Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Adventures

Christmas morning chaos
Some people seem to have a pretty straight course through life. That is apparently not my destiny. Perhaps it is because I was raised in a normal-sized house with 11 siblings. The home environment was like that of a Mexican Jumping Bean (remember those?) - there was always something popping or rolling or moving. One never knew how many would be at the dinner table or who would be found kissing their boyfriend behind the hall door. One had to move quickly to get a turn at the bathroom, a hope for another scoop of spaghetti, a chance for a sofa seat instead of the floor. It was busy and chaotic and ever-changing. And that seems to be the pace at which my life still runs.

I've always sought out new adventures
The latest change in my life was completely unanticipated. After careers in teaching all ages, running million dollar companies, aviation instruction and travel, and book writing, I was offered a chance to be an "Adventure Consultant" (who could turn that down?) The job entails custom-designing offsite wilderness adventures for companies. One person I spoke with said, "That has got to be the best sounding job title I've ever heard." Of course, his title was "Perks Director" so I felt the same way toward him.

Flying fun!
So far, the best part has been visiting the properties (had to fly there in a de Havilland Beaver on floats - darn!) We did lots of fishing and brought home loads of salmon. I can't complain. If any of you know of companies that do trips like this, get them up here! I promise they'll come back with big grins!

In the meantime, I'm still writing, still dancing, still flying, and I just started piano and voice lessons. It's that Mexican jumping bean thing. Gotta keep rockin' and rollin'!

Hope your life is rockin' too! Drop me a line....cjmighell@gmail.com

xo, Cate

Friday, August 8, 2014


I had a dream some nights ago in which I was trying to prepare for a trip to the airport. I was rushed, and stressed that there were so many things to pack, and so many things to do to meet my timeline. I found myself hurrying across a town square, in some unknown town, to make it to a restaurant where I had, for some reason, left some of my things. I forced what I could into my luggage, and shoved the rest into a grocery bag. I then dragged the bulky pullman and the additional bag back across the rough dirt road and began lugging it up a hill, pushing hard to make it on time. Just then, my bag burst open and all its contents spewed out. Breathing hard, certain I would miss my flight, I crawled on my hands and knees to gather up the random items - a can of oil for my car, a pair of cheap flip flops, shirts, shorts, panties rolling around in the town square dust. Hurry, hurry, get it done, get there on time. Suddenly, I found myself tossed into the air by a bull, a Brahmin bull. The rush and panic were replaced with stillness as I floated above the bull's back, light and weightless. The bull turned its huge head up and said to me, "It is when you stop struggling, that I can carry you."

I am reminded of that dream this morning. A dragonfly (my spirit animal) has flown into my house. He is large with a tattered wing. Perhaps a bit like me. He landed right by my knee for a moment, then flew off to circumnavigate the room. He has been busily buzzing the windows, struggling to get where he needs to go. I know there is no hope of catching him to help him out. Finally, he quieted on the windowsill. He stopped struggling. I walked over to him and ever so gently placed one hand over him. He didn't move. I placed the other hand under to scoop him up and he stepped onto my finger. I lifted and cradled him, in the pocket of my hands. He didn't struggle. I walked with him outside. His translucent wings quivered, but he stayed still. I lifted my upper hand and he sat still on my finger, turning only to look at me. I held him close to my face, so I could see the green speckles on his body, and the large, bulbous eyes. We looked at each other for a full thirty seconds. Then I said to him, "You can fly now," and he did. His wings lifted and he rose into the air. It was when he stopped struggling, that I was able to carry him.

Struggling. Trying to be, trying to get, trying to have. We all struggle. We struggle against emotions that we "shouldn't" have. We struggle against an unreasonable boss, or an unappreciative mate, or an uncooperative situation. We struggle against time and age. We struggle against perceived limits, and glass ceilings, and situations beyond our control. We think, "If I had more time, or  money, or good looks, or luck, then I wouldn't have to struggle so much." We rush and hurry and beat our wings against the world.

Suppose we stopped struggling. Suppose we accepted the time and money, and looks we have. Suppose we accepted the people in our lives for who they are and who they aren't. Suppose we accepted where we are now, with love and gratitude.

