Mindful Nomad

A blog about Traveling, Aviation, Social Media and life as a Digital Nomad.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Life After Emirates


My goodness it’s been a ROLLER COASTER! And not the kiddy kind, I’m talking, full on Universal Studios super fast, extra crazy roller coaster! 

I came back home to recenter a little bit since I was an emotional wreck the month before leaving Dubai for good, and I’ve done pretty well.


So let me catch you up, in 2 months I:


Started working as a Social Media Manager & Strategist.

Passed the first module of the Digital Marketing Analyst certification.

Got rid of my camera shyness by going on an Instagram Live with my friend Pedro.

Officially launched my business on Social Media.


Fair enough, I did all of this with a meltdown or two sprinkled in between, but I’m freaking proud of myself! 


Now…to the point: I thought I would abandon this blog, but there was a little ray of light that shone my way, and I decided that I would continue writing, and definitely I would continue to write a post or two about my career ex: aviation. 


This might seem like a random post, but trust me: it is not. 


I started jotting my thoughts down because after doing that Instagram Live, I received so many messages of people whose dream is to be a flight attendant, despite the pandemic. 


It was such a pleasant surprise! We can all agree that it is a difficult time for aviation, but hey! Nothing lasts forever, even negative situations. So I decided to speak my truth to those who are still pursuing their flying dreams.


I had so many people ask me if I missed the job I so proudly did for ten years, or if I would go back to flying at some point. 

The answer is: HECK NO. I would not go back and I do not miss it. 


But before you peg me as a hater hear me out for just a sec:

I’m actually not going back because I feel like I have closed that chapter of my life, and even though I am grateful for it (and would do it  again if I went back in time!), it’s not something I feel identified with anymore. 


For starters, life “on Earth” is so different from what I remembered. 

Days used to go by slowly, now: they just fly by. The irony! 

Mostly, I think it’s because I’m enjoying my days so much more, I’m sleeping better, I’m eating healthier, which (to me) translates to living a better life.

Reality is: I’ve changed, and so has the aviation industry. 

The stories I hear from my flying friends depict a completely different reality of what I experienced as cabin crew, I’m not saying it’s all bad, I’m just saying it has changed, and those changes do not align with who I am today. 

Frankly, even if everything was still the same, my old job does not align with who I am today, either. 


The good thing is: whoever goes into the industry fresh, they will know the new challenges they will have to face, which I believe is easier than for someone who lived through the previous reality to have to transition from how we used to fly, to how it needs to be done now.

Traveling is something I see myself doing (if this pandemic allows me to), so it’s not about “settling in one place” I do want to do the whole digital nomad thing, I just don’t feel like the cabin crew job fulfills me the way it used to. 


And that’s because, despite what the glorious marketing teams of these airlines try to show you, the truth is: it ain’t a glamorous job. So many hours with no sleep, picking up people’s trash, baby-sitting passengers (and I mean ADULT passengers), cleaning up vomit, dealing with drunk passengers, that’s (part) of the price you pay. 

I’m just not in a place where I want to pay that price anymore, and that’s okay!

Oh man but…the PERKS.


They are so wonderful that you would be a fool to have the price be the thing that puts you off pursuing your cabin crew dreams.

Yes, it’s a lot of hard work, but the whole having-breakfast-in-New-York-and-having-a-picnic-at-the-Champs-du-Mars-in-Paris-the-next-day thing is real. And they are of the greatest experiences and memories of my life! 

Here’s a message of hope: even if the current situation is not the best one for aviation, things will get better. People will travel again and airlines will need their hard-working crew, and this means recruiting will start again at some point. 


So if this is your dream, to either fly for the first time or continue to fly: do not let anything get in the way of you achieving it.


Granted, you will have to wait for a little bit longer than you expected to achieve your goal, but things happen when they are meant to happen. So keep going, and enjoy the ride to the most wonderful destination: you achieving what you desire the most!


Are you currently pursuing your flying or other dreams?



 

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room: Leaving Dubai & Embarking On New Adventures!

Happy as a clam in Ireland

This John Mayer song feels like 2020 so far, so I'm borrowing the title for this post! 


Even if I had the intention to keep this blog up and running while everything around me was a complete mess…it didn’t happen! I hope you can understand: leaving what had been home for the last ten years was difficult (I’m actually talking to myself here: it’s important to cut yourself some slack). Hopefully, these next few lines will make you feel understood and make you go easy on yourself.

First, though,  let me update you on what the last two months have been about: stress, frustration, fear and a little more stress sprinkled right on top. And there was nothing out of the ordinary going on: it had to do with the logistics of closing bank accounts, packing, rescheduling plane tickets due to travel rules constantly changing, among other things. 

