Posts Tagged ‘humanitarian’

My commitments to 2017

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Hello faithful friends and followers!

It has been quite some time since writing a blog post, but here I am.  🙂

Floral Deliveries for Valentines Day

 

In 2016 I had some pretty significant health challenges (eColi that lasted three months, biking accident in Amsterdam messing up my left wrist, a few broken toes from walking into things, hand surgery to remove a cyst, a major car accident in October where I came within inches of dying, and of course still dealing with #Throb.  That proverbial elephant that has sat on my head for nearly six years now.);  which in turn caused me to make some changes in my life.

Truly, life was chaos when I look back on it now.  To make a really long story short, I currentlty have a perfect living situation for me.  I am renting a bedroom/bathroom from a business man who is gone 90% of the time.  The only time I really go upstairs is to cook or clean.  Most of my belongings are in storage, where they will stay until I am able to purchase my own place.  That is a ways down the road though, because with all I shared above; my finances needed some attention.

Thankfully I was able to maneuver through short term disability with the eColi and physical restraints from the bicycling accident in Amsterdam, and didn’t have surgery on my hand until I went on vacation in September.  All of that being said, I am soooooo thankful to be doing the job I was destined to do and loving being a flight attendant for Delta.  It is so weird to say I have been flying for 18 years, it just doesn’t seem THAT long.  Time flies when you are having fun!  (it really does!!  🙂 )

For those of you who don’t know, every year for Valentine’s Day and Mothers Day, I work for a local florist delivering flowers.  This is something I have done most of my adult life, and is also a whole lot of fun for me.  Every year it seems like I have a goal set for myself for a specific dollar amount to earn, to go towards a very specific cause.  This year is no different ~ but I will get back to that in just a few minutes.  🙂

Because last year was so incredibly taxing on me mentally, physically, and financially; the two things I had to cling to were the loving support of my family and friends, and most of all, my faith.  I came in to 2017 with determination to love myself more and to have an attitude of gratitude. They are my mantras for this year, and are helping me to stay focused.  That all being said, I am moving forward with the commitments I made to myself on my birthday.

My commitment to 2017

Keep track of miles flown for one month

#MyYearOfLove

#AttitudeOfGratitude

Go to Peru and see Machu Picchu

Do a Volunteer Vacation

BELIEVE in the impossible

PEACE of mind

Stand firm in my FAITH and knowing TRUTH

Read scripture more often

Positive self talk

Eat healthy and be conscious of what I am consuming and why

Get in daily activity (yoga, walking, hiking, swimming, etc)

Read “Joan of Arc”

Connect with friends more frequently (especially in the Seattle area when I am home)

Make new friends

Dating is a must! Meet my soul mate.  Kiss in the rain.

Get outdoors and take photographs

Chop wood

Journal more

Go kayaking in the arboretum

Go to Glacier National Park

Clean condo once a month

Clean my bedroom once a week (including filing paperwork)

Have fun at work – do work trips with people I know and love and go to places where I have people I love

Send care packages to Rachael when she deploys & to other troops as time and donations permit

*********

Just reading through those notes on my phone and typing them out to you, makes me realize I made a whole lot of goals for myself for the year.  But I am one month into the list and have already accomplished the first one.  haha   As many of you may or may not know, when I first became a flight attendant in 1998, I made a goal to see the Seven Wonders of the World.  Then I found out there were 7 natural and 7 man made.  So instead of it being a one year goal, it ended up being a ten year goal.  What I learned in traveling to those places, was that some of them didn’t seem “all that worthy of being a wonder”.  The journey to each of them is what I learned the most from, because of the experiences along the way.  I started making my own list of places I wanted to see or explore.  Machu Picchu has been high on that list for quite some time.

It thrills me to know that one week from today I will be meeting up with a dear friend of mine, and we will be making our way to Peru on 23February.  During that time I will be going “radio silent” and focusing completely on where we are, what we are doing, and being “present”.  It is not very often that I shut myself completely off from the outside world (because our troops need support or I have outside obligations) …. but this time, this vacation is all about me rejuvenating my own soul.  Nikki and I have been planning this trip for months now, and I am incredibly thankful I was able to work extra work trips in December and January to pay for the trip (Peru is so inexpensive! Nothing like Iceland!  lol).  When I come back state side, I will be going to Southern California to meet the newest member of the Butler family and spend a few days bonding with family.  From there, I have to travel back to Atlanta for a mandatory meeting.  What meeting you ask?  Well you see …

For all of the miracles in the world to occur; I was given an incredible and I do mean INCREDIBLE birthday gift.  Out of over 350 applicants, I WAS CHOSEN to be one of the participants in the Delta Force for Global Good Build with Habitat for Humanity near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in a village called Chulavista.  The mandatory meeting on 8March is for all of us (46 active employees, 2 retirees, 16 AeroMexico employees) to meet and get direction about our trip.  Each of us have to pay $1,000 for our expenses for the trip.  Thank you SO very much to each of you who donated towards this project.  You have no idea how much $5.00 means to me, and how grateful my heart was with beep of my phone telling me I received a PayPal donation.  Thank you to my sister and other family and friends who gave me cash towards the trip.  Which brings me back to working for the florist. My goal was and is to make the remaining balance.   It is with a huge smile that I know I will surpass that goal because of your kindnesses towards me, believing in me, and my own determination to bring my goals to fruition.

It is absolutely crazy to me that I have a week of vacation in February, March, and April of 2017.  We bid for our vacation weeks so far in advance; but I am SO thankful to know I will at least be receiving income during the time that I am away.  All for great causes and reasons.  The reason I am so detailed in explaining my finances is two fold.  One is that I am under constant scrutiny any time I ask for donations.  I am one person who has chosen not to become a non-profit over the years.  I do so much for humanity in my own time; by sending care packages to the troops, volunteering, or helping others.  But the instant I ask for help, it seems some feel they have the right to judge my life choices.

If you ever want to see receipts for how monies are spent that are donated, I can provide them.  If you ever want to see the medical expenses I have on a monthly basis; that I pay out-of-pocket, I will happily provide them (I have not asked anyone for help with my medical bills since moving the Seattle in 2011).  I have absolutely nothing to hide.  Yesterday all Delta employees received a bonus through our hard work, in a Profit Sharing check.  Someone actually asked me why I was asking for donations for the Habitat Build when I knew I had the profit sharing money coming in.  Which is the second reason I am being so detailed.  Every time I get paid, I put money into my donation account to support our troops.  Most people don’t realize that I do things for service members throughout the year – they think I only do it for “Mail Call”.  My profit sharing check is actually paying off the debt I incurred from moving three times and outstanding medical bills. People always tell me “I live vicariously through you” and have asked how they could be a blessing by donating.  I learned to allow them to feel the joy in giving.  We should all have giving hearts; whether it be our time, resources, energy, prayers, or sending positive thoughts someones way.

Monies I received for the volunteer vacation, went directly to my personal bank account, so I could then pay the money for the specific project.  My goals are set.  My plans are in motion … and each day I am blessed because I am letting go more and more of what other people think of me, and focusing more on what God thinks of me.  I am an example and role model to many.  More than anything, I have ethics and morals and am evolving.  My desires are changing ever so slightly.  All I ever used to focus on was care for our troops.  Now I find myself wanting to go and “do” and continuing to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.  Call it “diversifying”.  Which is why I am doing the Habitat Build.  It isn’t just to go to a place I have never been, it is to fill my own cup by helping others.

That is what makes me tick.  Making a positive impact on others.

My hope is you have enjoyed this rather lengthy blog post and you now all feel informed as to what I am up to; and how grateful I am for your support and encouragement (especially last year).  I can never thank you enough for believing in me. Truly, I thank Erland so very much for making me make the promise “celebrate life for both of us, every single day, regardless of circumstances” ~ because there were days last year that those words were what kept me going.  From Heaven to earth, I am blessed with angels all around me. Now, time to run … more floral deliveries to make today, so I can reach my goal.  🙂

Always,

Robin

This photo is from several years ago, but I am posting it in honor of my dear friend, Donna Willock. She gave me this scarf on Valentine’s Day, which was the last work trip she ever had. She died of brain cancer that year. I wear it as a scarf or bandana often, and have it on today. She is another of my Heavenly angels.

PS.  For those of you who do not have my current mailing address, it is:

Robin Schmidt

PO Box 1494

Mercer Island, WA 98040

 

 

 

 

“Mail Call for Our Heroes 2016”

Friday, September 16th, 2016

“Mail Call for Our Heroes 2016″

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Wow, what a year this has been!  Sorry I have not blogged at all, but I have been caught up with life issues and using Facebook and other social media to keep everyone up to date.  With all the changes in my personal life, I am making some changes to this years “Mail Call for Our Heroes”. I do have to apologize that with moving so many times this year, I have not any idea where my photos are from last years care packages – so I am sharing ones from years prior.  Hope you don’t mind.  🙂

Since 2002 I have been ‘adopting’ troops serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn all over the globe. Our service members have expressed to me, over and over again, the importance of receiving mail and hearing their name called at Mail Call. It helps them to cope with the time away from their loved ones back home & having their name called at Mail Call.  For that reason, to uplift spirits and boost morale over the holidays, “The Sky Angel” is doing my tenth annual “Mail Call for Our Heroes”.

