Shortly after my divorce, I decided that a trip to one of my favorite destination was in order. “San Francisco, here I come” I thought as I did my seat belt up, watching as others boarded the plane and hoping I didn’t get a chatty seat mate.
As the passengers on the plane settled in, the stewardesses begin their checks. Seat beats? Bags stowed? Electronics off? I was settling in when the voice came over the PA system to do the usual announcements, complete with the charades of how to do the seatbelt up… and that’s when I heard it. The motto I now use every day.
“… to start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head and breathe normally. Although the bag might not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with someone that requires assistance, secure your mask first, then assist the other person.” But she added a twist to her speech… ‘you’re no good to that person if you don’t because you’ll be passed out from trying to be too helpful’.
For some unknown reason, my ears perked up on the speech I’d heard a dozen times before. Put my own mask on first cause I’m no good to others if I don’t…. hmmmm. Kind of like in life. And not something I had been doing very well. Mind you, I did have 4 kids. They all needed something from me. And I had been a stay at home wife for 14 years. It was my job to take care of others! I was the first one to raise my hand for anything…. Cupcakes for the class? I can do that! Short coaches? I can do that! You missed the bus again? Get in… I’ll drive. And the list went on and on.
I was my own worst enemy! Give, give, give. But here was this stranger telling me it was ok to put my needs first. To put my own oxygen mask on first. Take care of me, in order to take care of others. Hmmmm…. Novel idea.
That trip was meant to be. If only to hear those words and let them resonate with me. And they have! I now ensure that I put on my own oxygen mask on a regular basis. Some in my life didn’t like it. Others thought it was great. I was learning to figure out that it really didn’t matter what they thought; we all have our own ways of putting on our oxygen masks.
So to the airlines that have been using that speech for decades, thank you. Thank you for teaching me a valuable lesson that I continue to use daily (said as I firmly place that mask on).