WHO AM I? The Search for Answers Continues . . .

The time working for PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) in the 70’s was foundational in my journey of self-discovery because the environment was that of a “human smorgasboard”.  I was based at Oakland International Airport and met thousands of diverse and interesting people every week.  Met some stupid ones, as well:  

“What do you mean, the flight has been delayed indefinately??”

“Did you notice the fog this morning as you were driving to the airport?”

“Well, yes I did, but can’t you guys take off with instruments or something?”

“We actually use instruments in all our take-offs, but would you feel comfortable if we blind-folded our pilot just before  the plane hurtles down the runway at 150 MPH with you onboard?”

“OK, ok, well I have a meeting in LA at 10 a.m.  Am I going to make it to that meeting?  When will the plane take off?”

“We’ll take off just as soon as the fog clears and it’s safe to do so.”

“Well when will that be?  Can you give me some idea so I can tell the LA office when I’ll be there?”

With exasperation, “Just a moment and I’ll make a call…. Hello God, this is Liz again.  Yeah, we have another passenger who wants to know when you’re going to lift the fog here in Oakland….. 9:30?  Great, thanks!”

“God says you’ll be there by 11.”

I left the airline business 4 1/2 years into it.  Before doing so, I hobnobbed with professional athletes, their owners, entertainment personalities, business magnates and politicians.  I traveled internationally with some of these friends and socialized regularlly with them and their families.  I was not enamoured by celebrity and felt comfortable running in these circles and maintained these friendships for many years.  When I left the airline business and started my advertising & printing company, Designed Communications, some of my friends became good clients, as well as friends.  I noticed disconcerting changes in myself which served as warnings to me, to adjust my thinking and which became valuable life lessons, as follows:

1.  As one developes more expensive tastes in food, travel, clothing and material things in general, one’s capacity for happiness and satisfaction diminishes.  I noticed that I didn’t enjoy a fine meal, unless it was at the best table in the trendiest restaurant, having arrived by limo, with a curious and admiring audience.  Huh? 

2.  Wealthy famous people are insecure in their relationships because they often wonder if they are loved because of their wealth and fame, rather than who they are as regular people.  Most fear aging above all else.  

3.  If one’s wealth and fame resulted from positive media attention, one can be disgraced by that same media attention and all can be lost overnight.  Terrifying prospect to the untalented.

4.  Money is nothing more than a tool to be used to fund a life with meaning.  

5.  People matter more than things.

6. You aren’t your car.  Finally accepted that when I had to drive a minivan.

7.  Things are not adequate substitutions for time spent together.

8.  When considering problems, I always ask myself whether $100,000 would solve them.  If it’s about money, I can relax. If money won’t fix it, ie; disease, insanity, lonliness, death, betrayal, etc., then it’s a real problem and I had better ascend to a spiritual level in dealing with it. 

9.  At times, one may allow the purchase of one’s companionship.  I spent a weekend in Chicago with Charley O. Finely, owner of the Oakland A’s when I was 25 yrs old.  He was in his 70’s and offered me a job in his large insurance company and wanted me to come to Chicago to check it out.  His home in Lakepoint Towers was decorated in the Oakland A’s colors – Bright yellow and bright green – with several of his World Series trophies as focal points.  He was articulate, brilliant, arrogant, suffered a “short man’s” complex, was extremely generous, hated some of his players, was respectful to me and liked having me accompany him in public. I was at least 8 inches taller than he which made easy work of glueing on his toupee – a one-time experience.  I declined the job in Chicago along with his invitation to be his paid companion (no sex involved!) and went back to California to re-evaluate my focus on obtaining money and power.

10.  Realized that real power has to do with governing one’s own appetite, one’s own responses, one’s own expectations and one’s own passion.  

Big lessons learned that saved me a life time of chasing the wrong things.

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WHO AM I? The Search for Answers Begins . . .

