Monthly Archives: August 2016

What To Do When Disaster Strikes – Fly the Plane!

”May you livefly every day of your life. “  Jonathan Swift

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Jesus, in Matthew 6:24

This BLOG posted the first time on the last day of 2016.  I am re-posting as prayers go forth for those in the gulf area dealing with Hurricane Harvey.  For those who are facing the “what now?”  One thing:  Fly the Plane.  You will get to the other side.
 A Year Contains Opportunity to Fly
It is not always been that way of course.  Disappointments, crisis and even devastation, do not discriminate.  Should they come around, we deal with them as appropriate.  As a pilot, we train for those times when, in spite of the best planning and precautions, things go wrong and we shout MAYDAY!
I was reminded of that reality recently while watching the movie, Sully.  For me, as a former air traffic controller, FAA accident investigator and current private pilot it was more than just a good movie, it was visceral.  It epitomized the value of what to do when things go wrong:  fly the airplane.  To do this well, one must choose to
resist the natural urge to:
  • Panic
  • Sit down and cry
  • Scream and holler
  • Freeze
  • Ask “why me?”
and so on, and so forth.  None of these things are helpful or productive in that moment.  It takes training and practice.

Continue reading What To Do When Disaster Strikes – Fly the Plane!

Personal Assets – You Already Have What You Need

assetsIn my post about hard decisions, I outlined a personal struggle that impacted my career path as an air traffic control trainee.  The knowledge and skills developed were highly specialized assets and there were a limited number of employers for this occupation.  In fact, at the time there was only one:  The United States Government.  You either were in the military assigned to to this specialty or were a civilian employee of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  There were a few private controllers such as Beech Factory, in Wichita, KS but they were few and far between.  Even more specialized, the skills required at an en route center, where I was training, were only useful to the FAA.  There were some opportunities abroad with the International Civil Aviation Organization, but as a U.S. citizen my opportunity was the FAA, where I was then employed.
This was one of the realities the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) used to make their case for going on strike for better pay:  Since this was the primary place the skills we were developing could be employed, the FAA owed it to us.  Never mind, we were getting paid by the FAA (e.g. the U.S. taxpayer from whence our funding came) while we were developing these very assets; knowledge and skills, that when completed were the equivalent to a four-year college degree.  Yes it was tough and yes, I had to bring all I had to the table and allow that something within to be pulled out, but I was getting paid for the privilege.  I was grateful and honored and – scared.
 Facing and Fighting Fear
 Scared that this opportunity was my one and only shot at a great career.  If I lost my job, what would I do?  My husband had just completed a masters degree and was making plans to continue on into a doctoral program.  These were his dreams, even calling.  This decision would affect both of our lives.  Our dreams were being threatened with derailment or at best, delay.  Then there was the “fact” that the skills I had spent so much time and energy developing were useless anywhere else.  Or were they?   Enter the book:  What Color is Your Parachute?  by Richard Bolles.  I am not sure where or how I got the book, but once I had resolved to go against the flow of my colleagues, based on the values I held,  I decided to begin preparing in case I needed to look for another job.  This book provided the information and perspecrive I needed.

Continue reading Personal Assets – You Already Have What You Need

Decisions – The Hard Ones

From the moment we became aware of more than our need for food, water and a warm cuddle from our parents, we have been faced with the awesome and sometimes bothersome privilege we have as humans:  making decisions.  At first we had a lot of help

Decisionsfrom our parents and others who influenced our formation in making those choices.  Ideally, we were introduced to solid values from which to make decisions.  Values that go deeper than our mood on any given day.  A plumb line that provided objectivity for decisions in situations that arrived in a subjective, feeling based moment.  This privilege of making choices by stepping outside of ourselves is one of the many things that sets us apart from the rest of creation.  We have free will.  It is the part of our soul on which our life and its activities pivot.