1SGT Miah Washburn recipient of “Mail Call for Our Heroes 2014”

This year “Mail Call for Our Heroes” is for a soldier and his unit that are deployed in Kuwait and the units they support that are deployed “downline”. I also will be sending Christmas decorations and surprises to a Marine EOD family that recently was sent to Japan for the next three years.  Additionally, as I do every year, I will send needed items to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for the staff and our Wounded Warriors in Germany. You will also find me volunteering a bit more often at the SeaTac USO; beginning in late October & through the holidays … so please come look for me, if you are in the airport!

My goals: 1) To raise $$$$ for holiday care packages including Christmas trees with all the decorations, toiletries, homemade treats, clothing for our Wounded Warriors, goodies for our canine heroes, and postage to ship the care packages. 

2)  Collect individual cards, letters, or notes so each service member in each unit or at the hospitals will have a piece of mail to open over the holidays.

Having you and your loved ones express your thoughts to the service members in these units will make such a difference for them this holiday season. Please feel free to get your children’s schools, girl/boy scouts, senior citizens homes, churches, social clubs, and families involved!  The troops love receiving the cards gathered from across the world for them!!

santaarrived

Santa arrived in Kuwait … via “Mail Call for Our Heroes 2013”

Please send donations (checks or money orders need to be payable to Robin Schmidt) to the address below. (Donations are not tax deductible as I do this out of the kindness of my heart and do not want the hassle of becoming a non-profit).  If you would like to make a donation online, you can do so via PayPal to the email address of: supportourheroes@live.com (or clicking on the donate button at the top of http://alwayssupportourheroes.com/what-to-send.html )

The deadline for me to receive any cards or letters to the troops, or cash donations need to be arrived in my mailbox no later than Veteran’s Day (11 November 2016) to ensure they arrive overseas before Christmas.  Any items received after the deadline will still be sent and appreciated (I just cannot guarantee the care packages will arrive before Christmas).

Please take note: This year I will not be accepting any actual items for the care packages, other than the cards or letters made or written.  There will be a baking day at some point in November, to send homemade treats to those deployed.  Since my living situation has changed, I need to take on a new approach. My commitment remains the same as it has since I started this project a decade ago:  to always support our valiant heroes, so none of them ever feel along on the battlefield, or when they return home.

Thank you in advance for making a huge difference through your generous donations and participation in “Mail Call for Our Heroes 2016″. 

Making Christmas Wishes ...

Believing in the magic of Christmas for our valiant heroes!

Always,

Robin

“The Sky Angel”

Robin Schmidt ~ PO Box 16796 ~ Seattle, WA 98116

for Fed Ex or UPS: 4412 California Ave SW #16796, Seattle, WA 98116

My Letter to Santa ~ Christmas 2015

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

1 December 2015
Dear Santa ~

This is such a busy time of year for you and your elves! Earlier today I took the time to hand write you a letter and am planning on having a passenger deliver it to you at the North Pole on one of my fights. But in case you have someone reading the internet ~ I wanted to send it to you via both methods.

My dad used to tell me when I was little “every time you see the sky pink or red, Mrs. Claus is baking cookies”. That memory from my childhood often crosses my mind as I watch the glow of the sunset from the windows, serving passengers on my flights.

Although I know you have so many boys and girls to grant wishes for, the inner child inside of me; is really needing some Christmas miracles for the full grown adult I am now.

You see, so many people ask what I want for Christmas. But I know the difference between “wants” and “needs”. Before I explain my own needs, I would like to ask you to look after the needs of others. Those suffering from depression ~ please bring them peace of mind. Those battling some form of addiction ~ help them to get the help they need, so they can be healthier and a more active member of society. Those contemplating divorce, help them to have honest, open communication with their spouse. Guide them to do what is best for their children and family unit as a whole. Those who are living in fear of any kind ~ please show them compassion and help them to find ways to laugh during really difficult times.

Help all of humanity to reach out with love and compassion towards others. Stop the hatred. This world needs a whole lot of help right now. So I ask you to work your magical powers to bring sustaining joy that lives in each and every heart, throughout the year. Please help to soften those hearts that are hardened and heal broken relationships between individuals, races, religions, and countries that are in constant battle.

Be with the reindeer and sing joyful songs to our service members far away from home. Bestow miracles to them and their families. Please care for their families that are at home and bring them extra blessings.

You see, Santa, I feel so badly asking for anything at all ~ when there are so many others with needs around the world. But Dad also taught me “if you don’t ask ~ you will never know the answer”.

Last year I asked you for a boyfriend. A man who has a heart of compassion, be my best friend, confidant, cheerleader, lover, and future husband. Someone who would be my perfect match in so many varying ways ~ full of wanderlust, affection, and the desire to touch lives in a positive manner. The man who will be just as equally in love with me as I will be with him, and give me his heart, as I give all the same in return.

During the past year I realized I no longer NEED that man to complete me. It is rather what I WANT. Someone to share my life with on every level ~ and maybe that is why you held off on that special gift for me last year. Now I am asking and believing you are working out the fine details with angels here on earth and in Heaven. After all, I know you have the ability to hear my prayers to God, just like He knows I am writing you this letter.

What I do know is I have been working very hard on making myself a priority this year. I learned the words “boundaries” and “limitations” and actually how to apply them in my life. I also continued to get rid of the people and things that are not good for my overall well being.

You see, I really wanted to be on your “good” list, because my needs are pretty significant. With all the hope of Christmas wishes come true for a child on Christmas morning, I am asking for a new place to live. A place I can afford, in a safe environment, and finally a place I really feel at peace. I haven’t had that in so long ~ I don’t remember what it feels like.

I am also asking for continued improvements with my health. In order to be able to afford a place on my own, I know I need to somehow reduce my out of pocket medical expenses monthly. However as things are today, I need the treatments I am receiving in order to continue working and be able to do the job I love as a flight attendant. Feel free to take Throb away once and for all. That would be the greatest miracle EVER. (well, next to a husband … hehehe)

With moving, I need financial miracles to make it happen. The elves probably already shared with you about the crime in my apartment complex. Without forced entry on any of the break-ins, I just don’t feel safe at all. Yet my faith is probably my greatest ally. I really am not attached to material possessions, unless they have sentimental value. Having my stuff stolen in the storage closet just made me more aware of the crime in my apartment complex and put me more and more on edge.

In order to move, I need help more than just financially. I need physical help to help me emotionally deal with the psychological aspects of looking for a place to live. I also need physical help to pack up my apartment, pay for movers (because of the experience I had moving into this apartment where I am now – I know it is the only way to get the furniture over the balcony). I also need help to unpack and get settled into my new place.

Because of my physical limitations, I know I am asking for a whole lot here. Santa, the stress I am dealing with has been overwhelming to me at times. I often keep it inside and then act like a three year old, having a complete meltdown. Getting so upset that I cry for hours on end, because I don’t know how else to express myself. That is why I chose to write you this letter today. I am asking you to bless me with the miracles of quality time of family and friends this Holiday Season. I want to continue to help your elves, but I just have to rely on you to help take care of my needs, so I can help take care of the needs of others.

You know my financial and physical limitations. Your elves are like God’s angels and they are definitely looking after me.

Thank you for all the help with the care packages for “Mail Call for Our Heroes 2015” and I entrust you to deliver those parcels at exactly the right time, to our valiant heroes overseas. I know our troops really need the morale boost and I did the best I could to share love from various sources with those cards and letters.

Wherever I am, I ask you to help use me as a vessel of love, laughter, and joy to those I encounter ~ throughout the holiday season and every day of the year.

Santa, I know this letter is long, but I really needed to get all of my thoughts out before I hand the written letter to someone to deliver to you at the North Pole. I’ve really been stressed out about not being able to “do more”; but I know my highest priority has to be my own safety. Any gifts I would normally give my family or closest friends will be waiting until I am more on my feet and secure financially. They would want that from me anyway. This year I am simply humbling myself to BE and BELIEVE. I need to be more open to receiving, rather than feeling like I have to do something in order to receive. Or that I have to somehow “perform” in order to be accepted and loved exactly as I am.

As I bring this letter to a close, I am going to add my “wish list” of items I would just like to have. They are absolutely wants and not nearly as important as my safety or security. But in case anyone asks you how they can help me … here goes.

