Ever since saying YES to this path of leadership and healing the world, I’ve been tested year after year to show up as a leader in the face of crisis. In these times I learned to trust myself. To trust my passion, intuition, and heart. Last month I was tested again, and this felt like the final Rite of Passage into my leadership as a woman. Where was it? On a crowded airplane that just landed, with hundreds of impatient people trying to get off the plane during the holidays.
Here’s the story.
We land in San Francisco, and everyone begins to stand up so we can exit the plane, and I hear screams in the aisle, “My husband is fainting.. Shaking.. Help!” I look up from my window seat and notice the scene. I see a mixture of chaos, fear, and hysteria surrounding a man who was falling to the ground, unconscious and shaking. I immediately shout out, “We need a doctor! Is there a Doctor on the plane?”
The man is caught before hitting the ground, and flight attendants make their way to the scene asking, “Sir, are you okay? What’s wrong?” He comes back into a bit of consciousness but isn’t there. The flight attendants continue questioning him, but something is very off. The man keeps slurring his words, and his eyes go to the back of his head.
It takes me about 10 seconds to realize that no one is helping amidst the chaos and it doesn’t seem like any doctor is on board. Everyone is either frozen in fear or hysterical.
That’s when I feel the tug from Grace telling me that it’s time to step up. Before I know it, I’m jumping over my seated neighbors sharing that I have some emergency training, and then grab the man’s hands and have him look into my eyes.
I’m calm, present, alert, and firm. His eyes are like “deer in headlights.”
I say, “Sir, you just fainted, look into my eyes and take a breath with me, good,” we breathe, eyes locked (and I sense the whole plane take a breath too). “Do you feel my hands on your hands, sir?” Nods his head. “I’m going to squeeze your hands tighter now, okay? Let me know when it’s too much.” He nods again. Then with a calm smile on my face I say on the next breath, “Good. Now look into my eyes, Sir, stay with me. What color are my eyes?” He focuses in, and says.. “Blue.. green?” “Good.” Then pointing to his shirt I say, “Tell me, what color is your shirt?” This takes him a while… but finally says, “blue.”
I keep doing this sensory work with him (with the whole plane’s eyes on me) to keep him present and connected to his body. We occasionally need to do this somatic work in our workshops when a participant remembers a particularly scary trauma from the past and goes into what we call the “trauma vortex.” The memory is so strong in the body and mind that they lose their presence completely, unable to control their sensations, feelings, thoughts, and speech. When this vortex gets stuck, it needs awareness and resources to reengage the nervous system back to presence.
I keep doing this “resourcing” work with him, bringing him back into his body over and over again. I have him sense temperatures and even textures against his skin. I repeat this process until EMTs enter the scene to help this man and wife off the plane, and the (angry and loud) passengers are finally allowed to leave the plane too.
I gather my things, take a huge resourcing breath, and head off the plane- but am stopped by every flight attendant and even the pilot himself with a hugs of gratitude for taking charge and helping this man (and the entire plane) remain calm. They had never seen anything like it before. After watching me work with this man, they’re now going to ask their supervisors for more emergency training for their entire airline.
They realized when they saw me bring this man back to presence inside of his senses in really simple ways, that he could calm down and communicate effectively. The EMTs later told me that the work I did to keep his brain “online” and his heart rate calm was incredibly beneficial.
I’m sharing this story with you today as inspiration for your own New Beginning this year. The New Beginning I received was total trust in myself on as a leader, even on a crowded airplane with hundreds of people yelling at me to get out of the way. This was a “trial by fire” experience, one that tested me to the limits but showed me that I’m ready to be certified as a COR Woman Facilitator, a rite of passage workshop I’ve been in training to facilitate for other 4 years (formerly known as Celebration of Woman).
What is it that you are being called to trust in this new year, [FIRST NAME GOES HERE]? Where is your “trial by fire?” It’s probably not as dramatic as mine on that plane, but every moment, if you really listen, we’re always asked to step into something bigger that requires trusting our deepest selves.
If you feel a nudge in your heart to step up as a leader in your own life, to claim your worth, confidence, and power as a woman once and for all, I have a new Women’s Empowerment Coaching program designed with you in mind.
I’ll reveal it in a couple of weeks, stay tuned!
Until then, thank you so much for reading my story. I hope to connect with you soon!
P.S. Did you see my Facebook Live this week? I called myself out for unhealthy patterns, and shared vulnerably about an addiction I’ll be facing head on while in 8 days of silent meditation next week. Check it out!