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Friday, February 26, 2016

Have A Smooth Flight

Have a good flight. 
Have a smooth flight.
Have a safe flight. 

These are all terms people use when talking to someone departing on a trip by air. How many times have we either heard these terms or said them ourselves? As a pilot, any flight without incident is a safe flight. Also, any flight without an unruly passenger, maintenance problem, weather delay or any other number of problems is a good flight. However, rarely is a flight totally a smooth flight. Occasionally, there will be a flight without any turbulence.  But usually there will be some amount of turbulence somewhere along the way during a flight. 

Some flights may experience just a minor bump or two along the way. Then there have been flights that have sent people to the hospital due to encountering severe turbulence......... Side note for those afraid of flying.. Encountouring that type of turbulence is rare and when the seatbelt sign comes on SIT DOWN!......Well actually everyone should sit down when the seatbelt sign is on not just those afraid of flying.........  Ok, I digress, now back to the topic at hand, turbulence. My point is that some flights have a great deal more turbulence than do other flights. 

Another thing I have noticed about turbulence is how passengers react to being bumped around. Some passengers will have a death grip on the arm rests at the slightest bump while others appear to be relaxed as if they were in a recliner at home. Each person has his or her own comfort level. 

How people react to turbulence is much how we respond to the ups and downs of life. Each day of our lives can be compared to flying. Some days are smooth. Then there are those days that we feel the biggest bumps of our lives. Dealing with "life turbulence" is much the same as dealing with flight turbulence.  For some people a minor bump in life is major event. For other people a major event appears to be a minor bump. We all handle "life turbulence" in our own way. 

What can be said about people who look at light turbulence in life as extreme life turbulence? Can we say that they are weak? For some people perhaps. But you never know what other people have been through in life. What about those who can take the most extreme life turbulence as if it were nothing? Does that make them stronger and more capable of handling difficult situations? Not necessarily. Just because someone may appear outwardly strong is not always an indication of inward feelings. In other words, we all react differently to stress in life. 

I came up with the idea for this post after a phone call with someone I am close to in my life. This person is going through a difficult time in his life. I attempted to console him. I told him that everyone goes through difficult times. But his reaction was to tell me how easy I had things in life. He felt as if I had no troubles at all. I became extremely blunt with him at this point and asked him if he had ever lost a child. I did this only to make a point to him that everyone has hard times in life. He brushed it off saying that was different than him not being able to pay his bills and that I would not understand.  I then told him that I had lived out of my car for a time. He had no answer to that. 

The point that I am trying to make is that we all have turbulence in life. We each handle those rough rides in our own way. Some people tend not to do so well with turbulence while others appear to handle the bumps better. Some people would say that it is all in the attitude in how a person approaches life turbulence with. Trying to have a positive attitude is helpful, but some people need more than that. Some people need professional help. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help in dealing with life turbulence. There will always be turbulence in life. If you need help dealing with it, do not be ashamed to reach out for help. 

At times family members need to reach out to give tough love and nudge a loved one into getting help. Guiding someone to get help who needs it just might save that person's life. Do not be shy in talking to someone you may know who is having a hard time dealing with life turbulence.  

Fasten your seatbelts,

Collin Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dr. Phil and Checklists

For those of you who read my last post you may remember that I gave a name to the feelings that following me after the death of my daughter. I namd this feeling simply to make it easier to write about and refer to those feelings. I named the feeling Phil and nicknamed it Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil has been loud and obnoxious lately. But that is to be expected since the first anniversary of Amy's death was last month and the anniversary of her funeral is tomorrow. But I have to remember to not let Phil win these arguments he keeps starting.  Phil wants me to believe that I should never feel happiness again. He will try to trick me into feeling guilty if I have good or positive thoughts.

For anyone who has lost not just a child, but anyone close to them they will understand these feelings. At times it is difficult to deal with these feelings.  But ultimately we must realize that we are in control of these feelings and not the other way around. However, there are certain triggers in life that make some days more difficult than others, such as birthdays or certain anniversaries.  When days like this come along we have to realize that we can and will get through these days. 

As a pilot I use checklists to ensure that both myself and my First Officer have completed the proper tasks for various phases of flight. These checklists do not tell pilots what to do, but remind us to check that certain things have been completed. One good example is the "before landing checklist." There are two vital components on this checklist. This checklist will have us confirm that the flaps are set in the proper position for landing that allows us to fly the proper approach speed. Additionally, it reminds us to check that the landing gear is down and locked into position. As pilots, the First Officer or I have already completed these tasks, but now the checklist has us verify that these things are complete. The biggest thing it does is to have us check the settings to ensure that the flaps and landing gear are actually in the position that we set them in. For example, just because we put the landing gear handle in the down position and we can feel the drag of the landing gear being extended, does not guarantee that the landing gear is locked into position. The checklist forces us to look at the indications to verify that we have "three green" indications as pilots say. With "three green" we know the landing gear is locked in the down position.  

Wouldn't it be great if we could all develop checklists to help get us through difficult or stressful times in life? What types of checklists would you need? It would be different for everyone. Just like each type of airplane has its own checklists. These checklists could remind us to do things that will help us get trough these times. Perhaps it could contain a list of people to call and talk with when we need to. Another checklist item could remind us to set an alarm and get up instead of staying in bed and doing nothing on certain difficult dates. The list of possible checklist items can be short or long depending on each person's needs. For me, I should have a checklist item to remind me to write. It just seems that writing can be therapeutic for me. 

Perhaps some people need a checklist to help remind them how to talk to their "Phil." I know that Phil is not easy to talk with during certain times. What checklist items would you have to ensure you are doing things properly during stressful times? Two reminders that everyone should have is to love yourself and that it is okay to feel good.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Collin Hughes
The Prozac Pilot