I don't believe ceasing to struggle means being passive. I think of flying airplanes. In a stall, the aircraft will naturally right itself if we take our hands off the control (of course, adequate altitude for the recovery is necessary here). Most airplanes are designed to achieve stability if we don't struggle against them too much.  In an emergency, struggle, or panic, is your worst enemy. The key is to understand and accept the current situation - "Ok, my alternator just went out, and I'm 11,000 feet over rural Oregon in the soup" (yes, this happened to me). "This is where I am. This is my plan of action for this situation."

This is where I am. This is my one, big, beautiful life. This is me, in all my perfect imperfections. This is okay and right and wonderful, just as it is.

And so, here I am, with lessons from bulls, and dragonflies, and airplanes. Learning not to struggle. It is a peaceful, powerful place to be.

xo, Cate

Friday, July 18, 2014

Frayed edges

Where have I been? How did three months go by without a moment to sit down and write? Well...sold a business, moved out of one house and into another, went to Hawaii. Life seems to never slow down. And I guess it's just as well. Although I envisioned having the summer to chill and recover from the soul-suck of the last year behind a desk, I find that I am already seeking employment. The bills must be paid! Fortunately, some interesting opportunities are coming my way

Although I suppose we all, occasionally, wish for a life of luxury and ease, I do, in fact, like to work. I like the challenge of a new job, a new puzzle for me to solve. And I am grateful for my ability to be strong and quick and to connect well with people. I am, this week, grateful for so many things. Grateful that my little home on the river did not burn down in the raging wildfire only a few miles away; Grateful that the miniscus repair on my knee went so well and that the doctor says I "have the knee of a twenty year old;" Grateful that my three sons are, blessedly, alive and well.

At the doctor's office today, I read how the recently renewed attacks between Israel and Hamas (Gaza Strip) were inflamed by an attack on three Israeli teenagers, which provoked a reply attack on an innocent Gaza teenager. Four young people dead (plus so many more!) and grieving, loving communities determined to make sure their lives are avenged. I can only imagine the grief, and the desire to retaliate. But it never ends. Killing only begets more killing. 

While waiting for the doctor, I jotted this down on my iphone, a sad ode to the conflict in the middle east:

Peace on Earth

You, with your murderous audacity, you who took the three sons we bow to bury, the teens we don't know, the teens we vow to avenge. You, we will kill, not directly, as you hide in the smoke and alleys. We will not cut your shadowed face or rip your well-fed limbs.

Instead, we will take the baby-faced 16 year old, on his way home from school, with dinner on his mind. Him we will drag off the sidewalk. Him we will smash on the gutter grate. Him we will burn while he gasps and cries and shakes.

Your teen shall join our teens, your wife shall join our wives, your babies shall join our babies, in the hot exhaust of our hate that knows no end, in the toxic fumes that trail our lives of anger and revenge.

Peace you shall not know, and peace we shall not know, until peace we find together, in the brotherhood of hell.

We are so blessed and protected here in the US. And yet, the world is fraying at the edges. Now we have a major airliner shot down with hundreds killed. What can we do? Foster compassion, peace, love. And spread the same wherever you can. And, please, don't bury your heads in the sense of isolation we have here in the US. We need to stay involved in our world to effect change. 

With love and gratitude!

xo, Cate

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dog Days of Spring

This dog, Britt, may look easy-going, but don't be deceived. I am watching her for a friend today and she is keeping me company as I pack up my stuff to move again. (ugh!) After moping around the box piles for a while, we decided to take a walk. Or rather, I decided it would be good for us to walk. She decided otherwise. She fought me every ten feet, digging her heels in, as if to say, "Nope, no thanks, don't wanna leave the last place I saw my owner." We finally turned around, but it is a shame because today is warm and sunny and I know she would have enjoyed the walk. . . .

They say that animals teach us lots of lessons, if we are willing to listen. Native Americans believe that animals are our link between the physical and spiritual worlds. Perhaps this is so.

