Flying High

I started flying lessons this week. It’s not a brand-new hobby. In the mid-80’s I spent several years learning to fly and went as far as the final check ride. When Jen and I moved to Charlotte, we lived too far from the airport for me to stay current. In my prior life, flying was easily accessible and fun, so I embraced it.

All these years later, my husband Russ and I have decided to take it up again. We will have fun doing it together, but that’s not the only reason, at least for me.

I’m just finishing my latest book, Dancing the Tightrope. The book chronicles my journey to get back on the horse after my accident in 2017. However, the book is really more about what I’ve learned in the last four years about being relaxed under pressure.

Here’s an excerpt from the book, when I was having a conversation with someone about getting back on the horse.

“Ironically, I had an exchange with someone I barely knew somewhere in this time frame. She had heard about my accident and knew that I was relearning how to ride. We got around to talking about our work and hobbies and her love of horses, and at some point, she looked at me and said “Wow, you do a lot. How can you get good at any of those things?”

Her question took me back at first. After all, I’m the coach that tells people that focus is critical. Then something crucial hit me, and I said, “I’m not really doing a bunch of things…I’m not rowing, or throwing pottery, or coaching, or skiing or riding or painting. I’m doing one thing. I’m working on myself under pressure.”

What I didn’t say was as important as what I said. I didn’t say “I’m learning to stop a horse,” or “I’m learning how to ride without mistakes,” or even “I’m learning to deal with my fears.”

Looking back on it, this exchange fell into the adage “Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.”

I didn’t know it yet, but I would come to believe that the accident was one of best things that ever happened to me. The last two and a half years prepared me for the heat of 2020, as it invited me to a roaring bonfire, with the potential to burn off the underbrush of my old rules, beliefs and assumptions.” 

When Russ and I were debating if we were committed to undertaking the time, attention and financial resources of learning to fly, it was this idea that sold me.

I’m curious to watch myself relearn how to fly using the mindset and tools I’ve been learning for the last 30 years – and especially since my accident. Flying will offer plenty of pressure. And pressure will make me better!