Sunday, May 26

getting my wings

After 22 tests, 46 days of training, 3 training flights, 8 practical evaluations, and countless hours of sleep lost, I've finally graduated from flight attendant training. *sigh of relief* It was much more difficult than I anticipated, likely due to the combination of being away from home for such a long period time plus the content and speed in which we covered the material. To sum it up, flight attendant training is no joke. But, God clearly wanted me here and I'm so thankful he brought me to this point.

The last week of flight attendant training was, well, intense. We had 2 aircraft tests, customer service validations, emergency management validations, door proficiency finals, emergency equipment preflight validations, and our final exam. It was the culmination of 7 weeks of information crammed into 3 days of testing and assessing whether or not we really got it.

Thursday afternoon was our final exam. After completing the assessment and pressing 'submit' for the last time, a wave of relief washed over me. I sunk into my seat with a sigh, realizing that I did it. I made it through flight attendant training. It's hard to explain what that moment felt like, but needless to say, it was wonderful.

Friday was a combination of elation, liberation, and exhaustion. We arrived early to the graduation venue in full uniform to rehearse and afterwards eagerly awaited the arrival of our friends and family. The venue was beautiful and the ceremony was a tear jerker. As with any graduation, we had a few speakers that motivated us to go out into the world (or sky, in this case) and be the best you can be. They spoke of our accomplishments and what we went through to get to this point.

Towards the end, we crossed the stage and were presented our wings. My airline does the pinning of the wings differently than most other airlines. Typically, the instructors will pin students wings as they walk across the stage, but we were given the opportunity to choose whomever we wanted to pin our wings after the ceremony. Without a shadow of a doubt, I knew I wanted my dad to be the one to pin my wings.

It was such a special moment being reunited with my parents and Kelly, celebrating this accomplishment and being able to finally head home!

There was a short reception after the ceremony that was catered with brunch foods. A perfect ending to an amazing morning.

As thrilling as it was to have gotten to graduation, it was also slightly bittersweet. I am blessed to have been able to develop the friendships I did at training. I've spent so many hours with my fellow trainees (now flight attendants :) studying, learning, stressing, and just living life together. I could never explain what flight attendant training is like to someone and have them fully comprehend. You have to experience it yourself...and that's what happened within my class. We experienced something together that few people understand. We locked arms when things got tough and helped one another succeed. I'm so grateful for the camaraderie our class has developed, even after 7 weeks of madness. Congrats to everyone in my class and I'll see y'all in NYC!

My roomie Ashley and I

My amazing instructors and I

Finally, I don't think I could write a post about graduating without saying thank you to those of you who stuck with me through these last 7 weeks of training. You know who you are and I praise God for you and for the support you gave. I certainly needed it! Without your reassurance and encouragement, I don't know that I would've been able to make it to this point.

Well friends, there's not much more to say aside from the fact that I'm now officially a flight attendant. Stick around for future posts on figuring out this crazy new career which will include: crashpads, navigating NYC, my first flight, and plenty more haphazard adventures.

Welcome aboard :)

Friday, May 24

the sweetest reflection

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
Søren Kierkegaard

These past 7 weeks have been challenging, exciting, interesting, exhausting, frustrating, exhilarating, and painstaking, but most of all, they have been sanctifying. God clearly ordained my coming here for his glory and my good. The temporal training I received to become a flight attendant is utterly insignificant in comparison to the ways in which the gospel was made known among this group of trainees. On the drive here 7 weeks ago, my dad and I prayed that my time at training would be filled with opportunities to share the gospel and boldness in doing so. That simple prayer was lifted up countless times from so many different people. God heard our prayers and responded. He moved in great ways here and I am humbled to have been chosen as part of his plan to draw these people to himself.

"Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!"
Psalm 117

I wish I could sit down with each person reading this post and tell of God's greatness and the ways in which he included me in his work here. Needless to say, it was magnificent. I had an abundance of opportunities to share the gospel one-on-one and in groups. More often than not, the people I shared with were open and curious about my beliefs. Few times though, I did experience pushback and rejection of the gospel. In both circumstances, God used those conversations to draw myself closer to him and to make known to these people the salvation offered to them through Christ. My prayer is that those who heard will turn from their sinfulness and repent so that they might be reconciled to the God of the universe and join me as coheirs with Christ.

"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."
Romans 8:16-17

I praise God for the challenges, frustrations, and exhaustion that flight attendant training brought. He used it to make me even more aware of my own human frailty and to conform me into a closer image of himself. Ultimately, that is all I want from this life. To know him and to make him known among all nations.

"But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Give praise to God, beloved. He is deserving of your honor and worship. Give yourself to this, turn to the Lord, and allow the veil to be removed. 

Wednesday, May 22

learning 'the look'

I love jobs that require uniforms. There's just something about them. It makes the employee recognizable and consistent. If you've flown, you've seen flight attendants gliding through terminals, almost always in uniform and in compliance. Different jobs I've worked have required, well, less than polished uniforms. Here are a few examples...

I worked at the Apple Store for a few years which required a lanyard, an Apple t-shirt, and jeans. You could have tattoos, piercings, purple hair...really it was a free-for-all. I have also worked at different hospitals and doctors offices over the years. The uniform? Scrubs. Basically, pajamas they allow you to work in. Amazing. I attempted to find pictures of employees at other places I've worked but I struck out. Needless to say, they were about as professional as the above two pictures. Nothing special.

But then, we have the flight attendant. Perfectly polished manicures, clean updos, ironed overall put-together look. Let's be clear though, I'm still mastering this 'look'. I'm more of a hair down, colorful nails, skinny jeans, and ballet flats kind of girl. Heels, updos, pantyhose, and a suit? Not so much. I see where 7 weeks of training comes in handy though. For others like me who have struggled to stay upright in heels for 12 hours, we need this time to 'train'. I may or may not have a story about a time that I fell, flat on my face, wearing heels in Target. Humiliating? Yes. Hilarious? Most definitely. Thankfully, I have walked a mile home from the training center to my hotel multiple times in heels these last 7 weeks, so I'm getting that part down.

Here are some things that I've learned are essential to mastering 'the look'...

·Find an updo that is quick and easy and become an expert at it. You'll want something fast when you have a 3:30am wake up call. My go to hairstyles? A ponytail, french twist, or a bun. I also love braiding my hair back, it adds some softness and femininity to an otherwise harsh hairstyle.

·Purchase heels that are more comfortable than they are fashionable. When you're running from terminal to terminal, your feet will thank you. I found this pair at Payless for $10!! Oh...have an extra pair of pantyhose with you at all times. They tend to run faster than Usain Bolt.

·Make sure to wear a good base coat and top coat with your nail polish. When you're putting bags in overhead bins, pushing the beverage cart, and opening 1,000 sodas in a day, you're pretty much guaranteed to chip your nail polish. Not cute. I love this affordable base coat and top coat from Revlon.

·I have never been one for clean, hairsprayed updos. Like I said earlier, I'm a hair down and wavy kind of girl. But, that's not really an option as a flight attendant. Hairspray is a must. The L'Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray is an excellent option for those of you who need to keep your hair up all day.

Most of these things I have learned from trial and error. I've improved in multiple areas, but I still have a long way to go until I look as effortlessly put-together as the 'senior mamas' out there. For now, my hair is going up in a messy bun and I'm throwing on my lounge pants. I'll figure the rest out later :)

Monday, May 20

wait, what airplane am i on?

MD-88/90, DC-9, 717, 737, A319/320, 777, 767, 757, A330, 747. Aircraft types. And to the untrained eye, they all look like this.

And even with training, they still look like that.

That's pretty much the overview of week 6 of flight attendant training. More aircraft types, more exits, more emergency equipment. We did have the opportunity to go and tour a 777 in the hangar which was so much fun! The crew rest facility and first class were amazing! Huge galleys, lay flat seats in first class, and an upper deck crew rest? Yes please.