 We all have had situations thrust upon us in which we were faced with a decision we did not want to make.  We did not necessarily choose to be in that place, at least not directly.   After all, the free will of others comes into play in our lives as well as our own.  It is in those unwanted places where the first crucial choice is made:  will I be a victim of others choices or will I make the choice right for me and for the right reason?  This is subtle, because the action and the outcome in either case may be the same, but the reason, the heart behind it come from different places.  It is a place of respecting the right of others to make their choices while retaining my choice as to whether I will participate.  Then to live with the outcome, whatever that might be.
 Remembering A Hard Decision
This has been on my mind this month, because in August of 1981, actually the months leading up to that time, I was faced with a very hard choice:  whether or not I would strike against the government of the United States of America.  I was
  • in my 5th year and final stage of radar training to become a journeyman air traffic control specialist.
  • a non-active and reluctant member of PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.
I really enjoyed my job.  The training was challenging and the testosterone dominated culture somewhat unkind to this twenty something. blond. no-previous-experience. female.  But I was in my element.  Spending 40 hours a week telling pilots what to do and where to go – what could be better?  Seriously!
As a radar developmental, my information about the issues on which the PATCO contract negotiations were based were rather one-sided.  I did not know much about labor laws and negotiations at that time, and was not aware that staff and management were restricted on what they could say.  As things heated up and the talk of a strike escalated, I was feeling the pressure.  Pressure from my fellow teammates who inferred that should I choose not to strike that my attaining of journeyman status would be in jeopardy.  Although they were not the ones who would sign off on my certification, as my trainers they had a great deal of influence and input in the process.  They had the power to withhold support.  To simply declare that I couldn’t do the job and therefore prevent me from having the opportunity to demonstrate otherwise.
Decisions by Others
Thankfully,  there were a couple of colleagues that shed some light on the situation to me.  One let me in on the contingency plan in place by the FAA in the case of a strike.  He was convinced that if a strike occurred it would be broken.  I was relieved to know that management was doing something but was not convinced any contingency plan would prevail.  Another friend made his position clear, it was too good a job to put in jeopardy and what ever happened he was not going to participate.  When I finally got above the pressure, other’s opinions and looked at the situation from outside myself, it came down to this,  I:
  • had taken an oath.
  • had given my word.
  • could not participate in any action to bring the USA “to its knees”.
It was on that basis I made my choice.  If the strike prevailed I knew my working life would be made a living hell as a “scab”.  I had to be willing to face that or to walk away on my own terms from a career that I truly enjoyed and from a salary I had never dreamed of earning.
It has been 35 years since the 1981 PATCO strike.  The strike was broken, air traffic continued and I went on to have a wonderful career.  But that is not the point.  I was not the only one who made choices on this issue  There were thousands who made choices during this time.  They made them for their own reasons.  I had made peace with my choice before the outcome was known and whatever the outcome, I was Ok with it.  You see the time to make choices is before the situation occurs.  In this case, I decided years before when the value that my word is my bond was instilled in me.  I had sworn an oath.
You have a free will
Your ability to choose daily, even moment by moment is precious.  In your Stonebridge journey, do not surrender to the “I had no choice” thought process.  What you are really saying is, “within my set of values, this was the choice i made “.  Own that.  Should that ownership not fit, then make a different decision.  review the values you have bought into.  It is your choice.  The outcome, whatever it may be, is easier to face.
What one decision have you made that was both hard but the right one to make?  Awesome!  You are a hero.  Please share in the comments below. 

Old Drawers

 Drawer.  Noun: a sliding, lidless, horizontal compartmIMG_0623ent, as in a piece of furniture, that may be drawn out in order to gain access to it.                                                                                                                                                    Origin & History of “drawer”:  A drawer is literally something that is ‘drawn’ or ‘pulled’ out. The coinage was perhaps based on French tiroir ‘drawer’, which was similarly derived from the verb tirer ‘pull’.  (16th c.)

