Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Don't borrow trouble

I don't remember too many Bible verses from my church school days (horrible, because those days really numbered in years). But one that has always stuck with me is Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I'm a worry wart, you see. And I've had a lot of practice.

I remember vividly standing in my living room, maybe 8- or 9-years old, unable to sleep. I recall crying to my mom, worrying about school, and how Leanna didn't talk to me at recess, and how I got in trouble for chattering in class, and how I would never be able to afford college, and if I didn't go to college, I would never be able to have a good job, etc., etc. My mom offered words of comfort and soothed me enough to get back to sleep, but I learned young how to cultivate worry.

And as it turns out, I made it through school, and friendship dramas, and college (after college, as it happens) without too much trouble. Worrying served little purpose besides keeping me up at night.

If I could give my younger self (and my yesterday self for that matter) any advice, it would be to manage worry and anxiety, and stop borrowing trouble. It's easier said than done as an adult, where the troubles seem so much larger and complex. But living with constant anxiety is not good for the soul, stress level, or psyche.

Nowadays, although I'm not always good at it, I try to reframe worry, asking myself: Does fretting about X-Y-Z issue change anything about it? Am I worrying instead of acting? Is there anything I can do to make a meaningful difference at the present time? If I can't do anything beside worry, then I try to force myself to let it go and give it to the universe, as my dear friend Shannon would say.

And when that doesn't work, I try distracting myself. Or meditating. And chocolate. Never as much worrying when chocolate is involved!


NaBloPoMo April 2015
- April 1 The April Fool's joke that won't quit
- April 6 Childhood dreams

NaBloPoMo April 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Childhood dreams

We made them crowd into the shed, sweltering in the Sacramento summer. It was our "classroom." And by golly, we had signed binder paper permission slips from their parents which meant that even if we had to chase them, our siblings would comply. For awhile anyway.

Getting them to do their homework was another story entirely.

Welcome to my childhood dream.

When I answer the question "What did you want to be when you grew up?" I usually say "A ballerina" because that was the lingering dream that carried me through high school. But if I'm being honest, my earliest childhood passions revolved around teaching and writing.
Photo by Jay Mantri via stocksnap.io. Used with permission.
I really did work with my childhood best friend Lasha to make our siblings do home grown summer school, and I have notebook upon notebook of stories and narrative snippets.

It's a little shocking, now as a writer and university teacher, to realize that I made my half-pint Shawna dreams come true to a certain extent. Granted, I'm not teaching elementary grades, nor am I (yet) writing adventure fiction. But I've gotten a lot closer to childhood dreams than I would gather many people do.

Pretty cool!


Related links:
- I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up
- A journaling fool
- Flashback Friday #1
- A life cut short. Remembering my first love.
- Of marquees and memories
- The quest for Grandma's ham and bean soup
- My baby sister marks a quarter of a century

NaBloPoMo April 2015
- April 1 The April Fool's joke that won't quit

NaBloPoMo April 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

It's not Easter without lamb cake

"Old fashioned lamb cake... Just like you remember."

Old fashioned lamb cake, definitely the funniest dessert I've ever seen. It reminded me of the armadillo groom's cake from the movie Steel Magnolias.
It wasn't the description that sold my sister Emily, but it gave us a good laugh after Easter dinner tonight. No one remembers a lamb cake in the history of Easter (or the history of ever), but it proved a most hilarious dessert with requests for shoulder, rump, rack of lamb, chops, etc.

My only regret: It was just yellow cake inside, no red velvet or even raspberry filling. But I'm so grateful for a family with such a wicked sense of humor!

Although I'm sure it will be demolished by tomorrow, no one could bear to eat the head. I texted the one sibling who didn't make dinner: "We saved the head for you." HA!
Happy Easter all!


Easter things:

80s Easter Awesomeness

Fly Girl in Training: Finding my feet in the Decathlon

We were at 3,000 feet practicing steep turns, stalls, and slow flight, me knocking six months of rust off when I remarked about my lazy feet: "I need to get back in a taildragger soon!" The comment referred to my insufficient use of rudder in the Cessna 182. I should have known my flight instructor, Stan, would take it as an invitation.

