Leaving on a jet plane: A lesson in mental toughness

I was heading back home to San Diego from Sacramento, anticipating a relaxed flight following an arduous albeit successful day. Photo: Photo: MSN Image Library

SAN DIEGO/WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 20, 2013 – I was heading back home to San Diego from Sacramento, anticipating a relaxed flight following an arduous albeit successful day.

The taxi driver, who was originally from Northern Africa, told me the incredible story of his previous profession helping those with disabilities. I felt a strange sense of synchronicity in this encounter, his story resonated with me and my own purpose for lobbying in Sacramento that day.

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Once I arrived at the airport for my flight back to San Diego, everything seemed to go according to plan. But upon boarding the flight, the pilot announced our flight might not make it home.  Fog was settling into San Diego, and it might not be safe for us to land there.

As we fastened our seatbelts in anticipation of takeoff, I noticed that the plane’s passengers were comprised of persons obviously already travel-weary, members of our active military, pregnant women, families with small children, seniors and disabled, and business travelers.  All of us had a story to tell and a different purpose for being on this plane.

When our pilot informed us during the latter-half of the flight that we would need to hover over Catalina Island to determine whether it was safe to land in San Diego, we were only minutes away from our destination.

A variety of comments, conversations and personal expressions of concern, tinged with anger and frustration, ensued. Each of us sat in disbelief that we might not make it to our intended destination.  And, we did not know with any certainty where we would be landing instead.

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The final decision was not to anyone’s liking as we were informed we would be flying back to Sacramento, a one and one-half hour return flight.  I could hear voices rise and questions started buzzing around the cabin. Did we have enough fuel?  Why could we not land at an airport closer to our current location?  Would we be able to get back home later that night?  What about our families and friends who were awaiting our arrival?  And of course I was thinking about my own family. Our lives at that moment were changed, and our best-laid plans had gone disappointingly and even worrisomely awry.

With more questions than answers, I had a decision to make.

How would I respond to this dilemma?  The concept of “mental toughness” came to mind as I realized my fate and those of the other passengers aboard was not in our control and we would require “mental toughness” to endure, trust, and survive this challenge.

“Mental toughness” was especially key for the majority of us who were distraught, frustrated, and physically spent. We needed the strength of mind to move forward and make the correct decisions to discover the best way home or to our destination.

Upon landing in Sacramento Airport, we were informed that reservationists would be waiting to help each of us rebook our flights. The lines seemed endless. There were no flights available that evening.  We would have to stay the night. There were no shops, eateries, nor other supportive vendors to help all weary travelers at that hour. The negatives of the situation were starting to pile up.

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Finally able to reach my husband by cell phone, I felt a sense of pride to be able to finally inform him when my flight would be returning the next day, and where I would be staying the night, in spite of already overcrowded hotels and only managing to secure the last available room in a nearby hotel.  His exhausted voice mirrored my own.

Arriving home the next day, upon seeing my sweetly patient and exhausted husband awaiting my arrival in the baggage claim area, in spite of my mode of “mental toughness” I was overcome with tears of joy.  It was comforting to see him there, as I realized my journey home had at last been successful.

In spite of all the fear, uncertainty, discomfort, and inconvenience of the past 24 hours, seeing my husband created a feeling of overwhelming gratitude, while the realization of how much we all take for granted went through my mind.

I believe it is entirely possible that trying and uncertain situations benefit us in some way. Enabling us to better appreciate all that is good in our lives, and reminding us not to take what we hold dearest for granted.  What I also know is that “mental toughness” was critical to me in rising above difficult circumstances and having the strength of mind and confidence to know that every barrier in getting home could be overcome.

So, after all of this, the poignant lyrics in the angst-filled song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by folk singers Peter, Paul, and Mary seem appropriate to share here:

“So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go.
I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
I don’t know when I’ll be back again….”

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is President and CEO of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California. In addition to her positions as entrepreneur, health care executive, educator, media guest and contributor, Edwards-Tate is also a wife, daughter, and dog lover. Read more LifeCycles in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow At Your Home Familycare on Facebook and on Twitter @AYHFamilycare.

Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Laurie Edwards-Tate

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today.

Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top  Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service.  Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home.

Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. 

 Follow Laurie and AYHF  at www.atyourhomefamilycare.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atyourhomefamilycare, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare

Contact Laurie Edwards-Tate


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