It occurred to me, as Britt dragged her haunches behind the leash, that I am kinda doing the same thing to the Universe. The Universe is pulling me along, away from what I have known and am comfortable with, and I am feeling very resistant to that pull. I want to dig my heels in and say, "Nope, no thanks, don't wanna go into the unknown." And yet, historically, every time I've released the heel breaks of my life, I've been catapulted forward into an unanticipatedly wonderful new life adventure. You'd think I'd learn.

Well, maybe it was the fresh air or maybe it was the doggie lesson that brought me back to the house with a renewed energy for packing up and moving on. Change is hard and packing is a drag, yet the new horizons that await me, just around the corner, beckon like a park full of fire hydrants (in dog-speak).

Now, if I could just sell this dining room table set so I don't have to pay to move it again....

Happy dog dreams to you all!

xo, Cate

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Imposters and Moons

Today, a woman came up to me at the author's table at the WAI conference in Orlando and thanked me for my talk yesterday.

She said, "It was during your presentation that I had an epiphany, I realized 'I am an imposter.'" She went on to explain how she had held a whole string of illustrious jobs in the aviation world and she hated every one of them. She had only followed that path because of her father's nudging. What she really wanted to do was write. She said, "Thank you. You have given me the inspiration to pursue my own dream instead of following someone else's dream." 

That is pretty powerful stuff.

Whether talking to grade schools, high schools (the toughest audience!) or adults, the commonality is that we all have dreams, some of which have been unrealized because of fears, or external pressures, or uncertainties about how to proceed. I don't pretend to be the queen of dream-makers. There are amazing women and men out there who have conquered the world in truly extraordinary ways. But it's not about conquering the world or making lots of money; It's about doing what you love and find rewarding, whether it be running a Fortune 500 company or quilting for homeless people. Despite what the world may try to convince us about success, the only true definer of your success is your own heart.

Whatever it is a person wants to do, I tell them "Shoot for the moon." I say, "Even if you miss, you'll land on a star."

Last week, I saw a card with that exact saying in a bookstore. Darn! I thought I had made that one up!

Happy dreams to you all!

xo, Cate

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth

Today marks my third day at Coronado Springs Hotel in Disneyworld, Orlando. I came for the Thursday-Saturday Women in Aviation International Annual Conference. And I came a day early to enjoy a little Florida sun, which has remained shy at showing its face. My sole regret, however, is that my baggage decided to take the long way here, only just arriving today, and leaving me for two days with yoga pants, a jean jacket, and no makeup. Lovely. But I try to look at the bright side - I was forced to obtain some new duds at the outlet mall yesterday, so as to be ready for today's presentation.

Speaking of the bright side, I asked the gift store attendant if everyone here got special training to be smiley and friendly. He said no, it was just expected. And isn't that a wonderful thing? Although I have
occasionally scoffed at Disney properties for their facade of life as a clean, happy, whistling-a-tune-as-I-go kind of place, I rather like the concept. For a while anyway. I am not suggesting that we all go around with foolish grins or Pollyanna attitudes, but imagine how we could alter our realities if we each made a little more effort to be friendly, attentive, kind, and considerate.I don't think it would take away the raw edge of life, but it might blunt it a little bit.

This picture is of me (in my baggage-lost-had-to-buy-it new dress) and new friend, Kathy, from Connecticut. Kathy is a flight instructor and aspiring writer. We talked about flying, airplanes, writing, dreaming, universal guidance, and life philosophy both before and after my speech. She is such a nice person, she almost puts Disney employees to shame. At 26, she's already conquered so much of the world, and with a smile.

Best part of my job, as author and speaker: 
The awesome people I meet.

xo, Cate

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Adventures here and there

Ah, busy times.
I spent all of last weekend at the NW Aviation conference, speaking, and signing books, and chatting with friends, old and new. I met up with Ken Davies from the new flight school, Cascade Aviation, at Skagit airport. He is very excited about starting up some awesome programs that encourage women (Pink Squadron) and youth to fly. He has invited me to be involved with them. His energy and enthusiasm remind me of Out of the Blue Aviation.
Speaking of Out of the Blue, we had a little "reunion" a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun, we've decided to make it a regular event. These are people I have a lot of great history with and to whom I owe all the success that was Out of the Blue. I definitely want to be a part of that type of flight school again - so I hope to be flying soon up at Skagit with Cascade. Skagit appears to be the happening airport right now, with the museum from Bellingham having just moved there and two restaurants and a lot of good energy. If anyone is interested in learning more about the flight school there, drop me an email.