Old drawers, or more exactly, drawers that are no longer useful as drawers but remain in tact, call to me.  If you have read some of my previous BLOGs you know a bit of my passion (obsession?) in reusing stuff.  I come by this tendency honestly from both my mother and father.  On my dad’s side, they just kept stuff because “I might need it someday”.  And in some cases that was true.  Usually it just meant that things stacked up.  On my Mom’s side, the farmers, it was somewhat the same, but the German genes forced things into something useful.  Not always in a pretty way but used none-the-less.  Nothing and no one sits idle in a German household for long!

In both cases these things represented an asset; money and time that did not have to be spent.  It represented frugality and, yes, in some cases a fear of not having enough since these were families whose psyche were formed by the years of the Great Depression.  I did not know that kind of lack.  Not even close.  Cash was not abundant, but we had nice things.  Mom knew how to re-purpose, up-cycle and re-cycle before it was a political statement.  However, she did not abide clutter and enjoyed making things look pretty. Things in our home were neat and tidy.

Even the Drawers!

So when I see and old drawer my DNA takes over, times two.  It takes some skill to build a good drawer.  I am almost in awe of the old kitchen cabinet drawers from 70+ years ago, that are still solid and sturdy when the cabinets or cupboards that once housed them are long gone.  They are not elegant, built primarily for function:  to put things in.  So when I come across an old drawer it goes into my project room.

 Last winter I needed a foot rest under my desk, so i grabbed an old drawer, turned it upside down and placed it under my feet.  Functional.  Dad would have left it at that.  But my mother’s DNA kicked in recently and here is what haDrawerppened:
The drawer was:
  • Lightly sanded and primed.  There were stains that my favorite stain hider, KILZ, took care of.
  • painted on the outside with a semi-gloss version of the wall color of the room it will reside in.
  • then painted inside in a rust color from a bit of a paint sample I had on hand.
  • given a “new” hdrawertandle from my stash of cool vintage hard ware (let me know if you are interested, I have lots)
  • put on pretty red casters that I acquired from an estate sale for a few dollars.
  • topped with a padded lid so I can rest my feet in comfort while gaining some storage.
Of course the lid moves this from the old drawer category into the wooden box on wheels category.  I guess this old drawer has been up-cycled.
 More Old Drawers
 Here are a few other things that old drawers have become in the Maison Steinbuchel shop.
Stars in the Rockies
Starry Night – Drawer front turned coat hangar
Skyline Wall Art
 Some have gone to new homes via ETSY.  I use a few in my own home.
Under Bed Storage
My Old Drawers Pintrest Board is where I collect ideas from others as well as post projects I have done.  The cost of these is primarily in my time.  With the exception of paint, brushes and sandpaper, the materials are from found objects.
ETSY and Pintrest along with trips to shops where others are exercising their up-cycling, re-purposing talents always spark fresh ideas.
This reusing stuff gene is a stone in my bridge handed down via DNA.  However, to be viable, it had to be recognized, nurtured and even adapted.  I do not need to do this in order to save cash (although that is a nice benefit), nor even to save time.  I could just toss these things out or donate them (which I do this in some cases), and tap an app on my iPhone to order something new (which I also do in some cases), but there is a place in me that is not be satisfied with that.
There are stones in your bridge waiting to be discovered, unearthed and placed in a more prominent place along your journey.  A gift of music?  painting?  Writing?  Perhaps a skill that has laid dormant or was set aside.  Some area of interest that cries in you for nurture and expression.  Something that satisfies your soul.  Give yourself permission to recognize what it is and say it out loud.  Today.
In the comments below, in one word, describe that latent something within you that you want to pursue.  