Flight deck fun. 
Me and my roomie in the hangar.

Saturday, we had our last customer service training flight. Myself and two other trainees flew to Salt Lake City which was such a valuable experience. Actually going through the motions and doing the job puts all the pieces together. We were even able to sit in the cockpit during the flight and ask the captain and first officer questions! Let's just say, it's a pretty spectacular view.

Amazing training flight crew.

This week is my last week of flight attendant training. Can I get an AMEN?! It will be incredibly stressful but when I get my wings on Friday, it will all be worth it.

T-minus 5 days.

Sunday, May 19

luggage love affair

Crew luggage. The extension of a flight attendants arm. Many airlines require their flight attendants to purchase a uniform set of luggage, but the airline I work for allows a little more flexibility. There isn't a required brand, but there are regulations in regards to the type of luggage I can purchase. Being that I have had one cheap crappy inexpensive set of luggage, I wasn't really sure where to start. Thankfully, being at an Inflight Training Center has had it's advantages. I'm constantly surrounded by pilots and flight attendants, so I asked around. I quickly came to find that Travelpro is one of the most popular choices.

To give you an idea of what I was working with before I upgraded, here's a visual.

Flimsy sides, broken zippers, and overall not in compliance. This luggage worked for me for the little trips I have taken over the past few years, but I definitely needed a new set for work. And without further ado, here's my new 'forearm'.

A standard set of crew luggage consists of a rollaboard, tote, and lunchbox. I purchased the Flight Crew 4 22" Expandable Rollaboard Suiter, the Flight Tote, and the Large Crew Cooler. This set fits together seamlessly which makes it extremely easy to travel with. Each piece has multiple different compartments which makes organization a breeze! I love it!

Flight attendants are required to carry an Onboard Manual on every flight so that will typically go in the tote along with other items I may want quick access to. And the lunchbox may seem a little excessive, but being that I have to eat gluten free and I'll be gone for days at a time, I think I'll be glad I got the large one.

Needless to say, I'm excited to break in these bad boys. That being said, I think it's time to pack up this post. (pun intended)

Monday, May 13

service in the sky

Last week was week 5 of flight attendant service week. We focused mainly on international customer service standards such as: how to serve/cook a meal, set up a dessert cart, which carts can be opened on the ground, duty free sales, etc. For the most part, it was a breeze. We had later report times, fewer tests, and light material. I will say though, there is much more that goes into service at 35,000ft than you would expect. But, we all needed a bit of a break so we were grateful to slow things down a bit. Unfortunately, this week will not look the same. We will be covering the rest of the widebody aircrafts in our fleet. As I mentioned in week 4, I'm not a huge fan of aircraft specific training, although it will probably be better than the dull less interesting material covered last week. I'll keep you posted though.

In other news, we had a wine tasting and catered dinner off campus on Wednesday which was a welcome change to our monotonous schedule. The food was delicious and real which is the polar opposite of the 'food' I am able to eat and store at the hotel (i.e. cereal, oatmeal, and protein bars).

Saturday, we had our second training flight which focused specifically on customer service. I flew with two other trainees to Fort Lauderdale and back. It was a quick and easy trip that offered so much insight into what work will really be like when we're finished with training. On the first leg, I worked in First Class and had amazing customer interactions. The customers and crew were encouraging and excited to have us onboard which made the experience all the more exciting. On the flight back to Atlanta, the captain made us stay seated for the majority of the flight due to turbulence which prevented us from doing a full beverage service. Thankfully, the turbulence lightened up with enough time for us to do a water and snack walkthrough. Overall, the flight was really fun and a good reminder of what I'll be doing in a few short weeks.

Since my flight landed back in Atlanta at 1:25pm, I was able to run to another gate and hop on a flight home to surprise mom for Mother's Day! Being in Birmingham with my parents, Kelly, and Tucker was exactly what I needed to rejuvenate me for this last bit of training. I was able to go to church with my parents which was more of a blessing than I can explain. The sermon focused on the cross and Christian womanhood since it was Mother's Day. It was a beautiful reminder of not only my purpose here at training (to be intentional in sharing the gospel with coworkers) but more specifically, my role as a woman. Praise God for creating distinct gender roles that we are intended to glorify him through.

It was a busy but blessed week. May 24th doesn't seem that far off anymore. Here's to finishing training and getting back home so I can spend much needed time with my Birmingham crew :)

Tuesday, May 7

morning encouragement

My dad emailed this to me the other morning and I was greatly encouraged by it. I hope you are as well.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Art thou asking the reason of this, believer? Look upward to thy heavenly Father, and behold him pure and holy. Dost thou know that thou art one day to be like him? Wilt thou easily be conformed to his image? Wilt thou not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify thee? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of thy corruptions, and make thee perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect? Next, Christian, turn thine eye downward. Dost thou know what foes thou hast beneath thy feet? Thou wast once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Dost thou think that Satan will let thee alone? No, he will be always at thee, for he "goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Expect trouble, therefore, Christian, when thou lookest beneath thee. Then look around thee. Where art thou? Thou art in an enemy's country, a stranger and a sojourner. The world is not thy friend. If it be, then thou art not God's friend, for he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be assured that thou shalt find foe-men everywhere. When thou sleepest, think that thou art resting on the battlefield; when thou walkest, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so will the trials of earth be sharpest to you. Lastly, look within thee, into thine own heart and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. Ah! If thou hadst no devil to tempt thee, no enemies to fight thee, and no world to ensnare thee, thou wouldst still find in thyself evil enough to be a sore trouble to thee, for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Expect trouble then, but despond not on account of it, for God is with thee to help and to strengthen thee. He hath said, "I will be with thee in trouble; I will deliver thee and honour thee."


Sunday, May 5

halfway there

I'm elated to say that I am now over halfway finished with flight attendant training. Thank God! Graduation couldn't get here soon enough!

We just completed week 4. It consisted of a midterm, 5 aircraft tests, and midterm emergency management validations. Overall, it was a busy week. Our instructors have been so excited to teach the aircraft specific section of our training since the beginning, so we were all looking forward to it. But boy, were we wrong. This is what pretty much each day this week looked like (with the exception of our midterm day). The first thing we did after reporting to the training center was take a test on the aircraft we studied the previous day. Immediately following the test, we did online training on the aircraft we would be studying that day, then we go into lecture. We covered how many exits are on the aircraft, how to operate those exits, where the jumpseats are, what the minimum crew is, emergency equipment locations, etc. Every.little.detail. And let me tell you, there are a lot of minor differences. Lunch is thrown in at some point and then we went down to our 'mock-ups' in which we practiced normal and emergency operation of that aircraft's exits (windows, doors, tailcones, etc.). Each person has to pass off on the ability to operate the exits because at the end of training, we have our door proficiency day. One of the most nerve-racking days of training. We will have to go in and test off on every exit of every aircraft before graduating. You fail, you go home. I heard of a girl last year who had to retest on her doors the morning of graduation. She failed and was sent home from training. Oh, and her family had flown in from Brazil to see her graduate. No bueno. That being said, our door proficiency is critical to passing. After we all practiced exit operation, we had a review and headed home. That happened All in all, not my favorite week. I am looking forward to this upcoming week though! Week 5 is international week (can someone say Paris?!) so there will be lots of training on customer service, cultural sensitivity, food/beverage service standards, among other non-aircraft specific related subjects. Unfortunately, we still have 4 aircrafts left to study (with multiple variations of each aircraft), but at least we're finished with 5 of them!

19 days left friends. Just 19 days. Praise.the.Lord.