But I won’t bore you with details of the most annoying process ever, nor do I want to bring you down with negativity. However, I do briefly want to take you through my “Dubai Evacuation” only because this experience totally changed my perspective, and it has been rough, but it was definitely for the better.

Leaving Dubai was harsh and hard, and it was a process:

  1. Looking for jobs in Dubai itself - FAIL.
  2. Looking for remote jobs that would allow me to stay in Dubai - SECOND FAIL
  3. Trying to go to Barcelona to get some headspace - THIRD FAIL (borders closed for non Europeans)
  4. Coming to terms with the fact that I was spending my savings in a city that was only stressing me out, and that this was getting me nowhere- EPIPHANY!

Yes, this process was a true struggle. However, it was necessary I went through it.

By the time I was transiting the job hunt phase of my process, the job market in Dubai was overpopulated with candidates that had similar attributes to mine (6000 crew made redundant at the time) and were in between a rock and a hard place with mortgages to pay and/or other obligations (in Dubai it is against the law not to pay your debt and you can end up in jail for it, no matter the amount). This, unfortunately, translated into: lots of candidates taking whatever jobs they were offered, even if they had to lower their salary expectations to an amount that was hard to live on (can’t blame them for that: pandemic!) 

So after I couldn’t make it to Barcelona (which is where my mother is, so it feels like a second home) I realized that I had a big decision to make: this decision involved me admitting to myself that maybe there was a reason why I shouldn’t stay in Dubai and perhaps I should go home to figure out what my exact next step was: regroup and recenter. So after a month of endless fights with Emirates, they finally gave me a ticket home to Uruguay. 

From the moment I stepped in Dubai Airport, I can only use one word to describe my experience and what the week after I arrived home was like: weird. 

As expected, coming back home felt strange (it included a one week quarantine and my thousandth nose swab), but flying out of Dubai was also weird, waiting twelve hours in the empty Madrid Barajas airport was weird, being met by Ministry of Health officials on arrival was weird, to sum it up: it was all completely surreal. 

But, do you know what I found was the weirdest? The overwhelming feeling of freedom I felt as soon as I set foot in Spain. Even if I couldn’t leave the airport, I felt so incredibly free! It was as if I was finally able to do whatever I wanted to do, in whatever way I wanted to do it. Crazy how all of this was in the back of my mind, huh?


Just landed in Barajas Airport (no filter...or is there one?)

Once in Uruguay, quarantine was exasperating. I locked myself inside my friend’s house and just waited as the days went by. The first few days, I kept thinking how once I was out, I could do whatever I wanted to do and I  couldn’t wait to get started. The thing was…I wasn’t that clear about what I wanted to do! I spent most of my time (over) thinking, dying of boredom, Netflixing and cooking meals with real ingredients (if you lived in Dubai before, you know what I’m talking about: tomatoes that taste like tomatoes!). At some point, things started occurring to me. I had already enrolled in a course so I could learn something new and wouldn’t feel like 2020 was such a waste. I also decided I wanted to teach English again, just like I did before embarking on my journey around the world. My friends started referring potential students to me, so my teaching project was a ‘go'

After that never-ending quarantine week (and yet another nose swab) I started seeing friends and family, and started reconnecting with my city, and (without trying) I started reconnecting with myself. The first few days were difficult, to say the least: I was tired, sad and felt like such a failure. But meeting my people, my tribe…I can’t even begin to describe how positive that was! 

I started gaining back my confidence and the self respect I had lost in the last few months. Turns out: if you are constantly being treated like crap, you start feeling and believing you are crap. However, if people continuously shower you with love and tell you how valuable, cool and brave you are, just the opposite happens…go figure!


Sitting on the roof, while losing it during quarantine.

 Another shocker was watching the irritation I felt, that was caused by people on this side of the world being so relaxed and not being in a rush (compared to my Dubai experience), slowly mutate into admiration. The kind, chilled vibe of my hometown was exactly what I needed! It left me no choice but to sit back and watch reality go by, without being able to do much.
Plans kept changing, ideas started flowing and I started seeing this new normal, this new reality as an opportunity for change and growth…all of a sudden I was thanking my lucky stars for having lost my job as a flight attendant, otherwise, I wouldn’t have left my "glamorous lifestyle", and I would have been stuck living a life in which I wasn’t truly happy. 

I’m still getting it together and I’m still taking it one step at a time. I get frustrated, I get anxious, I get nostalgic…but the difference with the ‘pre-pandemic me’ is that ‘present me’ is more appreciative of how much she has, unglamorous bits and all, and she admires herself more for putting up with the struggle.