• Quality time with family and friends
• A card or letter from someone expressing how I have impacted their life
• A gift certificate to Linden & Spa in Eureka, CA so Linden can do my hair
• Gift cards to NK Nails in Westwood Village. Hannah & Mary are the best!
• A sharp knife set (mine are really dull)
• To see Christmas Lights in Leavenworth
• A new coffee maker (with auto shut off) – white
• Gift cards for groceries and gas: Fred Meyer, Costco, Rite Aid (for prescriptions), or West Seattle produce for fresh fruits & veggies
• Not to feel guilty or alone this holiday season
• To create positive memories and be a joy to others
• To be a blessing in spite of my own circumstances and honor Erland’s promise he made me make to “celebrate life every single day”. Even during the toughest of days – I still remember to be thankful for this life I have.
Of course, I do want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter from the grown up me. I am doing everything I can to hold on for my ZEN place and keep believing in the absolute miracles of the Christmas Season.

Thank you also, Santa, for helping remind me through writing to you ~ that when I state my wants and needs ~ it helps me to find peace of mind. Thank you also for the blessings of being able to decorate at the USO at SeaTac yesterday. I really felt such a sense of peace while doing so and it helped me to honor my mom’s memory in such a special, beautiful manner. After 19 years of her being gone, yesterday was simply magical. I felt like I could feel the brush of her angel’s wings and see her smile. Thank you for that miracle and for the way the center looked when I finished. I pray it blesses every service member, family member of the military, Veteran, and the USO staff, throughout the Season.

If you can sneak into my mailbox to deliver anything – I will leave you goodies there. With all that is going on, I guess the best way for you to deliver my miracles is vicariously – or send to my address below.

Much gratitude to my dad for teaching me to always believe in the magic of Christmas and for all the angels he celebrates with in Heaven daily. I really feel like such a little kid sometimes … hoping for the impossible, but knowing with faith; anything is possible.

Merry Christmas to you and all your helpers this Holiday Season.

Always,
Robin
“The Sky Angel”

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Robin Schmidt ~ PO Box 16796 ~ Seattle, WA 98116

Fed Ex or UPS:
Robin Schmidt ~ 4412 California Ave SW #16796 ~ Seattle, WA 98116

 

Any elves or earthly angels who want to help via PayPal can send to:

find_robin@hotmail.com

 

 

“Mail Call for Our Heroes 2015”

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

“Mail Call for Our Heroes 2015″

Since 2002 I have been ‘adopting’ troops serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn all over the globe. Our service members have expressed to me, over and over again, the importance of receiving mail and hearing their name called at Mail Call. It helps them to cope with the time away from their loved ones back home & having their name called at Mail Call.  For that reason, to uplift spirits and boost morale over the holidays, “The Sky Angel” is doing my ninth annual “Mail Call for Our Heroes”.

1SGT Miah Washburn recipient of “Mail Call for Our Heroes 2014”

 

This year “Mail Call for Our Heroes” is for four different soldiers and their units, who are currently serving in Kuwait, Japan, Korea.  We still have troops being deployed to Afghanistan although the media states otherwise.  One of my friends is deploying to the Horn of Africa in November and will be receiving packages as well.

My goals: 1) To raise enough $$$$ for holiday care packages including Christmas trees with all the decorations, toiletries, food, homemade treats, clothing for our Wounded Warriors, goodies for our canine heroes, and postage to ship everything collected.  Care packages will also be going to the Wounded Warriors and hospital staff at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

2) 4,000 individual cards, letters, or notes so each service member in each unit or at the hospitals will have a piece of mail to open over the holidays.

Having you and your loved ones express your thoughts to the service members in these units will make such a difference for them this holiday season. Please feel free to get your children’s schools, girl/boy scouts, senior citizens homes, churches, social clubs, and families involved!  The troops love receiving the cards gathered from across the world for them!!

santaarrived

Santa arrived in Kuwait … via “Mail Call for Our Heroes 2013”

Please send donations (checks should be payable to Robin Schmidt) to the address below. (Donations are not tax deductible as I do this out of the kindness of my heart and do not want the hassle of becoming a non-profit).  If you would like to make a donation online, you can do so via PayPal to the email address of: supportourheroes@live.com (or clicking on the donate button at the top of http://alwayssupportourheroes.com/what-to-send.html )

The deadline for me to receive any items you want to donate for the care packages themselves; including cards or letters to the troops, contents for packages, or cash donations need to be arrived in my mailbox no later thanVeterans Day (11 November 2015) to ensure they arrive overseas before Christmas.  Any items received after the deadline will still be sent and appreciated.

Every year our troops have been ecstatic with how much I was able to send because of the generosity of everyone who got involved. It was absolutely AMAZING to see how many people came together from the far reaches of earth, to take care of all the units my friends and I supported last year over the holidays and the special treatment we were able to extend to the National Guard unit from Oregon; that was serving in Afghanistan.

Thank you in advance for making a huge difference through your generous donations and participation in “Mail Call for Our Heroes 2015”, so none of our valiant heroes serving ever feel alone on the battlefield, or when they return home.

Always,

Robin

“The Sky Angel”

Robin Schmidt ~ PO Box 16796 ~ Seattle, WA 98116

for Fed Ex or UPS: 4412 California Ave SW #16796, Seattle, WA 98116

September 11, 2001 Remembrance

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
Kristina & I in Iceland, August 2015

Kristina and I in Iceland, August 2015

This blog was originally written on September 11, 2012.  There have been significant changes in my life since the time of it’s writing.  The most important being my health.  In 2013 I was finally diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); which put me on the proper path to being able to manage the daily migraines that you all have come to know as “Throb”.  (That proverbial elephant that has sat on my head for longer than 4 years now).

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As you read below, you will see that every year I do something significant on September 11th and the reasons why.  This year I will once again be doing my FAA recertification (known as CQ) as a gift to myself on this important day in my life.  It will mark the second year anniversary of me returning back to work; after the 28 months of being on disability.

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Sometimes I wonder why certain things have to happen to certain people.  Rarely have I asked “why me?” because I truly believe beyond any shadow of a doubt, everything happens for a reason.  I know there is a reason my life was spared on September 11, 2001 (and that of my friends).  I know there are reasons I have gone through financial and physical hardships; and I know that God is using me – regardless of my circumstances.

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Since 2002, I have now sent care packages or supported 144 service members and their units; with the help of many of you reading this.  Thank you for your continued support over the years in making a difference for them; but just as importantly – for believing in me as a human being.

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There is nothing in the world more important to me than my faith; and nothing more valuable in life than knowing I have made a difference.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to touch your soul in some way … and may this post fill you with hope that out of darkness comes a magnificent light.

~~

I am living proof.

September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always,

Robin

“The Sky Angel”

Robin Schmidt

PO Box 16796

Seattle, WA 98116

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Field of Flags, Kennesaw, Georgia

Every year since September 11th, 2001, I have done something “special” to commemorate the day.  Sometimes it was volunteering at Habitat, others it was traveling to far away places with dear friends.  This year, as God would have it, I found myself alone, trying to finally grapple with the memories that flooded me unexpectedly.  Many of you may not know my story, but it is one of miracles through tragedy.  And today, I feel the need to share my thoughts, feelings, and emotions, so you will have an opportunity to see who I am, and why I am the way I am.

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You see, 11 years ago four of my friends met me in New York City on September 10th, so we could go to Egypt the following day on vacation.  None of the people had met one another, and I was the link for all of us joining together.  Three of us were flight attendants, one worked for Phillips Arena, and the other was/is a firefighter for the city of Orlando. (4 females, one male).   The night of the 10th, I remember it raining, and us not wanting to travel far from the Pan American hotel on Queens Boulevard.  So, we went to a little Italian restaurant, to get to know one another a little better, and make plans for the following day.

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We all agreed to wake up at 7am, get ready quickly, and be out the door and on the subway at 8am.  Our first stop would be the Windows of the World, so everyone who had not been to New York City could see the view from “the top”.  From there, we planned to go to Canal street to pick up any last minute items for our trip to Egypt.  Then we would take the subway back to the hotel, finish getting ready, and go to JFK for our flight.  What I am writing now is from my perspective and memories, and may not be exactly the same as my other friends remember.  Emotions and time may have altered things a bit, but I do know that it affected each of us profoundly, and differently.

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As I write this, it is as though the event occurred yesterday.  Every single one of us woke up 1/2 an hour late.  So we were rushing to get out the door.  Kristina and I were the last two getting ready in the bathroom, telling everyone to calm down and we would be done shortly.  🙂  I told Janeen to turn on her favorite tv show as a joke, knowing she would be watching CNN.  It wasn’t but just a few minutes when I heard a tone in her voice that I will never forget, which was “Oh my God”.  Not knowing what she was talking about, I went into the room to ask what was wrong.  She pointed at the television and said “a plane just hit the World Trade Center”.  My response was that it was probably a small Cessna, and don’t worry, we would be leaving to head that way soon.  (brains don’t always connect dots immediately).

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I do know that Eric and Beth immediately were in the hallway, watching what was happening from the big picture window.  At the time there were not trees to block our view, and I cannot tell you who of my friends actually watched the second plane hit the towers.  But I know at least two or three of them did.  I know I watched it happen on the news.  Immediately my disaster and emergency training went into gear and I called immediately to get us a rental car as an escape route out of town.  We had come from Atlanta, Orlando, and California.

~~

My memories from what happened next, are that all five of us were at that big window; each of us watching in astonishment as the Towers crumbled before our very eyes.  I kept asking if this was some kind of movie that no one told us about and if Arnold Schwartzenager was going to come and save the day.  The sky went from a completely clear sky, to dark in moments.   It was so surreal, that I could not believe what was actually happening before my very eyes.  And yet, deep in my soul, I wanted to go and help.  But I had my four friends to think about, and I knew we needed to get out of dodge.

~~

As moments passed, we realized we would not be able to go anywhere for a while.  Everything was shut down.  I know that at some point one of my friends (I have no idea which one) and I decided to go find a store that was open nearby, to get us food for the day.  All we could find nearby was a Chinese grocery store open.  I remember us buying beer and grapes.  Isn’t that funny?  The little details of what I remember, but I could not tell you anything else that was purchased.

~~
But as we were walking to and from the grocery store, I remember people running from downtown Manhattan (only 3 miles away) covered in ash.  The expressions on their faces was sheer horror.  I remember buses driving past with people hanging out the windows, just to be able to fit as many people in as possible.  They all had that same look of fear and horror in their eyes.  I did not choose to take any pictures that day, except of us in our hotel room.  To this day, I cannot tell you where those pictures are.
~~
After returning from the grocery store, Janeen and I went to get the car from La Guardia airport.  I remember walking onto Queens Blvd and taxis driving by with no people in them.  None of them would stop.  So I literally walked in the middle of the street and stood in front of a cab until it had no choice but to either stop, or run me over.  The driver refused to take us to the airport, telling me “are you insane? The airport is closed and I am not taking you anywhere”.  I told him “you can either take us there, or let me drive the car and I will take us myself.  We will not get out of your vehicle.”  There were a lot of experlative words spoken, but finally he took us.
~~
When we got to Avis (the only rental car agency at the time that was not charging a “drop fee”, the person at the counter proceeded to tell us they were all out of vehicles.  I remember arguing (more swear words) that I had a reservation and he needed to get his manager to the facility or on the phone.  I basically told the manager that I had gotten a reservation hours prior and if he didn’t have a vehicle for us, he could happily give me the keys to his own car.  Ironically, the next thing I knew, there was a mini van for us to drive off the lot.
~~

We made it back to the hotel, to find so many people in the lobby trying to get information and find rooms.  People were standing in line at the pay phone to try to get out.  None of us had computers because we were traveling to Egypt, and cell phone service was sporadic, at best.  We already had five people in our room, so there wasn’t room for more.  That is where we huddled, trying to distract one another by playing cards or anything else we could think of.  I don’t remember much about the hotel after that.

~~

The following morning, once the only bridge out of town was open, we left.  It was still dark outside.  I remember that we had to drive closer to Manhattan in order to get out of town.  I believe it was the Tapanzee bridge or tunnel we had to go through or over.  But what I remember most from that day was the smoke and the smell.  Hard to describe, but one I will never forget.  The ride over the bridge was surreal as well.  We were driving out of the city as the sun came up, and through the smoke we saw a military convoy going the other direction ~ toward downtown.  I knew in an instant we were going to war.  Eric kept saying he wanted to stay, but he felt a sense of responsibility to get us girls back home safely.  I wanted desperately to go and help as well, but I felt so guilty for having put my friends in harms way, that I had to get them back home.  It was difficult because Kristina had come from California and as the day progressed, we learned all flights had been cancelled.  We tried to get her a rental car from various cities, but there were none to be found.

~~

We found ourselves on conference calls through our job as flight attendants, trying to get updates.  I don’t remember much of the drive, other than our only outlet was stopping at the Hershey Factory in Pennsylvania for a distraction.  I know it was an extremely difficult time for each of us, lost in our own thoughts.  Once we arrived in Atlanta, Kristina took the rental vehicle and drove to California by herself.  It was so hard, because we were all so exhausted and I just wanted her to rest a while before the drive.  I would have gone with her.  But I just couldn’t function from the shock and exhaustion.  I don’t know how she made that drive alone, but I know she needed and was committed to getting back to her family.

~~

We all react in our own ways.  Mine was “how can I help?”.  I volunteered at the Operational Control Center, helping to get a hold of our flight crews that were in international destinations, making sure they had transportation to get to a city where they would be able to travel once flights were back in the air.  Many crews had gone to various locations on their own, and we knew that the FAA would only allow particular airports, with the appropriate security, to come back into the USA once flights were lifted.  I was just happy to be helping in some way or another, and talking to people who were all over the globe, wondering what was happening back in America found relief in having that phone connection with us.

~~

Once flights began again, I did “emergency flying” for only a day.  Then everyone figured out I was on my vacation time and told me to go home and rest.  What I did, was go home, pack my suitcase, get my laptop, and get on the first flight to New York City.  ( Every day that I as there, I did a journal as a Word Document on my computer.  The problem was that when I returned, my laptop crashed, and I lost everything that was on my hard drive.  It was just meant to be that certain memories were only to be locked in my mind, and not specifically etched in stone forever  That is why you are getting only what I remember now.)

~~

When I landed, I got a free cab ride from the airport (yes, in NYC!) to the Red Cross and said “I have disaster management training through my job, two hands, a willing heart, and will do anything you want me to do”.  I know I didn’t have a place to stay and that was going to be an issue at some point.  But I really believed God had called me to “COME” and there was no turning back.  He would provide … after all, He had just saved my life.

~~

Initially I had gone to the Red Cross on Amsterdam Avenue.  They tried to give me keys to a van (I had never driven in New York, nor did I know the streets AT ALL) and told me to go to the Hard Rock Cafe to pick up food, to take to Ground Zero for the Respitz Center where all the workers were still looking for survivors.  I laughed and said “I don’t mind doing that, but you need to give me a driver”.  It was so weird, being in the City at that time.  I had stayed with Janeen’s cousin for two nights in Jersey. But that wasn’t working and I needed a place to stay.  I also had found out that I had to go to the Red Cross center in Brooklyn, to get an ID so I could volunteer and go to Ground Zero.

~~

As I walked down the hallway to get my ID, I saw a man in a firefighter shirt, giving someone a massage in one of those chairs.  I asked if he could do that to me.  He told me to come back after getting my ID.  After introducing ourselves to one another, he asked how long I would be in town.  I told him “I don’t really know, because I don’t have a place to stay”.  He literally had spoken to me for three minutes.  He picked up his phone and said “hey Ang, it’s Jimmy.  I’m here with my good friend, Robin, the flight attendant.  She came up to help out my “brothers” and she needs a place to stay.  Sure, we will be there at 8.”.  We both volunteered all day, and he drove me to Jersey to get my luggage.  From there, he took me to an angel on earth.

~~

Angie had/has a one bedroom apartment on Roosevelt Island.  That island had been cut off from society for three entire days, and she was thankful to have someone to talk to.  I was incredibly grateful to have a place to stay, because it meant I could stay ~ which I did for 18 days.  Angie would take no payment, she just kept saying “this is my way of helping”.

~~

I volunteered at the Family Assistance Center and Ground Zero, going between the two.  Until one day on the subway, I overheard a family member say to the person sitting next to them “you know, it was the flight attendants fault.  They were submissive and gave in to the terrorists.”  I began to cry uncontrollably, but didn’t say a word.  When I got to what was referred to as the FAC, I told them that I could not help the families any longer.  It was a conflict of interest for me, and I would better be of service at Ground Zero.  It upset me for a very long time that anyone could think or feel that way about the flight crews who were trained to save lives, and it took years of counseling for me to get over the fact that everyone reacts to things in a different way.

~~

But to be honest, my true colors came out at Ground Zero.  There I served meals to the firefighters, police officers, steel workers, military personnel, OSHA, FBI, and every other agency that was there.  Along with every other volunteer, we tried to encourage those people just get a little bit of rest.  But more than anything, they just wanted to keep looking for survivors.  And in picking up their plates after meals, they began to talk to me about what was going on in their own minds.

~~

I will never forget the stories like a Fire Chief telling me how just a few months prior, they had a camping trip with his “guys” and their kids.  He retold his memories of them all sitting around the fire telling stories, and cried in my arms as he said he could not believe all of those children were going to grow up without their dads.  He just happened to not be on shift that morning. That conversation ended with him telling me “thank you for showing up”.

~~

Someone from the CIA had come in after an entire day at what was known as “the pile”.  He told me that day they had decided to start issuing death certificates because they knew they would not find any more survivors.  The only that had been saved were two or three fire fighters and a woman I think who was named Geraldine, in the very beginning.  He asked me “how do I tell a family member that their loved one is dead, when there is not any DNA or proof”?  I told him the story of my mom dying in a car accident in 1996.  How I never got to see her body or tell her goodbye.  How even though my sister had told me she had identified my mom from a lock of her hair (she was bandaged everywhere), that I personally had previously struggled because I never saw for myself.  I never had any proof.  And for almost a year afterward, I wondered if I would get a phone call from my mom, telling me she was alive and there had been a mistake.  I understood what it was like to not have closure. It is a difficult thing to process.  He also ended his conversation with “thank you for being here … thank you for showing up” as tears flowed from both of us.

