Friday, October 25, 2013

War zones

I got my hair done today. It is an expensive endeavor but worth it, because bad hair can totally ruin a girl's day, in a way maybe men can't understand?

While I sat wrapped in foil and goo, a woman came up and chatted with my hairdresser, Jenifer. She asked if Jen would do a neighbor woman's hair who "hadn't had her hair done in over two years because her husband wouldn't allow it." She then went on to describe how this mother of a seven year old had been married for 20 years but finally sought shelter at the local Catholic church after her husband tried to choke her. The story was tragic and yet only slightly different than one I have heard way too many times.

And I wonder, how does one get to that place? It is like the story of the frog. If you threw a frog in boiling water, he would jump right out. If you place a frog in the pot and bring the water to a boil slowly, he doesn't notice the gradual change and just slowly dies. It is interesting what we learn to put up with. Whether we become inured to death in a war-torn town like Damascus, or we forget to notice our own mistreatment in a home filled with anger, the toll on our soul is severe.

I recently joined a group of writers who help kids, in homes and jails, leading lives of destruction. They help desperate teenagers heal their soul by writing out their hearts - in journals, poetry, stories, etc. I am new to the group, but am excited about the positive impact that writing can have on a young person who feels like a frog trapped in boiling water.

I like to think that the world is changing, because I have surrounded myself with people who are positive and supportive and functioning. But peel back that personal buffer, and underneath lies the woman who is not allowed to get her hair done and the kid whose mother ridicules him, and worse - rapes, shootings, wars. There is still a lot of healing that needs to be done in this world.

I love Joseph Campbell's writing about the hero's adventure. For those of us who have braved life's dark forests and raging rivers and come out the far side strong and capable, it is our duty to help the others who are still lost in the woods. Campbell says it is the hero's call to share his knowledge, to "bestow boons on his fellow man." So, go buy a woman a haircut, befriend a young man with autism, pound nails in a home for the homeless. Reach out with not just money, but with time. For most of us, this is the hardest thing to give.

I know a lot of you do these generous things, in quiet, and for that I applaud you. I would love to hear about them, as would others. As a writer, I treasure true tales of human good. You can post your stories here, or send me an email at

xo, Cate

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Would you panic?

A friend sent me a link to these pictures from a small airplane (an RV10) that suffered a bird strike. Apparently, the bird (unknown species) crashed through the windscreen and slammed into the back window, eventually landing in the baggage area. I don't know any more details, about the pilot or his proximity to an airport, etc, but I imagine it took some nerves of steel to continue on and land that aircraft safely.

I read another report some time ago about a plane that impacted a Canadian Goose (or vice versa). The bird ended up lodged in the back window. On its way there, it shattered the windscreen, blinded the pilot in one eye, and knocked off his headset. If you've ever been in a small aircraft without a headset, it's noisy. Without a headset and without a windscreen? It's gonna feel like a frickin' hurricane. Yet, somehow, the pilot, bleeding profusely from his damaged eye, deafened by noise, pummeled by wind, and probably in some level of shock, still managed to land his craft. Damn!

As a pilot, I imagine how I would deal with these situations. In fact, we are forced to deal with emergencies like simulated engine failures throughout our training. There is no doubt that pilot training teaches you to be calm in situations that might cause others to panic. It also increases your confidence and your situational awareness, making you a better driver (god knows we need more of those on the road). It is awesome training for young people in particular. So, yes, I encourage everyone to get some pilot training.

But beyond that, I tell this story because I hope everyone out there appreciates our Sky Warriors that fly us from point A to point B every day. A couple days ago a United pilot suffered a heart attack but the crew still managed to land the plane safely. 99.9999% of the time nothing goes wrong on those long, boring flights we all take for work, vacation, travel, etc. But know that the calm voice coming from the cockpit has worked his or her butt off staying current on the machinery and probably gone into significant debt accruing hours of expensive practice All just so he or she could take you to your destination safely.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. Just remember, go love yourself a pilot today.

xo, Cate