In the meantime, I am finishing up my week here in Twisp, in beautiful Okanagon Couny, promoting women in aviation. I spoke today to the middle school and high school and alternative school. Tomorrow I speak to the grade school (fun!) then it is a book signing at Trail's End Bookstore and all day Saturday at the airport doing meet and greet. Plus I get to go fly tomorrow with my host, Bob, in his Cessna 170. I'll try to post some pics of the beautiful countryside here. Gorgeous rolling hills covered in snowy pines and a blue sky backdrop that seems to never end. All good stuff!

xo, Cate

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dancing the Wild Fandango

Our dreams wait in the wings 
for us to step into their arms
so they can dance away with us.

Those of you who know me, know I love to dance and I love to fly, so I like the imagery of the above saying. It's got wings (yeah, double entendre there), and dancing, and theater (the double). Okay, I'm not so big on theater and acting. Don't get me wrong; I'd like to give it a try if I had the time and the guts. But really, public speaking is not my favorite thing. Has anybody out there done Toastmasters? I keep thinking I should join a group. What about karaoke? I went out twice last week for karaoke and there were some pretty weak performances. But who cares? I admired them for getting up and belting out tunes.

In any case, I am getting a little more practice talking in front of people, with a whole bunch of speaking opportunities in the next two months. I am doing book readings and luncheons and dinners and school assemblies and conferences (if you're going to the NW Aviation Conference, I'll be speaking Saturday at 2:15 - come say hi!). I used to be quite susceptible to stage fright. Like anything, practice makes perfect, and I am finding that I enjoy the challenge of sharing my passions with groups of people.

What is it that scares you? What do you avoid? What do  you secretly wish you had the guts to do? Sometimes, you  just gotta step into whatever it is that scares you and suddenly you find you are dancing to new and exhilarating music.Or just doing something wild and crazy on the beach. Whatever works for you!

As always, I love to hear your thoughts via email at cjmighell@gmail.com

xo, Cate

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A B-52 Year


We are well into the New Year of 2014 and I have also begun my personal New Year, having celebrated my birthday on January 10th.

If last year was my P-51 year (Powerful 51), this year is my B-52 (Bountiful 52). A few years ago, the B-52 completed 50 years of continuous service (just like me) and is expected to continue to serve into the 2040s (absolutely! I intend to be running strong then too!). The B-52 has "superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs" (ah, the similarities continue!) And its nickname is "BUFF" which also applies :-) (I won't tell you what the acronym stands for, because it definitely doesn't work in the search for commonalities!).

As you can see from the picture, the B-52 has gone through a number of evolutions and iterations, as have I.

And that, perhaps, is the key to surviving so long - the ability to adapt and  improve, and the willingness to accept change. Change is one of the most difficult things for us to embrace. We often fight against the inevitable evolution of life. We hold tightly to people and places that no longer serve us simply because we fear the uncertainty that letting go would cause; We resist losing those we love, whether it be through diverging paths or as a result of death, because we dread the pain that loss would bring; We insist on continuing behavior or patterns that are destructive because they are comfortable. We are indeed creatures of habit.

It was not until I learned to accept change, embrace it even, as part of the beautiful evolution of being, that I really began to relax into my life. The tumultuousness of change is a bit like the churning of a washing machine. At the end of the cycle, everything comes out fresh and clean. All that tossing about can be a bit jarring, but it is a necessary process to keep us from getting stale and stagnant.

And so, I enter my B-52 year excited about all the changes the new year will bring. For starters, I am planning to create a new look for this blog. I have let it lapse a bit lately and would like to morph into a slightly new direction - some aviation, some adventure, some ad-libbing on various subjects. I hope you will all make that transition with me and invite others along for the ride. More details to follow on that....

In the meantime, go out there and shake it up a bit!

xo, Cate