Shawna and the Decathlon.
And so yesterday, I found myself being oriented to a new airplane, the Decathlon, an aerobatic trainer and the replacement to the Rans S-7S I flew last year. (See "The first taildragger lesson" and "Insights on Taildragger take-offs")

For the first 20 minutes, I hated her. Besides not having flown a taildragger for more than a year, I felt discombobulated by an unfamiliar panel, one with important switches above and behind my head, instead of in front like my Cessna 182. But it was a great opportunity to get re-acquainted with the rudder pedals.

Flying the Decathlon with my flight instructor, Stan. Worked on steep turns, slow flight, stalls, and landings.
Foot-operated rudder pedals are used to keep the airplane's nose pointed in the direction of flight and are used in conjunction with hand-operated ailerons to maneuver. Feet and hands are meant to be "coordinated," meaning right turns with right aileron and right rudder, and left turns with left aileron and left rudder. (There are exceptions, of course, but that's the general rule.) Rudders are also important for keeping straight when landing.

Like a lot of student pilots, I find I'm often landing a little left of center when landing. On wide runways and in a forgiving tricycle gear airplane like the 182, I can get away with it to a certain extent, but poor rudder management is a terribly bad habit to cultivate and maintain.

Enter the taildragger.

Taildraggers, with two main wheels and a small tailwheel, require infinitely more rudder finesse because unlike more stable tricycle gear planes, they have more tendency to get out of control on the ground if not handled properly using the rudders. (For a discussion of taildragger take-offs/landings, ground loops, gyroscopic precession and P-factor, click here). Likewise, given how the controls are constructed, taildraggers are more susceptible to adverse yaw in the air. This means the tendency for the nose to go in the opposite direction as an intended turn is more pronounced and requires more rudder to stay coordinated.

Thus, tail-wheel airplanes, between all of the feedback in the air and the more complicated action on the ground, demand that pilots learn rudder control well. For student pilots like me, they also offer an excellent opportunity to cure lazy feet.

Flying over a thankfully still-green Sacramento.
Despite some initial trepidation, after some maneuvering and a few landings at a few different airports, I'm happy to report I'm now a big Decathlon fan. It's incredible how fast the unfamiliar gets comfortable. I can't wait to learn more and actually nail some landings!


Other flying things:
NaBloPoMo April 2015
- April 1 The April Fool's joke that won't quit
NaBloPoMo April 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

80s Easter awesomeness

It used to be frilly lace, hats, and gloves, combing the church lawn for chocolate eggs in pastel foil, baskets bursting with plastic neon grass.

This year, Easter will be burgers and burnt hot dogs (just the way I like them), with the next generation hunting for treats, trying to keep the pug brigade away from chocolate.

Strange to think how fast time flies when these photos seem like just yesterday...

Happy (early) Easter, ya'll!
Maybe I played Peter Cotton Tail in the school play. Maybe.
Easter Zombunnies.
The smell of vinegar still takes me back.
It ain't Easter in the 80s without ruffles and lace.
And the pièce de résistance, courtesy of my Marm just after posting this...
Mom says: "It's not 80s without curls." Yes, yes, yes.


Easter things:

Baby's first Easter

NaBloPoMo April 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The April Fool's joke that won't quit

Fun fact: I haven't worn this shirt again.
I keep thinking it will go away long enough that I can forget what it was like to plummet out of the sky. But no. Despite four years passing since the roof of Southwest Flight 812 opened up at 36,000 feet, I can't seem to get away from the memories.

Every few weeks, I get a new crop of Facebook friend requests from strangers around the world, thanks to that interview I gave for a Discovery Channel show that seems to be on an endless loop. And then there are the periodic photo requests. And let's not forget me being ridiculed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in February. Even if I'm "doing it wrong," falling from the sky is definitely a 25 on the 1 to 10 scale, Ellen.

Part of it is my fault, of course. I wrote an essay about the experience, which I presented at a conference last fall and have revised for publication. (More on that soon, I expect it to be out in a month or two!). I tell the story in classes to teach Weick's theory of sensemaking and inevitably it comes up in conversation now and again.

I just wonder when the weirdest day of my life will be more deep background than constant presence. Maybe next April Fool's!


Related links: