My need for connection causes me to whine to Mark at least once a week.
Poor guy, he must be thinking, “What am I? Chopped liver?”
He’s perfect. But he’s here with me all the time. Knows all my stories.
We are embedded in the daily rituals of life together, which are Groundhog’s Day-like in this era of COVID-19.
It’s tedious for me to kvetch to him because he can’t FIX it. (He loves fixing things.)
Joyful, impromptu connections used to fuel my spirits regularly.
Conversations across tables at restaurants, bonding over food envy (what DID they order?) Seatmates on airplanes telling fascinating tales of business and travel. Fashion shows in and out of dressing rooms with random patrons oohing at just the right moment, sealing the sale.
The dressing rooms are closed. You have to buy stuff and bring it home to try it on, which takes half of the fun out of it.
And you KNOW there’s no flying around happening anytime soon (for me, at least.)
Restaurants? On occasion, but have you noticed that people don’t make eye contact any more? It’s so hard to create connection behind a mask. I think I gained a few more eye wrinkles just trying to OVER express my hidden smile.
Which is why, THANKFULLY, this past week was my BIRTHDAY.
Anyone who knows me even a little knows I make a big freaking deal out of my birthday each year.
And not just because of presents, though anyone who knows me knows I LOVE PRETTY BOXES AND BOWS and surprises contained within them.
I love my birthday because people make a genuine effort to connect with me. Cards (rather than bills) in the mail! Bouquets (flowers AND fruit) were delivered to my door this year! Video messages and my brother-in-law Tony even performed an original song (written by my sister, Shirlee) sung as Elvis.
Dear ones connected through Zoom, Marco Polo, e-mail, text, phone, Vox, Hallmark, Facebook.
Other than smoke signals, every form of communication was employed.
I soaked it up like a dry old sponge.
Like a dry sponge.
Before we get into this week’s video, I gotta tell you a funny. Mark’s daughter, Tara, sweetly called me to wish me a happy birthday.
Not knowing me as well as most of YOU, she began, “I know when you get older birthdays aren’t a big deal…”
I gently protested, “Oh, I may be older, but birthdays are ALWAYS a big deal for me.”
Because birthdays mean connection.
And that’s the best gift of all.
(But the Ritz Carlton is a close second.)
More on connections, asking for what you want, and telling your story the way you WANT it to be here:
Even if the destination isn’t exciting, and sometimes that’s the case for work or a speaking engagement, I’m still going SOMEWHERE.
This was always something I loved. But five years ago when I started working from home (and I’ve had four different homes since then!) getting AWAY from my desk is a joy to me.
Since “EXPLORATION” has been our word these last two weeks. I take time in this week’s video (and the most recent post) to talk about exploring and unpacking the baggage from our past.
But today, as I sit enjoying tuna poke and looking out over a feast of people, I’m relishing airports and the anticipation of exploration.
This particular flight is out of Tampa, because through the Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ) airport is growing in stature, sometimes it just makes sense to Uber for an hour to fly out of Tampa.
It’s a quick trip – two cities in two days, so no checked baggage is needed.
For the next 1.5 hours until my flight boards, I am not required to do anything… but wait.
Oh, I eat. And yes, I people watch! When the flight is delayed (or a layover is long), I get a neck/back massage. Or shop.
This may surprise you, but I am rarely chatty. I dig being alone! Only those magical, serendipitous, “Wow, the universe set this up!” encounters compel me to engage.
Oh, airports are ME time.
And writing time.
There’s nothing I love more than hearing the drone of public address system announcements behind me and the chatter of passersby while I type type type type type on my laptop.
Sometimes I look up and wonder about the stories around me.
I say a prayer for the haggard mom handling three kids while rolling three carry-ons. And marvel at the makeup-less beauty of youth in sweat pants as she waits, completely unaware of the stares that follow her. Ear pods block out her attention to the world she attracts.
Airports are both a beginning and an ending (depending on if you’re coming or going.)
Before we leave, we anticipate. When we prepare for our return, we reminisce.
Mark knows I like to explore airports, so he’s fine with relaxing while I wander around and grab those last-minute souvenirs. He is unfailingly interested in my conquests and observations, which makes me love him more.
And the times when I am not with him, I make sure to leave little post-it notes of love around the house. He knows I love taking off – with or without him. (Though with him is better.) But I never want him to think that life is better without him.
Oh, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
This was supposed to be a post about airports.
But instead, I am in love. With a sweet man who cares about my every need. Who will not let me carry the groceries from the car to the house.
My me time in the airport has caused my heart to swell with appreciation for a man who loves me.
I am loved.
And for the first time in 56 years, I am settled into this feeling of bliss.
Which makes leaving, and coming home again, so wonderful.
I love having a life I don’t need to escape. Yet a life that gives me all the freedom in the world to explore.
So yes, I love airports. But I love Mark Roach more.
When someone throws the big-time sell at you, don’t ignore your internal GPS truth system.
I recall sitting at a kitchen table with an earnest couple who gave me the sales pitch of a lifetime about how joining their church would ensure I’d fulfill God’s purpose for my life.