The vulnerability I felt in the last few months, and even now, is truly a new thing for me: it is definitely humbling. Hopefully, if you are going through similar stuff, you know that things do fall apart, so they can fall back into place. It’s funny how we forget to love ourselves, and thank ourselves for doing the best we can and how we actually come through! I’m still getting used to my “life on the ground” that allows me so much time to make lots of plans and dream many dreams (and actually follow through!). Challenge is positive, even if it feels horrible at times. So if you’re struggling: reassess your previous reality, you may find you were a little too comfortable, too. The best part of a messed up situation is coming out on the other side like a total winner! 


My plans for the future are slowly coming together, it's taking time but they are slowly taking shape, so I will keep you posted.

I would love to hear your experiences with big changes (or with going back home if you're in a similar situation) Comment below!


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Saturday, June 20, 2020

5 Anxiety Butt-kicking Tips For Grounded Birds (and Flight Attendants too!)



If you read my previous post, then you know my anxiety-filled struggle after leaving a certain red hat airline. In the past few weeks, many people I know have lost their jobs, and the others who haven’t are worried about the possibility of losing theirs, too. 

This brings other worries: what am I going to do next? How am I going to support my loved ones or my lifestyle? Do I have to go back to my old life? And a bunch of other doubts that will keep you up at night or staring at your favorite Netflix show without really watching it. 


But, guess what? IT IS COMPLETELY NORMAL. This is a normal reaction, especially during Covid times: when you either lost your job or are afraid you will lose it. It means that you are not alone! There are many other people going through similar situations across the world, and especially, close to you.


So, being a mindfulness junkie and  having gone through “OMG I just lost my job” realizations that freaked me out for about a zillion times since it happened, I’ve put together some tips that are helpful to me when dealing with stress.
It is normal (I can’t stress this word enough) to go through anxiety episodes, or feeling like you are on the verge of one. It’s all about identifying these moments when you are about to lose it, and doing something about it or doing things in advance to alleviate stress. 


Here’s 5 tips to get rid of stress or avoid it:

1.   Breathe, but be aware of it. Like, really aware. 


It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It is and it’s not. Why? Because you need to do it mindfully. We are talking about diaphragmatic or belly breathing. Not only is breathing the basis of meditation or relaxation techniques (so if you want to become a meditation guru, you have to master these), but it also has tons of benefits, such as lowering your heart rate and blood pressure on top of reducing stress.  


There are many exercises such as laying flat on the floor and putting a hand on your chest and another one on your belly and concentrating on the air going in and out, or even “alternate nostril breathing” When I have to change my post-flying life plan to a new one (because everything constantly changes with this pandemic), I make sure I give myself a little breathing time, 5 minutes can make a huge difference!


2.   Snap a rubber band. 


A wrist band or hair tie will also do the trick. This is a form of aversion therapy. 

You basically place the band on your wrist and snap it any time you feel anxiety taking over you. As you do that, you need to say a positive affirmation that you can come up with. It can be anything that will help: “This is anxiety trying to control me, but I am the one in control here” or simply tell yourself that your anxious thoughts are not real. 


I use this technique whenever I get irritated over things I cannot control, but I do remind myself that I can control my reactions: “you are a loved and important person, you control your life”  Personally, that has been an important thing to remind myself of, whenever this situation has made me feel like a number. Sound ridiculous? Yes. Does it work? Yes! 


3. Meditate while visualizing, visualize while meditating.


I know what you’re thinking: “I can’t concentrate enough to meditate” 


I love meditating, and trust me, I sometimes find it difficult, too. But practice makes perfect!

A good start are guided meditations, visualization. These are meditations that will help you if you get easily distracted. And remember, if you get distracted from the visualization, always go back to picturing the air going through your nose and into your lungs, and out of your lungs through your mouth. I find these boho meditations quite soothing, check them out! 

Oh, and light some incense or a candle, lavender is my favorite soothing scent. 


4. Run Forrest, RUN!


Okay, I’m not a running fanatic (my feet are not designed for it, so I get lower back pain after running a mile or two). 

I do, however, love love LOVE cycling! It was one of my favorite activities to do as a kid. So, whenever I feel too stressed, sad or anxious: I cycle. I’m not saying you should bike away your sorrows, just pick any activity that will allow you to release endorphins. Endorphins or “runner’s high” are a chemical released by your brain whenever you exercise. 

Even going for a walk will help, after I had a little crying sesh because I would be worried about my post-flying life, I would go for a walk or a spin class, and life automatically felt good again. So get off your butt and do a little (or a lot!) of exercise.