~~

Another day at Ground Zero I was talking to a Marine who had been working the “pile” and I said “we are going to war, aren’t we?”.  He replied “yes”.  And in that conversation I made a commitment to him that I would do everything I could to support our troops while they were deployed.

~~

A chain of events a few months afterward, with me meeting a soldier on a military charter gave me my first opportunity.  Since that point in time, I have “adopted” (written letters, cards, postcards, and sent care packages to 119 service members) through their deployments.

~~

What was the most tragic event next to Pearl Harbor in US history, turned out to be the most life changing and beautiful experience for me.  I have always been one to do things for others and put people before myself.  However, I learned through volunteering in this situation, that my life had a much bigger purpose.  I learned that me “showing up” actually mattered.

~~

It was life changing for me.  I stayed for 18 days, working the midnight to 8am shift.  Angie would get out of bed, and I would roll in and take it over for a few hours before heading back out again. She became like a second mom to me over the years, with her life coaching, mentoring, and unconditional love.  She has helped me to process my feelings and find new ways to think about life events.  If any of you ever meet her, you will agree that she is truly an earth angel.

~~

There is much I can say about September 11, 2001 and the months that I went back and forth to volunteer afterward.  But what I want to share the most, is that thousands of people died between New York City, the Pentagon, and on an airplane full of heroes in Pennsylvania.  Many more have died in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I don’t care whether you believe in the war or not, because I care about our troops who are following orders and doing what they can to keep the enemy from striking us on US soil again.  Others have come home with deep wounds that can and cannot be seen.  Honor them, help them any way you can.

~~

Reach out to our firefighters, police officers, first responders, humanitarians, flight crews, and people you would normally take for granted ~ like the people who will save your life when needed on an airplane.  Why?  Because they each made career choices to put themselves in harms way, in order to protect you from harm.

~~

As for me, I have learned that I am truly a humanitarian at heart.  Not only am I willing to travel to the ends of the earth to help those in need, I am my happiest when I am living my life with the purpose of sharing Gods love.  Maybe that is through a kind gesture, or a smile.  Maybe it is simply by me “showing up” when someone is in need.

~~

Many of you know this has been a difficult 16 months for me, but God is teaching me much in this time with “Throb”.  Some of you have suggested that maybe it was my time in NY that caused this head pain to start.  Who knows?  Only my Creator truly knows … and each day I am getting stronger and I know my purpose is still being fulfilled.  Even if it is by me sharing my experiences, so each of you can learn from them.

~~

Every day I thank God for the gift of life He has given me … and I know He has tremendous plans.  And although there are times that I feel deep and gut wrenching pain for the lives that have been lost on that day, or my loved ones that have passed through the years; it just shows me how big my heart is.  It is a heart full of love for my fellow man and all humans everywhere.

~~

No matter who we are, our lives have purpose … I encourage you to find what makes your heart happy … and live your passion.  Today, I ask only one thing of you.  No matter what your religious belief, take time to thank your Creator for the life you have been given.  Allow yourself to look in the mirror and smile at the reflection … knowing you are loved beyond all comprehension.  Take it from someone who has gone through hell and back here on earth, and years of counseling to know …the greatest gift we can give one another, is that of our heart.  After all, if I hadn’t overslept 1/2 hour late, eleven years ago, I wouldn’t be around to tell you what a miracle life is …

~~

Always,

Robin

“The Sky Angel”

September 11, 2012

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New mailing address for “The Sky Angel”

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

As the seasons have changed, so has my life.  One HUGE event was me to moving closer to the airport.  Having sent eight care packages to our valiant heroes earlier this week; I want to make sure you update your records with the following information when helping with my commitment to make a difference in the world.

 

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If sending United States Postal Service:

Robin Schmidt

PO Box 16796

Seattle, WA 98116

 

If sending Fed Ex or UPS:

Robin Schmidt

4412 California Ave SW #16796

Seattle, WA 98116

 

Please keep in mind this is NOT my physical address and is only a location to accept mail or packages.  If you ever want to make a donation towards care packages and would like to do it online, please log on to PayPal and send to:

supportourheroes@live.com

 

Thanks so very much for your continued prayers, support, and all the smiles you help me bring to others.

 

http://alwayssupportourheroes.com

 

Always,

Robin

“The Sky Angel”

 

PS.  The www.adoptahero.us  website is back up and running, so feel free to share it with anyone you know who wants to adopt their own service member.

People Magazine, January 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude …

Thursday, July 11th, 2013
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Loving the flowers in bloom, Spring 2013

Many of you may or may not know that on 10 May 2011, I woke up in the middle of the night with what I thought was a horrible migraine.  Looking back, that is such a HUGE  understatement of what I have endured the past 26 months.  Without going into what all has happened in that amount of time, I simply want to give you an update and share my enormous gratitude for each person who has encouraged, supported, and helped me; emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually along the way.

When I went out on disability from work and was not able to stay by myself, I had amazing people bring me into their homes to help take care of me.  As I look back on those times; I get teary eyed remembering how scared I was from not knowing what was causing the tremendous pain that made me think my brain was literally going to explode inside my skull.   The weight of an elephant on my head (came to be known as “Throb”) consumed me.

Spring Tulips in the beautiful Pacific Northwest ...

Spring Tulips in the beautiful Pacific Northwest …

If you know anything about me, you know that I will not ask for help unless I absolutely need it.  When I did, many of you sent money to help me move from Kentucky to Washington, so I could be closer to my family and amazing friends in the Pacific Northwest.  You have also randomly sent me money or gift certificates to help pay for expenses that I couldn’t afford.  Thank you so very, very much.  The meals that people have paid for, the dinners in your homes, all of it just means the world to me.  Upon returning to the area where I grew up, I was immediately surrounded by the love of my family and friends.  Finding a church that I love, provided me access to a free counselor who has guided and directed me to finding who I am in Gods eyes.  She also encouraged me to do volunteer work, because I needed a sense of purpose; feeling so very lost and being extremely upset from not being able to do my job as a flight attendant.  Along the path of trying to find answers and delving into the root cause, I pushed hard to find medical professionals who shared the same confidence I did that I would some day be well; and were willing to work with me to find answers.  Having those doctors, my counselor, family, and friends who believe in me has made a tremendous impact in helping me learn the lessons Throb was meant to teach me.

My doctors put me on an “elimination diet” (only eating fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, quinoa, and eggs) a year ago, to try to see if anything I was consuming was exacerbating the migraines.  In the beginning, I saw no change from eating differently.  After a few months, I started noticing that I was losing weight (such a bonus, since I had gained weight from some of the medications other doctors had me on at times).  Now, I can say (40 lbs lighter) that I fully buy into the concept “we are what we eat”, and it makes a difference in my mental well being as well as the way I feel about myself. (and yes, I have found that I have food intolerances that do make my pain worse … who knew eggs and wheat could cause such huge issues??)  I have worked extremely hard at doing everything any physician asked me to do; but learned very quickly to have my Primary Care Physician be the one overseeing my healthcare.  She is nothing short of amazing; as she continually told me to hold on to my faith and belief that I would one day find answers and be well.

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Now that I have almost been out of work 2 1/2 years and living off of Social Security Disability (half of what I used to make); I have nothing but extreme gratitude in my heart.  The light at the end of the tunnel may have been dim at times, but it is getting brighter every single day.  In March, I started doing a treatment called GunnIMS (http://www.istop.org/) and in April I literally felt as though someone had flipped a switch and I slowly began to have more range of motion and was spending less days in bed, because of the debilitating pain.  It is rather ironic to me that I once used to have a fear of needles, and the sight of them would nearly make me pass out ~ and now I look forward to my next “needle treatment” with tremendous excitement.

Volunteering at the Bread of Life Mission since November 2011 has kept me humble and talking with men in the program has reminded me daily how thankful I am to have a roof over my head and the many blessings God bestows on me every single day.  There literally are times when I have no idea where I will get money for food or gas; let alone my out of pocket medical expenses.  (GunnIMS is $69.18 each visit and that fee cannot be waived.)  But having blind faith means that I know in my heart that God will ALWAYS provide.  Being around homeless people, can really give one a serious dose of perspective!  And I love being a part of the Bread of Life volunteer family and I am grateful they welcome me with open arms.

All smiles at the USO SeaTac!

All smiles at the USO SeaTac!

