddenly, you’ve lost control. Bones and flesh turn to jelly and in your mind, you picture a cartoon character with a blur of limbs circling beneath. You really want to win this race so you let your legs do their own work. Your legs are no longer yours to speed up or slow down, but you continue running. Legs keep doing what they have been trained to do. Heart pumping, win or lose, energy is in your favor and with nothing to slow them down, they just keep circling.

Newton’s Law of Inertia: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by another opposite force. 

Warm in your bed, sleeping like a lamb, you continue to slumber until an alarm clock, a barking dog, a brain wave, a temperature change wakes you and shakes alert. Inertia broken. You’re awake.

Two weeks of exercise, a daily practice becomes the norm and you are on a roll. Suddenly going to the gym is not the exception, but rather the rule. Inertia is rockin’ your world. You get used to feeling a certain way and you like it. You may even love it.

Going to the grocery store… that’s way too hard. I’ll just grab something quick on the way home. Insert low quality, cheap, fast, bloating, greasy, super tasty food. Get home, feel like the mashed up, human version of what you just put in your mouth, turn on television and zone out with a cocktail… one of the toughest forms of inertia to resist continuing. Sounds like a great life, right?

We have all heard the superhero-like people that we look up to say things like, ‘you’ve just got to make the good stuff a habit’, ‘the good stuff has to be a daily practice’, ‘the good stuff has to be your way of life.’ We have all heard the people who want to make a change say things like, ‘the bad stuff became a habit’, ‘the bad stuff became a daily practice’, and ‘the bad stuff became my way of life.’ Hmm.

Take inertia in the most literal sense: What if your last five actions became the path of the rest of your life? What if inertia kept you rolling in the same direction of the last five things you thought, did, ate, or felt? Consider the following options:

Situation One: Last 5 actions 1)complaining about a co-worker’s actions 2)skipping the gym or any form of physical activity 3)ignoring a friend’s call because you knew they needed your thoughts and your ear on an important issue 4)eating low energy, junk and feeling like junk afterwards 5)sleeping in whining when you finally do have to get out of bed because yesterday’s actions and thoughts gave you nothing to look forward to the next day.

Situation Two: Last 5 actions 1)waking up with a goal in mind, you made plans for something that excites you and you are looking forward to engaging in it 2)You move around a little, you shake it, you get your blood pumping, you smile at the kid in the grocery store because you have no particular reason to feel bad 3)You take the call from a friend and help them see that little changes can make a big difference and that every problem can be solved with a new perspective and by taking things one step at a time 4)You eat something that tastes, looks, feels, smells and like the stuff that fuels a healthy body 5)You encourage the coworker that is probably going through something at home that’s affecting their work performance. You offer help at work, but don’t feel like you have to complain or change the situation. You are simply a friendly face.

I don’t know about you, but to me, it is pretty easy to see how the actions in each situation could lead to inertia in either direction. Either you remain on a path of lazy, negative, yuck or you remain on a path of energy, health and optimism.

What were your last 5 actions?

More importantly, what are your next 5 actions?

Whatever they were, there you are. Deal with it. Either continue to be the inertia or start to be the change. Your next 5 actions can be completely opposite of the last five or they can be as radiant as the last. We are, of course, what we repeatedly do.

Say you’re working towards a goal. You chip away at it every day, you quietly put in the effort and just get on it. One of my favorite authors, Tim Ferriss, has a good way of explaining what that looks like from the outside. Ferriss says, “most people are fast to stop you before you get started but hesitate to get in the way if you’re moving.” It turns out that he has a lot in common with Amelia Earhart… She once said, “never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.” The reason I dig this way of thinking is because when you are setting out to do big things, people who live in the “Situation 1” form of negative inertia will try to hack away at your goals. Even if they don’t say it to your face, they will think it, and probably tell their friends. It is always a compliment when this happens, as they are spending time thinking about what you are up to and wondering how the hell you are pulling it off.