Wednesday, May 1

a perfectly timed pick-me-up

Getting to the halfway point in training comes with it's pros and cons. It really just depends if you're a glass is half full or half empty kind of person. For me, it changes day to day. Being away from my friends and family has been exceedingly difficult. I miss the community and accountability that comes from my small group, church, family, and friends. Thankfully though, the busyness of my schedule has only enabled me to focus on what is happening here, keeping me from dwelling on what I miss so dearly. One amazing thing about my training is that it's held in Atlanta, Georgia, a mere 2-3 hour drive from Birmingham! Some people here are 16 hours from their family and friends! Due to the short commute, I have been beyond blessed to have visits from my sweet daddy and most recently, Kelly!! Here's a rundown of 30 hours of roommate awesomeness.

It began with what can only be described as a breathtaking, jaw dropping, she-knows-me-too-well surprise. Gluten free chocolate chip banana bread. Feel free to take a moment to wipe the drool from your mouth. I understand. Some might say that this banana bread is necessary to my survival. If there are two bananas in my house at any point, you can bet I will be transforming them into this bad boy.

Moving on. We made a quick trip to Target so I could grab my weekly necessities. Soup. Cereal. Bananas. Protein bars. Ahh the joys of hotel life...microwave food only. Afterwards, we went for some serious girl time and got a manicure. It was so relaxing and a nice treat considering the workload Kelly and I both have had on our plate in the recent weeks.

Next, we wanted to go somewhere that neither of us had been to that would be a fun experience in the ATL. Little did we know, we chose paradise. Trader Joe's.

This place is like a mini Whole Foods, but cheaper. A gluten free girls dream. We were excited to say the least. After perusing each aisle, we left like champions.

If you've never been to Trader Joe's before, make sure to tell the people at check out. You might leave with an extra goody and a few bells rung in your honor. Just sayin.

We had just a little time before church so we headed to one of Kelly's favorite places to shop. I had never been before so I was excited to see what the hype was all about.

Crate & Barrel was awesome! Kelly explained it perfectly. It's similar to Ikea, but better quality and you don't have to assemble everything yourself.

The next part of our day was honestly a huge disappointment. Being in Atlanta and having no car has kept me from being able to attend church these past two Sundays. I have been craving community and corporate worship so Kelly suggested we find a church to attend! Brilliant idea. We chose a well-known church in Atlanta and attended their evening service. It was terrible. There's really no better way to say it, we were shocked. The teaching was a feel good, man pleasing, Scripture lacking, motivational speech. The pastor read one verse and told personal, unrelated stories the rest of the service. It was fluff. The focus was completely misdirected. It was centered on being successful, finding your passion, and doing good. While that may sound nice, that's not the intention for the church. We glorify God by making disciples of all nations. Finding your passion as a follower of Christ is relatively easy. We seek to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth, fulfilling the great commission. I was angered by the lack of gospel-centered, Christ exalting, God honoring worship. That being said, I am committing to pray for this church for at least the duration of my training in Atlanta. That place desperately needs refocusing.

Leaving early from the service with our spirits broken, Kelly and I made our way to dinner. She mentioned hearing about a gluten free burger place in town that sounded delicious. And boy was she right. God bless Farm Burger.

This place knocked our socks off. The service exceeded expectations and the food was delectable. We each built our own burgers...mine with a gluten free bun. The spicy garlic, parmesan, herb Farm Burger fries were to-die-for. Sooo good.

But wait, there's more.

This is truly the epitome of Kelly and I in milkshake form. She ordered the salted caramel and I ordered the chocolate peanut butter. It was bliss. Bliss people. A much needed pick-me-up.

Monday, we slept in (can I get an amen?) and then headed to Ikea.

It was a fairly quick trip but Kelly knew what she was looking for which streamlined the process. Here are our spoils from the trip.

Unfortunately, this is the end of 30 hours of much needed roomie time. Kelly, you're amazing, the best roommate a girl could ask for! I love you more than you know and am so thankful you were able to come visit! I miss you already and can't wait to see you in a few short weeks!!