Harmony in the Inner Life – Hidden Boundaries

harmonyThis business of boundaries, when it comes to relationships can appear complex.  In some ways it is, but like other seemingly complex issues, when one breaks it down it is usually quite simple or at least has a key that unlocks the whole.  As an air traffic controller, what I did looked complex.  There are multitudes of moving elements, decisions being made and forces of nature in motion all the time.  Yes, right now as you read this BLOG.  Right above your head.  No matter where you are on the earth, and even in outer space, parts are moving.  (Anyone on the space station reading this?).  In reality the principles used by every air traffic controller on this earth fall into three tenants, the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of air traffic.  In that order.  All the standards, tools, technology, data and training fall back into putting and keeping all those moving parts into this basic order while cooperating with the forces of  lift, thrust, gravity and drag.  The elegant simplicity and harmony of it all is stunning.  However, simple does not imply easy (my air traffic colleagues can drop their indignation now).   The key in moving all these parts into harmonious order is this:  knowing and respecting boundaries.
So it is with harmony in relationships.  However, the place to start is establishing a healthy inner relationship.  Yes, a healthy relationship with and within oneself.   Like they say when flying, “in case of an emergency put your own mask on first before helping others”.  A healthy intra-personal harmony puts us in a place of health and strength from which to relate to others.  Realizing where there may disharmony in our own lives is a bit tricky and usually, uncomfortable.  Certain outward behaviors is a place to start.  Behaviors that alienate us from others, harm ourselves or others, are manipulative or are manipulative to others, are a few indicators of inner disharmony.  But these kinds of indicators are easily misunderstood.  For instance, there is a time to separate from some people and righteous self-sacrifice may look like harm to those looking on.
 A more objective plumb line

The bible has a list of 10 ‘thou shalt nots”.  The first nine are “don’t dos”, but the last one is “don’t even want to do the other nine”.  Even wanting to do the first nine is an indicator of some area of dis-harmony within.  New Testament says this:  Love others as you love yourself.”  That is a step deeper than “Do into others as you would have others do unto you.”  Loving ones-self in a healthy non-self-centered way?  Wow.

As a person with a Christian world view,  I see people as triune beings:  spirit, soul and body.  The soul can be further described with three parts:  the mind (thought life), will and emotions.  Our inner man is our spirit and soul, while the outer is the body.  These are integrated systems and dependent on one-another, but have defined functions and purposes.  When one confuses the purpose of one with the other, like putting oil in the gas tank of a car, things don’t work well and certainly won’t last as long as designed to.  Inner boundaries have been compromised.

Harmony in Three Parts

We are, at the core, spirit beings.  We are designed to live out of our spirit, through our soul, as personality, and relate to the natural environment with our bodies that see, touch, smell, hear and taste.  Once we are aware of the ideal functionality of the marvel that we are, we can identify where adjustments need to be made.  The source of information to define the ideal functionality should be chosen carefully.  When I have an issue with my car or airplane, I go to the source:  the manufacturers manual.  Or at least, I go to someone who knows that source intimately.  Both my plane and my car are big investments so I do not trust their care to just anyone.  Nope.  I choose very carefully AND I keep an eye on what they do.

How much more our person?  There are a lot of great resources available:  Pastors, Priests, Counselors, Support Groups for all kinds of sorting things out.  Go to the self-help section of any bookstore and the choices are overwhelming.  Although,I have found a great deal of help in these kinds of recourses.  As I mentioned in the BLOG that got this whole boundaries thing going, the book Boundaries, is a good resource to begin with.  Personally, I have chosen first and foremost to go to the One who made me.   No, not my parents, although I am grateful for the critical part they played in who i am.  As an aside, I remember making a rather snarky comment to my dad as a teen about how they had raised me.  I remember him coming back with the remark, “you didn’t come with an instruction manual.  We are just figuring it out as we go”!  End of snarkyness.  However, the fact is, we came with an instruction manual AND a Guide, if we choose to employ them.  We have the Holy Bible and it’s Author the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, The Word become flesh. God with us.  Immanuel.
That’s the best place to start.  Our Stonebridge journey will be solid when built with solid stones, rather than damaged, cracked or weak ones.  Our inner life is important and its issues are generally not as complex as the outward expression may indicate.  Going to the One who made you will show you the keys so you can build your Stonebridge upon The Rock, Jesus.
What one step will you take this week to asses the condition of your inner harmony?