Let ’em.

Once you are on a roll, there you are, day by day, getting closer to your goal. It is hard to argue with results.

So here’s to a new year filled with the inertia that you choose. We all know that big goals, whether weight loss, a job promotion, an invention, a great relationship, a new skill, expanded learning, planning a flight around the world, whatever it is, it all requires a whole lot of hard work and elbow grease. These things don’t get accomplished through magic, they get accomplished through a series of steps that lead toward your goal. Inertia wants to work in your favor… an object at rest wants to stay at rest and an object in motion wants to stay in motion. You are the force acting against inertia. Either stop the bad or keep up the good. Your choice. 

Every last drop of the best parts of this big beautiful world are yours for the experiencing. Go get what you want, feel it deeply, teach others how you did it, and by all means, keep being oh so curiously engaged.

As Danielle Laporte says, “Life is full of opportunities to feel exactly how you want to feel.”

Take this opportunity to feel that way.

Why 5 decisions? Why not. High 5.

The Eiffel Tower will wait, this moment will not

Thoughts on perspective, patience, purpose and passion have been bouncing all over my brain today as I contemplate what it means to succeed at a goal. Often times, we enforce deadlines upon ourselves, arbitrarily, and then get angry at ourselves when we don’t meet them. The most beautiful thing dawned on me this afternoon as I washed the dishes, looking out the kitchen window: This grand, lovely mess of a life is gorgeous and is throbbing with changes and glowing surprises.

Let’s back up a few steps… about 2 months back, while jogging in Wash Park, I tripped and fell… breaking my left hand and splitting my chin open. I wore a hard cast for over a month but now it is off and the bone continues to heal. S-l-o-w-l-y. I can’t make a fist or even pick up a glass of water with my left hand and I am wearing a brace about 75% of the time.

Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.
Henry Ford

For a pilot, a broken hand means you are grounded until strength resumes. Especially when you fly a Cirrus with a left side stick.

When I completed the transcontinental flight from Oakland to Miami, I announced that my next goal would be a July 2012 flight to Paris to honor and celebrate Amelia Earhart’s 1932 flight across the pond. July would give me enough time to complete the instrument rating and move forward with plenty of training. Everything was set, the money, the support, the excitement… then CRASH. I broke the hand that controls the plane and communicates.

Anger, confusion, that burning feeling of *oh my god what am I going to do now* set in, in a very real way. There were tears, complaints, and plenty of four letter words for the first few weeks. This was a full blown, Amelia pity party and I was the only one invited. Not much of a party, right? It lasted a few days… then everything changed. I mean everything.

Leaders must pick causes they won’t abandon easily, remain committed despite setbacks, and communicate their big ideas over and over again in every encounter.” Rosabeth Kanter

Isn’t it funny the way people, ideas, magic come into your life at just the right time? It was time for my big suck it up, get over yourself moment. People get hurt all the time. Plans get changed all the time. This is a small hurdle in an amazing journey of a life. Right around the same time that I was sulking over my casted arm, I came across a book that changed me in a very real way. The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte helped me wrap my brain around what postponement means (and what it doesn’t), being open to the changes that will inevitably happen and seeing the big picture of accomplishment feels like. I read the book lying upside-down on my bed, I slept and I worked out to the sounds of the audio book, I even gave my mom a copy for mother’s day… This book got my head back on straight after things got wonky when my plans changed.

“Great minds have great purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” – Washington Irving

What I realized is this: Paris is not going anywhere. The sky will always be ready for me to fly. Broken bones are temporary and often times, grow back stronger.

Understanding your relationship to your goals allows you to meet them as a fully present, respectful love-filled do-er. This broken bone helped me see that I am in a long term relationship with flight, with my goals to soar, to help others fly, to live my life in a constant state of curious adventure. The ups and downs are part of the beauty of this glorious flight. Reworking goals, getting stronger, never giving up… sounds so cliche right? Nope… cliches come from repetition and truth.