In February of this year, I started also volunteering at the USO here locally and it has been a tremendous blessing for me.  As you all know, I have been supporting our troops through sending care packages and writing letters for over a decade now.  Having visited our Wounded Warriors over the years at Bethesda, Walter Reed Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, and Landstuhl (in Germany) left me with images and memories of conversations of tenacity, strength, and courage that have helped me to get through every difficult test or treatment.  Tigger often accompanies with me on these appointments, as a reminder of our troops who have suffered tremendously; but been able to overcome all odds.  Being at the USO, is second nature to me.  I call it “my home away from home”.  Serving our troops and their families shows me what my limitations are, but also brings out my strengths.  It gives me the sense of purpose that I am making a difference ~ and that really is what motivates me as a person.  Always has, and always will.  I am eternally God chose me to be a voice for our Military, and I know that is just one of the many ways HE uses my body to share His Light and Love.

With tremendous gratitude for all Throb has taught me in being humble, ridding my body (and mind) of toxic behaviors and people, taking time for myself, finding balance, learning to say “no” or “that is not healthy for me”; I am thankful to tell you that he has lost weight too!  lol     Yesterday during my GunnIMS treatment, my doctor said “did you hear what you just said?” And I replied “what did I say?”  haha  … She responded “you said you feel like your head is too heavy for your neck and shoulders, rather than the elephant is sitting on the top of your head”.  We made an agreement that when he is finally gone, we will be dancing in the hallway together.

"Throb" is losing weight ... :)

“Throb” is losing weight … 🙂

Gratitude comes from knowing the deepest depths of pain; not knowing if one is going to live or die; or what is wrong.  I was officially FINALLY diagnosed with having a traumatic brain injury from falling and hitting the back of my head in the spring of 2010.  Who knew that the symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury could not begin to occur for 4 months to 5 years afterward? If anyone would have told me that a migraine could last longer than three days (before Throb came along), I probably would not have believed them.  But it has been a journey of self discovery, lessons learned, and faith that supersedes all understanding that has given me the endurance to keep fighting.

Now I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am on the right path.  That I am working towards my goal to get back in the skies (sooner rather than later) and make them a bit more friendly, and I could not be more grateful to each and every person who has helped me in this journey.  One day I could probably write a book about being out on disability, having pain hidden wounds, or what it takes to overcome all odds.  Then again, some of you probably already feel in reading this, you have just read one of the chapters.  🙂

Before I close, I do want to take time to sincerely thank each of you who have also donated towards my care packages to the troops over the years.  Years ago I used to make hats and scarves and sell them, so I would have the funds to fill care packages and pay for postage.  Pretty much I sold anything I could of value, to make a difference for our valiant warriors.  But when I was incapable of doing anything else, I learned to ask for help in this area of my life.  And many of you have given in ways that have helped me to touch thousands of lives.  For this, I am eternally grateful.  Because with each card, letter, or care package sent ~ it is a message of hope, and means the world to the recipients.  It has shown me the importance of allowing others to help in a great cause, and I am so thankful to have learned that lesson.  Additionally, because of my financial status; I simply cannot send anything without donations.  That being said, feel free to make a donation any time via PayPal to: suppportourheroes@live.com or send a check or money order to me:  PO Box 449, Mercer Island, WA 98040.  Not only is this something I appreciate, but I know the smiles it puts on the faces of those in war zones or Wounded Warrior hospitals ~ and for this, I truly am grateful.  You can also check out my website anytime: http://alwayssupportourheroes.com/ to look at photos, blog posts (I know, I need to be better at writing more often and uploading pictures … but now you know the reasons why there have been long spurts between posts) …

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This photo says it all …

Thank you for standing by me, cheering me along, and for believing in all that I can do, through God who strengthens me.  With Him, all things are possible … and with Him; I will continue to change the world, one person at a time.  And my closing comment is to ask you to please pray that all my needs be met, and that I never lose sight of what is most important to me.

Always,

Robin

“The Sky Angel”

The day the world changed forever …

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Every year since September 11th, 2001, I have done something “special” to commemorate the day.  Sometimes it was volunteering at Habitat, others it was traveling to far away places with dear friends.  This year, as God would have it, I found myself alone, trying to finally grapple with the memories that flooded me unexpectedly.  Many of you may not know my story, but it is one of miracles through tragedy.  And today, I feel the need to share my thoughts, feelings, and emotions, so you will have an opportunity to see who I am, and why I am the way I am.

~~

You see, 11 years ago four of my friends met me in New York City on September 10th, so we could go to Egypt the following day on vacation.  None of the people had met one another, and I was the link for all of us joining together.  Three of us were flight attendants, one worked for Phillips Arena, and the other was/is a firefighter for the city of Orlando. (4 females, one male).   The night of the 10th, I remember it raining, and us not wanting to travel far from the Pan American hotel on Queens Boulevard.  So, we went to a little Italian restaurant, to get to know one another a little better, and make plans for the following day.

~~

We all agreed to wake up at 7am, get ready quickly, and be out the door and on the subway at 8am.  Our first stop would be the Windows of the World, so everyone who had not been to New York City could see the view from “the top”.  From there, we planned to go to Canal street to pick up any last minute items for our trip to Egypt.  Then we would take the subway back to the hotel, finish getting ready, and go to JFK for our flight.  What I am writing now is from my perspective and memories, and may not be exactly the same as my other friends remember.  Emotions and time may have altered things a bit, but I do know that it affected each of us profoundly, and differently.

~~

As I write this, it is as though the event occurred yesterday.  Every single one of us woke up 1/2 an hour late.  So we were rushing to get out the door.  Kristina and I were the last two getting ready in the bathroom, telling everyone to calm down and we would be done shortly.  🙂  I told Janeen to turn on her favorite tv show as a joke, knowing she would be watching CNN.  It wasn’t but just a few minutes when I heard a tone in her voice that I will never forget, which was “Oh my God”.  Not knowing what she was talking about, I went into the room to ask what was wrong.  She pointed at the television and said “a plane just hit the World Trade Center”.  My response was that it was probably a small Cessna, and don’t worry, we would be leaving to head that way soon.  (brains don’t always connect dots immediately).

~~

I do know that Eric and Beth immediately were in the hallway, watching what was happening from the big picture window.  At the time there were not trees to block our view, and I cannot tell you who of my friends actually watched the second plane hit the towers.  But I know at least two or three of them did.  I know I watched it happen on the news.  Immediately my disaster and emergency training went into gear and I called immediately to get us a rental car as an escape route out of town.  We had come from Atlanta, Orlando, and California.

~~

My memories from what happened next, are that all five of us were at that big window; each of us watching in astonishment as the Towers crumbled before our very eyes.  I kept asking if this was some kind of movie that no one told us about and if Arnold Schwartzenager was going to come and save the day.  The sky went from a completely clear sky, to dark in moments.   It was so surreal, that I could not believe what was actually happening before my very eyes.  And yet, deep in my soul, I wanted to go and help.  But I had my four friends to think about, and I knew we needed to get out of dodge.

~~

As moments passed, we realized we would not be able to go anywhere for a while.  Everything was shut down.  I know that at some point one of my friends (I have no idea which one) and I decided to go find a store that was open nearby, to get us food for the day.  All we could find nearby was a Chinese grocery store open.  I remember us buying beer and grapes.  Isn’t that funny?  The little details of what I remember, but I could not tell you anything else that was purchased.

~~
But as we were walking to and from the grocery store, I remember people running from downtown Manhattan (only 3 miles away) covered in ash.  The expressions on their faces was sheer horror.  I remember buses driving past with people hanging out the windows, just to be able to fit as many people in as possible.  They all had that same look of fear and horror in their eyes.  I did not choose to take any pictures that day, except of us in our hotel room.  To this day, I cannot tell you where those pictures are.
~~
After returning from the grocery store, Janeen and I went to get the car from La Guardia airport.  I remember walking onto Queens Blvd and taxis driving by with no people in them.  None of them would stop.  So I literally walked in the middle of the street and stood in front of a cab until it had no choice but to either stop, or run me over.  The driver refused to take us to the airport, telling me “are you insane? The airport is closed and I am not taking you anywhere”.  I told him “you can either take us there, or let me drive the car and I will take us myself.  We will not get out of your vehicle.”  There were a lot of experlative words spoken, but finally he took us.
~~
When we got to Avis (the only rental car agency at the time that was not charging a “drop fee”, the person at the counter proceeded to tell us they were all out of vehicles.  I remember arguing (more swear words) that I had a reservation and he needed to get his manager to the facility or on the phone.  I basically told the manager that I had gotten a reservation hours prior and if he didn’t have a vehicle for us, he could happily give me the keys to his own car.  Ironically, the next thing I knew, there was a mini van for us to drive off the lot.
~~

We made it back to the hotel, to find so many people in the lobby trying to get information and find rooms.  People were standing in line at the pay phone to try to get out.  None of us had computers because we were traveling to Egypt, and cell phone service was sporadic, at best.  We already had five people in our room, so there wasn’t room for more.  That is where we huddled, trying to distract one another by playing cards or anything else we could think of.  I don’t remember much about the hotel after that.