ImageUprooted from the large family-owned Wyoming cattle ranch, and finding myself uncomfortably situated in a small Utah town, fraught with cliques, bored (and predatory) teens,and the myopic self-importance common in so many rural communities, I struggled with questions about my identity.  As a 10 year old, I was entering the 6th grade and was overwhelmed with how out of sync I was with the rest of my world.  Kennedy was assasinated that year, my mother cried over being ostracized by the church ladies for declining the Bridge invitations, my brothers had left home, I realized that my voice would probably never develop vibrato, but hoped that my skinny tall body would eventually develop curves.  I was an incredible annoyance to my older sister and I desperately wanted to fit somewhere.  I began weighing the cost/benefit of fitting in.  

Advice from my brother resonated with me. He told me to mark time, finish school, avoid stupid social (moral) mistakes that would hinder my future and then escape to more fertile grounds.  I gave up Rodeo barrel racing  and dashed my father’s dream of being the county Rodeo Queen’s Dad.   My passion was centered in skiing and politics. I debated, mourned Goldwater’s humiliating loss, grew taller, was appalled by the Viet Nam war, and stayed out of my angry father’s stike zone.   I made out with my friends’ boyfriends, didn’t drink, smoke or party – primarily because I wasn’t invited to parties – and noted that I was much more appreciated in eclectic cosmopolitan environments.  I escaped to California.  

By then, I had devoloped the long-awaited curves, had modeled professionally, married a pot-smoking womanizing skier, taken an airline job with Pacific Southwest Airlines, borne two daughters and was still searching for an identity that would define me.  The year was 1975 and at age 22, I was a mother, wife, disowned daughter and sister, anti-war advocate, and women’s rights advocate.  I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and cultivated friendships with people very unlike my family and girlhood friends.

Lessons learned to this point in life:

1.  One can differ in opinion, lifestyle, background, appearance and personality without posing a threat.

2.  God may deny us certain desired talents or blessings . . . . for our good.  Had I been blessed with the beautiful singing voice of my sister, I certainly would not have wasted it on singing opera, but would have, in my imagination, been a ROCK STAR.  I don’t want to consider where that might have taken me (and my little girls).

3.  Living vicariously through our children – imposing our dreams onto them – is a form of child abuse.

4.  At a certain age, women gain great power over men, but usually don’t have the emotional maturity to wisely handle that power.  More on this later. 

5.  Immediate gratification is just that – immediate/fleeeting.

6.  When one’s sense of worth is tied to external input, ie; the opinions of others, then one relinquishes self-determination.  So, if I feel good only if someone expresses approval of me, then my happiness, my moods, my confidence and my sense of worth is tied to their moods, their willingness to communicate approval, and their opinion. I have then given them my power to decide who I am, how I feel and what I do. 

7.  Constant feedback is addicting. (Don’t mean to offend you Facebook or online dating site junkies.)

8.  Much of the feedback we receive from others comes with an agenda . . . might be jealosy . . . could be love/concern . . or hatred . . . . maybe it’s a form of symbiosis.  It should be sifted, analyzed and weighed before taking it into our hearts and souls.

9.  Every human being wants to feel valued by others. Even if the approving audience is a herd of cows looking up from their grazing as a gawky teenage girl belts out the song, “Everybody is a Star” from the other side of a barbed wire fence. 

10.  The above photo is of our PSA uniforms and had the effect of “fishing for piranha”.  The Oakland Raiders usually chartered our aircraft for their NFL travels, as did the Oakland Raider Booster Club which was comprised of mostly middle-aged men, decked out in their polyester Leisure suits with color-coordinated unbuttoned shirts – collars splayed across their shoulders – white “shinyl vinyl” shoes and matching belts, gold necklaces and Frisbee-esq toupee’s.  Despite their heavy drinking,  it was incumbent upon us to be polite, patient and sweetly answer the always-asked question, “So how far up do those legs go, Honey?”  

These were heady years for the one-time cowgirl from Wyoming, with life lessons learned and many more to come.