5. Get rid of anything that feels TOXIC…at least for a while.


Do you notice that, whenever talking to a specific person during stressful times, you feel more anxious than you already were? Or that instagram account with someone with the perfect life makes you feel a little blue? It may be because it’s triggering something in your mind that makes you think about situations that make you anxious, or because you are setting unrealistic standards for yourself when, in reality, nobody’s perfect.


 So…give yourself a rest!

When I lost my job, I didn’t look at my phone for a day or two. I even didn’t reply to company e-mails right away, it honestly felt toxic to me, and there was no need to rush. Human Resources is not going anywhere, they will wait for your reply. So give yourself time and be patient, and get rid of whatever gives you that tingling feeling in your arms, there is no need for that during rough times, or EVER. 


Final thought.
I hope you find these useful. I practice them everyday, it’s how I keep my sanity. Do you already practice any of these? Which one is most efficient to you? 


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Friday, June 12, 2020

Lipstick & Hats Off!: Embracing Freedom of Speech and Social Media Liberty



If you’re here, then you probably read my Facebook post about me leaving (or was it me being asked to leave?) the airline I’ve worked for almost 10 years, and it was more of a love letter to my peers than anything else. I’ll be honest: it was not the initial intention. 

Truth is, I saw so many people lose their jobs on this massive firing show we are currently experiencing, I saw everyone panicking, a large number of questions and very little answers. Noticing all this, my goal was to create awareness regarding the situation, and how mindful we should be about asking questions to people who were going through a very difficult time.
But as the morning went on, I saw what seemed like true chaos and, to be fair, I recognized myself in that panic state: I had been in it a month before.

Consequently, the post mutated into caring words towards whoever was going through whatever feelings they were going through. Why? Because it stunk for me, and because I would have liked to have someone who had gone through the same situation acknowledge what I felt and help me get through it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing support system. But reality is that I would have loved to have someone who went through the same states and moods I went through tell me that “this, too, shall pass” and I was going to be okay (and that the 1 million daily mood swings would eventually end)

I was on the first round of people being let go, and it wasn’t cool. To be honest with you, I felt quite embarrassed. I was told that I got sick too often at the beginning of my career (2010) and that I got sick a little too much towards the end, twice in 18 months… really guys?
I was angry, I felt offended and felt there was no justice in this whole situation.
Basically, I was being blamed for being human, and it made no sense at all in my mind. However, I accepted it and even if I knew it was wrong to do so, I internally took the blame and carried that with me for weeks.

But then…lightbulb! 

I do therapy (before you judge, keep in mind therapists also do therapy, otherwise they lose it!) and in one of the sessions I was told to just stop. I believe the words “brain” and “wash” were thrown somewhere in the mix, and it made total sense to me. Now, I’m not saying that I was sat down to watch corporate videos while tied up and had ice-cold water thrown in my face whenever I didn’t agree with the footage, but there are little things that can be done to kind of shape or groom the way you think, and we don’t even notice them.

So I decided I was going to deal with this the same way I’ve dealt with break-ups: 

  1. I was going to allow myself to be miserable for a bit (cry, eat whatever I wanted and have a glass of wine or two)
  2. I was going to do whatever would make me feel better (even if it was perceived as rude, like not talk to people and ignore nosy messages)
  3. I would be angry and hurt (and unleash the anger monster on whoever ticked me off - I’m looking at you HR)
  4. And after I felt like I was done ranting and letting it all out, I would make my peace with it, wish my beloved the very best and focus my energy in the future.

After I made it to the last step (by the way, achieving this step took me weeks, and it wasn’t easy) all my love was poured out in the shape of support for whoever was/is struggling in my community… and it felt good. 
Do I feel like someone wronged me? Yes, I do. 
Do I still get mad at times? I certainly do. 
Do I think there are better things coming? You bet your flying behind I do! 

Allow yourself to feel like crap, reach out, open up to those around you. You may get help offered from those you least expect. Hopelessness, sadness, desperation and worry, they don’t last forever. Lean on those who want to help and lend you an ear, even if you don’t know them. 

I think during these times, it is necessary we create this “galley feeling”, that little kitchen on the plane where you united with your community and shared your thoughts, good and bad, pretty and ugly. That sensation that you can trust a person you had just met with a secret or a problem you had. So many years of giving and receiving jumpseat therapy taught me that there is an important factor in talking about what bothers you, knowing that others are going through something similar and get a little insight that may make your lightbulb go off, too.

How are you coping through these difficult times? What do you miss the most? What would you tell others or yourself? Let’s do a little galley talk down at the comment section or if you want a little privacy you can click here.

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