~~

The following morning, once the only bridge out of town was open, we left.  It was still dark outside.  I remember that we had to drive closer to Manhattan in order to get out of town.  I believe it was the Tapanzee bridge or tunnel we had to go through or over.  But what I remember most from that day was the smoke and the smell.  Hard to describe, but one I will never forget.  The ride over the bridge was surreal as well.  We were driving out of the city as the sun came up, and through the smoke we saw a military convoy going the other direction ~ toward downtown.  I knew in an instant we were going to war.  Eric kept saying he wanted to stay, but he felt a sense of responsibility to get us girls back home safely.  I wanted desperately to go and help as well, but I felt so guilty for having put my friends in harms way, that I had to get them back home.  It was difficult because Kristina had come from California and as the day progressed, we learned all flights had been cancelled.  We tried to get her a rental car from various cities, but there were none to be found.

~~

We found ourselves on conference calls through our job as flight attendants, trying to get updates.  I don’t remember much of the drive, other than our only outlet was stopping at the Hershey Factory in Pennsylvania for a distraction.  I know it was an extremely difficult time for each of us, lost in our own thoughts.  Once we arrived in Atlanta, Kristina took the rental vehicle and drove to California by herself.  It was so hard, because we were all so exhausted and I just wanted her to rest a while before the drive.  I would have gone with her.  But I just couldn’t function from the shock and exhaustion.  I don’t know how she made that drive alone, but I know she needed and was committed to getting back to her family.

~~

We all react in our own ways.  Mine was “how can I help?”.  I volunteered at the Operational Control Center, helping to get a hold of our flight crews that were in international destinations, making sure they had transportation to get to a city where they would be able to travel once flights were back in the air.  Many crews had gone to various locations on their own, and we knew that the FAA would only allow particular airports, with the appropriate security, to come back into the USA once flights were lifted.  I was just happy to be helping in some way or another, and talking to people who were all over the globe, wondering what was happening back in America found relief in having that phone connection with us.

~~

Once flights began again, I did “emergency flying” for only a day.  Then everyone figured out I was on my vacation time and told me to go home and rest.  What I did, was go home, pack my suitcase, get my laptop, and get on the first flight to New York City.  ( Every day that I as there, I did a journal as a Word Document on my computer.  The problem was that when I returned, my laptop crashed, and I lost everything that was on my hard drive.  It was just meant to be that certain memories were only to be locked in my mind, and not specifically etched in stone forever  That is why you are getting only what I remember now.)

~~

When I landed, I got a free cab ride from the airport (yes, in NYC!) to the Red Cross and said “I have disaster management training through my job, two hands, a willing heart, and will do anything you want me to do”.  I know I didn’t have a place to stay and that was going to be an issue at some point.  But I really believed God had called me to “COME” and there was no turning back.  He would provide … after all, He had just saved my life.

~~

Initially I had gone to the Red Cross on Amsterdam Avenue.  They tried to give me keys to a van (I had never driven in New York, nor did I know the streets AT ALL) and told me to go to the Hard Rock Cafe to pick up food, to take to Ground Zero for the Respitz Center where all the workers were still looking for survivors.  I laughed and said “I don’t mind doing that, but you need to give me a driver”.  It was so weird, being in the City at that time.  I had stayed with Janeen’s cousin for two nights in Jersey. But that wasn’t working and I needed a place to stay.  I also had found out that I had to go to the Red Cross center in Brooklyn, to get an ID so I could volunteer and go to Ground Zero.

~~

As I walked down the hallway to get my ID, I saw a man in a firefighter shirt, giving someone a massage in one of those chairs.  I asked if he could do that to me.  He told me to come back after getting my ID.  After introducing ourselves to one another, he asked how long I would be in town.  I told him “I don’t really know, because I don’t have a place to stay”.  He literally had spoken to me for three minutes.  He picked up his phone and said “hey Ang, it’s Jimmy.  I’m here with my good friend, Robin, the flight attendant.  She came up to help out my “brothers” and she needs a place to stay.  Sure, we will be there at 8.”.  We both volunteered all day, and he drove me to Jersey to get my luggage.  From there, he took me to an angel on earth.

~~

Angie had/has a one bedroom apartment on Roosevelt Island.  That island had been cut off from society for three entire days, and she was thankful to have someone to talk to.  I was incredibly grateful to have a place to stay, because it meant I could stay ~ which I did for 18 days.  Angie would take no payment, she just kept saying “this is my way of helping”.

~~

I volunteered at the Family Assistance Center and Ground Zero, going between the two.  Until one day on the subway, I overheard a family member say to the person sitting next to them “you know, it was the flight attendants fault.  They were submissive and gave in to the terrorists.”  I began to cry uncontrollably, but didn’t say a word.  When I got to what was referred to as the FAC, I told them that I could not help the families any longer.  It was a conflict of interest for me, and I would better be of service at Ground Zero.  It upset me for a very long time that anyone could think or feel that way about the flight crews who were trained to save lives, and it took years of counseling for me to get over the fact that everyone reacts to things in a different way.

~~

But to be honest, my true colors came out at Ground Zero.  There I served meals to the firefighters, police officers, steel workers, military personnel, OSHA, FBI, and every other agency that was there.  Along with every other volunteer, we tried to encourage those people just get a little bit of rest.  But more than anything, they just wanted to keep looking for survivors.  And in picking up their plates after meals, they began to talk to me about what was going on in their own minds.

~~

I will never forget the stories like a Fire Chief telling me how just a few months prior, they had a camping trip with his “guys” and their kids.  He retold his memories of them all sitting around the fire telling stories, and cried in my arms as he said he could not believe all of those children were going to grow up without their dads.  He just happened to not be on shift that morning. That conversation ended with him telling me “thank you for showing up”.

~~

Someone from the CIA had come in after an entire day at what was known as “the pile”.  He told me that day they had decided to start issuing death certificates because they knew they would not find any more survivors.  The only that had been saved were two or three fire fighters and a woman I think who was named Geraldine, in the very beginning.  He asked me “how do I tell a family member that their loved one is dead, when there is not any DNA or proof”?  I told him the story of my mom dying in a car accident in 1996.  How I never got to see her body or tell her goodbye.  How even though my sister had told me she had identified my mom from a lock of her hair (she was bandaged everywhere), that I personally had previously struggled because I never saw for myself.  I never had any proof.  And for almost a year afterward, I wondered if I would get a phone call from my mom, telling me she was alive and there had been a mistake.  I understood what it was like to not have closure. It is a difficult thing to process.  He also ended his conversation with “thank you for being here … thank you for showing up” as tears flowed from both of us.

~~

Another day at Ground Zero I was talking to a Marine who had been working the “pile” and I said “we are going to war, aren’t we?”.  He replied “yes”.  And in that conversation I made a commitment to him that I would do everything I could to support our troops while they were deployed.

~~

A chain of events a few months afterward, with me meeting a soldier on a military charter gave me my first opportunity.  Since that point in time, I have “adopted” (written letters, cards, postcards, and sent care packages to 119 service members) through their deployments.

~~

What was the most tragic event next to Pearl Harbor in US history, turned out to be the most life changing and beautiful experience for me.  I have always been one to do things for others and put people before myself.  However, I learned through volunteering in this situation, that my life had a much bigger purpose.  I learned that me “showing up” actually mattered.

~~

It was life changing for me.  I stayed for 18 days, working the midnight to 8am shift.  Angie would get out of bed, and I would roll in and take it over for a few hours before heading back out again. She became like a second mom to me over the years, with her life coaching, mentoring, and unconditional love.  She has helped me to process my feelings and find new ways to think about life events.  If any of you ever meet her, you will agree that she is truly an earth angel.

~~

There is much I can say about September 11, 2001 and the months that I went back and forth to volunteer afterward.  But what I want to share the most, is that thousands of people died between New York City, the Pentagon, and on an airplane full of heroes in Pennsylvania.  Many more have died in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I don’t care whether you believe in the war or not, because I care about our troops who are following orders and doing what they can to keep the enemy from striking us on US soil again.  Others have come home with deep wounds that can and cannot be seen.  Honor them, help them any way you can.

~~

Reach out to our firefighters, police officers, first responders, humanitarians, flight crews, and people you would normally take for granted ~ like the people who will save your life when needed on an airplane.  Why?  Because they each made career choices to put themselves in harms way, in order to protect you from harm.

~~

As for me, I have learned that I am truly a humanitarian at heart.  Not only am I willing to travel to the ends of the earth to help those in need, I am my happiest when I am living my life with the purpose of sharing Gods love.  Maybe that is through a kind gesture, or a smile.  Maybe it is simply by me “showing up” when someone is in need.

~~

Many of you know this has been a difficult 16 months for me, but God is teaching me much in this time with “Throb”.  Some of you have suggested that maybe it was my time in NY that caused this head pain to start.  Who knows?  Only my Creator truly knows … and each day I am getting stronger and I know my purpose is still being fulfilled.  Even if it is by me sharing my experiences, so each of you can learn from them.