“Show me a person who doesn’t make mistakes and I’ll show you a person who doesn’t do anything.” – Leonard Rubino

When you fall, when things don’t work out the way you originally planned, when you get smacked by reality, it is ok to mope around for a minute… but listen here: it feels so much better to say it hurts, take care of yourself, and get back to business, even if that means changing your self imposed due dates and deadlines.

When things don’t go according to plan, tear up the plan and write a new one.

Whatever you do, keep rockin’ it to the best of your ability.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

Congrats to our N Flight Cam winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the N Flight Cam! Mitch Ellis is the winner this time, but stick around because we are going to give another away soon! You all have made this blog a fun, inspiring place to talk aviation and it’s about to get much more exciting! We are beginning to plan the the transatlantic flight and it feels good to get started. Anyone know which airport is in the photo? It’s one of our stops along the route!

Here’s a great quote from Emerson to start your day off right…

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Capturing your adventures… Win an N Flight Cam from our trip!

Good morning! We had amazing success capturing the transcontinental flight with our N Flight Cams on board the Cirrus SR22. We mounted them on wing tips, the vertical stabilizer, the dash, the ceiling, the belly of the plane, the fuselage, and the landing gear. We even flew through clouds and precipitation… the adhesive worked like a charm. In fact, it’s been tested at over 300 knots!

Want one of your own? We are giving away one of the N Flight Cams from the trip across the US! Here’s what ya gotta do… start clickin’!

1. Like the N Flight Cam Facebook Page

2. Follow N Flight Cam on Twitter

3. Let us know that you did both in the comment box below and we will draw a name in one week (on my birthday!!!) on January 18th!

If you do all three things, your name will be entered three times. Do just one, one time. You follow?

Good luck!

Once you have tasted flight… A challenge and an offer

My ultimate goal with all this flying, writing and excitement for aviation is to encourage others to feel the same happiness I feel when I am in the air. Yes, there is a selfish sense of escape, freedom, control, power and romance that I am overcome with, but when I land I want to shout out from the roof… I mean hangar-tops that, “I hope anyone who is capable of enjoying this as much as I do gets the chance to feel this excitement!”

So I ask myself, all the time… How can I help make this possible for more people. How can I get someone, who has never even sat in a small airplane, in touch with an undeveloped but potentially life changing experience? We must make that initial contact with the airplane possible. We must get kids who want to fly, up in the air. It was Leonardo DaVinci who said, “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”.
My friend Greg Anderson, the president and CEO at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, is very active with the EAA’s Young Eagles program (www.youngeagles.org). This is an organization that gets kids, ages 8-17 the opportunity to go flying in a general aviation airplane. The flights are free to the kids and generously donated by EAA volunteers. Since 1992, more than 1.6 million Young Eagles have experienced flight through the program.
I have decided to become a Young Eagles volunteer… and I want you to do it with me. I would like to issue a challenge to all the pilots reading this blog, to join me in extending a flight to a future pilot.
You must be current, have your medical, and have at least your sport pilot’s license.
Not a pilot? Tell a child or the parent of a child who would be excited or motivated by a flight in an airplane to contact me and I can help them get started. 
This amazing organization has done wonders and I think it would be great if we could all chip in towards the amazing goals they are working toward.
Imagine yourself at that age, maybe 14 years old… searching for what makes your heart soar. If you were given a gift like this, where would you be today? What special place would you hold in your heart for the person that took you flying for the first time?
Let me know if you are in.
P.S. If you are an adult and YOU want to get involved in aviation, let me know! Let’s go out to the airport… let’s look at planes… let’s talk about what it is going to take to get you up in the air. I promise you… IT IS POSSIBLE.

Day One: Denver to Oakland

The 803 nautical miles from Denver to Oakland proved to be home to some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The view from 16,000 feet was spectacular in color, in formation and in diversity.