They persistently pounded on the need to be planted, despite my dreams of travel. My television career was in its infancy, and in TV, you couldn’t stay put in the Delaware Valley (one of the top markets in the country) and gain the experience you needed to rise through the ranks.
The thought of moving to Lima, Ohio to hone my craft…and then to a middle market and finally, a big city – maybe even back home to Philly – thrilled me. This was the path I knew led to my desired outcome: A successful career in broadcast journalism.
And I was being told; being SOLD, that staying put was what GOD wanted.
I remember sloppy tears streaming down my face and crying, “But why would God want something for me that I DON’T want?”
“Ah,” they said. “That’s the voice of rebellion trying to talk you out of the will of God.”
Since when do you have to sell someone on the will of God?
Still, not wanting to rebel against God, I acquiesced.
Fourteen years later, this “church” revealed to be a cult, and over the course of those fourteen years I had the very life sucked out of me. Each “sell” involved me taking action counter to my God-given instincts.
Any resistant truth I haltingly uttered resulted in ME as the guilty party for daring to question authority. Chastised for wanting some semblance of normalcy (like, say, dating, establishing credit or having medical benefits), giving credence to my feelings signaled carnality.
Feelings, they said, were liars. Only the spiritually weak listened to feelings.
This was the master stroke of control that made me a walking zombie. I could quote any scripture for any situation, but I had lost the ability to think for myself. Why? Because when I dared to do so, it resulted in “counseling” and threats of disqualification for the ministry.
I often wonder if an alternative universe exists in which I left that table and listened to my heart. Who might I be today?
Fortunately, I believe everything is always working out for me and boy has it. To this day, the dearest people in my life are those that I met in the cult. Those I escaped with are the kind and tender friends who helped me find my mind again. But it took YEARS; even another fourteen, to fully understand the danger of suppressing my internal emotional guidance system: my feelings.
To realize that if it doesn’t feel good, it isn’t in alignment with that which is Divine.
Jesus doesn’t want or need me to suffer for him to prove my love.
And the truth sets you free.
I own my part in the charade because I abdicated my ability to choose for my life. At first, I thought they were more spiritual and would know better than me how I should serve God. Later, I acquiesced mostly just to stay out of their counseling offices where the most vile twisting of truth would render me full of self-loathing and confusion.
The good news is that truth won. It never fails to rise to the top and it will win the day.
And when you truly are flowing with the Divine, there’s no such thing as lost time.
We are eternal beings. And we’ve only just begun.
My parting thoughts on TRUTH and a double whammy WOW:
I should have anticipated that, upon picking the word Celebrate that the next two weeks would provide opportunities to grumble, complain, moan and groan.
It’s always that way with the WOW; it challenges me (and some of you, too) to embrace a positive in the midst of the speedbumps of life.
Enter edition 5.0 of Adventures in Airports.
Each quarter, I fly to Philly and participate in work meetings. Whenever possible, I try to fly out of Sarasota, because the local airport is literally five minutes from my home. There are never direct flights (yet, I’m praying that will change) to PHL from SRQ, but the hour drive time to and from Tampa usually makes up the difference.
So SRQ it was, and a mid-afternoon flight stopping in Atlanta. Let me begin by telling you everything that went wrong.
Once settled at the gate, the thunderbolts came, and with them, the first of 3 delays.
At the first announced delay, some fellow passengers began grumbling. One woman started to freak out a bit. A seasoned traveler, I thought to myself, “Chill lady. You’ll get there…eventually.”
You know that scripture, “Judge not, lest you be judged?” By the third announced delay I WAS that hyperventilating woman, and it was clear that no Sarasota flight would get me to Philly by the next morning.
A quick search revealed a Tampa flight leaving in two hours. Scurrying to retrieve my bag (carry-on size, but holding a huge hairspray, therefore checked), I hailed a cab and said, “Get me to Tampa ASAP.”
There would be just enough time to arrive, check in, get through security and make the flight.
Except after 20 minutes of smooth sailing, traffic halted to a standstill.
As the minutes ticked off, I began Googling OTHER flights. My only other options were revealed to be connections to Newark rather than Philly, and an earliest arrival time of around 11 AM. Two and a half hours AFTER the start of the meeting.
Yes, it occurred to me during this tense standstill that CELEBRATE was the just-revealed Word of the Weeks. Which I found utterly annoying.
Then my phone battery died. I had no USB charger, only one that would fit an electrical outlet. And my taxi driver’s phone was a Samsung, not an Apple.
Did I mention that the thunderstorms followed me during the entire route?
When, just a little over a half an hour before the flight was to board, I arrived at the American Airlines terminal, the check-in screen informed me that it was too late to check my bag.
Goodbye $15 can of hair spray.
Trudging through security, I beelined it for the gate. As I found myself starting to relax and even celebrate making the flight, the monitors announced that those of us attempting to get to Philly would be delayed. First an hour. Then almost two.
I’d get to my destination around 1 AM.
Did I mention that to fill the void and the sheer boredom of waiting in airports for a total of 5 hours I ingested every unhealthy, carb and sugar laden option available to me?