~~

Every day I thank God for the gift of life He has given me … and I know He has tremendous plans.  And although there are times that I feel deep and gut wrenching pain for the lives that have been lost on that day, or my loved ones that have passed through the years; it just shows me how big my heart is.  It is a heart full of love for my fellow man and all humans everywhere.

~~

No matter who we are, our lives have purpose … I encourage you to find what makes your heart happy … and live your passion.  Today, I ask only one thing of you.  No matter what your religious belief, take time to thank your Creator for the life you have been given.  Allow yourself to look in the mirror and smile at the reflection … knowing you are loved beyond all comprehension.  Take it from someone who has gone through hell and back here on earth, and years of counseling to know …the greatest gift we can give one another, is that of our heart.  After all, if I hadn’t overslept 1/2 hour late, eleven years ago, I wouldn’t be around to tell you what a miracle life is …

~~

Always,

Robin

“The Sky Angel”

Stand up for Heroes …

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Christmas at BAMC in 2010

Many people ask me regularly how you can support our Wounded Warriors or be involved in supporting our troops.  Please watch this video http://vimeo.com/16627861 .  It will touch you to the depths of your soul.

Today, God really put it on my heart to share http://remind.org/ with you.  Get involved with them if your heart leads you to do so.

If you can attend “Stand up for Heroes”, I strongly recommend it.   It is a night you will always remember.  If you cannot attend, but can make a donation, FANTASTIC.

In 2009 I was blessed to be interviewed by Bob Woodruff and learn of his miraculous story when I was named the ABC World News Person of the Week (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/journal-messages-lift-soldiers-spirits-8904322).  That afternoon with him and the ABC staff changed my life forever.  It motivated me to do even more for our troops than I already had been.  Having visited our Wounded Warriors at Landstuhl, Bethesda, Balboa, Walter Reed, and Brook Army Medical Centers over the years … I have relied on the memories of those experiences with those brave individuals who have given me strenth, tenacity, courage, and determination through my own life experiences the past couple years.

This is an organization I believe in (and I don’t share information about those who don’t have integrity) … and you all know I would do anything to support our valiant warriors.  May none of them ever feel alone on the battlefield, or when they return home.    Stay tuned, more ideas will be popping up from me soon, but until then ….

May God bless our troops, and their families, for all they sacrifice daily in the name of freedom.

Always,

Robin

The Sky Angel

How do you scare an ELEPHANT?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Taken on my humanitarian mission in South Africa, 2008

… With a mouse, of course.  🙂

Or in my case, it will be with what I have commonly referred to as “Rat Poisoning” in the past.   Until recently.  You see, I woke up on 10 May 2011, with what I thought was a Migraine Headache.  To date, that same intense pain has prevaded every aspect of my life.  It has been a LONG 254 days of praying, begging for relief, tears, frustration, joy in the simple things, arguments with doctors and insurance (over what treatment to try next), and FAITH.

Yesterday I told someone extremely close to me that I felt I have been in a spiritual warfare.  Satan has been attacking me on EVERY front.  Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, or whether you care to identify with your Creator or not, I ABSOLUTELY MUST.  You see, without my FAITH, I would not have gotten through the past 8 1/2 months of debilitating pain.  It is because I have believed that God has a plan, that I have been able to endure the pain.  Every single day that I have had to go to the hospital for treatments, or a new doctors office and fill out what seems hours of paperwork; I have thought about the Wounded Warriors that I have visited at Bethesda, Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center, or those wonderful heroes I met at Knott’s Berry Farm in November of 2010.

Knott's Berry Farm with Wounded Warriors, November 2009

By reflecting on the memories of experiences others have had, and their sheer tenacity to endure … has gotten me through.  It would be a lie if I told you I have been strong through this entire process.  Lord only knows I have sobbed with pain and frustration.  Yes, I have said the words “why me”.  I stopped saying that in November when a dear friend of mine landed in the hospital … not to come out alive. (I sure do miss you, Ed Bahmer!)  You see, things can always be worse.  It freaks people out when I say “I look forward to dying”.  It is not that I want to die, please don’t get me wrong …. I just look forward to being reunited with my loved ones who were taken from this earth way too soon.  A place where there is no pain.

After my third trip to the emergency room last spring and summer, I stopped counting how many doctors, hospitals, and treatments I had endured.  There is a notebook that is at the foot of my bed right now, that chronicles every appointment and medication I have been put on.  At one point, I remember being on 13 medications at one time. In 5 months time, I had been on 35 different medications.  Every prescription putting me more and more in the hole financially.  There came a time when I had to regroup and remind myself of the very wise words of my primary care physician in Atlanta “You are your own best health advocate … no one knows your body better than YOU”.  When I chose to move back to Seattle in September (after months of not living at my place in Kentucky), I sought medical professionals who would not simply prescribe drugs to treat the symptoms.

In doing so, I also lost alot of faith in modern (western) medicine.  It became increasingly obvious to me that many doctors seem to get kick backs from the amount of prescriptions they write.  Please don’t get me wrong here … I did not lose faith in ALL physicians … just the ones who chose not to listen to me when I shared prior experiences and treatments.  What did and did not work.  And at the end of the day, I found that I had to babysit people to ensure they would do their jobs.  Dealing with insurance companies is a full time job … and when you have a migraine headache EVERY SINGLE DAY, that battle is not an easy one.

Have you ever heard the saying “mind over matter”?  Or “no pain, no gain”?  These are things I say to myself constantly.  It helps me to realize things HAVE TO GET BETTER.  A very long time ago, I discerned that I was not “normal” by human standards.  Honestly, I believe I was put on this earth to be different.  The Love I have in my heart for others is bigger than my emotions can control.  My blood seems to be infused with humanitarian desires.  Nothing brings me more joy than making a positive difference to someone else.  The words LOYAL and HONEST define me.  Often this leaves me feeling separate from other humans, because we truly live in a world where people are selfish.  And people can be outright mean and hateful.

But you know what has kept me sane through being forced to give up my own place, stay away from a career I felt was divinely chosen for me, going on food stamps, and learning to make ends meet when the disability check is not enough to cover regular expenses of life and additional prescription and medical challenges?  THE KINDNESS OF OTHERS.  It has been a time of me learning to RECEIVE rather than always being the one to give.  God is using this time to make me a better person (I thought I was pretty cool already.  haha) … and I will be honest, it hurts like hell.  It is by the grace of my amazing friends and family that I am able to endure.  (Thank you for accepting me exactly as I am … no matter where that may be, or how I may feel!)  I thank God for them daily, as do I do the valiant heroes who fight for my rights to think, feel, and be ME.

Swedish Hospital Pain & Headache Clinic, January 2012

Earlier today someone asked me “what do you do from day to day”?  Meaning “how do you spend your time”?  I responded “well, every day seems to revolve around whether I have a doctors appointment or not.”  Far cry from jet setting all over the globe and volunteering my time.  It is frustrating to me, because I feel like I should be doing something “more”.  In my mind, I should be making more money, sending more care packages to our troops, doing more for humanity.  Making a Difference (also known as going MAD) hehe.

And last weekend, when I celebrated my 50th birthday (really, I do feel MUCH younger!)  with dear family and friends in Southern California … an absolute transformation occurred in my mind.  Through the love in that house, I learned that no matter where I am, and no matter what I am doing, I am making a difference.  It’s just harder for me to do when I feel like I have no money and I am in constant pain.  Let’s say I have to work at it, when in the past, it has come naturally.  My heart just aches because others see pain in my eyes, and that hurts me.  But today I had this sense that I needed to sit down and write (sorry it has been so long since my last blog, by the way).  It is cathartic to me.  Maybe my words will help just one person to realize that they are not alone in their pain.

There are many, many times I have felt that way.  Like NO ONE understands.  No one else has had my life experiences, or overcome what I have, in order to get to where I am.  But they don’t have to … they just need to have compassion.  People need to have an ounce more understanding.  When someone is talking to you, PLEASE LISTEN to their words.  Do not be confused by someones inability to articulate how they feel.  Just having a friend reach out a hand and say “I’m here”, could make all the difference in the world.  (Thank you so very much to my friends, who always know how to make me smile … and just happen to be there, right when I need you the most!!!)

Just now I received a text message from a friend who asked me about the “elephant” (also known as THROB).  And for the first time in months, I can say that I actually have hope again for a treatment.  It may not help immediately (it could take months), but I was approved by insurance to receive Botox injections for the pain tomorrow morning.  31 injections sights in my head, neck, and shoulders.  Most people scare an elephant with a mouse.  Mine is so big … I have agreed to rat poisoning to get rid of mine.   lol

Here is the link http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/01/05/studies-botox-reduce-migraine-headaches/ for the treatment.  There are no guarantees … but the good news is, I have Tigger to keep me company (he had a blast with the IV today!), and the faith of a mustard seed that there are brighter days ahead.

Tigger and I were thinking of our troops today at the hospital ...

Do me a favor?  Appreciate the life you have …. because each day is a gift and we are blessed to be called to LIVE IT.

Always,

Robin

AKA “The Sky Angel”