Every now and then, I hear from readers who are wondering what I’m doing, now that I’ve retired my “Flying Lessons” aviation column. The answer is, I’m currently researching a book I hope to have completed by the end of the year.
The book is about the power and importance of an authentic voice: why it matters, what it can accomplish, and how to find it, nurture it, protect it, and bring it into the world in a meaningful way. It might seem that this is a big departure from flying adventures, but it’s not, really.
I called my column “Flying Lessons,” because I’d come to the conclusion fairly early in my flying and adventure career that the biggest reason I valued the challenges and experiences it entailed wasn’t the “whoo hoo” adrenaline high of physical feats. It was what all those adventures and challenges taught me about myself, other humans, life, living, and the world. And the biggest lessons all my adventures taught me were always about myself. My true self. Where my limits and strengths and talents lay, and what experiences resonated most strongly with things I valued–or discovered I valued –at my core. And if I was a blissfully happy woman for all the years I spent exploring the world and writing about it in my column and other articles, it was because that writing allowed me to bring that ever-evolving authentic self and voice into the world in a way that contributed something of value.
In other words, the single biggest lesson that all my adventures and experiences over the past 27 years has taught me is the power and importance of finding my authentic core and voice, learning how to hear and be guided by it, and then figuring out a way to bring that voice into the world, in ways that had a meaningful impact others, and gave me both joy and a sense of fulfillment.
Hence the book project. The book is actually focused on women’s authentic voices. Not because I don’t think the issue is important for men, but because I think there are enough differences in the challenges men and women face in trying to find, embrace, and express their authentic selves and voices that they need to be addressed separately. What’s more, as I told a panel of educators a few weeks ago, while my quarter century of immersion in the very male world of aviation and adventure has made me very compassionate about the pressures men face to repress their emotional selves and voices, and to fit certain stereotypical roles of masculinity and provider … I think men are still less likely to lose or suppress their entire authentic voice. Women are far more likely, even in today’s world, to give away their voice, or allow it to be diminished or silenced. So I’m starting where I believe the need is the greatest, as well as in the place where I have expertise not just from observation, but from personal struggle and experience.
Having said that, however, there’s a lot of general wisdom that’s coming out of my research (academic papers, books, and interviews with professionals and educators all over the country); wisdom that applies to anyone interested in living an authentic, vibrant, life of quality and fulfillment. So as I work on the book, I’m going to be posting some of those insights, perspectives, and food-for-thought items here. Look for them!
In the meantime, I’ve revised the About page for this blog, to articulate a little more clearly how all these various subjects relate. I recommend taking a look at it!