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Orient The Map (or what being a helicopter pilot taught me about life – Part 1)

I remember the first time I went up in a helicopter during flight school back in the day…  There were so many things to think about before we even got off of the ground, from pre-flight inspections to engine oil pressure readouts to pressing the right buttons in the right sequence to start the engine.  So many technicalities and numbers to be memorized and radio calls to make, all to be able to lift off of the landing pad and head out to the runway.  For that first flight, I remember sitting nervously in my seat trying to avoid touching anything important while my instructor handled everything – and although I was amazed at how easy he made it look to start our engines and get in the air – there was something else that struck me even more once we were on our way.  He strapped a beat up old map onto his knee, consulting it every few minutes, and we began to soar over green fields, and creeks, and country roads, and more green fields, and more creeks, and more country roads.  I craned my neck to find landmarks of some sort to help give me perspective, but as I scoured the landscape I realized that everything looked the same.  As someone who was never great with directions, I wondered if I would ever be able to navigate an aircraft without getting lost up there – and nervousness began to creep in.

How does he know where he’s going?  How does he identify where we are on the map when everything looks the same?

A couple of months later, after I had learned the basics of hovering and flying and safely handling emergencies – it was time to start learning how to navigate, and that’s when I learned one of my most important lessons…

You’ve got to orient the map.

In short, you can’t know where you are if you don’t have a clear idea of where you’re going and the direction you’re traveling in.  I would draw a line on my map for my route and highlight any landmarks along the way, and I quickly realized that if we were heading West, I needed turn the map so that it was also oriented towards the West – and that would allow me to more easily correlate where I was on that line in relation to landmarks, and to know what I should be looking for next.

As we navigated ourselves around Washington DC this past weekend via Uber (which is awesome, by the way), we found ourselves standing on the corner trying to decipher which way our car would be coming from and as I felt myself get disoriented Rick gave me a quick reminder….”Just orient the map,” he said, which immediately cleared up my confusion…and it got me thinking…

Sometimes the hardest part of getting something accomplished, like wedding planning, is just knowing where you’re coming from and where you’re going – and drawing that line to get there.  Setting that vision for what you want your destination to be, taking a look at where you are today…and then drawing out your route on your map – over mountain ranges, across valleys, through difficult decisions and budgeting and picking the perfect shade of peach to compliment your main wedding color…and sometimes we just need a small reminder to orient our map so that we can clearly see our route.

The same goes for our fellow photographers…we’ve been doing a lot of mentoring lately and initially it all comes back to “where are you now and where do you want to get to?”  …And then identifying your route, tackling those tough twists and turns, and pushing through to your destination.

After our busy weekend of shooting in DC, we woke up this morning in St. Louis and this was on my mind…because it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, to forget to orient your map, and to lose sight of where you are on your own route.  Whether your planning your wedding, growing your business, or just trying to get through school – what is your next goal or landmark that is going to continue to steer you in the direction of your goals and dreams?  What are you doing today to keep your focus by orienting your map and finding your place on your route?

Below: Us, yesterday, outside the White House.  Photo Cred – One of our beautiful 2015 brides, Rhonda!

Orient The Map-1

Happy Monday everyone!  Love, A


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