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Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First

Thoughts on taking care of yourself.

Unless you are my producer, Thomas LaDuke, and avoid airplanes at all costs, you’ve heard the spiel.  You know the one, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please be sure your seat belt is fastened. To buckle the belt, slip the metal fitting into the buckle and pull the loose end of the belt to tighten the belt. Please be sure your tray tables are stowed and carry-on luggage is placed under the seat in front of you.  In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, your oxygen masks will deploy.  Place the mask over your mouth.  Tighten by pulling the straps on either side of the mask and breathe normally.  Place your mask on before placing the mask on any children.”

I was once a flight attendant, many moons ago, and that spiel still burns in my brain. I always laughed at the part where it says to breathe normally. I’m pretty certain if I’m at 36,000 feet and the airplane loses cabin pressure at which point the pilots are instructed to dive to 10,000 feet for the approved amount of oxygen, the last thing I’m going to do is “breathe normally”.   I think they should say, “Please try to keep your f-bombs to a bare minimum and don’t puke because it will freak everyone else out and scar them for life.”   See, that’s practical to me.

But the one thing from the safety message before any flight that needs to be said is the part about putting your mask on first before you place it on a child.  It’s human nature I believe, or hope, for just about anybody to want to help save a child in an extreme circumstance especially if there is a danger being posed to both of you.

Recently I had a scare, which turned out to be nothing, but scared the bejeezus out of me anyway when as my daughter and I were leaving Walmart and she was on the passenger side of the car and I was at the trunk loading groceries I suddenly saw this wiry odd man rushing toward her in an aggressive manner.  

I immediately felt helpless because I couldn’t somehow morph myself into a position between the two of them. And in something much like from the movie the Exorcist, this voice came out of me as I pointed and shouted “BACK THE FU** UP!”  I also think this is the exact moment when the lasers shot out of my eyes.  I scared him to death and he raised his hands in surrender and walked away.  We later watched as he went from car to car begging.  It’s not that I have an issue with beggars, that’s a whole other article, but all I knew was if someone was going to be hurt, it was going to be me and not her.  I guess that’s that whole mama bear thing.  And yes, I know mothers are like that but I know people who are not mothers that would have done the same thing.

The point is, that we tend to always want to take care of others above ourselves.  Or maybe it’s just me. Oh, sure I’ve dated men who were the exact complete opposite of that. It was all about them. Cough. Cough. Won’t name names, but the vast majority of people I know would give you the big piece of cake and keep the little one for themselves. If you are like me, you like taking care of others over yourself.  I once thought that was an admirable quality. And maybe it still is, but I’ve learned a great lesson.  You have to learn to take care of yourself, first. Because if you don’t, you aren’t a lot of good for anybody.   If you are passed out at 36,000 feet what good are you to anyone?  But if you take care of yourself, you are so much better for all of those around you.

Why is that so difficult?

I’m about to make some big decisions.  The catchy part is, that they would be good for me. Eventually, that goodness would spread to my kids because I could better provide for them, but dang, it’s so hard.

So here I am at 36,000 feet trying to breathe normally. I’m tightening my seat belt because turbulence scares the crap out of me, still. I’ve put on my oxygen mask first because I want to be okay enough to take care of my children and I’m going to trust the pilot because I know He’s taking me exactly where I need to go even if I can’t see through the clouds.

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