Thursday, 6 November 2014

Light In the Dark Places

Room 429 is small and dark with a king-sized bed and an awesome view of the highway, the almost-full moon, and the landing lights of traffic on final approach at YVR.  The billboard across from me reminds me that bad breath isn't sexy; I’m pretty sure no one on the overpass directly across from me can see me in my nightie writing in the dark.  I wonder if room 428 across the hall has a window that tracks the approach all the way to touchdown.

My mind wanders back to another dark day in mid-February when I sat writing on what felt like the hundredth day of rain.  Boredom, loneliness and an edgy discontent had me firmly by the heart.  I had slipped in and was about to sink deep into all of it.  I knew that the only way out was to make a bold move.

Just as it had almost every single time I ran into something challenging, my mother’s voice rang inside my head: “What are you going to do about that Honey?”  What was I going to do about it?

I looked at my desktop and a gracious and confident Elizabeth Montgomery looked back, and I asked the question that always grounds me.  I already knew the answer. 

What would Samantha do?

With a snap of my fingers I answered out loud that same bold statement that propels everything I do: “She’d conjure that sh*t up!”

And so that’s exactly what I did.  I picked up a humble piece of loose leaf paper and created what I now call The Nexus – the meeting place; the place where all things come together.

Although I had been visiting this restless desire off and on for a while, I didn't know exactly what I needed.  I did, however, know what I craved:

·         Greater opportunity to develop my own leadership skills; and

·         Deep and genuine connection with like-minded people.  I knew my tribe was out there somewhere.

I didn’t set goals.  I didn’t write out my intentions.  I just knew if I wrote something - anything - on that loose leaf paper that the words would do the work for me.

I wrote a list of groups or organizations where I knew seeds had been planted.  And I wrote down three projects that had been on my mind for a long time but I hadn’t had the courage or connections yet to make them so.

Just in the writing of it the spell had been cast.  I set my pen down, turned to my computer and my-people-on-the-other-side presented me with my first opportunity in about two clicks of a mouse.  There on my Facebook news feed was an announcement for the 2014 Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (CAHF was top of the list – check).  I immediately “traded in” my annual trip to Vegas for a quick trip to Calgary.  I instantly had something to look forward to.  Bye-bye discontent.

Where there were no opportunities I created my own and invited others to join me.  We were soon surrounded by a gang of do-gooders whose energy would propel us all forward in ways we had not anticipated.

The Snowbirds loving up their people
(that would be us) in Comox.
We started our own chapter of Women in Aviation (check) and began creating more meaningful connections with women in our community and the men who supported us.  We found even greater opportunity in connecting with the Sea-to-Sky Chapter and the Rocky Mountain Chapter while feeding our airplane addictions; most importantly we had A LOT of fun doing it!

At some point I fell in with a rowdy crowd from across the field.  They seduced me with their beautiful PBY Catalina (check) and I began working with them on what can only be called our labour of love! She’s gorgeous, has a ton of personality, is a little high maintenance but is worth the extra attention.

Do not let their mild manner
fool you.  These guys are
trouble with a capital T!
Many Saturdays I was swept away by my guys and their storytelling.  Sometimes one of the fellas in the hangar behind us would play some music from the era of the airplane and I would get lost in time.  I would leave them with sore hands from scraping paint and a sore belly from laughing so hard.  Our motto was: "No one else on Earth is doing what we are doing today." Boy, wasn't that the truth!

More and more every day I was reminded that I am the luckiest girl in town.  Gone were the rainy-day pangs of boredom and loneliness.

I hadn't really understood the power of the loose leaf paper.  The same week I became President of my Flying Club I met an astronaut, a WWII flying ace, a trailblazing bush pilot and about 300 other mind blowing individuals.  I was asked to speak to a number of organizations and the whirlwind of freedom and friendship grew.  And I loved it.

One sunny summer day at the end of July I spent money that I didn't have on a plane ticket to attend the Aviation Leadership Foundation's High Tea Adventure (check).  As one of the speakers, with trepidation I braved a deeply personal speech and I was worried that I had given too much of myself away.  I knew there were a few back in my hometown who were not pleased that I had gone to follow my heart's desire in the Big City, but none of that mattered to me because I was surrounded by encouragement, kindness and inspiration.

As I waited for my float plane I sat on the dock in the sun and ate my speaker's gift sending chocolate-covered heart-songs to the Universe.  Still unfolding was the perfect day. All the way home our Harbour Air pilot flew low level over the glistening seascape.  A pod of killer whales just south of Active Pass played and danced in the sunshine as we circled overhead at 400 feet, and I praised The Boys (also known as my-people-on-the-other-side) for gifting me with this supremely ideal day and I wondered if it was all "worth it".  I asked that they turn the risks I took that day into opportunity.  Like the good business woman I am, I asked that they make it "valuable" - like it wasn't already.  I wondered if they would transform the unbillable hours and money spent into experience that would change everything.

Six days later EVERYTHING did change.  I suppose I got exactly what I wished for, it just didn’t play out exactly the way I thought it would.  It felt as scary as it gets - like I had walked into a wall with screaming banshees at my back.  In the days that followed I discovered that some of the people I always thought had my back, didn't.  At all.  Fear and fatigue crept up into my mind and whispered spine-chilling untruths about my body and my bank account and it wasn't just the night talking.  There were no certainties, especially not from the doctors.

Here in the dark again, I found champions in unexpected places.  The community we had raised rallied and held me up without even knowing they were doing so and out of the ashes rose a phoenix-like silver thread of hope, love, and deep gratitude.

I was shown gifts that I had always possessed but was too wrapped up in the drive to appreciate.  I walked away with a clean slate and greater opportunity for authentic relationships and meaningful connection.  Here was a scrumptious community I was proud to be a part of.  I feel so privileged that I can put my arms around these people and hug it out.  I am so blessed.  And in all of that a miracle found me and life is new again.

And now it’s November and I am about to meet my new Triad in the Aviation Leadership Foundation’s Mentorship Program (check).  I sit back on the bed in the dark familiar place and soak in the dreamy anticipation of greater challenge and favourable circumstances to connect with "my people".

In this reminiscence, I remember that The Nexus still holds two projects I have not yet started – but they’re next.  I know it.  I’ll get the sign when the time is right.  The magic will find me.

The only question now is whether or not I should eat the complimentary Mars bars left on the desk or should I save them for the next rainy day bail out?

What would Samantha do?


  1. Intense blog Ramona. You never cease to amaze me with your drive, determination and heart! Love you.

  2. Well written and inspiring. Keep them flying girl. You have talent!