By the time I arrived, I was exhausted, bloated, grumpy and…grateful.
Because here is everything that went RIGHT:
I never pack a carry-on sized bag. NEVER. I love having several shoe and clothing options, my makeup case is almost the size of a carry-on itself, and I HATE hoisting a carry-on and flailing to shove it in the overhead.
But for some odd reason, I DID pack my smaller luggage. Had I not, when I finally checked in at Tampa, I could have gotten on the flight – but with no luggage. Which would have been my particular idea of hell on earth.
Did I mention when I booked that last minute flight from Tampa that first-class one way was actually CHEAPER than the main cabin?
When I went to board, the flight attendant looked at my maximum sized carry-on and quite large computer case and said, “Ma’am, you can’t board with both of those items…”
You should have seen the look on my face.
Until she said, “Unless you are in first-class.”
A cause to celebrate. I nodded, numbly, thanking my lucky stars that by some sheer twist of fate, I was indeed in first class.
Which enabled me to plug in my phone.
So I could find out that my wonderful brother/friend, Steve, would personally pick me up from the airport in the wee hours of the morning.
And take me to his home where the most comforting person on earth, Renee, would have my pillows fluffed and soft music playing when I arrived.
So many things went wrong, yes. But so many things went RIGHT.
It’s all how you look at a thing. (Which was ultimately the correct conclusion I came to, after kvetching and moaning and grumbling.)
The scriptures say that complaining overwhelms your spirit. I would add that celebrating buoys your spirit.
Our days are full of plot twists. We can’t control what happens to us, but we sure can choose how we RESPOND to what happens to us. So why not celebrate?
And sometimes, that’s what makes all the difference.
It seems like the universe is continuing with this theme of positivity. I blapped out a word during my closing thoughts on CELEBRATION…and wouldn’t you know, it was a precursor to the new WOW. Here we go!
By the way, for my SW Florida area friends, I am conducting my first open-to-the-public workshop on August 11th at 11 AM at Davis Hall (Sarasota Center of Light). It’s all about how to raise your vibration when you’re “Running on Empty.”
We’ll laugh ALOT and learn, too…and the point is to spend time on YOU so you can course correct and get that happy tank full again. Click on the above photo or here to link to the event and buy a ticket. (Best $25 you’ll ever spend.) Please share with a friend (and I hope to see you there!)
Isn’t it true that compassion is best appreciated when you need it most?
Like when you screw up.
I’m a cross your t’s and dot your i’s kind of person, so discovering that my best laid travel plans were utterly flawed this week left me flummoxed.
I was already operating on a deficit of sleep. A late dinner with my dear friends Roseann and Mike to celebrate our last night in Montreal resulted in just four hours of sleep before I had to hop in a taxi for the airport.
Just one agent manned the desk at 5:30 AM, and I observed him patiently handling the travelers in line ahead of me.
When finally my turn, I observed his name tag and said, “Good morning, Joe! I hope you can help. I need my connecting flight to now be my final destination.”
In my mind, it was a simple matter. Already booked from Montreal to Charlotte; no new flight was required. I just needed my bag to deplane, too (and not travel to Sarasota.)
Joe looked at me and said, “You realize we need to completely re-ticket your flight?”
No, I didn’t realize.
And it would be costly.
I looked up at tall, handsome, kind, smiling Joe with my bleary red eyes from a scant four hours of sleep and said, “Oh my.”
And my intended destination wasn’t even Charlotte; it was Chicago.
You’re thinking exactly as I was; perhaps we could get me on a flight from Montreal to Chicago! Problem solved!
Absolutely…for $700+ dollars.
Thoughts of renting a car and driving the 13 hours to Chicago flashed through my mind. I imagined getting to Chicago on my originally booked flight – without my bag and the need to shop for the essentials to help me survive the next two days.
My crestfallen face and deer in the headlights paralysis tripped a compassion switch in Joe.
Click, click, click click click. More clicking. A brief consultation with his manager.
What was Joe up to?
A boarding pass, non-stop to Chicago from Montreal spit through the printer.
No, it wasn’t free, but it surely wasn’t $700 dollars. It was less than $200 – and that was a pill I could swallow without too much bitterness.
In an era when poor airline service goes viral and it seems that most carriers need a crash course in customer service, my encounter with Joe affirmed the goodness of people who stick their necks out to help a stranger in need. Joe would have been perfectly within the confines of the employee manual to require strict adherence to a complete re-booking.
Ah, but Instead, he followed his heart and had compassion on me.
Here’s to you, Joe! You not only gave me a great story about compassion, but your actions put a smile on my face as I wait these five hours for my new flight to Chicago.
Let’s move onward to new adventures and the new Word of the Week (but first some closing thoughts on Compassion)!:
It’s not over. Nope.
Yes, you may fall, but you can keep getting back up.
They call it failing forward; every bump in the road teaches you something to prepare you for the next step.
You are STRONG. You are RESILIENT.
Just look at how many times in your life you seemed down for the count, only to bounce back and rise higher as a result.